Visual artists used to create art with real tools like paints, brushes and canvases. Because of the advancement in technology we can now create art completely digitally by using painting tools specifically designed for computer programs. To make the creative process even more realistic, you can use a graphic tablet and pens like the XP Pen.
The XP-Pen is an incredible PC drawing tool that allows you to transfer the strokes of your pen to the digital environment. It’s easier than ever to set up the tablet and start working on designs, without feeling a big difference from using pen and paper.
With a digital media creator tool and a XP-Pen, you have everything you need for your creative process, at your fingertips. As a result, you can use the physical space in your studio to expose your art to the world without worrying about stacking different brushes and inks on your desk.
In this article, we are exploring some of the best software choices on the market that are compatible with the XP-Pen. Their features should cover all your creative needs.
Corel Painter (recommended)
Corel Painter is a great tool for creating digital art using your XP-Pen. This software gives you a wide range of tools that can enable you to express yourself without any limits.
The current interface was redesigned completely in the 2019 edition for a better user experience. The new interface has a dark theme and more than 650 redesigned icons. The new icons are larger and easier to understand than in previous versions.
Corel Painter has 3 gray themes available – the original light gray, middle gray and dark theme. The darker themes allows a better isolation of colors for a clearer work-space.
Key features of Corel Painter include:
- Use thick paints that imitate traditional painting with tools like scrub, push, scrape, and bristle brushes
- Better UI and performance
- 36 new brushes and a new brush category
- Updated larger slider bar for easier control
- Circular color grabbers for ease of access
- Stamp category: trees, dragons, tribal tattoos, etc.
- Patterns: fire, moss, hazard, etc.
You can find a wide range of tutorials from Corel on the official website.
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Adobe Illustrator CC
As one of the most popular apps from this software developer, Adobe Illustrator has evolved constantly since its release in 1986. This app allows you to take your creative ideas to the next level by using it paired with an XP graphic pen.
Adobe Illustrator is a vector-based software and it uses mathematical constructs to create vector graphics. This tool is used especially for designing logos and other graphics that can be stretched to infinity without losing image quality.
You can find a wide range of tutorials and other tips and tricks on the official Adobe website.
The new version of Illustrator adds a wide range of features to an already powerful app:
- Improved properties panel: streamlines your workflow by giving you quick access to tools, effects, and options
- Puppet warp tool: transform your vector graphics without using anchor paths or individual paths
- Anchor points: set the dimension of anchor points to any values
- Quick actions panel: recolor, expand or arrange shapes, and other tools
- OpenType variable fonts: customize the weight, width and slant of fonts
- SVG color fonts: add multiple colors and gradients to a single glyph
- Stylistic sets: apply predefined glyph alternates to blocks of text
- Art boards: create up to 1000 art boards to make room for all your designs
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Adobe Photoshop is one of the most popular tools from Adobe for digital creations. This program is designed to give you all the tools needed in order to modify existing images or graphics, and is fully compatible with your XP-Pen.
You can use Photoshop to create raster images, which are images that are made out of individual colored squares (pixels). Compared to the vector images that you can create in Illustrator, this type of image will look jagged on the edges, and can not be resized without the quality of the image being affected.
Some of the best features of Adobe Photoshop include:
- Stroke smoothing
- Brushes from Kyle T. Webster
- Color and luminance range masking
- Access Lightroom photos
- Variable fonts
- Curvature pen tool
- Custom path color and width
- Depth Map import from High Efficiency Image File (HEIF)
The new version of Adobe Photoshop adds some important features to its powerful tool set:
- Digital painting tools: create, use and edit layers
- Camera shake reduction tool: reduces the blur of your image (especially useful for creating vector art)
- Cloud storage: access your projects from anywhere while having your files secured
If you need a step by step guide on how to start using Adobe Photoshop, you can find a good range of tutorials on the official Adobe website.
Editor’s Note: If you’re interested in other drawing and animation tools, check out our wide collection of guides.
GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free and powerful alternative to Adobe Photoshop. This program comes wide a wide array of tools and customizing options that allow you create amazing artworks. This program is compatible with the XP-Pen graphic pen.
Gimp includes a lot of useful features like layers, a wide range of customization options for brushes, and impressive amount of plug-ins and filters, and more.
If you need a step-by-step guide regarding how to set up and start using your Xp-Pen with GIMP, go to the official XP Pen support page.
Being an open source software, GIMP is continuously developed by the GIMP community. This allows for fast debugging and an engaging experience between Gimp users.
Because of it’s open source licensing, users can also create their own plug-ins from scratch and share them with the community.
Key features of GIMP include:
- High quality photo manipulation tools, such as retouching and restoring
- Can create icons, graphic design elements, and artwork
- Supports programming languages like C, C++, Perl, Python, and Scheme
- Updated UI + HiDPI support
- 4 themes: dark, gray, light, system
- Icons can be set to 4 different sizes
- GEGL image processing: can process images with up to 32-bit per color channel precision
- Multi-threading: ability to use multiple cores for processing
- Built-in color management
- LittleCMS v2: adds support for ICC v4 color profiles
You can also check out step-by-step guides on how to use GIMP.
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Affinity Designer is another powerful software option that allows you to use its wide range of tools to create art using XP-Pen. This app is a vector graphic design software and it was specifically built to be fast and intuitive.
Affinity can be used to create a wide range pf illustrations, icons, branding, UI design, typography, concept art, etc. Because this software offers great control over curves and colors, creating original and beautiful art has never been easier. Your imagination is your limit.
Key features of Affinity Designer include:
- Wide range of geometrical shapes with automatic snapping points
- Rope and windows stabilizers: for creating easy freehand curves
- Amazing text features: create artistic typography by editing leading, kerning, tracking, etc.
- Ability to easily switch between raster and vector
- Advanced grids: customizable spacing, sub divisions, angles, etc.
- Split screen and outline views
- Live pixel preview
- Dynamic symbols
You can find a wide range of video tutorials to help you get started using Affinity Designer.
In this article, we explored some of the best drawing software options to use XP-Pen for creating stunning digital art.
The features included in these 5 software options will surely get you started on your creative journey.
You can start by trying out the free GIMP studio, and once you learn more about this industry, consider switching to a professional application like Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop.
If you want to dive right in the advanced tools and don’t mind learning every step of the process, click on the tutorials links provided above.
Let us know what drawing software tool is your favorite for using XP-Pen in the comment section below.
Does XP-Pen come with software?
Yes, XP-Pen has its own software app for Android devices called XP-Pen Deco Draw.
Which is better: Huion or XP-Pen?
Huion comes with many programmable keys and a drawing area that’s big enough for time-consuming projects. But XP-Pen is easy to set up and comes with lifetime technical support. To learn more, check out the best drawing tablets for Windows 10.
What is the easiest drawing software?
Autodesk Sketchbook, Corel Painter, and Krita are easy enough for beginners, but you should check out the best software for drawing tablets like XP-Pen.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2018 and has been since revamped and updated in March 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.