Macs have beautiful Retina display screens which make them perfect computers to do professional design work on. Even if you’re not a pro, you can still have fun drawing and making designs on your Mac. You might think that you need expensive software to do this, however, there is plenty of free drawing software available to download from the internet. All you need is a mouse or a drawing tablet and you’re away!
In this guide, we’ll unpack the best 10 free drawing software for Mac that you can download right now.
|Beginner-friendly||Needs many updates|
|Customizable interface||Descriptions of tools are basic|
Krita is a free drawing software for Mac that is made by artists for artists. What’s great about Krita is that there are many preset brushes you can use but you can also create your own brushes and save them. In fact, Krita has over 100 professional brushes for you to try. It has a very simple interface which makes it easy for beginners to pick up quickly and it doesn’t take up much space. Krita has a customizable interface so you can move things around how you like or remove anything that you don’t want to use.
Why is Krita so awesome though? Krita is one of the very few free software for Mac that allows you to create vector images easily. Better still, if you’re using a drawing tablet to create your art with Krita, Krita has three different ways for you to stabilize your art strokes in case you have a shaky hand. This means that all of your brush strokes will be smooth and professional.
There are no trials so it’s absolutely free to use!
2. Corel Painter 2021 (free trial)
|Very similar to Adobe Paintshop||Can take a while to master|
|Many different brushes||Can occasionally lag|
|Brilliant brush strokes|
Corel Painter has many features, which is why it’s trusted by design professionals all over the world. It does have a subscription model but you get a 15-day free trial before you have to pay for anything. It’s worth using this trial period though to see just how good Corel Painter is. Corel Painter is perfect for users withdrawing tablets connected to their Mac because its brush strokes replicate real brushstrokes very closely. Better still, the many brushes can be tweaked on the fly.
Corel Painter also has a neat feature that lets you ‘like’ a brush so you can easily find it the next time you need it. If you’ve used Adobe Paintshop, you’ll likely pick this free software up quite quickly but if you’ve ever used Paintshop, you may need to take your time getting used to it because there’s so much to unpack.
Still, even for 15 days, Corel Painter is such a fun yet professional experience for vector and raster design work.
|Beginner-friendly||Sometimes ‘too basic’|
|Easy to use||Limited features|
|Many layers||Only 2D painting|
|Make easy animations|
When you think of Pencil2D you need to think ‘super basic’. However, that’s not a bad thing. In fact, if you’re a beginner and you’re intimidated by using something like Krita right away then Pencil2D is a great beginner drawing software for your Mac. You can use multiple layers like all good drawing software a different brushes. The brushes options are very limited compared to the other software on our list but where Pencil2D comes to life is with animations.
That’s right, Pencil2D has a big focus on creating simple animations. You can draw your characters in Pencil2D and then seamlessly turn them into animations. Not only that but you can switch from raster to vector drawing with the click of a button so the workflow on Pencil2D is very fluent.
Because Pencil2D is compressed into something very basic, it means that it works well and doesn’t crash. It’s lightning-fast and easy for anyone to use. Best of all, it’s of course free.
|Many features||Can crash sometimes|
|Simple interface||Not very beginner-friendly|
|Supports many different formats|
|Convert raster to vector|
Inkscape is another free drawing software for Mac that allows you to create artwork easily once you’ve downloaded it. It’s not the most stable of software on our list but it does have frequent updates to support this. There are many different brush types that you can use on Inkscape but where it excels is with vector design. If you have a raster image you can trace the bitmap and turn it into a vector image easily. This makes Inkscape great for creating logos, for example.
You can color your image with vector layers but you can also add vector shading to create some really stunning designs that you can then stretch and use for different purposes without them losing their quality. Being able to manipulate nodes means you can zoom in and change the shape of each point of your image which leads to some really unique patterns.
Inkscape is one of the best free drawing software for Mac that every artist should have. There’s simply no reason not to when it’s free!
|Simple interface||Needs an AutoDesk account to access|
|Easy to navigate||Ruler tool unreliable|
|Replicates a real canvas|
Autodesk’s Sketchbook is a fantastic free drawing software for Mac. With a drawing tablet linked up to your Mac, you’ll be able to replicate a drawing on a real canvas. That’s because it has such a clean interface with the tools down the left side of the screen to a minimum. However, if you click on a brush, you’ll see you can adjust the settings of it and at the same time you’ll find many different brushes too like ballpoint pens, blending brushes, and even light brushes.
