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14 Best Graphic Design Software

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And as you know, the right choice of design software depends on:

  • creativity;
  • the speed of project development;
  • even the designer's success. 

Fast workflow and good software are essential for creating modern graphics. And no matter how talented you are as a graphic designer. As a creative graphic designer, you should also be flexible and able to handle various tasks.

Ideally, you will want a tool that is specifically suited for vector graphics design. It should also have color editing options. They will work in CMYK and HSB over the more common RGB. 

So, which graphic design software is best for which job? Below are well-known programs for advanced designers and beginners. So, below are only balanced variants of the best software for graphics design.

1. GIMP

GIMP

Cost:

free

Level of difficulty:

3 out of 5

GIMP has come a long way as one of the first open-source graphic designer apps. Its strength lies in photo editing, whether for quick fixes or redesigns. It is an easy alternative to power applications such as Adobe Photoshop. 

GIMP provides most of the same features for free. Also, it has a customizable workspace with easy navigation. GIMP generally works well with Photoshop files.

So, Photoshop updates its platform more often, which causes compatibility issues. Separately, the support for GIMP is outstanding. The documentation, knowledge base, and community are beneficial. 

Despite its reliability, GIMP requires a difficult learning curve. As it often happens with open-source software. 

With this free design software, you can quickly perform simple tasks: 

  • crop images;
  • remove the red-eye effect;
  • crop illustrations and add text to them.

The good points of GIMP are:

  • a wide range of tools for image processing;
  • it has frequent updates;
  • it can open PSD and PDF formats, which are the most often used by clients or other designers. 

Cons of GIMP:

  • it is impossible to adjust each layer of an image and apply effects to it; 
  • it does not support CMYK color format, which limits what you can print.

2. Inkscape

Inkscape

Cost:

free

Level of difficulty:

3 out of 5

Inkscape is an open-source vector graphics tool. It combines many features in a free program. The trick is to learn it since the user interface is not as intuitive as the paid programs.

Even so, the developers provide documentation and a forum for answers. It's a great free design software companion for apps like Adobe Illustrator. It is good because of its flexibility and file support. 

Inkscape has many features, mainly because it's free and can import AI and CorelDRAW files. Cross-platform compatibility makes it a great collaboration tool. So, it is independent of proprietary formats. Although it's not exactly pretty, it's functional.

The functionality of Inkscape:
The functionality is the same as in previous programs:

  • changing the shape and color of pictures and text;
  • formatting of bitmap images into vector images;
  • working with drawing tools (ellipse, star, spiral, or gradient);
  • collaborative design.

Pros of free design software:

  • free access; 
  • rendering: you can draw static elements into 3D objects; 
  • you can use this tool in:
  • movies;
  • commercials;
  • video games;
  • to create architectural 3D visualizations.

Disadvantages of Inkscape:

  • relatively slow; 
  • errors in exporting files.

3. Photoscape

Photoscape

Cost:

free

Level of difficulty:

2 out of 5

PhotoScape is free image editing software that includes a basic drawing toolset. It's easy to use, thanks to its drag-and-drop interface. This software for graphics design will get the job done quickly. Especially if you need to perform simple tasks such as:

  • resizing;
  • cropping. 

The editor also includes several batch functions to optimize your work. It also has good editing and renaming of files. This software is suitable for beginners because the interface is straightforward.

In Photoscape, you can:

  • process photos (including batch processing);
  • create collages;
  • create animations;
  • quickly convert files from RAW to JPG.

Pros of Photoscape:

  • it is a free editor for logo design software;
  • print function on paper. You can print on millimeter paper, lined paper, or even a music sheet;
  • it does not take up much space on your hard drive; 
  • it works with RAW images;
  • much language support. It is available in 30 languages.

Cons of Photoscape:

  • one of the main disadvantages is that the editor has ads;
  • also, it can not work with many files simultaneously.

4. Affinity Designer

Affinity Designer

Cost:

100$

Level of difficulty:

4 out of 5

This is an editor working with vector and raster images. The developers call it the fastest and most accurate software for graphics design. The editor works on Windows, macOS, and iOS, and there is an iPad version. Read about Affinity Designer Features below.

