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Sketchbook vs Photoshop: Comparison for Digital Artists & Graphic designers

Sketchbook vs Photoshop: Comparison for Digital Artists & Graphic designers

Have you come across Sketchbook and Photoshop and can not decide which software is best for you? If so, you have come to the right place. Sketchbook and Photoshop are two of the most popular programs among graphic designers, artists and photographers.

Therefore, this comparison will highlight the key differences between these two softwares for these three professions. By the end of this blog post, Artists will know whether Photoshop or Sketchbook is the best software for their needs.

For beginner friendly projects, SketchBook is the easier choice as it has a shorter learning curve. However, for those looking for more advanced, all-rounder, for everything from graphics, to editing photos, Photoshop is the clear winner. SketchBook’s learning curve is less steep than that of Adobe Photoshop.

See: How to Create Amazing Photoshop Sketches [Full Guide]

Apart from the differences, we will also explore the features and creativity tools of each app. We will also explain what Photoshop and Sketchbook are for and what each app does best.

Photoshop infograph full comparison table

Whether you are a digital arts student or a professional graphic designer, this post will help you find the best app for your needs and preferences. Without further ado, let us dive into it.

Sketchbook vs Photoshop: Which is better?

Comparing Sketchbook vs Photoshop is not easy. After all, both applications are amazing tools for creatives. However, each software does a better job than the other at certain tasks. For many years, Adobe Photoshop has been the most popular editing software on the market.

In fact, over 90% of creative professionals around the world use Photoshop. It is obvious that this battle will be an uphill one for Sketchbook. But as a reliable software that has been around for more than 10 years, Sketchbook is also hard to beat.

For those that want to cut to the chase, on most advanced artwork and photo manipulation, photoshop has the advantage.

Photoshop is better at many tasks

See: 7 Best Drawing Tablets for Photoshop & Illustrator

For starters, Sketchbook is free to download and use. That automatically makes it a better choice than Photoshop for those on a budget.

And when it comes to drawing and sketching, Sketchbook is both beginner-friendly and powerful. It has numerous advanced drawing tools, lots of brushes, and comprehensive panels, selection tools, and toolbars.

Related: Best Laptops for Sketchup

On the flip side, why is Photoshop the most popular software for creative professionals? Well, there are good reasons. As an amazing all-rounder, there’s nothing Photoshop can not do.

Photoshop capabilities
When it comes to manipulating raster and vector graphics and photos, it simply doesn’t get any better than Photoshop. With this app, a designer, artist or photographer can even create animations, 3D images, etc.

Sketchbook does not have a steep learning curve, is very powerful when it comes to drawing, and is free to use. On the other hand, Photoshop is simply the most powerful editing application on the market. To find out which software is best for you, let us explore the key differences between the two programs.

Core differences between Photoshop and Sketchbook

Photoshop and Sketchbook have some overlapping features when it comes to drawing and editing graphics and images. Nevertheless, these two apps also have some major differences.

Although both Sketchbook and Photoshop can be used on pretty much any operating system (Windows, macOS, Android, iPadOS, and iOS), their system requirements differ significantly.

To be more specific, Photoshop is a more demanding software than Sketchbook. You might be able to run Photoshop with a basic hardware setup (e.g. 2GB RAM, 2-core processor), but you’ll need a pretty powerful system to have a smooth editing experience.

For those who plan to replace their device, visit iPad vs Laptop Pros and Cons: Replacing a Laptop with iPad

On the other hand, drawing on Sketchbook can be achieved with most entry-level laptops and PCs. You can check the system requirements for both Photoshop and Sketchbook at the end of this post and explore if your PC or Mac meets them.

Apart from that, a significant difference concerns their price. Sketchbook is a free to use app and its Pro version (one-time purchase of $19.99) is cheaper than a 1-month subscription ($20.99) for Photoshop. It becomes obvious that Photoshop is much more pricey than Sketchbook.

