10 Best Free Drawing Software for a Mac

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Edited by Ben Jacklin
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There’s no shortage of creative programs. While that’s excellent, it can make choosing the right free drawing program for Macs tricky. To save yourself time, read on and select the free drawing software for a Mac that best suits your specific needs.

Program

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Get help, advice, and inspiration from Krita’s community, which is large, tight-knit, and extremely supportive

Create and manipulate all kinds of two-dimensional objects

Seamlessly switch between different Apple devices to work on a single project from multiple locations and even on the go

Best free drawing program for Macs

If you’re a budding artist who wants to improve your skills with a supportive community, Krita might be the perfect art program. Artists created the program under a GNU GPL license, which means it is completely free to download and use, and always will be.

You’ll get access to all the tools you’d expect in a professional drawing program, from more than 100 brushes to vector and text tools to a powerful resource manager. This manager helps you organize any assets, like brushes, that you download and import. Those assets might come from previous projects or online sets, such as those offered by Krita. 

Krita also has a tightly connected community of fellow artists, all at different levels. Dive into the forums to find tutorials, ask questions, and connect with your fellow creatives.

Pros:

  • Supportive community

  • Ability to animate

  • Extensive features

Cons:

  • User interface less intuitive than other options

  • Have to reset brush size when switching between brushes

For over twenty years, Inkscape has been one of the most popular free drawing programs for a Mac. Throughout that time, it has been maintained and improved mainly by volunteers. These dedicated community members have ensured that Inkscape is among the best drawing programs available. They report bugs, help with translation, and work on improvements.

Even if you don’t fancy getting involved in the Inkscape volunteer community, the hard work of the volunteers means you can expect regular updates with new, exciting features. Inkscape already offers many of the tools you’ll need as a digital artist, from object creation to path editing to powerful rendering. One of the most interesting features is the ability to create clones of a particular object. You can turn these cloned images into patterns or arrange them in specific layouts. Additionally, changes you make to the original image can be replicated in all cloned images, saving you time.

Pros:

  • Extensive object creation and manipulation tools

  • Dedicated volunteer community improving the program

  • Powerful text tool

Cons:

  • Some fairly common features are missing, requiring workarounds

  • Startup can be slow, even on powerful machines

MediBang Paint is a cross-platform program with versions available on both desktop and mobile devices. That means you can edit your projects on the go, creating art wherever you are and whenever inspiration strikes you. 

The Mac application is lightweight and powerful, full of brushes, materials, fonts, and more. Many of these assets are installed, meaning you can use them without needing to be connected to the internet. When you do have Wi-Fi, you can log into your MediBang account, which gives you access to the program’s cloud features. For one thing, these are what let you sync your work across multiple devices, letting you switch from iPad to Mac and back seamlessly. These features also let you collaborate with other artists, no matter where they are. Create outstanding art with artists from one of the 150+ countries in which MediBang has been downloaded, making professional connections as you do so – and friends, too!

Pros:

  • Cloud features let you switch between different devices

  • Installed features let you work offline

  • Collaborate on projects with other users

Cons:

  • You’ll need to create a MediBang account

  • Some features require an internet connection

  • Certain features require a paid subscription

Dating back all the way to the twentieth century – 1996, to be exact – GraphX2 is one of the oldest drawing apps for a Mac that is still available and updated today. In fact, a new version should be coming soon, with several fixes, improvements, and even new features.

GraphX2 is intended for people looking to create digital art with their mouse. If you want to create pixel art, graphics for a video game, or generally any digital art that uses 256 colors, then GraphX2 could be the perfect choice for you. It has all the usual tools, like brushes, basic shapes, and text, but also more unique features, like splines and an airbrush. Different modes, such as shading and grid, help you work on certain tasks more efficiently. You can also create basic animations and export them as GIFs to share or use in another project. Finally, GraphX2 lets you customize pretty much every shortcut key, meaning you can build the workflow that works best for you. You can also change the skins for the icons, and even edit them – perhaps in a lightweight, free drawing program like GraphX2!

Pros:

  • Program is scriptable, meaning you can automate certain tasks

  • Can create animations

  • Customizable keyboard shortcuts and user interface

Cons:

  • Traditional user interface is very different from modern applications

  • Originally created for Linux and Windows, meaning the Mac version is a port

With over 19 million downloads and counting, FireAlpaca is doing something right – or rather, many things right. From the moment you install the program, you’ll have access to an extensive library of brushes, which grows every week when FireAlpaca releases new ones. Some of these brushes help solve specific problems, like the creation of intricate designs. For example, you can use the flower brush or lace brush to save yourself the trouble of manually making these difficult patterns. 

If you need even more specificity, you can use FireAlpaca’s brush customization tool to fine-tune every single brush available in the program. Adjust one or several of the many parameters to turn a great brush into the perfect one for your art.

Pros:

  • New brushes released every week

  • Brushes are customizable

  • Extensive toolkit, including gradients, watercolors, fills, and 3D perspective

Cons:

  • Some features only available in the premium version

If you’re looking to work with vectors, Vectr is a must-try. It’s been designed with new users in mind, with a straightforward user interface and tools that are intuitive to learn and use. Alternatively, you can just ask the Vectr AI to do the bulk of the work for you. Vectr’s AI can remove the background from a work of art or photo, saving you the hassle of isolating a subject. It can also create entire images from nothing but text. Enter a prompt and watch your idea turn into a beautiful image in seconds. By tailoring your prompts, you can edit the generated image until you reach something you are satisfied with. Of course, you can also make edits with the manual tools available in Vectr, too!