Here's what you can do with Affinity Designer: 

  • customize vector brushes;
  • customize your layout grids; 
  • work with both raster and vector images;
  • develop dynamic characters and isometric graphics for video games.

Advantages of Affinity Designer:

  • it supports automatic cloud synchronization. And you can create your keyboard shortcuts;
  • it works with documents of any complexity;
  • it works well on medium-powered devices;
  • you can pay it only once. You do not need to renew your subscription every year. So, it is one of the best design software. 

But it also has disadvantages:

  • it is impossible to export an image with all layers in any of the vector formats;
  • there is a lack of some important features, such as the eraser.

5. CorelDRAW

CorelDRAW

Cost:

$269.00 /year

Level of difficulty:

4 out of 5

CorelDRAW is a simple user interface and advanced toolset. Powerful graphic editor has:

  • built-in ready-made templates;
  • frames;
  • 600+ gradients;
  • 1000 fonts;
  • 48 export formats and other features. 

The designer app works only on the Windows operating system. Still, CorelDRAW is not the best platform for beginners. But design professionals will appreciate it. 

A 15-day free trial is available. And to continue using the program, you'll have to upgrade to a paid subscription plan. You can also use it with files created in Adobe Photoshop.

Adobe (Photoshop and Illustrator) and CorelDRAW are similar in many ways. You can improve your portfolio with amazing shots by using such an app. But the latter is more difficult for beginners. 

Some print shops use CorelDRAW as logo design software. So it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with CorelDRAW.

You can use the program for:

  • photo processing;
  • creating content for websites and social networks;
  • modeling objects;
  • drawing vector images.

Advantages of CorelDraw:

  • synchronization with cloud storage;
  • working on different devices; 
  • it supports the Cyrillic alphabet. 

Cons of  CorelDraw software for graphics design:

  • no tools to create infographics; 
  • interface is quite complicated for beginners;
  • high price; 
  • files are not always adequately exported to other programs.

6. Canva

Canva

Cost:

free or $119.99. / year for one person

Level of difficulty:

1 out of 5

Canva is a versatile solution for creating a variety of projects. The design software offers an intuitive drag-and-drop interface. It is easy to learn for people with no experience in graphic design.

The program has a huge selection of images, templates, backgrounds, and fonts. They will help you succeed. Many of the images and graphics need in-app buying. Canva offers many of these elements for free, though. 

Canva stands out because it can work with many industries. As it has a massive gallery of templates. The designer app looks professional and is a great starting point for brainstorming. 

There are three pricing plans, free for individual users and small teams. The paid plans offer a full suite of benefits, though only 100GB of cloud storage.

The basic functionality is the same as in other online editors. But Canva has a lot of ready-made file templates:

  • presentations;
  • cards;
  • business cards;
  • posts for social networks;
  • videos;
  • logos; 
  • posters;
  • infographics, etc.

Pros of Canva:

  • a large number of templates. The design software creates posters, presentations, booklets, and gift certificates. Most of them are free and follow modern design trends;
  • you can quickly master it;
  • a free version is available;
  • it is possible to work in the service on different devices.

Cons of Canva:

  • a limited number of free resources with in-app purchases;
  • uneditable downloads;
  • in the free version of the program, you can not change the size of the image.

7. Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator

Cost:

$20.99/month

Level of difficulty:

3 out of 5

Adobe Illustrator has long been part of vector design software history. It sets the standard in professionally designed logos, illustrations, infographics, icons, and more. Thanks to it, you can work with any kind of graphics, from a hand sketch to a vector image, scalable to any size. 

For all that, Adobe Illustrator peculiarly handles graphics. It uses mathematical formulas instead of pixels to resize smoothly.

Adobe Illustrator offers a seven-day free trial, but you should provide a credit card to start. If you opt for an annual plan with a monthly fee, the price will be $20.99 per month. Otherwise, you'll have to shell out $31.49 for a monthly subscription. Either way, it's a bit pricey.

