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Llama Emoji-04 (Pretty) [V1] Welcome to projecteducate 's topic: The Free Digital Arts Toolbox!

Not all artists can or want to pay for expensive programs like Photoshop or PaintTool SAI, expensive hardware like Wacom Tablets, or premium stock for poses, brushes, patterns, backgrounds, etc. How is an artist wanting to work in digital media supposed to operate while keeping their finances under control? THAT is exactly what we will be discussing - and until 2014 when my own family bought me tools and programs I had wanted for a long time, I worked my digital media magic using mostly free programs, methods and resources.

Pearlie 01 by Lan-Hikari [G] Sailor Entropy by WanderingKotka Doodlewhat by CataclysmicRemedy

Llama Emoji-39 (Eager) [V2] Programs

Photoshop and PaintTool SAI are amazing - no doubt. But they are not the only programs available that can edit photos, do lineart, use different brushes, etc. My personal favorite right from my own toolbox that I STILL use despite having a paid-for copy of Photoshop is GIMP. GIMP was created as the free alternative to Photoshop and can do most everything that Photoshop can do. I love GIMP because I can have all my layers, import and export PSD files, can create animated icons, can do pixels, many of the keyboard shortcuts are the same, and it is so well-known that many artists who create stock for Photoshop often create the same stock for GIMP users. GIMP is also available for free for Mac, Windows and Linux! You can visit the official GIMP Site and download anytime.

:icongimpartistsunite: :icongimp-artists: :iconthe-gimp:

Another favorite of mine is Inkscape - again cross platform. This program is for artists wanting to do more with vectors the way they could if they had CorelDraw or Adobe Illustrator. It is free and gives you many of the same options and functions you will find in any of the high-end programs you could spend hundreds of dollars on. Stop by the official website and download Inkscape if you are in need of a great free vector program!

:iconinkscapers: :iconinkscapeusergroup: :iconinkscapeelite:

If you are working from an Android or Apple tablet, there are other programs you can get from their respective app stores that are free and excellent for digital work! Sketchbook has a free and paid version for both the Android and Apple platforms - please note that Sketchbook is now integrated with deviantART so you can upload directly to deviantART with the app! Adobe makes Photoshop Express for both platforms as well. And we can't leave the land of tablets without mentioning Adobe Ideas - currently only available on Apple devices but worth mentioning because it is free, acts like a regular drawing program but outputs vector formats!

:iconautodesk-sketchbook: :iconsketchypros:

A couple other noteworthy programs I have used in the past are Paint.net (Windows only), Chocoflop (Mac only) and Picnic (from your browser window). Note that these programs are not cross platform so cannot be used by all artists. In addition, some artists have old works they want to be able to turn into vectors without paying a large fee for a vectoring program. There is an option for this at the Vector Magic website. A few other amazing programs mentioned by deviants you can get for free (or at a low cost) are FireAlpaca, Blender, MyPaint, DrawPlus and Krita. And of course, we cannot forget the amazing FREE program by deviantART: dA Muro!

Rainbow Power Pinkie? by January3rd On the Field by sahinduezguen Pikachu by Kingtankone


Llama Emoji-21 (Speechless) [V1] Methods and Technology

Working without a special tablet can seem daunting to any artist - new or veteran - in the digital art world. However, until 2014, that is what I did. Every work was done with a MOUSE. Even if you have a paid-for program like SAI or Photoshop, or if you are using GIMP or another free program intended to do what Photoshop does, chances are you have access to a PEN TOOL. The pen tool is an amazing tool built into most digital art programs that lets you do all kinds of fantastic line work - often having settings that give the feel of a tablet with pen pressure (GIMP's pen tool does this). Check out these amazing tutorials for GIMP and other programs showcasing the power of the Pen Tool:

Paint.NET Lineart Tutorial by DemonedAway GIMP The Complete Lineart Tutorial (2.8) by TheBlackBullets Inkscape + GIMP tutorial! by Wickfield Mouse Lineart Tutorial (PS) by wondering-souls The Lazy Lineart Tutorial by alaisiaga Line Art to Digital Inks by DigitalMenace
Gimp Tutorials by ArtistsHospital Inkscape Tutorials by ArtistsHospital

A lot of the free technology will be your regular computer and a mouse - the very things you already have in front of you as you read this. However, some people (most nowadays) also have a tablet, phone or BOTH! If you have either of them, chances are you have access to either iTunes or Google Play. Both stores have free art apps (mentioned above in Programs) that are excellent to use for artists who lack a computer, lack the illustrious Wacom Tablet, or just want to dabble with art-on-the-go. Aside from the already mentioned programs, you may want to add a stylus to your list of must-have technology (or you will have to do art with your fingers). Some phones and tablets come with their own stylus, but if yours doesn't, consider one of the inexpensive options - often available for less than $20, in a variety of fun colors and available at most any store. If you have a tablet and are looking for something more technical but still far from "breaking" your budget, depending on your tablet type, you may want to consider the semi-affordable Wacom Creative Stylus for Apple products (around $100 + shipping), the Hex JaJa family or Adonit Stylus families. Your needs and budget will determine which stylus is best for you - these three are (of course) not the only three types of stylus out there but are my favorites and the ones I use with my iPad, Adobe Ideas and Sketchbook Express.

