I keep my digital setup as simple as possible and use a single painting program plus three auxiliary programs.
Clip Studio Paint
This is a fully equipped illustrator’s studio in digital form.
The software makes painting, drawing, and coloring genuine pleasures.
The brushes respond beautifully to the touch, and the brush engine is extraordinarily powerful. In fact, it adds what seems like a million potential tweaks to every brush. And that enables me to either customize existing brushes to my exact needs, or create unique brushes from scratch.
Changing brushes, and changing brush size and opacity on the fly, is a breeze.
Selecting colors, or selecting variations of a particular color (hue, value, or blends), are simple and very visual.
One can also work on either raster or vector layers, using multiple combinations of the two in a single illustration.
Overall, the program is totally immersive and a delight to use.
Link to software: Clip Studio Paint
I don’t much care for Photoshop’s brush engine or its painting capabilities. I find the entire PS painting process much too clunky for my taste.
It is, however, a superior manipulator of color, contrast, & tone. And that is what I use it for, tweaking my final output from Clip Studio Paint.
Link to software: Photoshop
Lazy Nezumi Pro
This strangely named but extraordinary program boasts a unique and powerful brush stabilizer. In addition, it has an impressive collection of drawing guides. The guide I use the most often is the perspective ruler.
Although Clip Studio Paint has a built-in perspective ruler, I find the Lazy Nezumi Pro version provides more flexibility and power.
Link to software: Lazy Nezumi Pro
This small program overlays the digital canvas with adjustable grids.
These grids are variations on the classic Golden Ratio proportions and are most helpful when in the construction and layout phases.
Link to software: PhiMatrix