Though this software for graphics design is one of those products that will make you learn something new. Even if it's not the most user-friendly software.

Adobe Illustrator functionality:

  • working with geometric shapes;
  • converting text into curves. You can change the appearance of letters to make a beautiful inscription;
  • working with assembly areas and creating banners in different sizes;
  • raster to vector conversion;
  • creation of illustrations.

Pros of Adobe Illustrator:

  • it is suitable for different operating systems;
  • the ability to start from scratch or choose a template;
  • integration with other editing tools in the Adobe family;
  • a wide range of tools for vector design;
  • a huge number of functions;
  • the popularity: any print shop works with the Al file format. 

Disadvantages of the logo design software:

  • relatively high price; 
  • complicated learning curve;
  • the editor takes up a lot of space and will slow down. Especially if your device does not have enough power. For example, Windows will need 2 GB of free hard disk space. And you need extra free space during the installation process.

8. Procreate

Procreate

Cost:

$9.99

Level of difficulty:

4 out of 5

Procreate positions itself as a full-featured art studio. The developers developed it only for iPad and Apple Pencil support. You will immediately dive into an extensive set:

  • templates;
  • fonts;
  • customizable brushes. 

You can also add your favorite Photoshop brushes to the designer app. They will work better with Valkyrie. The developers have done their best to make the tool user-friendly.

One of its outstanding features is the ability to work in 3D and view the result in real-time in AR. If you have long wanted to try your hand at animation, Procreate would be a great starting point. 

The app has so many tools and features that it may seem overwhelming to beginners. If you choose one type of brush, you will be offered several more. So you will learn something new every time you use the app.

The main features of the software for graphics design:

  • editing tools: 200 customizable brushes;
  • color management: intuitive selection of complementary colors and a fill color tool;
  • finishing Filters: unifying image management to create the perfect look;
  • one-time payment: no in-app purchases.

Pros of Procreate:

  • extensive library of tutorials;
  • intuitive user interface;
  • Apple Pencil support;
  • import Photoshop brushes.

Cons of Procreate:

  • no free version;
  • complicated learning curve.

9. Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo

Cost:

one-off payment of $40.99

Level of difficulty:

2 out of 5

Affinity Photo is an inexpensive alternative to Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. The design software is suitable for retouching existing images. The tool works with layers and filters to create stunning effects on:

  • vector images;
  • raster images. 

The software also supports SVG file formats such as CorelDRAW. Although you can create your templates, none are in the program. Still, it takes little space, with a generous 90-day free trial of the tool.

Affinity Photo has recently won many awards for its versatility and functionality. It contains quite a few features for its price. You can do sophisticated editing with:

  • 360-degree image editing;
  • panoramic stitching;
  • HDR merging. 

The tool also provides real-time editing, and you can also work with PSD files. Among other things, the software for graphics design supports non-destructive live filter layers for more creativity.

Main features of the application:

  • HDR fusion
  • powerful digital editing tools includes:
  • HDR fusion;
  • RAW editing;
  • layer editing.
  • one-time payment: no subscription or in-app buying plans;
  • more overlay packages: extra tools;
  • edits are free with registration.

Pros of Affinity Photo:

  • affordable price;
  • easy to learn how to use the program;
  • 90-day free trial version;
  • customizable brushes.

Cons of Affinity Photo:

  • no templates;
  • no keyword tagging feature.

10. Pixlr

Pixlr

Cost:

free, but there are paying versions starting at $4.99/month.

Level of difficulty:

2 out of 5

Pixlr is a web-based image editing application. You can use it in a desktop browser or mobile application. They must support the iOS and Android platforms. It is a basic program that is ideal. Especially if you need a base without the frills of more complex offerings.

The free design software used to belong to the Autodesk family, but now it's on its own. It has some of the nice features of many similar applications. This app has an ecosystem of add-on programs.

It supports several file formats, including SVG and PSD. The price is also appropriate for this kind of web application. It also has a free and trial version. Unfortunately, the free version has a lot of ads.

