18 Best Graphic Design Software and Tools

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Every brand needs an eye-catching design that speaks to its audience.

The right graphic design software can help you create a strong brand identity, whether you’re creating a blog or editing pictures for your eCommerce business.

An excellent graphic design tool will not only enhance efficiency but will also help put stunning creativity into every design you create.

As a graphic designer or an artist, you need software that is compatible with your specific niche.

Whether you are an illustrator or designing a logo, you need the right tools and features for your profession.

So, we compiled a detailed list of the top graphic design software, their features, pricing, and benefits for you to go through and choose the one that you believe suits you.

What Are The Benefits Of Graphic Design Software?

  • Your company’s personality can be best developed with the help of graphic design software
  • It is possible to create visually striking and eye-catching designs and images without shooting them with good graphic design software
  • Graphic design software makes it easy to use different photography retouching techniques and edit photos
  • Having a logo designed by graphic design software can make your company look great, represent your brand well, and make a lasting impression
  • In a digital marketing campaign, graphic design software is used to create high-quality visuals that increase customer engagement
  • Several graphic design software users save templates to keep images organized and consistent in size and design
  • Using professional graphic design software to create your business’s logo and graphics will help you build a reliable reputation that will attract more customers
  • You get great images with good graphic design software, and your workers have more time for their jobs when a professional is hired instead of getting everything done in-house

What To Look For Before Choosing Graphic Design Software?

A man work with the best graphic design software tools.

You should begin by asking yourself what you need your graphic design software to accomplish.

It’s important whether you’re searching for the best graphic design software for a Mac or one for beginners.

Is your primary objective to manage a few basic manipulations or are you more interested in advanced editing options?

Will you be producing small or larger images that require more detail, such as menus, banners, or posters?

The software you choose must meet your specific requirements.

Professional graphic designers had few choices for graphic design tools in the past.

Due to this, Adobe Photoshop had become the software of choice, especially for editors.

However, the advent of alternative design software has provided designers with more options to meet their varying needs.

Additionally, graphic design software no longer relies exclusively on PC or Mac operating systems.

In addition to supporting iOS and Android, many have mobile apps for Linux and Chrome OS, too.

The sheer number of graphic design programs makes it difficult to pick the most appropriate one.

Yet, you can consider some elements to help in choosing a graphic design software.

These include its editing ability, high degree of precision, intuitive design and features, no preprogrammed watermarks, and specific templates.

Be sure to consider your skill level and needs when looking for graphic design software.

For example, graphic design software for beginners might be slightly different from professional software for experienced designers.

What Are The Best Graphic Design Software And Tools?

Marketers predicted that over 70% of businesses will employ visual content heavily in 2021.

This indicates that brands will invest more in professional graphic design services to promote their marketing efforts through quality visuals.

This article examines the best of free and premium graphic design software for different levels of expertise.

Autodesk

This is AutoDesk graphic design software.

Autodesk Inc. is a multinational software company based in the United States.

The company provides an array of software products and services for media, education, construction, and architecture.

As the company produced the first AutoCAD 2D CAD software in 1982, Autodesk has grown into a world leader in 2D and 3D modeling software, 3D design, and visualization software, and further develops its technologies to help businesses harness the power of the digital revolution.

Features

  • 3D modeling, navigation, and visualization
  • Photorealistic rendering
  • 2D drafting and annotation
  • Object selection and isolation
  • Geographical location and online maps
  • Solid, surface, and mesh modeling
  • AutoCAD mobile app
  • Base, projected, and section views
  • 3D scanning and point clouds

Pros

  • Access to advanced modeling tools adaptable to the various design requirements
  • Ability to make section planes that create cross-sectional views of the 3D models
  • Can alter text settings in 2D drawings
  • Ability to alter dimension settings and styles
  • Can manifest Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and table data to drawings through a 2D drawing tool
  • Permits users to transfer information from PDFs to their drawings
  • The SHF recognition function makes the editing of PDF imported files easier

Cons

  • Startup costs are expensive
  • Takes time to fully grasp the use of this software
  • The software requires a strong computer processing power
  • Training courses of the software are costly
  • Limited file formats

Pricing

  • AutoCAD subscriptions are priced annually at $1775
  • It costs $220 per month to subscribe to AutoCAD
  • A three-year subscription to AutoCAD costs $4,795

Adobe Photoshop

This is Adobe Photoshop graphic design software.

