Artist Tools

Here are most of the tools I’ve accumulated, tried, or might try.  I let you know next to each of them.  Good luck with learning, art.  It’s one of the hardest things I’ve tried to learn.

Check out some of my art education to see what’s helped me learn.

Last Updated – 27 Aug 2017 – Any additions were last added on this date, so you know if this page is out of date.

Last Validated – 27 Aug 2017 – This is me going through and making sure this is what I use, and how often I use it.

Pixel Art

  • Bit Font Maker– If you ever need to make a Pixel Font this would help.  I haven’t used it yet, but if I ever learn Pixel Art, this would help.
  • Graphics Gale – Now Free – (Purchased for $25) I bought this back in 2012, when I didn’t know what kind of artist or video games I wanted to make.  I don’t use it.

2d Art

For a long time I wanted to learn 2d Art exclusively and do concept art.  That kind of changed as I wanted to have more fidelity on what I’m working on, so I mix it up now.

What I Use
  • Adobe Photoshop (Design Standard) CS6 – $1,300 – This was one of my first major purchases since starting my own business with my own funds. Later, Adobe moved to the subscription services.  I’m trying to use this now instead for photo manipulation because I really dislike monthly charges.
  • Corel Painter 2017 – ($270 – Full Price $430) An artist I like uses this software.  I like the brushes and style he uses, so I purchased this.  This is my affiliate link if you want to save $70 off the purchase.  Here’s some brushes I use that he uses.
  • Rebelle 2 – ($40 upgrade to 2, $60 for v1)  I think watercolor art is pretty awesome.  I want to learn to do it better, and this software seems the best.
  • PureRef – (Free) – I have this open while I practice drawing with a bunch of art styles I want to learn and practice.
  • Gesture Drawing – ( $15) – Sometime I go through this to practice gesture drawing quickly.  It has a timer and goes through files on your computer.
  • Complete Anatomy 2018 – ($50 for Mac, $25 for Windows) –  Knowing anatomy is important if you want to draw characters.  This helps me see movements and underlying muscles / bones.
What I Didn’t Need to Purchase
  • Adobe Photoshop CC – ($10 or ~$30 Monthly for the full suite.  Since 2014 I’ve spent $850 using the different subscriptions) Everyone in the Industry uses this.  For a monthly fee, you can use it.  It’s so much cheaper than CS6.  While I went with the entire creative cloud package at first, I think I only really need this one. (Update 27 Aug 17 – I don’t use this anymore, b/c I hate spending monthly charges)
  • Clip Studio Paint EX – ($90 – Full Price – $220) –  I thought about drawing Manga, and an artist I liked used this.  I think it’s pretty powerful with the ability to hotkey so much.
  • Affinity Photo – $50 – A raster image editor for the Mac.  I hoped it would replace the Monthly Adobe CC charge.  None of the tutorials I used, used it, so I didn’t learn it.
  • Affinity Designer – $40 – A vector image editor.  I found vector images to be interesting at one point, and I bought this to replace the Adobe CC cost.  I didn’t use it.
What I wished I used if I started over
  • GIMP – (Free) – This is a free 2d raster image editor.  I never tried it.
Purchases I regret Making
  • Adobe CS3 – ($1300?) – I bought this in college while learning to become a soldier.  I wanted to learn art then.  Unfortunately, my workload became overwhelming, and I didn’t focus on art.  It cost a lot of money, and it came out of a loan we received as cadets.

3d Art

3d art is just plain hard.  I’m so used to looking at great 3d art, that when I see mine, I cringe.  Sometimes I wish I never got interested, and just learned pixel art instead, but eventually, through work, my skills will get to the point of where I want them to be.

What I Use MOST
  • Modo 11 – $400 (Purchased Modo 901 for $1,300, upgraded to Modo 10 for $450) – I still haven’t made the purchase, but after taking time off, I think I’d like to return to this.  I mainly want this because I switched to Unreal and Modo and Unreal can bridge to each other.
  • Marvelous Designer 6– ($550 v5, $140 up to 6) – Super cool cloth simulation.  You don’t need this, but if you want realistic cloth, this helps a lot.  I like the design aspects of clothing.
  • Gravity Sketch VR –  ($25 for Beta) – I think VR is an awesome new format for making art, and I’d like to be ahead in learning the workflow.
What I Use Sometimes
  • 3d Coat – $380 – This has almost everything you need for modeling, texturing and concepting.  I wish I learned on this.  It’s also really confusing.  This online learning really helped to understand the power of it.
    • Instant Light – ($10 – Student / Unemployed Version) –
  • ZBrush – $795 (Permanent) – For details and sculpting, this program is super powerful.  I think it was a good purchase, but the first months / year of learning it, I really found I hated the interface.  It’s so confusing, but that’s because it’s so powerful
    • ZBrush Bridge –
    • ZBrush License Transfer from Mac to Win –
    • Keyshot for ZBrush –
  • Substance Painter 5 Indie – ($150 for Substance Designer / Painter Bundle,  $75 for upgrade to Substance Painter Indie 5) – For texturing your assets real nice like.
  • Daz Studio – Free! – If you want to quickly create 3d characters, customize them, and pose them, this software is great.
  • Instant Meshes – Free! – Sculpt something super cool in 3d Coat and need a quick mesh?  Use this to quickly generate a mesh of it.
  • Marmoset Toolbag 3 – ($130 Purchase for v2, Upgrade – $60 for v3) – For real time rendering.
What I Used to Use
  • Fusion 360 – Free! – I’m glad I downloaded it.  If you want to make hard surface stuff, this helps alot.
  • Maya LT – $240 (Yearly) – Once you learn to model, texture and UV, you need to rig it and animate it.  This program can do that for you.
  • Substance Designer Indie – ($150 for Substance Designer / Painter Bundle,  $50 for upgrade to Substance Designer Indie 5) –  For procedural texture generation.  This is cool, and makes textures really small, but since Substance Painter came out, I don’t think I need this.
  • Quill VR – (Free with Oculus Rift & Touch) – An interesting 3d art program for VR, but I think Gravity Sketch is more suited for hard surface pictures, which is what I’d like to focus on at the moment.
What I wished I used if I started over
Purchases I Regret Making
  • Maya 2013 – ($2300?) – I bought this when first learning because I didn’t qualify for Educational rates.  They changed the upgrade process, and now I have software that’s unused. I’m glad they have the light version now for people starting out.

Tools to Recommend?

If you know any tools that are easy to use, or could improve my workflow, let me know!