Whether you are an amateur graphic designer or an experienced digital artist, using the right tools can multiply your talent exponentially. A well-built graphic design software provides intuitive controls and flexibility, that can be easily understood by a beginner but also has vastly superior tools for an experienced user.
The best way to know which software would suit you best is to get hands-on with the tool and experiment with them. Each of the software is characterized by its features, ease of use, performance, cost, and availability. Many paid graphic design software provide a free trial for users to give them a better understanding of the product.
We have researched and put together a list of the best graphic design software in the field today. These tools are tried and tested and can help you create spectacular custom designs that will leave your clients spellbound. Graphic design can be used to take your portfolio website to the next level. Do check out our list of the top 25 Online Graphic Design Courses, that will help you improve graphic design skills. And while you are honing your graphic design skills, don't forget to create your graphic design portfolio website to showcase your work. Your design portfolio represents a window for the world to view your work and judge your talent, skills, and experience. So, if you haven’t built a website to showcase your design portfolio, start today with Pixpa. Here are some great examples of graphic design portfolios created on Pixpa for your inspiration.
Get ready to express yourself in amazing new ways and create awesome digital art with ease and efficiency!
Best Paid Graphic Design Software
Adobe Photoshop is arguably the most famous software for graphic design and is used by millions of artists around the world. Whether you are looking to create banners, posters, websites, or logos, this best graphic design software can do it all for you. From small edits to sophisticated designs, Adobe Photoshop has tools for every level. If you are someone who works with illustrative designs, you can even draw or paint anything you like.
Along with image editing, you can create naturalistic artwork and composition in this software. You can define the size of your canvas, isolate elements from backgrounds, create custom brushes, work in 3D, do much more.
Platform: Windows and Mac
Sketch is a Mac-only graphic design program that focuses mainly on digital design. These digital designs are used to create websites, apps, and interfaces. Unlike Photoshop, Sketch isn’t built for photo editing or print work. With Sketch, you can create a prototype by collaborating with other designers on the platform itself. The program has a smart layout feature in which the component will automatically resize based on the content. There are hundreds of plugins in the software which will let you do vector editing and other design work with precision down to the pixel. Digital icons are another thing that can be created through this software. Sketch, on the downside, is not great for print design or illustrations.
Adobe Illustrator is design software that is centered around vector design. You can create artwork, icons, posters, etc. and the designs created in Adobe Illustrator can be used in business cards to billboards and from smartphones to 8k screens. You can use this software to draw, mix, and refine designs to create something spectacular. Adobe has made a mobile version called Adobe Illustrator Draw, which is one of the best graphic design apps out there.
To draw, you can use the shaper tool and create vector shapes. The geometric shapes can be added to other shapes and can be moved, reshaped, and scaled. Even the fonts in the software can be manipulated according to your needs by adjusting their weight, slant, or width. For beginners, Adobe provides professionally designed templates to save time. The user interface of the program is helpful, but there is a steep learning curve to get good at illustrator.
Platform: Windows and Mac
The Affinity Designer is a cheaper alternative to illustrator, which is especially suitable for someone who is in the early stage of design career. The software is known to work smoothly, which can improve your workflow and make you express your creativity more freely. You can move and zoom your artwork at 60fps; see the gradients, effects, and adjustments changing live along with the transforms and curve edits.
Affinity Designer lets you work on both vector and raster workspaces, and you can switch between them easily. This software can work on any device, and you can create unlimited artboards within it. Affinity designer provides a graphic design app for the iPad with the same features provided on the desktop versions. Advanced color controls are provided where you can work in RGB or LAB color spaces with up to 32-bits per channel. You can find a wide range of toolset in the program which can be used to achieve a high level of accuracy and productivity. The grids and guides are fully customizable, where you can change the spacing, sub-divisions, gutters, angles, etc. Another strong feature of Affinity designer is that you get floating-point accuracy by zooming your artwork, even by more than a million percent.
Platform: Windows, iPad, and Mac
Another software by Adobe which can be used to create designs is the Adobe InDesign. This graphic design software is mainly used in the publishing industry as you can design magazines, info sheets, books, posters, interactive PDFs, brochures, etc. through it. With the ‘adjust layout’ option that InDesign provides, you can change the text of your document, and the graphic will adjust accordingly.
The properties panel has been redesigned to give you more intuitive control over the tools. The Sensei technology integrated into InDesign makes the automatic arrangement and resizing of images. Beginners can easily learn this graphic design software, as it has a low learning curve. To work with other members of your team in creating a design, you can use Adobe InCopy. The Creative Cloud Libraries can help you share text, colors, and graphics with other members.
Platform: Windows and Mac
CorelDRAW was earlier built only for Windows OS; it is now available for Mac as well. With this graphic design program, you can create professional vector illustrations. There are powerful design tools to help you work faster and smarter. You will find numerous customization options, whether you are working on logos, web design, or print projects. CorelDRAW now uses AI technology to provide you with LiveSketch, which converts sketching into precise vector curves. The suite contains tools for graphic design as well as layout. It has Photo-Paint and Corel Font Manager for photo editing and font management.
The software has web graphic tools and presets to develop creative web content; you can publish directly into your Wordpress site through it. The file compatibility is also overwhelming; the program supports over 100 file formats.
