TEN Digital Painting Programs or Plugins

Digital painting has a large niche market of artists, photographers and hobbyists. There are many different kinds of programs available both as stand alone or plugins to other programs. Here is an updated list of ten of the best programs for digital painting.

1.Best of the Best is Corel Painter 11

Painter 11 Welcome Screen

Painter 11 Welcome Screen

There is almost nothing this program can’t do and it lives up to its reputation!
Corel® Painter™ is the world’s most powerful Natural-Media® software.

2. Alien Skin SNAP ART
This seemingly simple program is a powerful multi tasking art creator.
Snap Art® creates beautiful, natural media artwork in a single step.
Render any image in an unlimited variety of real-world art styles including oil paint, pencil sketch, pen & ink, comics, and more. Great for stylizing photos or graphics, Snap Art works without laborious hand editing and is more versatile than Actions or brushes. the versatility of this little program is well worth your time to check it out.

Alien Skin Snap Art

Alien Skin Snap Art

Now you do not need to handle a pencil to feel like an artist. All you need to create your original work of art is good taste and AKVIS Sketch.

AKVIS Sketch

AKVIS Sketch

SKETCH creates realistic color and B&W drawings that imitate the technique of graphite and color pencil, charcoal and watercolor painting. I especially like the Color pencil effect and the Watercolor painting. A lot of versatility in that little program!

4. AKVIS Artwork
Artwork does a nifty job of a variety of effects using oil painting or comics. Here
is a little painting of @Fletcher_kitten (his Twitter name)

Oil Painting with Akvis Artwork

Oil Painting with Akvis Artwork

AKVIS also is having a contest right now for their birthday celebration. Enter and win a signed copy of my new
digital painting book and a license for one of their products!

5. Pixarra Twisted Brush
TwistedBrush has more than 5,000 brushes available, along with all the features that artists love to use: layers, realistic media, photo cloning, tracing, masks, particles, filters, script recording, scripts to AVI, drawing tablet support, brush shapes, patterns, textures, integrated scanner support, image brushes, drawing guides, reference image views, dirty brushes, scratch layer, dynamic palettes and a whole lot more. There is a lot in this little program to play with and experiment on your photos to turn them into art.
There is a PRO version and an OPEN version and tons of other brushes that can be loaded into it.
Check it out at the Pixarra Site

LucisArt 3 has two versions, LucisArt 3 ED (Enhance Detail) and LucisArt 3 ED/SE (LucisArt 3 ED bundled with LucisArt 3 SE (Special Effects). Enhancing details creates amazing effects that also make images easier to paint. The Special Effects version also has many different controls to create paintings.

LUCIS PRO works in all three channels separately which gives amazing results and the options are endless! Be sure to look at this carefully and see how many ways it can be used.
You can save some money on any of the Lucis software by using one of our coupon codes in the resources area.

7. ART RAGE 2.5
Another program that looks simple but is a power house of painting manipulations. There is even a great video on their site to get you started.
One of my favorite brushes in Art Rage is the GLITTER brush which is a lot of fun to play with.

Art Rage Brushes

Art Rage Brushes

8. Deep Paint
Deep Paint was turned into freeware a number of years ago and it’s still a good program with some brushes and abilities to create paintings that can’t be found elsewhere. It’s free to play with so why not get that one too?
Deep Paint offers a realistic painting experience for digital artists and graphics professionals. Deep Paint intergrates stroke-by-stroke artistic photo-cloning, fully editable brush and canvas settings, and paint functionality for realistic and stunning paint effects. Experience thickly textured oils, bold acrylics, and dramatic watercolors. Deep paint simplifies your artistic workflow as a Photoshop plug-in or standalone application, with special support for the Wacom Intuos or compatible pressure sensitive pad.

9. Virtual Painter 5
Another light weight program that is just plain fun to use and try out on your photos. It will paint quickly and efficiently and give some great little effects!