As with other bitmap editors, you can use Pixlr to:

  • retouch your photos;
  • change the saturation and temperature of a photo;
  • make social media content: 
  • Facebook event covers;
  • Pinterest icons;
  • company publications on LinkedIn.
  • work with highlights and shadows;
  • create collages from photos;
  • apply filters or special effects.

Pros of Pixlr:

  • a large number of opportunities for photo processing;
  • you can publish the created objects on social networks directly from the program;
  • affordable price;
  • one of the best logo design software;
  • integration of social networks;
  • it is easy to use, requiring no special experience in editing or creating images.

Disadvantages of Pixlr:

  • it's not intuitive;
  • no support for TIFF or BMP;
  • limited number of templates

11. Sketch

Sketch

Cost:

$9/month

Level of difficulty:

3 out of 5

The sketch is a Mac-only vector editing software. It does a great job of managing your workflow with a customizable interface. It uses your plugins. It's a simple photo editor that neglects Microsoft with its Mac-only use, which can be an obstacle for some. 

But, the designer app succeeds as a web design software because its interface is incredible. Also, it's really fun to use! Sketch offers basic functionality. And it's great that there is such strong community support. It can provide solutions when the program doesn't work. 

The tool also offers a free 30-day trial, but not for individuals. The business option requires you to turn to Sketch, which can be a good thing or a bad thing. It depends on your size or the needs of your team.

You can create and edit vector graphics in Sketch using a huge library of brushes and effects. Also, in the software for graphics design, you can:

  • use simple tools: pen and pencil;
  • insert shapes and text to create images;
  • paint objects in many layers;
  • create symbols - templates for layers or shapes;
  • prepare images for printing.

Pros of Sketch:

  • you can view a personalized feed of other designers' work without registering;
  • ease of use for beginners;
  • excellent supporting documentation;
  • strong community support;
  • easy interface.

Cons of design software:

  • no mobile version of the editor; 
  • Mac only;
  • no version comparison feature;
  • it is not compatible with Adobe editors that most designers and printers use;
  • relatively short period of free use - 30 days.

12. Xara Designer Pro X

Cost:

$299

Level of difficulty:

4 out of 5

This software is not only suitable for those who take an interest in modern graphic design tools. It is good for those who want to get to know typography on the desktop. This design software is also suitable for both vector and raster images. 

As you understand, this means that this program has an arsenal of all the tools related to graphic design. Another advantage of this software is access to archival illustrations. There are also layouts, and templates for various design elements. But these features are available when you register your license.

As for the cost of such a product, it is usually $299. But, there are often discounts, so you can wait a bit and get a better deal. You can also buy a stripped-down version of the product for $99.94 called Xara Photo & Graphic Designer.

Software for graphics design functionality is:

  • excellent compatibility: covers all devices, including touch devices;
  • created by artists for artists, with a user interface that doesn't look like Photoshop.

Pros of Xara Designer Pro X:

  • affordable price, given that there are often discounts;
  • versatility of the product graphic design;
  • great for beginners, as it is easy to use and is not inferior to Adobe Illustrator;
  • good templates.

Cons of Xara Designer Pro X:

  • it can be slow, no matter how powerful your PC is;
  • it is only suitable for the Windows operating system;
  • weak tools for working with text. 

13. Vecteezy Editor

Cost:

108$

Level of difficulty:

3 out of 5

Vecteezy is an editor for working with vector graphics directly in your browser. This tool is quite easy to use and does not need any extra skills. You can use both ready-made images and create your design. The only format that the platform supports is SVG.

The designer app offers complex transitions, keyboard shortcuts, and other useful features. It's great for rapid editing. Although it's not the most advanced graphic design software.

You can use Vecteezy for free or subscribe. It includes:

  • unlimited downloads;
  • access to vector graphics libraries;
  • an ad-free version.