Platform: Windows and Mac
Xara Designer is built for both bitmaps and vectors. The program can handle desktop publishing, graphic design, illustration, photo editing, all in one place. The graphic design software provides you with hundreds of template layouts, design elements, and over a million archive photos to get you started quickly. While drawing any shape, lines, or curves using vectors, you would not face any loss in quality when you scale it up. You can create custom design elements and use them in any of your designs. Tools like gradients, outlines, and transparency in the software will give your artwork a special touch.
Best Free Graphic Design Software
GIMP is free graphic design software that works on many platforms like Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. GIMP is an open-source program that allows you to change its source code and distribute the program. There are many customization programs and 3rd party plugins that can be used in GIMP to improve your productivity and create better designs. GIMP can also be used to retouch images, wherein you can even make creative composites. Interface components and mockups can also be designed, along with print designs such as icons and logos.
Platform: Windows, Linux, Mac
This is another free graphic design software that can be used to create vector-based designs. You can create logos, edit photos, and create illustrations and animations in this program. Gravit does not have an offline version in the free plan. The software is fully customizable according to the user’s needs. The pro version of Gravit is paid and has more advanced features like advanced export options, offline version, more color space, etc.
Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS
Inkscape, like many other platforms, provides multi-purpose use. It can be used by designers, illustrators, or web designers. The software has flexible drawing tools, which make it easy for beginners to understand the software and create art without difficulty. As the text is an integral part of graphic design, Inkscape has a powerful text tool at your disposal. This software is open source and can be used with any platform. A designer has to spend some time to understand how to use this software. This software is best used to create images that are vector-based and needs to be required in SVG format. Inkscape provides a lot of filters and a helpful community for the designer to grow.
Platform: Windows, Linux, and Mac
Free graphics software, Vectr can be used to create vector graphics. These vectors created won’t lose their quality when scaled. Vectr doesn’t use pixels to create the design; it uses mathematical equations. This free graphic design software is available both online and for desktop. Vectr provides you with an easy to use platform which you can use to create any 2D graphics. It can be business cards, logos, posters, brochures, etc.
Vectr provides you with detailed guides on how to use the program, which you can use to learn and create anything with your imagination.
Platform: Windows, Web Browser, Linux, Mac, and Chrome OS
If you have no previous experience in designing and you are looking for something very easy, then Canva is for you. This free online graphic design software allows you to create designs easily and quickly. There are a ton of templates, fonts images, many of which are free to use. Canva works on the drag and drop concept, where you only need to select the elements and drag it to your work area and customize it. This program does not provide you advanced features like Photoshop. It, however, solves a beginner’s design need who doesn’t want to get into the process of learning and purchasing premium software. Canva is available as a graphic design app that can be used in Apple and Android devices. The basic features in Canva are free; you will, however, be charged if you want to use more features in it.
Platform: Web Browser, Android, iOS
Design Wizard is an online graphic design software, the pricing of which starts at free and increases along with the features. This graphic design software provides users with more than a million curated images, 15000+ templates. Another interesting feature of Design Wizard is its integration with Hubspot, Marketo, and Buffer.
Platform: Web Browser
This graphic design app is built only for Android devices, which can be used to create vector graphics. The app can be used to create complex and eye-catching designs without much effort. As the name suggests, this app provides an infinite canvas where you can zoom, pan, or rotate. There are four types of symmetry that you can experiment with, and there are unlimited layers that you can work on. This app provides advanced features also like translate, scale, flip, distort, etc. The image you are creating on the graphic design app can be turned into a fully editable vector path. The advanced features in this app are accessible by purchasing it only.
Adobe Comp is a graphic design app designed to be used along with other Adobe software like Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. Designs can be created with the use of text and shapes. Adobe provides free fonts from Typekit library, which are the same as desktop. With Comp, you can convert your rough designs into crisp graphics and finish the designs on your desktop with other Adobe software.
Platform: iOS and Android
Graphic design software in the early days was hard to use. Technology has come a long way, and software is now intuitive and helps a user express creativity more freely. Selecting the right platform would depend on your work and what you want to achieve with the software.
Businesses are always on the lookout for good graphic designers to boost their business. Therefore, as a graphic designer, you need to present your work in a stunning way through a website. Your design portfolio is the prism through which your work will be evaluated by new clients and potential employers. A great design portfolio can propel you towards success, open up new opportunities and get you just the kind of work you want. However, failing at putting your best foot forward with your design portfolio can lead to rejects and spell doom.
Given that it can make or break your career, creating your design portfolio in itself becomes the most important design exercise of your career. With online design portfolio websites becoming the default medium of presenting your work to the world, its important to make sure that you understand the dos and don'ts of a successful design portfolio website. We had earlier put together a comprehensive guide on 20 pro tips that every designer needs to follow to create a successful online design portfolio website.
However, just following any guide is not enough. You also need to think out of the box, find your own expression and figure out how to present your work in the best way possible. That's where a bit of inspiration comes in handy. At Pixpa, we have witnessed (and helped) thousands of designers around the world create their design portfolio websites. We have curated a list of our favorite design portfolio websites for you to explore and learn from.
Disclaimer: The images shown are for illustration purposes only and may not be an exact representation of the final product. All images are copyright to their respective owners.
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