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I have always drawn with pencils and paper. I like drawing things that are just plain creepy. But I want them on my computer, but I don't want to just scan them on, so I've decided to draw them on the computer.

But I can't get Photoshop, and I really don't want to give Adobe a single cent. So what are my alternatives?

I use Paint.NET for when I do graphics for websites, and it's ok, but I find it very tedious to work with and wouldn't enjoy using it for what I want to use it for.

Are there any others that you would suggest? Please keep in mind that I'm only after free apps, or atleast fully-functioning trials (except Photoshop).

Also, another requirement is that the app has a lot of cool painting styles, like Highlighting and drawing shadows or "toning" for like, when you wanna add tone to body parts.

I hope this is the right place to be asking here.

Looking forward to your suggestions!

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I just found 1 app that looks really cool, but still would love your thoughts and suggestions: – Arrow Nov 8 '12 at 22:11
No doubt about it: Corel Painter. Not free, but it is included with quite a few Wacom drawing tablets. – Joonas Nov 8 '12 at 23:15
Use the search box on the top of this page and search for 'open source' to find lots of threads on this topic. – DA01 Nov 9 '12 at 5:01
See also Which tools for digital art & paintings? – user568458 Feb 2 '13 at 16:57

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

That's a tall order for a free app. A well developed app that is going to provide you with a viable/enjoyable alternative to natural media is unlikely to come cheap. That said, some people have said nice things about ArtRage -- not free but cheap.

Corel Painter is hard to beat for natural media look and feel and it's not owned by Adobe! It works very well with drawing tablets. Between the extraordinary support for levels of pressure and the specialty pen tips out there it's a pretty impressive workflow.

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Many thanks Plainclothes, ArtRage looks awesome. I think I'll try the demo, I'm considering just buying it after reading through their site. I love the idea of having a Drawing tablet though. – Arrow Nov 8 '12 at 23:39
Hey thanks @plainclothes. I ended up buying artrage, and am considering Wacom too. – Arrow Nov 9 '12 at 16:17
Glad to hear it works for you. Definitely look into a pen tablet. Wacom's Bamboo entry-level models are a good way to get hooked. – plainclothes Nov 9 '12 at 16:41

I would like to point out that ArtRage comes packaged with some of the Wacom Bamboo Stylus like the Bamboo Splash as seen here:

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As others have said, tall order for free app. Whenever I design, I always use pen and paper first. I dont find it hard to scan in something and then use the pen tool in illustrator or even the livetrace functionality to get this in digital form.

If you want to draw direct to screen then the Wacom Cintiq is an awesome piece of kit but if you havent got a few grand spare then its useless. Alternatively, you can get a wacom bamboo tablet for about £40 nowadays.

There are some neat iPad apps that are good. 'Paper' by 53 is really good and well recommended! If its for PC then you can always use GIMP. Its like an open source photoshop and that's fairly decent for free.

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