10 Best Graphic Design Software for 2020

Unleash your creativity!

We searched the market for the best graphic design software with the greatest potential to bring your artistic visions to life.

We found 10 that stood out among the rest. 

In this roundup, you’ll find:

  • The methodology we used to create this list.
  • Honest, detailed reviews of the top-rated 2020 design software.
  • Each software’s price tag and a complete buyer’s guide.
  • The benefits of using a graphic design app.

Now let’s find your match!

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1. Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is the biggest graphic editing software today. It’s one of the most robust design applications in the game, with over 10 million active users. Designed for image enhancement, graphic layouts and 3D modeling, Photoshop is the perfect tool for all visual creatives. Full Review

  • Rich photo editing toolbox
  • Clean workspace
  • 3D-ready
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Adobe Photoshop is the biggest graphic editing software today. It’s one of the most robust design applications in the game, with over 10 million active users. Designed for image enhancement, graphic layouts and 3D modeling, Photoshop is the perfect tool for all visual creatives. Full Review

Free trial period

Yes

Raster Graphics

Yes

Vector Graphics

Yes

Compatible with other programs

Yes

3D editing

Yes

Plugins

Yes

File sharing

Yes

Customer Service

24/7

2. Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is the king of graphic design apps when it comes to vector editing. Instead of using raster images composed of color blocks, Illustrator uses the power of vectors. They preserve excellent quality of various art pieces. It has all the things that every digital artist needs. Full Review

  • Superior vector design tools
  • Touch-Type feature
  • Perfect for infographics
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Adobe Illustrator is the king of graphic design apps when it comes to vector editing. Instead of using raster images composed of color blocks, Illustrator uses the power of vectors. They preserve excellent quality of various art pieces. It has all the things that every digital artist needs. Full Review

Free Trial

Yes

Vector Graphics

Yes

Raster Graphics

Yes

Smooth Interface

Yes

Plugins

Yes

Compatible with other programs

Yes

File sharing

Yes

Customer Service

24/7

3. CorelDraw

Powered by a unique set of drawing tools and design essentials, CorelDraw is the graphic editing software for novice designers to create and grow. If you’re in search of a practical alternative to heavy editing applications, CorelDraw is your top option. Full Review

  • Vector and raster editor
  • Great functionality
  • Customizable workspace
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Powered by a unique set of drawing tools and design essentials, CorelDraw is the graphic editing software for novice designers to create and grow. If you’re in search of a practical alternative to heavy editing applications, CorelDraw is your top option. Full Review

Free Trial

Yes

Vector Graphics

Yes

Raster Graphics

Yes

Smooth Interface

Yes

Mixed compositions

Yes

Plugins

Yes

3D editing

Yes

Customer Service

24/7

4. Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign holds the key to every layout artist's heart. It’s the top graphic design software for brochures, flyers, books, magazines, newspapers and digital pages. InDesign has become a household name for advertising companies and publishing houses everywhere. Clients include Ogilvy, Future Network USA and MacMillan McGraw-Hill. Full Review

  • Advanced typesetting features
  • Amazing typography
  • Great functionality
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Adobe InDesign holds the key to every layout artist's heart. It’s the top graphic design software for brochures, flyers, books, magazines, newspapers and digital pages. InDesign has become a household name for advertising companies and publishing houses everywhere. Clients include Ogilvy, Future Network USA and MacMillan McGraw-Hill. Full Review

Free trial

Yes

Typesetting

Yes

Vector Graphics

Limited

Smooth Interface

Yes

Supports various file types

Yes

Plugins

Yes

Sharing and Output

Yes

Customer Support

24/7

5. Inkscape

Inkscape dominates the pool of free art programs. It’s the best open source graphic design software that uses Scalable Vector Graphics format to create stunning vector illustrations like logos and banners. Ideal for starters, the software can support simple, recreational drawing and a bit of professional visual editing. Full Review

  • Clean workspace
  • Simple toolbox
  • Great filters and extensions
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Inkscape dominates the pool of free art programs. It’s the best open source graphic design software that uses Scalable Vector Graphics format to create stunning vector illustrations like logos and banners. Ideal for starters, the software can support simple, recreational drawing and a bit of professional visual editing. Full Review

Free to use

Yes

Vector Graphics

Yes

Raster Graphics

Yes

Layers

Yes

Smooth Interface

Yes

Supports various file types

Yes

Plugins

No

Customer Support

24/7

6. Sketch

Sketch is a vector graphics editor that turns raw visual ideas to eye-catching design pieces. This Apple Design Award-winning software is the top choice for mac users who are in the web and product design businesses. With more than a million users today, Sketch is ideal for both personal and professional design projects. Full Review

