5 Amazing Illustration Tools You’ll Love

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Written By Sam Davis Ph.D.

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Are you an illustrator looking for some new tools to add to your arsenal? Or maybe you're just starting out and are looking for the right software to help you get started. Either way, you're in luck! In this blog post, we will discuss 5 amazing illustration tools that you'll love. These tools are great for all types of illustrations, from cartoons and comics to logos and infographics. So without further ado, let's get started!

Man painting on table

1. Quick and Dirty? Go To Canva!

Canva is free and easy to pick up. It makes designing for social, print, and digital dead easy. If I need to do a quick logo or composition, Canva is my first stop. Canva is a great first stop for anyone looking to create quick and easy designs. Most things in Canva are free, and you only pay for stock images or animations.

2. Need a little more? Head to Adobe Creative Cloud.

Adobe isn't the cheapest, but it is professional graphic design software, so it was never going to be free. Whether you're working in Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop, you're going to be able to create stunning digital art and vector graphics. If you're starting out, I recommend getting the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan. It's only $19.99/month and comes with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, which are two essential tools for any digital artist or photographer. If you're more of an illustrator, you can pick and choose in your Adobe CC plan to get your hands on Adobe Illustrator instead.

3. A vector graphics editor without the Adobe Illustrator price tag

If you're looking for a vector graphics editor that doesn't break the bank, look at a one-time payment option, like Affinity Designer. Affinity is a vector graphics editor designed to bridge the gap between the vector and raster drawing process. In other words: it's got a drawing tool and a great set of vector tools, too.

Affinity Designer ostensibly functions as the illustration software for everyone else. You can still create custom brushes, work on vector illustration, and even work across web and mobile apps. If you know one illustration software, Affinity's easy to use tools will seem intuitive.

4. Digital Painting? You NEED Rebelle 4.

Rebelle 4 is the industry standard for digital artists, it's just that most artists don't realize it. It has realistic color mixing, it has “nanopixel export”, and overall, it's just a grade A painting software. If you're new to digital paint, Rebelle is a great blessing to your creative process. And even if you matured as an artist in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, you'll be able to focus on creating digital art quickly.

The only drawback to Rebelle is also present with other popular digital painting apps – there's little to no font support. So to add captions (like in cartoons) you'll need to pop back into another editor or set of drawing tools.

5. You can't beat free software: Sketchbook

If you're playing the free game, I'd recommend Sketchbook as a drawing software that won't break the bank. As in – it's free. It's a little limited, but you CAN do basic things like create pixel layers, smooth out lines, and other needed tools for digital drawing. You can also import PNGs or outlines to work off of if that's how you go about creating illustrations. It's a great hobbyist tool, and perfect for basic shapes and concept art.

Other drawing tools worth mentioning

There are thousands of design tools out there for the budding graphic designer, so I'd encourage you to explore. Although I know a lot about digital illustration, I could have missed something, or who knows? Maybe I design differently than you. So, here are some other popular apps and programs:

Clip Studio Paint

There are tons of great tools out there besides Adobe Illustrator, and one that is noticeably missing from my list? Clip Studio Paint! I'm sure that Clip Studio Paint is a GREAT tool – I just haven't played very much with it. And I just don't like to recommend drawing software or illustration software that I haven't tested. So go ahead and give Clip Studio Paint a try. If I ever download and try Clip Studio Paint, I'll update this review with my thoughts.

Free online digital illustration tools

Other great, free tools are Pixlr, Vectr, Vecteezy, and Photopea, which are all clones of illustration tools that professional designers use. They're all great tools for quickly editing vector based work or making quick tweaks to photographs or raster graphics.

Paid painting tool: ArtRage

Another digital painting tool is ArtRage. It's meant for painters more than graphic designers, but it's an alternative to Rebelle 4 and many professional designs swear by ArtRage. I installed their trial and I didn't like the illustration tools it offered, but I could probably be convinced.

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