Macs have always been known as creative machines for creative people. It's likely the reason you actually bought one! So naturally Macs offer a wide variety of opportunities for you to express yourself, whether that’s building apps, writing prose, or drawing.
Having a good drawing app for Mac is priceless. Retina screens, accurate touchpads, and native support for a variety of inputs make sketching on Mac a pleasure. But with so many drawing programs to choose from, how do you pick the right one? Welcome to the no-sweat guide to the best free drawing software for Mac!
The Best Drawing Programs On Mac Today
It's not easy to pinpoint the best drawing app for Mac. Is it one of the free drawing programs? Is it made for simple drawings or lets you paint on Mac beautifully? The level of skill has to be considered as well.
The collection of drawing apps below features something that appeals to everyone, from the Mac equivalent of Paint you can find on Windows to a simple drawing pad for Mac to the likes of Sketch software that can be used by professional designers too.
Communicate with the markup feature in Preview
If you just want to do a rough sketch for Mac or a few simple drawings, you don't necessarily need to go about downloading lots of drawing apps, you can just use a drawing app for Mac you've already got — Preview.
While most of us think of Preview as an image or PDF viewer, it's also packs a basic toolset for annotating, drawing, and sketching. To see what you can do with Preview:
- Open an image, document, or just a white sheet in Preview
- Click Show Markup Toolbar in its top menu
- From here you can choose tools, shapes, colors, thickness, type, and more to make necessary adjustments or create something completely new
- Save and share your image
For those who don’t intend to draw complicated scenes, Preview might just might be enough. For everyone else, there are, of course, more powerful third-party apps.
Get nostalgic with Paintbrush
Lots of us remember the simplicity and versatility of Microsoft Paint. Macs used to have a similar app too called MacPaint (that’s been discontinued). Well, good news is some enthusiastic developers took the matter into their own hands and essentially recreated a Paint app for Mac — Paintbrush.
This Mac equivalent of Paint will strike you as a complete duplicate of that old software you used to love. It features all the same tools, including rectangular and oval shapes, paint bucket, pencil, spray, lines, etc. You can also easily switch and add colors to your palette as you go.
Make professional mockups with Sketch
If you’ve already outgrown simple drawings you can do with Preview and Paintbrush, and want to move higher — try Sketch.
Sketch took the world by storm just a few years ago, when they essentially introduced a viable alternative to complex apps like Adobe Illustrator and targeted it specifically to digital design professionals.
Everything you do in the Sketch program is done in vector, which means all shapes are infinitely resizable, in contrast to the raster graphics of Paintbrush. With Sketch for Mac, you can design high-fidelity mockups for your website, prototype your iOS app, or just create complex illustrations.
You can download and try the Sketch software for free, but after a month, you'll be required to pay the annual license fee, which is a big downside if you don’t plan to use the app regularly. In addition, Sketch for Mac is not the most accessible app for beginners and it’s not exactly a drawing app for Mac due to its vector nature.
Create digital art with MediBang Paint Pro
Perhaps an equivalent of Sketch, but in raster graphics, is MediBang Paint Pro. This drawing software for Mac allows you to execute your dreams beautifully with over 50 custom brushes as well as its extensive support for layers and fonts.
Originally developed for comic creators, MediBang Paint Pro got quickly adopted by everyone looking for a versatile drawing pad for Mac and is hailed by many as the best free drawing software around. However, since it was built for the purpose of creating comics, you might face a few problems adapting it to your needs — it’s definitely one quirky drawing app for Mac. Another issue is the app’s slow update release cycle. So far, it’s been unavailable to macOS Catalina and macOS Big Sur users due to the lack of security updates from the developers. This means you can only use MediBang Paint Pro on macOS 10.13 or older.
Set your imagination free with Tayasui Sketches
Talking about the best drawing programs, it’s simply impossible to avoid Tayasui Sketches. This intuitive sketch program is universally loved by painters, designers, illustrators, and art aficionados alike.
Tayasui Sketches makes it easy to bring what you have in mind to reality with its support for unlimited layers, infinite undos, smart rules, and a wide variety of drawing tools. If you want to paint on Mac, nothing else comes close to representing the physical experience of applying colors to paper than this drawing software for Mac.
To start your drawing pad for Mac with Tayasui Sketches:
- Open a new document
- Try out all the different tools from the sidebar, from a fine pen to an airbrush
- Use supporting menus to modify your currently selected tool and mix just the right color
With just a bit of practice, you’ll see why Tayasui Sketches beats all the free drawing programs out there. Time for your digital painting skills to skyrocket!
Save all the cool colors with Sip
Regardless of the drawing software for Mac you choose to use in the end, one of the most difficult things to do is going to be finding the right colors out there. Sometimes, you might come across a beautiful color you might use in the future, but where do you save it? Sip.
Sip is the most intuitive, handy, and non-intrusive palette organizer available for Mac. This little utility lives in your Mac’s menu bar, where it saves all the colors you like and simultaneously features a tiny color picker on the side of your screen, which makes Sip instantly available in any sketch program for Mac, like Tayasui Sketches, for example.
By now, you should be well-equipped to start on your Mac drawing journey, using the selection of the drawing software for Mac listed above, whether it’s a simple annotation or a large-scale digital painting.
Best of all, you can try Tayasui Sketches and Sip for free by signing up for a free seven-day trial on Setapp, a platform for more than 200 unique creative Mac apps that literally help you bring your dreams to reality. Why wait, check it out now!