Cost differences between sketchbook and photoshop

Finally, the last difference is about editing and drawing features. In this section, Photoshop is the clear winner. In fact, the Adobe software has endless advanced features and is by far the most professional app.

Features and tools

Features and tools

Deciding which software is best for you can be a challenge. However, if you know what your needs are, it becomes easier. All you need to do is explore the features and tools that each app offers.

Let us start with Sketchbook. We can safely say that this app is very famous for many reasons. It is one of the best digital design software on the market, especially for beginners. Sketchbook offers many brushes (over 190) and advanced editing tools like cropping, guides, perspective, and more.

The app also has a top-notch user interface that gives you quick and easy access to all drawing and editing panels. Sketchbook is also an extensible software, as you can manually import elements like brushes and fonts.

Best drawing software for photo manipulation is photoshop

Technology is rapidly changing, see our post on How Fast is Technology Advancing? [Growth Charts & Statistics]

Photoshop, on the other hand, is simply infinite. Since Photoshop has been around for more than 30 years, the app contains pretty much everything a designer, artist, or photographer needs.

Even professionals who have been using Photoshop for years do not use all of its features. With ultimate control over shapes, colors, animations, drawings, photo editing tools, and more, there’s nothing better than Photoshop.

Related: Krita vs Photoshop: Which software is better for artists?

So while Sketchbook offers many editing features and tools, Photoshop is simply unbeatable in this area where you can perform extremely interesting tasks like change someone’s hair color in comparison to the original photo or stretching limbs to unrealistic measures.

Comparison Table: Photoshop vs Sketchbook

Comparison Table_ Photoshop vs Sketchbook

SketchBook makes it simple and straightforward to do tasks like converting a drawing (from paper) into a digital drawing. Photoshop on the other hand is useful for brush and pencil, similar to Sketchbook, but it integrates well into the rest of the adobe suite for animation, graphic design, and more. 

Created forGraphic design, digital art, photo editing, animation, 3D image creationGraphic design, digital art, photo editing 
DeveloperAdobeSketchbook Inc. (initially released by Alias System Corporation)
Release DateFebruary 19, 1990September 17, 2009
Current Versionv.22.4.2V5.2.5 (July 30, 2021)
Pricing$20.99 per month, $19.99 for students and teachers (all Adobe apps bundle)Free-to-use (Sketchbook), $19.99 (Sketchbook Pro)
Supported OSMacOS, Microsoft Windows, Android, iOS. Check the system requirements for Photoshop hereMacOS, Microsoft Windows, Android, iOS. Check the system requirements for Sketchbook here
Multilingual SupportPhotoshop is available in 26 languages (including English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Korean, Turkish, Chinese) Sketchbook offers multilingual support as well (English, German, French, Spanish, Japanese, and more)
Infogrpahic comparison between sketchbook and photoshop

Even though both Sketchbook and photoshop has ideal advanced functions needed in terms of color, texture, gray scales, layering, I found photoshop to be more intuitive simply because I’m used to the adobe suite. Both allow for the typical formats; including, but not limited to PSD as well as 3d formats like U3D, KML, OBJ, and more.

If you’re a new artist, Sketchbook may be easier to pick up, but is it worth it to go with Photoshop? Let’s dive further into what photoshop will allow for you regardless of expertise.

What is Adobe Photoshop

What is Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is a software that allows you to manipulate raster graphics. It was developed by Thomas & John Knoll and it was initially released in 1990. From that point on, the app has been continuously improved and became an ultimate tool for creative professionals.

With Photoshop any photographer, designer or artist can produce digital artwork or edit graphics like photos, animations, etc. Photoshop is only one of the apps Adobe has developed for creators.

The full Adobe bundle includes many software for illustration (Adobe Illustrator), video editing (Adobe Premiere Pro), photo editing (Adobe Lightroom), and more.