Psycho Twilight Icon by thundergalaxy A little seahorse by Vanillicious catnap by TanteTabata Dolphine by Vanillicious Static - OfficerMittens - Comission by 20BoxesPotatoSalad Tika - piyochann - Comission by 20BoxesPotatoSalad Harley Icon by Blueranyk


Llama Emoji-23 (Shyness) [V1] Resources

So many artists offer free resources - don't bother being shy. Really, there is no reason to lament having to purchase resources when you just don't have to (however, please, if you have the money and you find a premium resource you just love, be kind and support your fellow artist!). DeviantART is home to many artists that offer all kinds of free resources from tutorials (many listed above), brushes, background, poses, and more! There are many many many groups that gather these resources together in an easy-to-find structure. Don't be discouraged if you don't have the money to buy a premium resource - you might just find what you need for free in the galleries of any one of these groups!

:iconmastergimpers: :icontexturize: :iconworld-of-resource: :icondigital-brush-depot: :iconstockgalore:



Some More Artwork LOVE created with FREEBIES!

Some of these works were created in GIMP, Paint.net, FireAlpaca, Blender, Inkscape, dA Muro, MSPaint, or in one of the apps I mentioned above... Some with a mouse, others the pen tool, some with a generic tablet or pen, etc. Remember that technology does not make the artist - the artist makes the most of technology!

Ms.Darla Colors plash by yoKenny6 [C] Kat in Her Kit by WanderingKotka CE: Sailor Draconis by TesseraFrost Bookmark drawing by DarkSaber13Free! Iwatobi style Happy Chinese New Year 2014! by AngelaMarici ugh by R9A Dimensional by Mar-hirari Rosetreeposter by ivrona Pink by keren-or Game World by AhNinniah TTW: Tree spirit by Mrbunny9 Megs quick sketch by cgrapa Nicole by CroxxerJL Devour by SqeezyCheezsCreator Lava-flow by Odysseus-XB Krillin by Tigresuave11 cry for me by taembear Aurigae by Melomonster Tea Time by artist2point5 -:MLP:- Snow Jewel (OC) by Vilshanka Tastes like Spider! by Tigresuave11 Battle Stance by Dillerkind Dacia concept car sketching by koleos33 Miharu by Brejchova Detective Doodle by wabea <da:thumb id="427990773"/> Contact by TysonTan Out Of My League by WelshBlue Rocky Castle by al-din




Add a Comment:
 
:iconmojoliazon:
MojoLiazon Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2014  Professional General Artist
About that "expensive hardware like Wacom tablets" --- it's not so expensive anymore. I saved up and got myself one for just under $100, and it came bundled with everything necessary including extra nibs, two software packs and heaps of other extras. Now you can get the same deal or better for $60. That was last year that I checked last, so who knows how much cheaper it may be by now. :D
Reply
:iconilantiis:
iLantiis Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It is true that some Wacom products have become much more affordable and that there are Wacom-like options that are very affordable too. That is how I got my tablet XD
Reply
:iconmojoliazon:
MojoLiazon Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2014  Professional General Artist
I didn't even know there were so many options. :P But this is awesome news for artists everywhere on every size budget.
Reply
:icondaedaljs:
DaedalJS Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2014
Krita is a good program as well.  while you can draw/paint in gimp it really is more aimed at photo-manipulation.  krita's focus is drawing/painting.   also, mypaint is pretty cool too.
Reply
:iconilantiis:
iLantiis Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Someone else mentioned Krita - I had to go download it. It sounds amazing!
Reply
:iconiamanelebiscarra:
iAmAneleBiscarra Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Pencil is also awesome! It's a free animation tool. :D
Reply
:iconilantiis:
iLantiis Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
YES! I draw most of my work in pencil first lol
Reply
:iconiamanelebiscarra:
iAmAneleBiscarra Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
umm... this is what i meant: the "pencil" software: www.pencil-animation.org/index…
Reply
:iconilantiis:
iLantiis Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
OOOOOH lol
Well shows what I know. I will definitely be looking at this - something new! Thank you for clarifying for me :huggle:
Reply
:iconiamanelebiscarra:
iAmAneleBiscarra Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
You are more than welcome! :D
Reply
:icondebzdezigns-lamb68:
debzdezigns-lamb68 Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Awesome! I started out on GIMP and used it exclusively up until last year when I finally bought
Photo Shop Elements. It's a great program!
Reply
:iconilantiis:
iLantiis Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I am a Photoshop fan myself XD But I still love my GIMP!
Reply
:icon6gunsally:
6gunSally Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for this!  Great article and advice!
Reply
:iconilantiis:
iLantiis Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Welcome!
Reply
:iconmaxnort:
maxnort Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2014   Writer
I have an addiction, graphically. ok, 2.