Key Features of Vecteezy Editor:

  • Excellent compatibility: works on all platforms. It supports many devices such as Apple Pencil and touch devices.
  • Customizable features: includes a dark theme and support for 14 languages.
  • Great user support: offers users comprehensive documentation and helpful tool tips.
  • Extensive free features include ready-to-use design elements, fonts, and POD templates.

Pros of the design software are:

  • easy to use;
  • great price;
  • convenient;
  • impressive tools;
  • image editing;
  • versions for all users;
  • strong set of tools;
  • a lot of useful tools;
  • a lot of ready-made elements.

Cons are:

  • You should have an account to save your work

14. Figma

Cost:

$5/month, but the free version is also available 

Level of difficulty:

2 out of 5

Figma offers many features for free graphic design software. One of the most impressive is the unlimited cloud storage in the free version. Its strong point is vector graphics with an impressive set of tools. You'll need to sign up for a professional plan to receive private, invitation designs.

Figma provides companies with a wide range of customization options. You can create and administer private plugins. The free design software is mainly used for web design. But some features are suitable for working with graphic images:

  • adjusting color saturation, brightness and contrast;
  • use of Google Fonts;
  • arranging design objects with the help of a modular grid;
  • drawing vector shapes.

Pros of Figma:

  • clear modern interface; 
  • automatic saving in the cloud and the ability to easily revert to previous versions;
  • great features in pricing plans;
  • private plugins at the organization level;
  • cross-platform at the free level;
  • sharing.

Cons of Figma:

  • poorly developed text editor; 
  • you cannot work offline;
  • no common fonts at lower price levels;
  • no extra security features to the organization level;
  • you can not customize the hotkeys.

What's the best graphic design software for beginners?

Crello editor is considered one of the best graphic design software for beginners. The software you need depends on what you create. There are some things to consider when choosing graphic design software. It especially plays a big role if you are a beginner. You need to try your hand at this field. It should be without much time and money. 

Crello software for graphics design is an excellent choice for personal video editing application that meets all your social media needs, no matter which platform you choose-YouTube, Square, Instagram, or Twitter. 

It has decent tools for drawing animations and editing photos or videos. If marketing is your field, you can create brand sets, remove backgrounds and send invitations with the Pro version.

The free version of Crello has a wide list of benefits, including an unlimited image library and more than 50,000 templates, but you can download it no more than five times a month. The premium plan, on the other hand, gives you unlimited downloads. The designer app is available on virtually any platform or online, making it a versatile marketing solution.

Key Features are:

  • Lots of perks: provides access, even at an accessible level, to images and templates.
  • Decent options for marketing: create coupons, logos, brochures, gift certificates, social media ads, etc.

Benefits are:

  • Free level for individual creativity;
  • Mobile Apps;
  • Animated templates available;
  • Easy to learn.

Disadvantages are:

  • Difficult to organize the last selected templates;
  • Difficult to switch from other software.

Present Your Photos in the Best Light with a Custom Portfolio

After reading our article, you'll definitely be able to choose the best software for graphics design. After you create your masterpieces, you will need to make a portfolio. You can do this very easily using our portfolio builder. Also, don't forget to read more useful articles on our Portfoliobox blog. Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

FAQ

What is the difference between a graphic designer and a graphic artist?

Graphic designers focus on creating visual solutions to communications challenges:
- logos;
- brochures;
- websites;
- and other assets for businesses or organizations. 

While graphic artists focus on creating unique works of art that convey a message or emotion. 

Where do graphic designers make the most money?

A designer earns an order of magnitude more in Europe and the United States than in other countries. Because it is common there to pay by the project and by the hour. Experienced graphic design specialists in the United States earn between $45,000 and $55,000 a year. On average, in Europe, specialists in graphic design earn $3,000 a month.

Which type of graphic design is in demand?

Game design is one of the highest-paying niches at the moment. Since there are few such specialists on the market right now, the demand is growing. 

What is the future of graphic design?

Such professionals will be very much in demand in the next 20 years. You will need especially web or UX design. Software, website, and app manufacturers are now chasing product quality. It is important to have professionals in narrow fields as it is to have professionals in a wide range of fields.

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