Best drawing apps for Windows 2022

Digital Artist Using Pen Display Tablet
Digital Artist Using Pen Display Tablet (Image credit: Pixabay)

Whether you're a professional watercolorist looking to change up your work via digital art, a beginner artist hoping to start your own comic, or anywhere in between, the one thing you're going to need is a drawing app. While some features like layer management and brush calibration have become standard across the board, some apps have found ways to incorporate unique features that make them worth their premium price tags. Here are a few of the best drawing apps for Windows.

Functionality versus finances

Why you can trust Windows Central Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Choosing an app for your digital illustration is going to be a personal decision that balances your creative needs with your available budget. Adobe's suite of creative software is surprisingly accessible thanks to their choice to break down the higher cost of their software into monthly payments.

However, Adobe has come under fire after reports of customers who attempted to cancel their monthly subscriptions only to be charged for the remaining months of an "annual contract" even though they were not going to be using the service. This has cleared the path for some of the other apps mentioned to steal some of Adobe's limelight.

Corel Painter 2021 is easily the closest to Adobe Illustrator on this list as far as feature list and functionality goes, but it is also closest in price. Corel has gone the same route as their primary competitor as far as offering a subscription service goes. However, they still give you the option to purchase a complete license to the software outright if you'd prefer. The lump-sum price tag for a license may seem a bit expensive at first glance, but Painter's license does come with a discount for future annual updates.

Pricing aside, Painter's flexibility is what wins the hearts of the staff. Nearly every feature you would expect to find in Illustrator can be found on Painter's workspace, including the ability to use standard photoshop file formats and custom brushes. Additionally, Painter works exceptionally well with a variety of input devices. Incredible functionality bundled with the peace of mind that you own your license can go a long way.

As nice as that peace of mind is, however, it may not be in your budget. If you've just purchased a pen display, for example, throwing down even more money for software may be out of the question. That's the sweet spot where an app like Krita can really shine, as it is both feature-rich, beginner-friendly, and best of all — free.

Putting pen to digital paper

Many deciding factors can affect which drawing app may actually be best for you. Not every app is going to work well with every drawing tablet. Comic layouts may not be useful for a watercolorist. However, every drawing app on this list has been chosen because they provide a well-rounded collection of features — including brushes, canvases, and other tools — that will be useful to most digital artists.

Adobe Illustrator may be the status quo, but other apps like Corel Painter 2021, Rebelle 4, and Krita can offer the same form and function at a fraction of the price.

Cole Martin

Cole is the resident Call of Duty know-it-all and indie game enthusiast for Windows Central. She's a lifelong artist with two decades of experience in digital painting, and she will happily talk your ear off about budget pen displays.