10. Paint like Jackson Pollock
This is just an online totally FUN application to while away the hours. Once you like your painting take a screen shot to save it. You have no control over it really, so give your hand and mouse and stylus over to it and enjoy!

Paint like Jackson Pollock

Paint like Jackson Pollock

There it is for today. TEN Painting programs to try out. Be sure to check each one for your system compatibility and most have free trials. Don’t forget to also check out our discounts and resources! More paintings using these different programs will be coming soon. To see some videos using some of them go to the Digital Paintbrush Channel on YouTube.com. If you really enjoy Digital Painting you might want to join the Digital Painting Forum and also to watch for the opening of the exciting new video tutorial website the Digital Paintbrush

13 Responses to “TEN Digital Painting Programs or Plugins”

  1. Linda Moran Says:

    Great list! Are you doing the blogging workshop? This list is some good inspiration – do you offer anything as an online class?

  2. Marilyn Sholin Says:

    I’m trying to do some of the 30 Day lessons with @problogger from Twitter. Thanks for the comment. Heading over to check out your blog too! I do offer online Digital Painting workshops and webinairs! Subscribe to blog for news on the next ones coming up or also friend me on Facebook.

  3. Diane Radack Says:

    Marilyn, I have been trying to find a way to reply to your nice comments about my blog. Your story is very similar to mine, it would be fun to communicate with each other. I would like to add you to blogs I am following but you must not have a blogspot address. I also would like to have you follow me. Please tell my how you were able to comment to me without a google blogger account. I have others who want to comment but are having trouble doing so. You did it ,so I would appreciate instructions. Thanks Diane

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  5. john gassner Says:


    I have your book entitled “The Art of Digital Photo Painting” published this year. One of the treatments I thought was great involved the Watercolor Fast Portrait Painting as described on pages 59-61. Unfortunately, Twisting Pixels and its Art Studio Pro program seems to have gone out of business, or perhaps I just cannot find them. If they no longer exist, Is there a program you recommend that can readily produce similar watercolor effects simply? I have Photoshop and Corel Painter but I know there are also some specialized plug-in and stand alone programs that might be considered. Thanks for any info you can supply.


  6. Marilyn Sholin Says:

    Hello John…..no problem. You can have it for free! Really! Here on the blog go to http://www.marilynsholin.com/books/software-reviews-discounts/ It’s all there. Just need to email me for the registration codes. Thanks so much for writing!

  7. dave mazza Says:

    I noticed you didn’t mention Synthetik Software’s Studio Artist digital paint and art generation program. I really think it should be at the top of your list. The range of different paint styles and effects you can create in Studio Artist is really amazing. Studio Artist used to be mac only, but version 4 runs on windows pcs as well as macs. Their web site is http://www.synthetik.com and the Studio Artist User Forum is at studioartist.ning.com and has a lot of user art in the photo gallery section.

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  9. Zrcalo Says:

    are these programs for digital painting? or just photo manipulating to make it look painted?

    I’ve been looking for a program that is a digital painting program, like sai painter, except not so raw and alot more refined. Photoshop is incredibly unstable and doesnt mix the colours very well, and I was looking for what the professionals use to do digital paintings.

  10. Marilyn Sholin Says:

    These are all programs for digital painting. I think you will be happy trying out Corel Painter with it’s 30 day free trial. You totally create every brushstroke with Painter.

  11. Marilyn Sholin Says:

    Actually, I need to totally update this list because there are some new programs out that are fun to play with.

  12. Joni Solis Says:

    Just wondering if you have an updated list? Also what program or addon creates the best looking and most realistic watercolor effects?

  13. Carolina Morelli Says:

    Hello Marilyn ~ I accidentally came across one of your on line workshops. I was amazed at what can be done
    to photographs. I’ve painted & taught art for many and I found digital art to be fascinating. I will purchase
    a few programs, one for my laptop and another for my desktop and see what I can create.
    You are so inspiring, thank you for the enlightenment !!!!!!

    Carolina xx

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