Do you know what are the best free drawing programs? Although it seems impossible, there are some as good as the popular Illustrator or Photoshop but without paying an eye to use them.
Although Adobe offers a free version for a few days, the truth is that enjoying these in the long term can become an income, which you will not have to suffer if you use some of the programs that we show below.
The following solutions are highly competitive against Illustrator and Photoshop and are backed by a broad community of developers who believe you should have the best possible tools through an open source platform.
To see some of the best free photo editing programs, check out this guide too.
Inkscape is probably the most widely used vector-based drawing software since its introduction in 2003. 13 years later, it is still in a “preview” release, but it is a great free alternative of the professional level similar to Adobe Illustrator. It is backed by an international community that can help you get started and guide you to any problem.
Like Illustrator, Inkscape has everything a digital artist needs to create almost photographic quality illustrations. Its basic toolkit includes the creation of straight lines, freehand lines, shapes, 3D frames, Bezier curves, spirals and much more. You can add layers, color fillings and even effects, such as blurring, bevels, shadows, textures or brightness.
There are many text and video tutorials available, and it also gives you access to manuals and quick references, including information about keyboard shortcuts and command line instructions. All without a monthly charge.
This is another vector-based drawing tool that you can download or use for free on-line. It has an extremely clean interface, with the stack of layers listed on the left, a work table seated in the center and the configuration of the objects you select on the work board that appears on the right. The toolset seems minimalist, all until you click on the “more shapes” button on the toolbar to reveal 28 other designs.
In its heart, Vectr is ideal for creating business cards, typographic logos, posters and other designs that do not involve many details. It is backed by integrated lessons that cover gradients, layers, filters and image import. You can also find tutorials that will help you do things like re-create the Google Android cone, design a background image of the YouTube channel, create the Superman and Batman logos, and more. Ah: and all designs can be exported, printed and shared on Facebook or Twitter.
Microsoft Expression Design 4
Microsoft's design tool made its debut in 2007 as part of the acquisition of Creature House Expression. The last version of this vector-based illustration tool arrived in 2012 and is now free, but it is no longer officially compatible with Microsoft. Still, you can find support provided by the community through the Microsoft Expression forums.
For features, Expression Design 4 is not as robust as Inkscape. It is a lightweight tool, designed for developers who create user interfaces and web-based graphics. Even so, it's great to create any graphic that doesn't require many visual effects. You don't see tools to blur or instantly create shadows, but there are many basic options for generating lines and shapes, adding text, creating layers and more. Consider Expression Design 4 as an excellent tool for creating logos and banners.
SVG-edit is extremely simplistic in features and design. It provides reference tools to create lines and shapes, and an option to insert images based on bitmaps in the scene. You can accumulate layers to get additional depth in your drawings, but the real high point of SVG-edit is with its browser-based roots, which makes it compatible with any PC that uses modern web browsers, such as Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Safari and Firefox Try this option, if you don't want to install the software on your PC.
GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP)
This free and open source alternative to Adobe Photoshop has been around since 1995 and packages everything you need to edit your photographs and drawings. It even allows you to generate impressive digital paintings from scratch. It is a tool with which all digital artists should live.
In general, GIMP provides two main components: its worktable as a central window and a rectangular toolbox that can “float” on the desk, or stick to the side of the central window. You can create other “floating” packaging tools that you can then group together, such as layers, brushes, color channels, paths and history. This is extremely useful if you want to optimize your editing and design process.
But the toolbox is where its artistic arsenal really stands out, providing you with tools to paint, use pencil, blur, sharpen, clone, erase and much more. There is even a Routes tool for the basic creation of vector-based lines, if you don't want to install a secondary program based on these. Do you want visual effects? You will have access to a large library. GIMP even supports add-ons created by the community.
* Updated by Mara Teresa Lopes on July 23, 2019.