  • Simple and easy features
  • Great interface
  • Multiple artboards
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Sketch is a vector graphics editor that turns raw visual ideas to eye-catching design pieces. This Apple Design Award-winning software is the top choice for mac users who are in the web and product design businesses. With more than a million users today, Sketch is ideal for both personal and professional design projects. Full Review

Free Trial

Yes

Vector Graphics

Yes

Raster Graphics

No

Smooth Interface

Yes

Supports various file types

Yes

Plugins

Yes

Customer Service

Email

File Exporting

Yes

7. Corel Paintshop Pro

Paintshop Pro is Corel’s flagship product - a high-powered image editing software for Windows. With Photoshop-like features enhanced by AI commands, Paintshop Pro is the best graphic design software for those in the pursuit of suitable and cheaper alternatives to Adobe. Full Review

  • Easy to learn/use
  • Best alternative to Photoshop
  • AI Commands
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Paintshop Pro is Corel’s flagship product - a high-powered image editing software for Windows. With Photoshop-like features enhanced by AI commands, Paintshop Pro is the best graphic design software for those in the pursuit of suitable and cheaper alternatives to Adobe. Full Review

Free trial period

Yes

Raster Graphics

Yes

Vector Graphics

Yes

Smooth Interface

Yes

Supports various file types

Yes

Automated edits

Yes

Plugins

Yes

Customer Service

24/7

8. Xara Designer Pro X

From stunning web design elements to detailed page layouts, Xara Designer Pro X offers a great mix of fundamental features. Digital or print, it’s one of the best graphic design programs that support various multimedia editing tasks such as vector illustration, photo editing, web graphics, and more. Full Review

  • Drag-and-drop editing
  • Great for web design
  • Nice photo editing tools
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From stunning web design elements to detailed page layouts, Xara Designer Pro X offers a great mix of fundamental features. Digital or print, it’s one of the best graphic design programs that support various multimedia editing tasks such as vector illustration, photo editing, web graphics, and more. Full Review

Free Trial

Yes

Raster Graphics

Yes

Vector Graphics

Yes

Smooth Interface

Yes

Supports various file types

Yes

3D Editing

Limited

Plugins

Yes

Customer Service

Email

9. GIMP

Used by art hobbyists and graphic designers on a budget, GIMP is one of the most accessible open-source photo editing programs today. It’s the best free graphic design software for raster images and graphics work that involves photo retouching, freehand drawing, layouting, enhancing, and more. Full Review

  • Very easy to use
  • Completely free and accessible
  • Mimics Photoshop features
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Used by art hobbyists and graphic designers on a budget, GIMP is one of the most accessible open-source photo editing programs today. It’s the best free graphic design software for raster images and graphics work that involves photo retouching, freehand drawing, layouting, enhancing, and more. Full Review

Free

Yes

Raster Graphics

Yes

Vector Graphics

Very limited

Smooth Interface

Yes

Supports various file types

Yes

Animation

Basic

Plugins

Yes

Customer Service

Email

10. Gravit Designer

Gravit Designer is one of those graphic staples that you can always rely on. Incredible photos, eye-catching graphics, great artwork and simple solutions to common graphic design problems can easily be addressed by the best free online graphic design software. Full Review

  • Clean interface
  • Online and offline editing
  • Effortless tools
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Gravit Designer is one of those graphic staples that you can always rely on. Incredible photos, eye-catching graphics, great artwork and simple solutions to common graphic design problems can easily be addressed by the best free online graphic design software. Full Review

Free trial

Yes

Vector Graphics

Yes

Raster Graphics

Yes

Smooth Interface

Yes

Supports various file types

Yes

Compatible with other programs

Yes

Plugins

No

Customer Service

Email

Best Graphic Design Software for 2020

What makes the finest graphic design software, you ask? Here’s our answer.

  • Adobe Photoshop – Best overall software for graphic design
  • Adobe Illustrator – Best digital art software
  • CorelDraw Graphics Suite – Best software for drawing
  • Adobe InDesign – Best for page layouts
  • Inkscape – Best free graphic design software
  • Sketch – Best vector editor for mac
  • Corel Paintshop Pro – Best raster editor for Windows
  • Xara Designer Pro X – Best for quick and automated edits
  • GIMP – Best for photo editing starters
  • Gravit Designer – Best basic online graphic editor

Detailed Reviews

Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Photoshop

BEST FOR

Image, vector and 3D editing

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  • Rich photo editing toolbox
  • Clean workspace
  • 3D-ready
  • Cloud syncing

Whether you’ve used it before or not, you’ve probably heard about Adobe – the world-famous multimedia software giant. Photoshop is the most popular among all Adobe programs, known for its superior image editing abilities. However, it can also be used by visual artists, photographers, web designers and other creative professionals in producing artworks for personal and commercial use.