Pros of Photoshop

Photoshop advantage list we researched
  • Has advanced capabilities
  • Photo enhancement and restoration
  • Photo manipulation, resizing, and cropping images
  • Design capabilities for web design/graphics & animation
  • Great for all around drawings and digital painting
  • Varying, adjustable brush sizes and tools
  • Integrates well with the adobe suite
  • Website design and layout advantages
Advanced software complexity photoshop

Cons of Photoshop

  • May feel a bit advanced for beginner digital artists, particularly the interface and the number of advanced tools.
  • A bit more expensive
  • Bulky, requires storage space on hard drive.
  • So advanced that even professionals  don’t even use every feature

What is Sketchbook Pro?

What is Sketchbook Pro_

Sketchbook is one of the most innovative editor apps for designers. It was developed by Alias Systems Corporation in 2009. Later, it was acquired by a well-known brand, Autodesk. Autodesk is also the company behind AutoCAD, Maya and other design software.

As of June 2021 Autodesk discontinued Sketchbook and the software was acquired by a brand called Sketchbook Inc. This is good news for creative professionals since Sketchbook Inc. solely focuses on improving only this software.

The Pro version of the app is called Sketchbook Pro. It offers numerous advanced editing features and tools when it comes to creating digital art and editing raster graphics.

So, Is Autodesk SketchBook better than Photoshop for beginner artists? Yes, it’s aimed for those who need a more straight forward, intuitive approach to their digital drawing creation.

Sketchbook vs Photoshop full review of both

Take a look below to see the pros and cons of Sketchbook:

Pros of Autodesk Sketchbook

  • Good overall ‘sketch’ application
  • Great for concept design, digital painting, and coloring tasks
  • Manipulation of photos is simple and straightforward
  • Ideal for Beginner artists
  • Intuitive layout, layering capable.
  • Satisfies many core capabilities artists require
  • Less expensive than apps like photoshop
  • Has both a free version and paid

Cons of Autodesk Sketchbook

  • Ceiling of potential advanced features is shortened compared to that of photoshop
  • The toolset is less advanced compared to other digital drawing and sketch softwares
  • Designed primarily with the use of drawing or sketching in mind
  • Canvas size has smaller potential than that of some other drawing softwares.
Example of photoshop and layering

Tip: If using Sketchbook, be sure to enable ‘pen mode’ under ‘settings’ to reduce accidental marks and gestures. Artists drawing anime or manga may want to consider checking thoroughly in the app settings for miscellaneous features they may need.

Photoshop vs Autodesk Sketchbook: Which is better for student artists, designers?

Photoshop vs Autodesk Sketchbook_ Which is better for student artists, designers_

Both Photoshop and Sketchbook are used by numerous graphic design, art and photography students around the world. However, each app has its advantages when it comes to students.

Let us start with Sketchbook, a completely free app. When you consider that Photoshop is quite expensive, this is a big advantage of Sketchbook over Photoshop, especially for art students on a budget.

Also, Sketchbook is a pretty beginner-friendly software. It has a very user-friendly interface and you can easily master the editing and drawing tools. Sketchbook is also available for all types of operating systems and you can use it on pretty much any entry-level laptop, PC, tablet or mobile phone.

On the other hand, Photoshop is also an ideal choice for some students. For example, if you are studying photography and need a powerful photo editor, Photoshop is the software for you.

Which drawing software wins between sketchbook and photo shop adobe

If you are retouching a photo, you may want a stylus with pen pressure, which is something photoshop allows for. If you have problems with this, then see our post on how to fix it when Photoshop Pen Pressure isn’t working.

Photoshop also offers an extensive collection of toolbars and advanced features for designers and artists such as markers, shapes, rulers and ink on top of the photo enhancement features. Therefore, it is a better choice than Sketchbook for students who plan to create serious artwork.

In any case, it is an excellent thing to learn how to use Photoshop during your studies. Do not forget that you will take this knowledge with you throughout your professional career. (source)

Alternatives: What Software is better than Photoshop?