Almost all creative professionals in the world use Adobe Photoshop, as it is one of the most popular graphic design tools in the world.

It offers features a wide range in complexity and is meant for photo editing.

It allows designers of every skill level to make artwork, including image cropping, logo design, and animations.

Features

  • You can create slideshows, collages, and effects automatically
  • Editing incorporates motion, facial adjustments, interesting filters, and effects
  • A guided editing system that allows you to move, resize, and duplicate objects as well as replace backgrounds and create multi-photo texts
  • Photos can be shared on social media and other platforms
  • Automatically tag your photos for easier organization

Pros

  • Capable of generating 3D designs
  • Built-in stock library
  • Color grading capabilities
  • Convenient file sharing between multiple programs
  • Edit images in a variety of formats with ease
  • Access to Cloud storage
  • Customized social media images
  • Free mobile app

Cons

  • Costly
  • Takes up a large amount of space
  • Incapable of creating vector filesIncomplete updates or untested beta releases

Pricing

  • The monthly fee is $20.99
  • A 7-day free trial is available

Inkscape

This is InkScape graphic design software.

The easiest way for beginners to learn vector drawing is to use Inkscape, a free cross-platform and open-source graphic design software.

The application is easy to use with flexible drawing tools, which allows graphic designers, illustrators, and web designers to create high-quality designs quickly and efficiently.

Among the many features of the tool, it focuses on the SVG file format primarily and offers many filters and a helpful online community for beginners.

Features

  • Drawing, shape, and text tools are used to create objects
  • A series of operations like transformations, Z-order operations, grouping objects, alignment, and distribution commands are available to manipulate objects
  • There are several filling and stroking tools such as color selector, gradient editor, pattern fills, and marker paths
  • Support for text and rendering
  • A variety of file formats

Pros

  • User-friendly
  • Updated frequently
  • Code can be customized easily
  • Multiple filter options
  • Multi-gradient support
  • Bezier handles included

Cons

  • It may take a while if you have to render complex processes
  • There is some incompatibility with Illustrator
  • The Mac version isn’t error-free

Pricing

  • Inkscape is free graphic design software.

Sketch

This is Sketch graphic design software.

Originally developed for the Macintosh platform, Sketch is a vector-based application.

Since it is suitable for building interactive prototypes for UI/UX purposes, it is most useful for developers working with iPhone, iPad, and macOS applications.

Despite not being developed as a photo editing program, this graphics design software is superb for creating interfaces.

Features

  • Editing vectors
  • Precise to the pixel level
  • Exporting is easy
  • Cloud sharing is available
  • Design prototyping
  • Shortcuts are customizable

Pros

  • Learning and using it is easy
  • Cost-effective
  • Includes a huge library of templates for responsive websites
  • Single workspace for designing and collaborating
  • Community plugins
  • Export layers or groups in PNG format

Cons

  • Only available for Mac users
  • Incompatible with print design or illustrations
  • Slow updates
  • Lacks automatic layout flow

Pricing

  • An individual plan is a one-time payment of $99
  • The team plan is $9 monthly per user and $99 yearly
  • 30-day free trial is available

Adobe Illustrator

This is Adobe Illustrator graphic design software.

Adobe Illustrator is quite similar to Adobe Photoshop.

It is, however, a vector-based design program, unlike Adobe Photoshop.

This software offers graphic designers the ability to create many different types of artwork, such as logos, mockups of websites, and page layouts.

