Good Free Drawing Programs For Mac

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If you’re looking for CAD software for Mac, you’re not without options. We’ve found some standout Mac and cloud-based CAD platforms for you.

Vector Drawing Programs For Mac

You’re likely to hit a wall if you’re searching for computer-aided design (CAD) software designed for Mac. There are plenty of CAD software options for Windows—you’ll see many of them in our list of the top AutoCAD alternatives—but only a handful offer support for Mac.

And, if you think you’ll bypass the issue by using a cloud-based CAD tool, you’ll quickly find that CAD vendors haven’t embraced the cloud as much as other types of software vendors have, so the offerings are still largely on-premise. According to Gartner’s Hype Cycle for IT Evolution (full content available to Gartner clients), cloud-native CAD applications still have five to 10 years before they reach mainstream adoption.

But fear not, Mac users. We’ve done some digging and have put together this list of the top-rated CAD software for Mac. Read more about our methodology at the bottom of this article.

XP-Pen is a professional and reliable supplier of graphics tablets,pen display monitors,stylus pens and more digital graphical products. XP-Pen digital art sketch tablets are designed to unleash. Ending our list of some of the best free drawing apps for Mac in 2020, we have Autodesk Sketchbook. It is by far one of the most powerful drawing software that you can use for free and has been recommended by all professionals alike.

5 Best CAD Software for Mac (presented alphabetically)

Jump to:


  • CorelCAD

  • FreeCAD

  • Fusion 360

  • LibreCAD

  • Onshape

Best Free Technical Drawing Software For Mac

1. CorelCAD

CorelCAD offers 2D drafting and 3D design capabilities, such as the drawing constraints feature for creating different geometric shapes faster and the push and pull feature for 3D direct modeling.

3D modeling in CorelCAD (Source)

Common user feedback trends

Based on analyses of user reviews on Capterra, here’s an overview of the areas of CorelCAD they like best, as well as those they feel could use improvement.

What users like:

  • The short learning curve: Users mention that the tool is easy to use and beginners don’t have to spend a lot of time learning it.
  • Compatibility with multiple file types: Users like the fact that the tool is compatible with DWG, PDF, ACIS, DXF, STL, CDR, and other file formats.

What users think could be improved:

  • Software reliability issues: Some users mention that the software tends to crash at times.
  • Better dimension functionality: Some users would like a better dimensioning feature for more accurate drawings of angles and proportions.

Who can use CorelCAD

CorelCAD can be used by construction businesses for collaborative editing on multiple devices. It offers native iOS applications, which makes it easy for field crews to add annotations in graphics and share files using their iPhones and iPads. Additionally, the tool allows team members to leave recorded messages and instructions for colleagues embedded in the graphics using a voice note tool.

Mac

2. FreeCAD

FreeCAD is an open source CAD tool that works on Mac as well as Windows and Linux. It reads many common file formats such as STEP, IGES, STL, SVG, DXF, OBJ, IFC, and DAE.

It offers different modules, including a drawing sheets module that converts 3D models into 2D views, a rendering module that can export 3D objects, and an architecture module for a BIM-like workflow.

3D model of a building in FreeCAD (Source)

Common user feedback trends

Based on analysis of user reviews on Capterra, here’s an overview of the areas of FreeCAD they like best, as well as those they feel could use improvement.

What users like:

  • Feature-richness for a free tool: Users mention that, although it’s free, the tool comes with a full set of features.
  • Reliability: Users mention that the tool does not demand a lot of CPU power and works well on devices with low RAM.

What users think could be improved:

  • Steep learning curve: Users mention that the tool is not the most user-friendly solution and can be difficult for beginners to learn.
  • Dependent on community for updates: Users mention that modules ignored by the community tend to become outdated quickly.

Who can use FreeCAD

FreeCAD appears to be best for hobbyists and home users. It’s also good for users who don’t have a high budget for software but still want to tinker with CAD modeling.

FreeCAD could also be a good choice for businesses on a budget looking for a free and open-source option.

3. Fusion 360

Fusion 360 is a CAD tool from Autodesk with design functionalities such as sketching and 3D modeling. It also supports project management with features such as task management, document management, and collaborative image editing.

Document management in Fusion 360 (Source)

Common user feedback trends

Based on analysis of user reviews on Capterra, here’s an overview of the areas of Fusion 360 they like best, as well as those they feel could use improvement.

What users like:

  • Comprehensive design features: User mention that the tool offers all the functionalities necessary for 2D and 3D designing.
  • Availability of training resources: Users like the fact that the tool comes with ample documentation and tutorials.

What users think could be improved:

  • System crashes: Users mention that the tool tends to crash, especially when designing and rendering large files.
  • Steep learning curve: Users mention that it can take a lot of time to learn the advanced functionalities of the tool.

