5 Budget Friendly Digital Design Alternatives

Updated: Sep 22, 2019

My father has always seen creativity in me. I was 9 when he bought me my first Wacom Bamboo Fun Tablet. I didn't have the faintest Idea what it was till about a year later when I finally sat down with it and it changed the way I looked at art. That indestructible thing lasted me nearly 7 years till my then boyfriend ran over the chord with an office chair. When I was 11 my first digital design instructor took me under her wing and gave me extra projects for her class. She was very understanding about resources available to students and would always be sure we had everything we needed to complete assignments. Years later in another class the instructor routinely told me that I needed all the expensive standard software in order to really be serious about digital art, but he failed to acknowledge that not everyone has the money to just throw by the handful or just aren't serious enough about art to justify it.

In case you're like me and don't have hundreds dollars to spend every month for the Adobe Suite software or hundreds on other industry standards, here's some software i've found to be excellent replacements.

1. Pixelmator | $30 - $60 | Alternative to Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop on its own is a $20.00 a month subscription. One major reason many choose the Adobe Suite over other software is for cross-compatibility within Adobe ecosystem. That being said if you aren't working on a team Pixelmator is a powerful tool that has replaced my need for Photoshop. If you're running Windows check out #5 on this list.

2. Affinity Designer | $40 | Alternative to Adobe illustrator

Illustrator is another $20 a month subscription. Affinity design is a vector based software that rivals it in functionality. The Cakewolf logo was created in it and having used Adobe Illustrator for numerous other tasks in the past it was quite easy to adjust and I did not feel limited by the software.

3. Autodesk Sketchbook | FREE as of May 2018| Alternative to Corel Painter

I've been using Sketchbook since 2011 when I got access to an iPad. I still use it years later after upgrading to a Mac. It's a very simple no frill software with everything you could need for digital painting, sketching, and inking. It's not as advanced as Corel Painter but having used both softwares I never felt held back by

4. Krita | FREE | Alternative to Adobe Paint Tool SAI

Krita is an open source software that's free to download. The company runs on volunteers and donations from its user base to support its full-time development team of two, user support.

5. Affinity Photo | $40 | Alternative to Capture One Pro 12 and Photoshop

Affinity photo is the only application on this list which I have not used before personally, though it has great reviews and if it's half as functional as Affinity Design I'm sure it's an excellent tool.

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