Illustrator’s wide range of tools allows the quick creation of designs, which makes it ideal for professional designers.

Features

  • Drawing and editing in collaboration
  • The capability of snap to pixel
  • Color synchronization
  • Sync the import and export of settings between devices
  • Option to customize design

Pros

  • User-friendly interface
  • Helpful tips
  • Compatibility with other products of Adobe
  • A wide range of tools
  • Precision editing

Cons

  • It occupies a lot of space
  • Requires a lot of training

Pricing

  • Single app for $20.99 per month
  • As a part of the Creative Cloud for $52.99 per month
  • A 7-day free trial is available

Xara Designer Pro X

This is Xara Designer Pro graphic design software.

Graphic design software Xara Designer Pro X lets you create illustrations, edit photos, create websites, and design desktop publications.

Designers can easily and quickly create custom work with simple drag-and-drop functionality and hundreds of templates and design elements.

Features

  • Instruments for direct action
  • Publishing desktop
  • Website design
  • Image and graphic design
  • Importing from InDesign
  • Search engine optimization
  • Customized layouts
  • Innovative effects
  • HTML website design
  • Design tools
  • Real-time effects
  • Support PSDs and PDFs
  • Enhanced photo manipulation

Pros

  • User-friendly and fast
  • Easy drag-and-drop functionality
  • With unlimited undo and redo
  • Zooming up to 25000%
  • High-resolution displays
  • Ability to edit solid objects
  • Collaborative online editing

Cons

  • Has a steep learning curve
  • Poor product support
  • Prone to multiple and unpredictable glitches

Pricing

  • A yearly subscription of $299
  • Free trial is available for 14 days

Affinity Designer

This is Affinity Designer graphic design software.

In the early stages of their design careers, professionals who are using Affinity Designer are more likely to find it useful than Adobe Illustrator, since it is an economical alternative.

This tool can create vector graphics, UX/UI designs, concept art, and combines vector and raster design tools.

Features

  • Zoom and pan at 60 frames per second
  • Adjustments, gradients, and effects are live
  • Preview the blend mode in real-time
  • Curve editing and transformations are visible in real-time
  • Capable of handling large files
  • Option of snapping functionality
  • Advanced typography

Pros

  • Easy to use for beginners
  • Powerful and affordable software for professional use
  • Variety of colors to choose from
  • A grid system, alignment, and snapping capabilities
  • Interactive guide
  • An unlimited number of artboards

Cons

  • Gridlines are not natural
  • Files cannot be exported to Adobe Illustrator
  • Designer Persona lacks vector erasing capabilities

Pricing

  • For Windows and macOS it is $49.99
  • For iPad, it is $19.99
  • A 90-day free trial is available

GIMP

This is GIMP graphic design software.

Open-source image editor GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) offers a wide range of sophisticated tools, customization options, and plugins; making it one of the most popular options for creating images.

As with many expensive and widely known programs, this tool can retouch, draw, and crop photos for graphic designers, photographers, and illustrators.

Features

  • Easily customizable interface
  • Image manipulation of the highest quality
  • Allows creating original art
  • Original graphic design
  • Artwork for mockups and UI components
  • Algorithm development in C, C++, Python, and other programming languages
  • Management of colors

Pros

  • User-friendly interface
  • The free program offers a wide range of tools
  • Step-by-step instruction
  • Frequently updated
  • Single window and modular interface

Cons

  • Some programs are not updated as quickly as others
  • For macOS users, it is less intuitive

Pricing

  • GIMP is free graphic design software.

Adobe InDesign

This is Adobe InDesign graphic design software.

Among the best graphic design software products from Adobe is InDesign, which provides users with the ability to create professional artwork for the publishing industry as well as collaborate with writers and editors.

Print and digital media companies use this tool for many purposes, including laying out magazines and newspapers, posters, brochures, reports, eBooks, interactive PDFs, and more.