1. Inkscape. quite simply, the program rocks. If you do vector art, well, I use it professionally at times my other addiction isn't able to keep up, that being:

2. Corel. Corel costs big bucks, so look into a virtual machine, or a Linux box and a program called "SK1". it reads Corel's "CDR" file format, and is slowly being developed. maybe some increased attention would inspire the developer.

yes, I'm a secret graphic artist. it pays better than poetry
Reply
:iconilantiis:
iLantiis Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I love Corel! Worth the bucks. And Inkscape is amazing! I can't believe it is free sometimes when I see what it is capable of!
Reply
:iconsterys:
Sterys Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I have tried Inkscape and it's very cool! I also tried the Gimp even if I have Photoshop Elements.
Reply
:iconilantiis:
iLantiis Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I am a GIMP addict lol
Reply
:iconatsusakaneytza:
AtsusaKaneytza Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
If you can't afford a Wacom tablet, It's totally worth trying out a Monoprice tablet! The base price for Monoprice's cheapest tablet is $25. There's also shipping to consider, but still- it's an excellent buy to get started on drawing with a digital tablet. Extra pens only cost $10, and extra nibs cost less than a dollar.
Reply
:iconilantiis:
iLantiis Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Absolutely! Anyone one a tight budget should never overlook other brand tablets - especially Monoprice! I had one before my Wacom and it did its job magnificently!
Reply
:iconjustjakk:
justjakk Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2014
Right now, I use Paintshop Pro7,  but I have Paint Tool SAI and Illust. Illust is pretty kool for my tablet, cause it helps with the pressure sensitivity. Havent tried much on Paint Tool SAI. Just got it from a friend a couple days ago and have not played with it yet. 
Reply
:iconilantiis:
iLantiis Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
SAI is okay. I prefer other programs tho (mostly because I just haven't done much with it and don't want to learn lol)
Reply
:iconjustjakk:
justjakk Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2014
i like trying new things. 

i also have manga studio deluxe III. it is pretty good. havent learned how to make the manga pages yet, but i will learn
Reply
:iconsyolel-o3:
syolel-o3 Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I've never used Inkscape before :O I'll definitely give it a try though
Reply
:iconilantiis:
iLantiis Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It take a little getting used to but is very good!
Reply
:iconsyolel-o3:
syolel-o3 Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I'll keep that in mind ^^
Reply
:icon0bsidianfire:
0bsidianFire Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Started doing art with GIMP and Inkscape and I still prefer using them over the CS6 Suite, which I now have. I find they allow for more flexible workflows then the Adobe programs do.
Reply
:iconnokinami:
Nokinami Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I work with Gimp, at first I didn't like it, but now it's fine =D I am 'stuck' with it since Paint Tool Sai won't work on Ubuntu
Reply
:iconmishihime:
mishihime Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Paint Tool Sai DOES work with Ubuntu. You can run it under "Play on Linux" I've done it. ^_^ The only issue I had was my off brand tablet drivers. I can't get them to work, but I hear wacoms do fine. 
Reply
:iconnokinami:
Nokinami Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wow *-* I gotta go try it
Reply
:iconemocorita:
Emocorita Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Nice one! But let me recommend some other great freeware "Azpainter" and neko paint.

 "Portalgraphics OpenCanvas" is also a good software I think it's the same price as sai but you can say If you can't afford both sai ansd PS you can opencanvas cus it makes a great alternative for the both and it also is the best tool for beginners and has a perspective tool waaay more easier to use than mangastudio.
Also Portal graphics aslo have this deal were you can buy both oepncanvas and magalabo for 50$ and that is a great deal for two awesome softwares.

also there are good tablets out there cheaper than wacom like ugee and monoprice and Yutron
Reply
:icondillerkind:
Dillerkind Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2014   General Artist
Just saw a message that one of my pics got mentioned here. Thanks for that. And nice post. Maybe you could add Grafx2 or Aseprite. Both of these are free and meant to be used for pixelart and fixed color palettes. Ase is simple to use, concentrating on a rather limited set of common tools. It's good for animation too. Grafx2 is a bit more complex and certainly needs a bit of time to get used to. It's offering lots of tools and effects though and can be really powerful if you know what you're doing.
Reply
:iconizzathafiz:
izzathafiz Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Good article. Don't lose heart and stop your artistic dreams just because of the high prices on those "industry-standard" tools. Really, all we need is desire to create...there are indeed free/low-cost alternatives as far as software goes. I myself had used GIMP, Inkscape and Paint.NET in the past...and I consistently used MyPaint recently to draw and sketch. 