Who can use Fusion 360

Fusion 360 is part of the Autodesk ecosystem designed for the AEC industry. This makes the tool suitable for construction businesses that are already using, or intend to use, other Autodesk solutions. Using a software vendor that offers multiple solutions will especially benefit larger businesses that invariably need software that can scale with their growing requirements.

4. LibreCAD

LibreCAD is an open source CAD tool that supports Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems. The tool comes with 2D drawing features such as a snap tool, dimensioning, and annotations. It also supports multiple file imports and exports.

2D drawing in LibreCAD (Source)

Common user feedback trends

Based on analysis of user reviews on Capterra, here’s an overview of the areas of LibreCAD they like best, as well as those they feel could use improvement.

What users like:

  • Ease of use: Users mention that the tool offers an intuitive and easy-to-use interface.
  • Lots of tutorials: Users like the fact that there are ample video tutorials that help them get started with the tool.

What users think could be improved:

  • Software speed: Users mention that the software tends to lag, especially when trying to print designs.
  • Add support for 3D design: Users would like to see functionalities for creating 3D designs.

Who can use LibreCAD

LibreCAD is an exclusively 2D CAD tool for drawing and designing blueprints of buildings, layouts of parks, and the like. As a free tool, the solution can be used by small and midsize businesses across different industries, including manufacturing, engineering, architecture, and construction.

Software

5. Onshape

Onshape is a cloud-only CAD solution that comes with features such as document management with version control, collaborative design creation/editing capabilities, and reporting dashboards to understand project status.

Importing documents in Onshape (Source)

Common user feedback trends

Best Free Architectural Drawing Software For Mac

Based on analysis of user reviews on Capterra, here’s an overview of the areas of Onshape they like best, as well as those they feel could use improvement.

What users like:

  • Document version control: Users like the document management features of the tool, such as version history.
  • Intuitive interface: Users mention that the tool comes with an intuitive interface for easy image editing.

What users think could be improved:

  • Performance issues: Some users mention that the tool does not function well on non-Chrome browsers and has file loading issues.
  • Lack of features: Users mention that the tool should improve certain features such as 2D drawing and 3D surfacing.

Who can use Onshape

As a fully-cloud based tool, Onshape is ideal for businesses that need to manage design documents collaboratively with multiple stakeholders. The tool’s collaboration functionalities include document sharing, document editing, comments, and file downloads in multiple CAD formats, such as Parasolid, ACIS, STEP, and IGES.

Next steps

This report offers a mix of Mac CAD solutions—from free tools that can help you with basic 2D drawing to advanced solutions offering extensive 3D modeling functionalities.

If these tools don’t meet your needs, expand your search and check out more options. To help you, we’ve created a CAD software comparison page where you can explore products using different filters, such as features offered and pricing options.

If you’re looking to understand the CAD software market better, we also recommend that you read the articles listed below:

Methodology

To be shortlisted, products had to fulfill the following criteria:

  • Products had to be compatible with Mac and offer core CAD software capabilities, such as:
    • 2D drawing or 3D modeling features
    • Collaborative editing of drawings
  • Products needed a minimum of 20 user reviews on Capterra (published in the last two years).
  • Products had to have a high overall rating (an average of at least 4 out of 5 on Capterra).

Note: The content in this piece that provides opinions and points of view expressed by users. It does not represent the views of Capterra.

Looking for Construction Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Construction Management software solutions.

Paid tools for digital painting have set the industry standard for what is possible with these programs, right? Not necessary. There is so much great free drawing software available today. Tired of subscription slavery and the epidemic of bloatware, professional artists are even switching from the paid apps they’ve been using for years.

The question is – where can we find these tools? Travel no further. We have handpicked the best free drawing programs that you can use to create compelling artworks without paying a single penny.

Krita

Programs

Platforms: Linux, Windows, macOS
Download link: krita.org

Krita is an open source painting program made by artists for artists. The tool is completely free and the only way you can support its creator is by donating. Its main focus is on the artistic painting for cartoons, anime or canvas art, meaning that some features that you may need for photo editing or image manipulation were not prioritized in development.

One of the main strengths of Krita is its brush engine. You can tweak and create brushes for ages, and Krita comes with more than nine brush engines. The customization process is versatile and one can create an almost infinite amount of brushes specific to the task. However, the default set of brushes is more than enough to start creating art – and you can always find more packs on the internet, free of charge.

Another advantage that Krita offers is its layers mechanics. The layering system resembles that of Photoshop and allows all standard operations: merging, blending, grouping etc. There is a variety of layer types that you can create: paint layers, vector layers, fill & file layers.

Krita supports layered PSD files, so you can open Photoshop files or export your work using that format.