Features

  • Accessibility improvements to PDF
  • Text alternatives
  • Page items tagging
  • Managing text in Creative Cloud libraries
  • Styles for objects
  • The Endnotes application is supported
  • Bordered paragraphs
  • Layout adjustments
  • Adjusting image sizes and positions automatically
  • Exporting to HTML

Pros

  • The learning curve is relatively low
  • Lots of fonts to choose from
  • Multiple object resizing capability
  • Easily crop and resize images
  • Optimizing images with text and graphics

Cons

  • The PDF format is not perfect
  • It is intended for enterprise use only
  • Not beginner-friendly

Pricing

  • Single app plan for $20.99 per month
  • Creative Cloud plan for $52.99 per month
  • Free trial is available for 7 days

Photoscape

This is Photoscape graphic design sotfware.

In addition to drawing tools, PhotoScape offers a full set of free image editing features.

The interface is easy to use with its drag-and-drop features.

It’ll get the job done quickly and easily if you just need simple tasks completed, such as cropping or resizing.

Furthermore, batch functions, including file renaming and minor editing, are available for streamlining your work.

As an upgrade, the developers have developed PhotoScape X, and a paid version, PhotoScape Pro X, that can be used with Macs.

With PhotoScape, you’ll get animation effects, more filters, macros, frames, and the ability to merge photos into HDR.

Getting the software online at the Microsoft Store or Apple Store is a one-time purchase.

Features

  • Offers a large variety of image editors
  • Downloadable modules give access to more than thirty languages
  • The interface is easy and beginner-friendly
  • Various features are present in the design module and image editing capabilities
  • Many designs, text, and drawing tools are offered

Pros

  • Allows easy editing and resizing for images, conversion, or renaming more than one picture at a time with the batch editor feature
  • Converter tool allows the conversion of RAW images to JPEG images very easily
  • This design app being cross-platform is compatible with Windows and Mac machines
  • The PhotoScapeX edition made for Windows 10 is free
  • It comes with integrated graphic and editing solutions
  • Computer hardware is leveraged smartly because this software is lightweight and highly responsive

Cons

  • Doesn’t feature advanced image editing capabilities
  • It is not available on Linux

Pricing

  • Photoscape is free of cost.

CorelDRAW Graphics

This is CorelDraw graphic design software.

Professional graphic designers can create vector illustrations, use various layouts, edit photos, use typography tools and deliver exceptional design results using CorelDraw Graphics Suite, a full package bundle with pro-level features.

The best graphic design software always has the latest updates and offers powerful features, such as customizations that help designers work efficiently and smartly.

Features

  • Page layout and vector illustration
  • Allows you to edit images and create designs using pixels
  • Tool for exploring and managing fonts
  • Bitmap-to-vector conversion using artificial intelligence
  • The web browser supports online vector illustration
  • Tool for capturing screens
  • Photo editor (RAW)
  • Development of creative content for the web
  • Direct WordPress publishing
  • Latest typographic techniques

Pros

  • Payment flexibility
  • Methods and export capabilities for up to forty-eight types of files
  • Customizable user interface
  • Exchange of content
  • Transition smoothly between desktop and tablet mode
  • Capable of handling a lot of data without lagging

Cons

  • Difficult for beginners
  • No documentation covers all the features
  • Inconsistent updates

Pricing

  • Annual plan for $35 per month and $420 per year
  • One time purchase plan for $875 that gives users access to the current version only
  • A 15-day free trial is available
  • Both plans offer a money-back guarantee of 30 days

SVG-Edit

This is SVG Edit graphic design software.

SVG-Edit is a free, web-based, vector graphics editor.

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) are created and edited within a web browser and the software is commonly used for the creation and editing of icons, logos, and illustrations.

This software consists of two main components.

These are SVG-editor.js and svgcanvas.js and they work cooperatively.

However, svgcanvas.js can be utilized separately from SVG-Edit.

Svgcanvas.js allows the creation of alternative interfaces to the canvas by developers.

