Reading manga comics can really be inspirational especially if you love to draw. Make your drawings come alive with the use of drawing programs. You can turn your work of art from paper to the computer. Many well-known manga artists and illustrators such as those featured in work exclusively digitally. In this article, we will show you which free tools you can use to paint and draw on the PC.
The Best Free Drawing Programs for the next Manga Artist
1. Autodesk Sketchbook
With Sketchbook, Autodesk has launched one of the best free drawing programs on the market. Originally subject to a fee, the tool can now be downloaded by anyone for free. Sketchbook is characterized above all by its tidy and intuitive interface, which even beginners can quickly find their way around. Nevertheless, real professional tools are on board here.
The software includes all the important tools you need to draw. There is a decent brush palette to start with, and the individual brushes are also customizable. Shapes, grids, and symmetry tools are also integrated. The color tool is particularly exciting: As a color wheel, it integrates well into the user interface and also includes the complete color palette of the well-known Copic markers, which can be digitally reproduced in this way.
The brush engine is convincing but doesn’t offer quite as realistic brushes as one is familiar with from some professional tools. However, Autodesk has an archive where you can download hundreds of different brushes – there is the right digital alternative for almost every tool. The tool is not only available for Windows, but also for Android and iOS, so you can also paint with it on your tablet. A Windows 10 app can also be found, which only offers slimmed-down functions compared to the desktop version.
Read also: Ways to Use Shadows in Your Paintings
If you want to paint digitally in the long run, you will eventually look for extended functions. That’s when tools like Krita come into play: the open-source program was developed by artists and offers a wide range of painting-related functions. The tool’s UI isn’t nearly as tidy as Sketchbook’s, but all the tools have to be accommodated somewhere.
In addition to freely configurable brush and palette tools, Krita gives you everything you need for sketching and painting. In the toolbar, you will not only find symmetry and vanishing point tools but also various shapes, selection tools, and professional layer management including various mask and transparency options. Nevertheless, Krita is also reasonably understandable for beginners and lost users will find a whole lot of tutorials and instructions on the manufacturer’s website that will introduce you to the software.
3. MediBang Paint Pro
MediBang Paint Pro was originally developed for manga artists, but many illustrators now use the freeware. The tool ranges between Sketchbook and Krita in terms of functionality. You can also see that on the surface: It is not quite as clear as Sketchbook, but much simpler than Krita. In MediBang, the brush engine is particularly commendable: Brushstrokes are displayed faster and more realistically than in the competition.
A particularly large number of brushes are not on board, but the ones supplied are more than sufficient. However, Photoshop brushes cannot be used. Also, this tool is available not only for desktop PC but also on Android and iOS. Anyone who wants to draw on their smartphone or tablet can easily do so, and a cloud service makes it easy to draw on multiple devices.
GIMP is actually not a drawing program, but is used for image processing – but the competitor Photoshop does that too. Nevertheless, Photoshop and GIMP are used by many digital artists. The reason: In addition to image editing tools, both tools also have professional painting tools on board and as far as the range of functions is concerned, no program can easily outperform the two direct competitors.
Another big advantage is the freely configurable UI. This puts your tools exactly where you need them. Photoshop brush files can also be easily imported into GIMP and if the functions are not enough for you, you can add more plugins.
However, the advantage is also GIMP’s disadvantage: If you get into the subject and have not worked very much with such programs, you have to be prepared for a steeper learning curve than with Autodesk Sketchbook, for example. However, professionals who are looking for a free replacement for the rather expensive Photoshop have come to the right place.
5. Adobe Fresco
Graphics giant Adobe only released its own drawing program in 2019: Adobe Fresco. Here, too, painting enthusiasts will find a clear interface, which, however, hides a number of functions. In addition to excellent digital brushes and vector brushes, the live brushes are particularly exciting: the software uses AI to create extremely realistic replicas of oil paint or watercolors. This is unique to date and ensures a fascinating painting experience.
However, Adobe Fresco has two significant disadvantages. On the one hand, the software is only available for free for six months, after which a subscription must be taken out for just under 12 euros per month. However, subscribers to Photoshop or Creative Cloud can use the software for free. In addition, the list of supported devices is not particularly long. In addition to the Surface series, only a few models, including an HP Zbook, are supported, and Adobe is still working on other devices.