Artwork made with Krita by David Revoy

Pros:

  • Profound brush engine
  • Strong focus on digital painting
  • PSD export
  • Open-source community with constant updates and new features

Cons:

  • Users (rarely) report performance issues on some platforms
  • Some photo-editing tools are lacking
  • Working with text (exported as bitmap)
  • Not all features are extensively documented

Gimp

Platform: Linux, macOS, Windows
Download link: gimp.org

Gimp is one of the oldest raster graphic editors that’s free to use since it’s early release in 1996. It has a wide and devoted user base with many tutorials and documentation available online.

Up until the last year many new users were skeptical towards adopting the program, since for years it has had issues such as outdated UI, jagged brush work and poor performance on new PC’s. However, the recent big April update addressed all of these, being the result of six years of work (the previous version of Gimp was released in 2012).

Gimp was always more of an image editing program than a drawing one. With all the latest updates, its functionality is almost on par with Photoshop’s. Gimp has filters, adjustments modes, color management, and all the tools professional photo editors (photographers, designers etc.) might use in their daily work. Developers also polished PSD import, and added new image formats (OpenEXR, RGBE, WebP, HGT).

However, Gimp has a lot to offer digital painters as well. The newest version includes long-awaited updates for the brush work (symmetry painting, hardware pixel processing) and canvas management (rotating, flipping, previewing).

Free

One particular advantage of Gimp is the highly customizable UI. With all the features it offers, Gimp is the closest alternative to Photoshop in terms of the number of things you are able to do with it, and the latest update brought it even closer.

Pros:

  • Multi-functional image editing
  • Highly customizable (You can even make it look and work like Photoshop)
  • Offers extended functionality with custom plugins

Cons:

  • Linux’s first development may rarely cause some performance issues on Windows
  • UI can be a bit overwhelming when first starting
  • Pen pressure might need to be reconfigured, especially on Windows

Autodesk’s SketchBook Pro

Platform: macOS, Windows, Android, iOS
Download link:sketchbook.com

Good Free Drawing Programs For Mac Os X

In April 2018, Autodesk made the SketchBook Pro drawing program absolutely free. No hidden costs, no subscription fees — all you have to do in order to use this drawing software with all its premium features is simply create an Autodesk account. But even then, you don’t have to do it for the first seven days.

This has completely changed the dynamic of the free drawing software market, because the number of features this program offers for free is simply amazing.

Here’s a video with commentary and some valuable SketchBook Pro tips for artists:

Sketchbook is a part of the Autodesk software suite, a heavily engineering-oriented company. Engineers and industrial designers have been using Sketchbook for years in order to create accurate, yet simple and visually appealing sketches.

That’s why sketchbook offers wonderful perspective features: grids, dynamic vanishing point alignment, vanishing point managements, etc. It allows you to quickly build perspective grids for your art, which is valuable for concept artists, industrial designers, and architects.

French curves is another feature you won’t find in many painting programs. They allow you to trace smooth curves, a feature that is also widely used in industrial design.

The UI is simple, yet very effective. You can easily turn on only those sections of UI that you’re currently using, so that your work area is not swamped by a large amount of tools.

You can download additional brushes without having to browse the Internet — whole packs can be downloaded from the main menu of the program. This drawing program supports PSD files and all the common graphic formats you might need.

SketchBook also has a mobile version available on Android and iOS. So you can, for example, take a photo of something and then instantly start drawing over it.

Pros:

    • Elegant, simple UI
    • Advanced perspective tools
    • Desktop and Mobile versions

Animation Mode

Cons:

  • No filters
  • No advanced editing options

MyPaint

Platform: Linux, Windows
Download link:mypaint.org

MyPaint has been around since 2008 and its development model is contribution-based, with the latest stable version released in 2016. The app is open-source, simple, and stable.

It’s well-optimized for working with tablets, so the brush flow is smooth and glitch-free, which is great given that the program is not developed by a corporation, but by a number of volunteer developers.

Unlike trying to install heavier drawing solutions, MyPaint is easy on computer resources, so using it on old laptops and PC’s is a great option.

The UI is pretty up-to-date and feels more modern than, for example, Paint.net.

MyPaint supports layers and basic color adjustments. It also has cool features, like symmetry mode, connected lines, and curves. It comes with a set of brushes that have this almost organic feel to them. However, some advanced features are not there, e.g it has no animation tools.

Overall, MyPaint is a perfect choice for light sketching work, if you don’t need advanced features and want to rationally use system resources.