Thanks for the article...and keep on creating! :) (Smile) 
Reply
:iconthreshie:
Threshie Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
GIMP, Paint.NET and Inkscape are some of my must-install programs for every computer I own. :love: Thanks for giving them some shout-outs!
Reply
:iconmr-glaceon:
Mr-Glaceon Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is a great article! I used GIMP and a mouse for over a year myself until I got a Wacom tablet. (Wanted to be sure digital art was for me before I went all in on more equipment.) Virtually every drawing in my gallery, besides a few, were done in GIMP. I'm honestly not sure what advanced features I'm lacking, I feel very capable with it and have all the different layer modes I need. Even my new tablet works perfectly with it.

Even though I now have Photoshop CS2 and Elements, I still use GIMP over Photoshop because of how much easier it is to work with, honestly. The whole interface is readily customizable, and I'm extremely comfortable with all its keyboard shortcuts. I actually had to change Photoshop's settings and workspace a lot to match my GIMP setup! It annoys me the toolbox's icons can't be rearranged.
Reply
:iconarulie:
arulie Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the informative article! Unfortunately, Picnik actually closed down a long while ago, Picmonkey's a nice substitute to it though ^^ I honestly find their interface to be almost identical too. 
Reply
:icongman1255:
GMan1255 Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2014   Writer
Haha, or you could always torrent Photoshop or Paint Tool Sai
Reply
:iconwanderingkotka:
WanderingKotka Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Wow, there are some nifty programs here!  I use a mix of free and paid programs--some just work better than others for certain things.  Just like certain pens or markers are better for certain effects.  I love how there's such an amazing array of free programs popping up now.  It really helps artists spread their wings and sharpen their skills . . . all without going broke!

And thank you for including some of my work as examples!
Reply
:iconf-a-r-i-o:
F-a-r-i-o Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2014  Student Digital Artist
heh I use GIMP myself :heart:
Reply
:iconthundergalaxy:
thundergalaxy Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2014  Student General Artist
Thanks for the mention!! Love the entire article :iconmonkeyloveplz:
Reply
:icondragonwarrior-kyna:
Dragonwarrior-kyna Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2014  Student General Artist
Useful article. I'd also like to mention MS Paint, that's free with all Windows computers. While it doesn't have a ton of features like other art programs, it has a simple layout that's easy to learn and you can do some incredible pixel artwork in it. :)
Reply
:icontarynnefdt:
TarynNefdt Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2014   Digital Artist
Great advice but another piece of advice I can give is to download the G'MIC plugin for GIMP - it takes GIMP to a whole new level, plus it is free as well. 
Reply
:iconsevenofeleven:
sevenofeleven Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2014
What about Artrage?
Its free and it supports macs and pcs.
I found out about it from DA.
Reply
:iconiamanelebiscarra:
iAmAneleBiscarra Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
pencil, photoscape, and fontforge are good additions here! :D
Reply
:iconcroxxerjl:
CroxxerJL Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
oooooh thanks for this >3< this really helps. I'm only using my tab and I don't have a pen or what you call it xD thanks for mentioning mine btw. Bunny Emoji-38 (Cutie) [V2] fufu
Reply
:iconjanuary3rd:
January3rd Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2014
Aw, thanks so much for the mention! I really love my FireAlpaca; it's simplicity is wonderfully refreshing.
Reply
:iconjust-to-look1:
Just-To-Look1 Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Hehe… ^^; I should have used the free alternatives instead of going "aggressive" with Photoshop, but I use Photoshop becuase the school I go yo also has Photoshop! Also, I have BOTH a tablet (which I using right now), and a phone, but the phones are actually my parent's phones. I used to have an iPhone 3GS before it was taken away by my parents. T-T
Reply
:icondaedaljs:
DaedalJS Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2014
the tablet they're referring to here is a graphics tablet rather than a tablet computer.
they use pressure sensitive styluses to enable much more comfortable and accurate digital work.  
the pressure sensitivity rather than just a basic *is clicked/isn't clicked* is what really makes it a great tool.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphics…  <-- Wikipedia article
some of them actually have built in screens like wacom's cintiq line of tablets youtu.be/fu4px5538Ps
sometimes this technology is built into laptop screens and tablet computers (galaxy note 10.1, wacom companion tablet computers) but those always come with a special stylus.
Reply
:iconjust-to-look1:
Just-To-Look1 Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
I know, I was referring the iPad. ^^;
Reply
:icontaembear:
taembear Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2014  Student Digital Artist
awww thank you for the mention! people need to know that you don't need any fancy programs or whatever to create good art ^^ expensive stuff doesn't make you good, practice makes you good!
Reply
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