One of Vectr’s most useful features is a powerful vector converter. You’ll be able to convert any picture into vector graphics. This not only makes them editable in Vectr, it makes them infinitely scalable. That’s not an exaggeration, either! The unique thing about vector graphics is the fact that they can be scaled up or down as much as you want without any loss in quality.

Pros:

  • AI tools automate certain creative tasks

  • Convert images into vector graphics

  • Intuitive user interface and tools

  • Collaborate over the internet in real-time

Cons:

  • Features beyond basic graphics editing, such as AI, require paid subscription

  • Free version comes with ads

7. GIMP

When it comes to free painting programs for a Mac, GIMP is easily one of the most famous. In part, that’s because of its sheer versatility. On the one hand, you can use GIMP to manipulate photos, make minor retouches, or create entire compositions. On the other hand, millions use GIMP to design graphics for apps, programs, user interfaces, and more.

If you’re interested in automating parts of your workflow, GIMP is a great choice. Scripting is supported in multiple languages, including widely popular options like C, C++, and Python. 

GIMP’s versatility means it is often used as part of a broader artistic workflow. For example, the developers themselves recommend using GIMP in a workflow that also includes a free program like Inkscape. Use these other programs to perform specific specialized tasks that GIMP does not offer. Or just poke through the extensive library of plugins and scripts created by the GIMP community. What you find could help you finish a tricky project or inspire a new one.

Pros:

  • High degree of versatility

  • Compatible with many popular scripting languages

  • Deeply customizable

Cons:

  • Number of layers in a project is limited

  • Performs best in a workflow with other applications

Unlike some other painting programs for a Mac, Paintbrush isn’t intended as a replacement for powerful image editors. Instead, it’s a continuation of what used to be commonplace: The painting and image equivalent of the basic text editor included in every single Mac. 

In other words, Paintbrush is meant to be where you go to perform image edits fast. Need to crop an image quickly? Receive a photo that needs a caption added ASAP? Paintbrush is the solution. Using Paintbrush for these tasks saves you time, as you don’t need to boot up powerful software or navigate to an online image editor.

Of course, Paintbrush also comes with all the tools you’d need to let your inner doodler out. Like any true artist, all you need to do is select your tool and color of choice, and then the only limit is your imagination.

Pros:

  • Highly lightweight and therefore fast

  • Version of the original paint program included with every Mac

  • Perform basic image edits quickly

Cons:

  • Minimal list of features

MyPaint was born from a widespread situation. The developer wanted a few features that were missing from the programs available at the time. He decided to make these features himself, and after a few years, the result was MyPaint version 0.4.

That same philosophy has guided the continued development of MyPaint into what it is today: a powerful digital painting tool focused on brush work. Included in the app are brushes that can mimic charcoal, pencils, paint, and ink. If you want even more, you can create your own brushes that are customized to your specific needs and wants. 

As a program focused on brushwork, MyPaint has been carefully designed to work well with popular drawing tablets like those produced by Wacom. Even small variations in pressure and speed will be recognized by the program, and you won’t have to worry about losing any lines when scribbling at top speed.

Pros:

  • Extensive library of brushes that imitate conventional artistic tools

  • Ability to create and customize new brushes

  • Close compatibility with drawing tablets

Cons:

  • Fairly steep learning curve

  • No ability to have different pages

Clip Studio, which is currently on version 3.0, is by far one of the most feature-packed painting tools for Mac. It comes with a huge library of brushes, many with the texture of physical art mediums. You can even use a transparent color to remove things, meaning you don’t have to switch from your current brush to the eraser tool.

Clip Studio also has a truly mind-boggling collection of materials, from shoelaces to clouds to plants to entire cityscapes. The list isn’t actually endless, but with the number of materials numbering somewhere in the tens of thousands, it certainly feels endless! Many of these materials have been made by the community, which is also a great place to get advice and inspiration.

Another great feature of Clip Studio is its 3D assistant. You can use 3D features to learn anatomy, study particular poses, throw together quick sketches, and even warp things after you’ve finished creating them.

Pros:

  • Tens of thousands of materials available

  • 3D tools

  • Rulers help maintain symmetry when needed

Cons:

  • Many features require a paid subscription or one-time purchase

Edit your pictures with Movavi Photo Editor

For a powerful photo editor that’s packed full of features and constantly receiving new updates, consider Movavi Photo Editor. The program is packed full of tools that let you adjust and perfect all of your photos. 

For those looking to edit fast and efficiently, Movavi Photo Editor comes loaded with more than 100 filters and effects. Choose the one that you like best to rapidly spice up your images. Movavi Photo Editor also includes multiple AI tools that can do the heavy lifting for you. Remove the background of an image and erase specific undesired objects with AI, saving you time and energy. Movavi’s AI can even perform entire photo retouches itself!

Of course, there are plenty of manual tools available, too. Adjust the color balance of your photos to make them pop, or select from 34 presets to quickly achieve professional-level color grading. Live updates let you preview each preset, so you can flick through them until you find the one that works best.

Summary

There’s no single perfect free drawing program for a Mac. Each one has its quirks. Carefully consider what you want to achieve and try the program that you think will suit you best.

Movavi Photo Editor

Easily enhance images and get professional-grade results in a snap.

*The trial version of Movavi Photo Editor has the following restrictions: you can save up to 10 images with added watermark, screenshots are disabled.

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