Pros:

  • Actively updated by a community
  • Modern, minimalistic UI
  • Simple and resource-efficient

Cons:

  • No animation tools
  • No desktop version

FireAlpaca

Platforms: macOS, Windows
Download link: firealpaca.com

Despite the simple-looking interface, FireAlpaca is a surprisingly workable free tool beloved by many artists. It supports all the core features digital artists need: brushes, layers, multiple image tabs, and editing tools.

A simple UI allows you to focus on the primary goal: painting, and it makes this program very intuitive from the start. The brush control is no worse than paid software analogs; FireAlpaca supports multiple pressure levels and has an adjustable smoothing feature that aids the linework.

Unexpectedly elaborated are FireAlpaca’s perspective tools. Snap feature allows you to easily create perspective grids with multiple vanishing points, both linear and radial. This is especially useful for creating comics and storyboards with often uncommon perspective angles.

Artwork made in FireAlpaca by Manga-omega. Watch Speedpaint video here.

It’s also worth mentioning that FireAlpaca has a built-in basic animation toolset (though you might want to find a tutorial for that) and supports PSD file format.

Pros:

  • Simple & intuitive UI
  • Smooth brush flow
  • Excellent comic perspective features
  • Basic animation tools

Cons:

  • Overly simplistic, not suitable for complex editing tasks

MediBang Paint Pro

Platforms: Windows, macOS, iPad, iPhone, Android
Download link: medibangpaint.com

The key advantage of MediBang Paint Pro is its ubiquity – the program has a counterpart for almost every device you might have. With cloud storage you can effortlessly transfer your art between different devices. For example, you might start drawing something on your Kindle, and then later finish the drawing on your Mac.

The trick is, MediBang Paint and FireAlpaca are made by the same company. That explains why many features between these programs are quite similar, and why the brush workflow is great in both of them. It’s hard to point out differences between them, except for Medi’s cross-platformity and cloud tools. This, in turn, leads to MediBang Pro being compatible with a larger number of tablets, while FireAlpaca is mostly optimized for brand names like Wacom.

Artwork made with MediBang Paint by たく

Some specific features (e.g. materials) that are available in desktop versions may not be available on mobile versions, but then again, cloud sharing addresses that.

Overall, MediBang Paint Pro is one of these good free drawing programs that are surprisingly resourceful.

Pros:

  • Supports multiple platforms and tablets
  • Amazing brush presets

Cons:

  • Requires a MediBang account
  • A large number of tutorials are in the Japanese language (however, there are English articles)

Paint.Net

Platform: Windows
Download link: getpaint.net

Paint.Net is a simple alternative to GIMP. It is a perfect match for those looking for quick photo and image editing, without skimming through pages of tutorials and additional menus.

But don’t let its simplicity fool you – the tool supports all the features one may need for all-around editing of images: layers, adjustment modes, and special effects. You can get rid of red eyes, blend images or adjust color as effectively as with any other feature-loaded analogue. Paint.NET also supports extensions, if you want to expand its capabilities.

The user interface resembles that of a Photoshop, so if you have had any experience with the program, using Paint.NET will feel even more intuitive. The app also features automatic updates, including bug fixes and new features.

Pros:

Drawing
  • Easy to use, working image-editing solution
  • Simple and neat UI
  • Extensions & updates

Cons:

  • Simplicity is a double-edged sword – advanced features may be missing
  • No macOS version

Afterword

Drawing is not just drawing. Creating the right color combinations also makes the picture perfect. Take a look at Pollack. He created such beautiful color combinations that he did not even bother to draw.

If you’re looking for inspiration with color combinations, you should definitely check out Eggradients.

Just a decade ago we didn’t really have a choice: There was one paid program and one free. Nowadays there are so many great apps, it’s hard to pick one even among the free ones available.

There are no clear winners, and the only question that can really narrow down the choice is whether you are planning to use these programs for digital painting (Krita, FireAlpaca, MebiBang Paint Pro), or for photo & image editing (GIMP, Paint.NET).

Fascinating art can be created with any of these programs (yes, even with Paint.NET). So the question is how comfortable you are with the tools you are using, and there’s only one person who can answer that question.

Check the handy list of free software for vector drawing

Read useful tips on how to become a graphic designer and check 6 temptations of a graphic designer creating icons.

Try tools for creators by the Icons8 team:

Icons8, a library of about 130K+ icons and clip art images
Offline app and plugins to drag’n’drop icons and clip art to any design tools
Moose, the big collection of high-quality stock photos
Ouch! , a library of vector illustrations and collages
Photo Creator, free collage maker with AI technologies to make custom photos
Vector Creator, free collage maker to make custom illustrations for your designs
Lunacy, free graphic design software with built-in design resources
Smart Upscaler, image upscaler to enlarge and enhance images using AI
Generated Photos, unique, worry-free model photos generated by AI
Also, get the lists of free vector software and free photo editing software.