2d drawing program: the lowdown on the best art software
2d drawing program: what to look for
In your average 2d drawing program that most artists use you will get more tools than you probably ever use. So the first thing to decide is exactly what you are wanting to do with it.
"Duh, I want to draw thing like!"
Ok...but how do you want to draw them? Do you want to draw things like hi-technology robots, or fur? Do you want the final image to look like a watercolour, or are you more interested in a refined image? Do you want something that will produce and image that looks very professional, or are you after something a bit rougher around the edges?
Depending on your choices, the 2d program that you choose will ultimately make you very happy, or else it will be the program of your nightmares! Why? Well it's simple, all those those options are going to screw with your brain. You won't remember how you did a thing, and you won't get the results that you want. Ultimately you will get depressed and go back to using pencil and paper. I will in the next section explain some of the top programs out there, and show you some images that I have created using the tools available. (and yes, all these pictures are ones that I produced, from black and white cartoons to colour illustrations)
2d drawing program: the options available
From the top, then:
Photoshop. Anything above photoshop cs is fine as far as a 2d drawing program is concerned. I use photoshopcs all the time, and these are a few images completed with it.
2d drawing program: Water colour style with photoshop cs
2d drawing program: photoshopcs used in the style of an old master
2D drawing program: photoshop used as a blotty ink tool and a vector tool, and a high finish illustrator for children
2d drawing programs: Corel painter. The best of natural media
There are certain things that photoshop just can't handle so well. Whilst I can get away with making photoshop look like a flat wash water colour, I often want the image to look like watercolour that has all the hallmarks such as a bleed right to the edge, or feathering. I can make that effect in corel painter. I have corel painter ix, but the most recent version does even more. I particularly like the pencil tool.
2d drawing program:corel painter
2d drawing program: manga
I got into using manga studio because I wanted a nib that would react well not to the varying pressure that I put on my wacom tablet, but that would look more like a brush line. I usually add colour by photoshop, but you can do it from within manga studio. Another feature of manga studio over most 2d drawing programs is being able to use it to add mechanical tints, essential for comic work
2d Drawing program: manga studio
2d drawing program: budget basement!
Artrage has got to be the best of the budgets. Its a well advanced program now, and the creators have just created artrage studio pro which is $80! A lot cheaper than painter or photoshop. And yet you get watercolour brushes, oil, pencil (always hard to find on 2d drawing programs), layers, effects. And the best bit, artrage will allow you to remove ALL the tool pallets and work with the whole of your computer monitor. It's genius. Quite often I will do my drawing prep work in artrage. A couple of other features about artrage: you can get a budget version which has many of the cool features for just $20. Ok, I have left the best to last on artrage... it has a ruler! Ok, now that doesn't sound much but wait, the other programs you have to mess around creating vector lines and switching tools. But the makers of artrage, ambient design, have included a ruler which is expandable and moves elegantly on the page just by dragging it around, and rotates around a movable pin. This is brilliant when you want to draw vanishing points and very fast. The pencil line afterwards kind of sticks to the ruler as you draw, but you can draw away from it. In the end, if it really is a 2d drawing program you want, then artrage has got to be it!
2d Drawing program: free software choices and alternatives
I would be very remiss and not being doing you my reader a favour were I not to mention the completely free Gimp software. I am not so keen on it personally, but many users really like it, not just because it is free but it does many of the things that photoshop does.
What about other programs.
Illustrator, by Adobe, is a vector based program. That means that you use your mouse or tablet pen to click a point, then click another point. The program then attaches an image to that line and contains information that displays that stroke with a width and an opacity. The beauty of illustrator vector type programs is you can increase or decrease elements of the drawing without losing quality of the stroke, it is all scaled alongside. When you try that with a bitmap drawing program like those I have mentioned already you get jaggedy edges (called pixelation). The draw back is a very steep learning curve, very complex layers, and very computer resource hungry, similar to that of 3d drawing programs. However, I know many people who swear by them.
One alternative to the expensive illustrator is Serif draw, which is somewhat less complex and you can get quite good results.
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