As the design trend moves towards vector-based art, SVG use has become widespread.

It has become easier for developers to follow the trend because modern browsers support the format, which was not the case in the past.

Features

  • Freehand drawing
  • Wireframe mode
  • Conversion of shapes to a path
  • Raster images
  • Text can be stylized

Pros

  • Alternative to adobe illustrator
  • Open-source
  • Simple and easy to use interface and operation
  • Development of interface can be customized
  • Conversion tool can easily convert SVG files to other formats
  • SVGs can be fully scaled without sacrificing image quality
  • Loading time and performance become fast and efficient as SVGs are rendered in XML (extensible markup language), resulting in small file sizes

Cons

  • Photographs do not work as the software only works with 2D images
  • The learning curve is a bit steep
  • A complicated SVG can result in the production of a code that would be difficult to get through

Pricing

  • This software is free of cost.

Gravit Designer

This is Gravit Designer graphic design software.

A tool for creating vector graphics in high quality, Gravit Designer is suitable for graphic designers, product designers, and Web designers.

In addition to being perfect for creating illustrations, logos, animations, marketing materials, and other types of artwork, this HTML-based software can be used to edit photos as well.

Features

  • The latest vector editing technology
  • Tools for transforming and distributing objects
  • Editing images
  • Organization of design projects
  • Typography and text editing
  • Applying adjustments and effects in real-time
  • Five-minute automatic Cloud backup
  • Integration with the Cloud
  • Designing social media posts

Pros

  • User-friendly and easy-to-navigate dashboard
  • The interface that can be completely customized
  • Works on all major platforms including Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome
  • Shortcuts on all platforms
  • File export and import support for a variety of formats

Cons

  • It is slow because of complex designs
  • There are no options for collaborating in real-time
  • Prototypes cannot be run on mobile devices

Pricing

  • $65 yearly with a 30-day money-back guarantee
  • A free trial is not available

Procreate

This is ProCreate graphic design software.

According to the product description, Procreate is a complete art studio, made exclusively for iPads and Apple Pencils.

In the program, you can choose from a wide range of templates, fonts, and brushes.

If you prefer, you can use your favorite Photoshop graphics in the app.

And with the Valkyrie engine, they will perform better, as it has been made user-friendly by the developers.

An advantage of the app is that it allows real-time previews in AR and can work in 3D.

Procreate is an excellent place to start if you’ve wanted to experiment with animation.

The app may seem overwhelming if you are a beginner since it offers so many functions and tools.

However, it will get simpler the more you use it, especially if you follow tutorials available online.

In terms of tools, whenever you select a brush type, you will find several options to choose from.

With each use, you’ll gain new knowledge and a better grasp of the application, too.

Features

  • There are two hundred brushes available for editing and can be customized
  • Intuitive color management and pairing
  • A powerful image management tool, finishing filters, help simplify the project
  • Since it is a one-time purchase, there are no in-app purchases available

Pros

  • A wide range of tutorials
  • Intuitive and easy-to-use interface
  • Compatible with Apple Pencil
  • Brushes imported from Photoshop

Cons

  • Version no longer available for free
  • Challenging to learn

Pricing

  • A free trial or version is not available with this one-time purchase

Canva

This is Canva graphic design software.

Canva is one of the best graphic design software tools for beginners because it features a drag-and-drop online editor that makes designing easy and fast.

Users have access to an extensive library of templates on this Cloud-based platform that they can use to create invitations, book covers, presentations, marketing materials, and more.

Features

  • Collaboration among team members
  • Drag-and-drop function
  • Accurate cropping
  • Effects for photos
  • Images with transparency
  • Grid designs
  • Stickers and frames
  • Cloud Storage

Pros

  • No prior experience required
  • Simple to use
  • Templates of the highest quality
  • Easily accessible from any device and computer
  • Share and collaborate on projects

Cons

  • There are some limitations to the free plan
  • Requires high-speed Internet

Pricing

  • Pro plan is for $119.99 yearly
  • Enterprise plan is for $30 monthly per user
  • 30-day free trial available
  • A free version features are not advanced

RawTherapee

This is Raw Therapee graphic design software.