What Software is better than Photoshop_

Although Photoshop is an ultimate jack-of-all-trades for creative professionals, there are some features that its competitors do better than it. For example, because Photoshop is primarily a powerful editor for graphics and images, it is quite a demanding software.

So, let us say you are an artist and you just want to draw with a powerful digital art software. In this case, you do not need all the photo editing features that Photoshop offers. For this reason, there are alternative applications that can cover your needs while being lighter than Photoshop.

Procreate, Adobe Illustrator, and Sketchbook, for example, are perfect for creating top-notch digital art.

On the other hand, if you simply need a beginner-friendly photo editing app, Adobe Lightroom is the best solution for you. 

Adobe photoshop popular or is sketchbook

Finally, for video editing, there are more advanced apps than Photoshop, for example Adobe Premiere Pro. All in all, there are apps that are easier and more comprehensive when it comes to doing a particular task.

Disadvantages of Adobe Photoshop & Autodesk Sketchbook

Keep in mind, These apps are not without disadvantages such as limited functionality specific to their purposes.

These applications are also not as demanding as a video editing tool, but may still require a tutorial for digital painting due to their learning curve. This is especially true if you’re using a drawing tablet like the cintiq. (not to be confused with a digital writing pad.

If you’re using a stylus for photoshop or are redrawing old art work that was originally on a medium like paper, then you may want to consider the apple pencil, particularly if you’re on iPad as your primary drawing/retouching device.

Nevertheless, Photoshop has a unique feature: it can easily handle numerous tasks. From creating digital illustrations to editing photos and animations, there’s little Photoshop can not do. Both softwares have designer packs and sketch brushes created by the community for download.

Autodesk sketchbook vs Photoshop: System requirements

Autodesk sketchbook vs Photoshop_ System requirements

System requirements of Autodesk Sketchbook

If using a  Mac, you’ll want to use 2.4 GHz intel or AMD CPU for your processor. If windows, then  2.5 -2.9 Ghz. Ensure a minimum of 4GB RAM, but ideally higher to deal with future software upgrades as well as using other softwares that may be more resource demanding. Graphics card of 256MB is ideal. You’ll also want to make sure your using a graphics or Drawing tablet with a stylus (Source)

Similar to photoshop and procreate, autodesk Sketchbook also supports PNG, JPG, and many other filetypes.

Related: Krita vs Medibang: Which software is better for artists?

System requirements of Adobe Photoshop

If using a MacOS or windows, you’ll need a laptop or computer with a 2Gz or faster with 64-bit support. intel or AMD CPU for your processor. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 or higher Graphics card is ideal.

Those who want a powerful device may want to consider a Gaming Laptop for Graphic Design due to the strong performance and moderately low price points.

Just like sketchbook, you’ll want to make sure your using a graphics or Drawing tablet with a stylus for maximum precision. As far as RAM, be sure to grab 2GB RAM minimum, ideally higher is better.

Bottom line

When comparing Photoshop vs Sketchbook to decide which is better for artists, keep in mind that Photoshop remains the authority in the digital drawing space between the two.

Photoshop is ideal for professional level work and has advanced capabilities that come along with its toolset. It uses bitmap graphics and allows for manipulation such as photo editing, retouching of faces or people, color correction, and 3D work for images.

Is Autodesk SketchBook good? Yes, Sketchbook on the other hand is intuitive, allows for 130+ brushes, and makes for a fantastic beginner or intermediate drawing tool for most devices. Both digital art softwares work better when used with a drawing or graphics tablet for maximum graphic design precision & accuracy.

About the author:

Photo of Paul Michael, Founder of MediaPeanut

Paul Michael

Paul Michael is a media and technology expert whose research reveals how technology and media are being used in the world today. He has expertise on computers, the internet, streaming, Roku, electronics, and education. He also enjoys graphic design & digital art. Paul has his Bachelors of Arts and Science(s) from Rutgers University-New Brunswick, NJ