Investing in a digital art software gets pricey. You’re either left with purchasing one expensive program without much knowledge on it, or skipping amongst many first month trials.
Including tablets and extension packs, prices go off the charts. To find your ideal program, you should not have to dish out $100+ for simple operations. Hailed as the “industry standard”, many digital artists and photographers alike choose Photoshop. Topping over $100, the tools and extensions only get more expensive the more you add on.
With the help of the internet, we always have access to other means. In this list, programs range from free to half the price of higher end programs. Browse and try these beginner-to-moderate digital art programs!

1. GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) 

GIMP is known amongst many amateurs as their go-to, straightforward operations. All compiled by a group of volunteers from all over the world, the people behind GIMP want to keep their program accessible to all. Users asked GIMP to change their usability to match the likes of Photoshop, but they refused.

At GIMP, they want to provide you something that Photoshop won’t be able to give you while maintaining their free accessibility.

What does GIMP give you?

  • Graphic Design operations
  • Photo retouching
  • Image Composition
  • Image Authoring
  • It’s a free program!

For more info, they have a nifty FAQ’s page you can rummage through.

2. MediBang Paint

Not only can you create on your desktop, but you can have the same access on your smartphone. MediBang is available from PC to iPad to Android products, all for free. Able to operate with both Huion and Wacom products, MediBang has great tools for drawing and illustration.

What does MediBang Paint give you?

  • A wide variety of brushes and tools
  • Cloud sharing (for collaborative work)
  • Large collection of pre-installed fonts
  • Simple, minimalist interface
  • Also, free

You do need to make an account in order to use all the features available, but there is no payment involved. They have a FAQ page you can check out here.

3. Wacom

Although not entirely a software, Wacom offers affordable tablets and extension products. The lowest (Wacom’s Intuos S) is more or less around ~$70 on Amazon, highest around ~$100.

Rivaling those of Huion tablets, which are acclaimed by digital artists, Wacom’s Bamboo tablets tend to be more affordable and accessible especially for beginners.

What does Wacom give you?

  • Great entry-level, reliable, long life tablet
  • Corel Painter Essentials 6 (drawing and painting)
  • Corel AfterShot (photo editing)
  • Lots of space to drawy
  • Compact with pen (use on a desk or throw in your backpack)

For more info, they have a FAQs page on their website here.

4. Krita

Krita is a great program for concept artists, illustrators, matte/texture artists, and visual effects. Developed for over 10 years, Krita prides itself for its reliable interface use by both amateurs and professionals.

What does Krita give you?

  • Intuitive User Interface
  • Brush Stabilizers (for our shaky hands)
  • Customizable Brush Engines
  • Resource Managers to Customize Tool Set
  • Free

Many artists contribute back to their community on Krita’s forums, giving you some insight at how artists are using this program.

5. Sketchbook

Sketchbook Pro is great for conceptual digital artists and illustrators. Similar to many other expensive programs, Sketchbook provides its services on multiple platforms including Desktops, Androids, and Macbooks.

Top artists in Pixar and Riot Games gave great reviews for Sketchbook for its reliable and stripped-down interface.

What does Sketchbook give you?

  • Compatibility between files (able to download and export files without losing any layers)
  • Great blending modes
  • Huge color variety (includes a Copic Color library!)
  • Easy Canvas Navigation
  • Also, Free

With the help of volunteers and generous donations, many of these programs are kept updated and free for your handling. The best part about having these free programs is their trial modes you can download with no commitment and credit card usage.

Take advantage of the accessibility and choose what program works the best to your design customization.