RawTherapee is an application software to process photographs and images in raw format.

Specifically, it consists of functions for image editing aimed at minimizing damage after producing large numbers of raw photos and improving the workflow of photographers.

Among its advantages are the advanced controls it provides during the development process.

This cross-platform software provides versions for macOS, Microsoft Windows, and Linux.

Features

  • It is an open-source, cross-platform software
  • Raw photos can be exported as it is or changed
  • SSE optimizations are used for better performance on modern CPUs
  • Uses LittleCMS color management system
  • DCP and ICP color profiles are supported by the software
  • The software supports JPEG, TIFF, PNG, and HDR images in the DNG format
  • Ability to rate, tag, and filter photos
  • Support available for monochrome cameras and film negatives
  • Software is localized in over fifteen languages

Pros

  • Free software
  • Simple download
  • Endless color correction possibilities and adjustments
  • In-depth choices for RAW file corrections
  • The batch editing tool saves time and is great for fast and minimal adjustment
  • Variety of settings in the export tab

Cons

  • The interface is not very user-friendly
  • Information and support is lacking
  • Steep learning curve
  • Not many resources when troubleshooting
  • The downloadable manual is difficult
  • Results are not instant when making adjustments with sliders
  • Organizational capabilities are lacking

Pricing

  • This software is free of cost.

Krita

This is Krita graphic design software.

In addition to supporting animation, BMP files, and 2D drawing, Krita is an open-source digital art software.

The free version is incredibly powerful.

Even with an outdated UI that isn’t always intuitive, it pretty much handles the basics of photo editing well.

Krita is the ideal application for someone who is new to illustration and wants to try it out without having to subscribe.

Since the project has been initiated by digital artists, the platform is appealing.

Besides brushes and vector tools, Krita provides brush stabilizers as well.

Updates are frequent, which can be a good and a bad thing.

Even though there isn’t extensive documentation explaining all the new features, it is still an educational tool.

Features

  • Compatible with multiple devices, including touch-enabled ones
  • Built from the ground up for artists, and with an interface that isn’t like Photoshop

Pros

  • Designed to be used for drawing
  • Free of charge
  • Workspace that can be customized
  • Support for audio import

Cons

  • The user interface is outdated
  • Insufficient technical support

Pricing

  • This software is available free of cost.

Pixlr

This is Pixlr graphic design software.

A web application for editing photos, Pixlr can be used in your browser or on a mobile device with apps for iOS and Android.

You’ll get all the essential editing tools you need without any of the added costs and learning curves that come with more sophisticated options.

Pixlr, formerly a part of Autodesk, is now independent.

This app has some of the benefits of many similar programs, including a growing system of complementary apps.

SVG and PSD are a couple of the file formats supported by this software.

This web-based design software is reasonably priced as well.

Its free version is rather cluttered with advertisements, however.

Features

  • With the drag-and-drop interface, anyone can use it, regardless of editing experience
  • A library of professionally designed templates, including collage templates, flyers, ads in a range of sizes, and business cards
  • Offers Facebook event covers, Pinterest pins, and LinkedIn company posts as options for social media content

Pros

  • Available at a reasonable price
  • Integrated social media services
  • Options to suit different skill levels and requirements

Cons

  • It is not intuitive
  • TIFF and BMP are not supported
  • Few template options

Pricing

  • Free trial and free versions are available.

Conclusion

It can be tough to choose the right graphic design software for your needs.

It is up to you to determine what software suits you best in terms of your style, requirements, and design, and the medium you prefer.

Additionally, you need to consider your employer’s requirements and your skills before making a purchase, especially for a professional and, consequently expensive application.

However, no matter which one you choose, your expertise and experience will ensure that you discover the right software.

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