Sketchbook is 100% free to use but if you want access to the full package you do have to pay a small amount each month. It’s totally worth using each version though because you can create some really cool art with Sketchbook and the free version still has many different brushes. It doesn’t allow you to create vector art but with raster art, you can still enter the dimensions of the canvas size you’d like to use.
Sketchbook has the best ‘real drawing experience’ that I have found to this day. If you don’t like all the distractions on the screen that Adobe Photoshop has, give Sketchbook a go.
|Simple interface||Very basic|
Sketchpad is an online drawing software that is also available for download. Sketchpad is a very basic drawing software that doesn’t pack all the features that the other drawing software on our list do. Instead, it’s best used for basic 2D drawings or simply for making silly drawings easily. The UI is very basic too and there’s only a handful of brushes available to use. If you need to make a quick sketch of something, Sketchpad is ideal for you. Similarly, if you just want to practice using your drawing tablet to create line art, give Sketchpad a go!
|Many tools||Not ideal for detailed work|
|Easy 3D rendering for beginners||Not for photo-realistic work|
Sketchup is a unique free drawing software for Macs in the sense that it is all 3D based. If you’re a beginner at 3D modeling you’ll love how easy to use Sketchup is. It has a very clean and simple user interface that can be learned in a matter of hours. Sketchup is mostly ideal for those that want to render 3D images of the interior and exterior architecture but it can also make 3D renders for many different objects.
If you’re looking for a powerful yet free 3D modeling drawing tool, give Sketchup a go.
8. Adobe Photoshop (free trial)
|Easy to manipulate drawings||Only a 7-day free trial|
|Thousands of preset brushes||Steep learning curve|
|Supports many formats||Uses a lot of disk space|
Everyone has heard of Photoshop and for good reason. Photoshop has solidified itself as the industry-leading photo and drawing software. It’s perfect for manipulating artwork and creating interesting designs thanks to a whole host of brushes and tools. Of course, Photoshop uses a subscription model which means you’ll be paying for it every month but you can opt into the 7-day trial first. It’s worth doing just to see how good Photoshop is.
There are thousands of preset brushes and the whole software gets updated regularly so it’s great for continued support. If you have any issues using it, there are also thousands of tutorials and YouTube videos you can read and watch.
|Multiple languages||Canvas limit 10000×10000|
|Brush stabilizers||No liquify tool|
|Easy clipping on layers||No default palettes|
|Same shortcuts as photoshop|
FireAlpaca has to have a place on our list of best drawing software for Mac because it’s a joy to use. It has very similar features to Photoshop with layers and a bezier curve tool that reads pressure from your drawing tablet. You can use many layers for very detailed work. It’s also incredibly stable for free drawing software and gets frequent updates too.
FireAlpaca is loaded with all your favorite brushes and pen tools as well as features like mirroring for creating symmetrical patterns. You can even design your own brushes, just like Photoshop, and save them for later. For free drawing software, FireAlpaca is no joke.
If you’re familiar with Photoshop, you’ll love FireAlpaca. The user interface is modern and robust and tools and brushes are very easy to find.
10. Medibang Paint
|Great for creating comics||Limiting text tool|
|Almost no lag on big projects||Single color palette but can be customized|
Medibang Paint is another free drawing software for Macs that can also be accessed on your iPhone. Medibang Paint allows you to use all the tools you use in Adobe Photoshop however you cannot use plugins. Still, you’ve got a tonne of layers to work with, a color palette that can be customized, and floating windows so you can work on different parts of your project separately.
You can create brushes and use a vast array of preset brushes too. Many are geared towards drawing and coloring manga artwork but they are not tied to that format. If you’re looking to create vector images you may be disappointed as Medibang Paint is limited to raster drawing but you have the ability to create very detailed work.
The Bottom Line
So there you have it, these are the top 10 free drawing software for Mac. Each of them does different things but most have very clean and simple user interfaces. If we had to choose one, we would go with Sketchbook. Sketchbook has many brushes and focuses on the creation of art. It doesn’t bombard you with options and is easy to learn. The fact that it has so many free tools is more than impressive. You’re not obliged to upgrade to the premium version at all. In fact, you can create stunning artwork with the free version and to a very professional standard.