Let’s see if Photoshop lives up to its god status.

Features

Adobe Photoshop is best known for its unique set of tools used to edit photos, but it can also be used for graphic design projects as well. Here’s what we’re talking about:

Photo Enhancement

Photoshop is probably the best platform for correcting and manipulating photos. It’s the go-to graphic design software for when you want to enhance your photos, add filters and create compositions. For photographers in particular, it has all the quick tools for doing retouches, like the Patch Tool, Stamp Tool, Spot Healing Tool, Redeye Tool, Pattern Stamp Tool, and many more.

Digital Drawing

The star of the best graphic design software is the Pen tool. It’s gotten so essential that Photoshop couldn’t exist without it. It enables users to draw basically anything by creating paths through anchor points. It also allows users to edit existing shapes and visuals by manually controlling them. 

Vector Masking

Thanks to its Layer Masking tool, Photoshop can also work as a vector graphic software. It’s a feature highly popularized by Adobe which lets you hide or mask a portion of a certain layer for other editing purposes. It can be used for a host of reasons, but mostly you can utilize it for rearranging elements, playing with colors or adding gradients. 

3D Editing

Photoshop didn’t mean to dip its toes in the 3D graphics industry, but it isn’t called the most adaptable editing software for nothing. With Photoshop’s 3D power, editors can import objects from other Adobe programs directly into the solution to add textures and other effects.

Creative Cloud

Every designer’s worst nightmare is losing everything they’ve worked on. Adobe Suites found a solution: the Creative Cloud (CC). If you’re using Photoshop CC, you get to save your files into the cloud where they are safe and accessible. Add to that the advantage of downloading Adobe updates ahead, without waiting for the latest version to arrive. 

Ease of Use

Installing and launching Photoshop is quick and effortless. While getting used to the workspace might take a while because of the rich set of tools and windows, it’s overall easy to navigate. On top of that, Photoshop’s compatibility with other Adobe software makes it possible for editors to integrate their digital graphics into other programs.

Pricing

Adobe Photoshop comes with a chunky price tag, but it does have a 7-day free trial. Once it’s over, you will be automatically shifted to a paid plan, unless you cancel it beforehand.  

Adobe isn’t offering single purchases of Photoshop anymore. Instead, you’ll have to subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud’s monthly plan.

  • Individual plan – $21 per month
  • Business plan – $25 per month, offered to teams for better collaborationл

Keep in mind that students and teachers are eligible for a 60% discount.

Verdict

I’ll be blunt: Photoshop is quite expensive. And if you’re looking for a free graphics software, you might want to look elsewhere. But if you have the budget, it’ll be your greatest purchase yet. From enhancing images to creating simple vector graphics, what you can do with Photoshop is endless. It’s the perfect software for every designer – hobbyists and professionals alike.

Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Illustrator

BEST FOR

Vector illustrations

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  • Superior vector design tools
  • Touch-Type feature
  • Perfect for infographics
  • Cloud syncing

Adobe Illustrator is the best graphic design software for beginners and seasoned editors. It can be anyone’s cup of tea for creating all sorts of graphic art – from logos and clip arts to charts and infographics. Any visual imagination can be best translated into a canvas by using the software’s tools that are specifically crafted for graphic design. 

Features

What makes Adobe Illustrator the holy grail software for digital artists is that it mainly works as a vector editor.

Drawing Tools

Creating killer graphics is made possible by the best drawing software’s generous set of design tools. The iconic Pen Tool lets you draw paths and shapes free-hand, and along with graphic staples such as the Mesh Tool and Blend Tool, you can do image tracing and swatches at your own comfort. But the Touch-Type Tool takes the spotlight here. It lets you do micro-adjustments in text characters, which is a useful tool in layouting.

Vector Graphics Editor

Illustrator makes use of vector images composed of points, lines and curves instead of raster images that use tiny squares of color. This way, you can shrink or enlarge illustrations without compromising their original quality. This is critical for designers who are producing artworks for large-format printing such as billboards, banners, signs, and more.

Graphing Tools

Adobe Illustrator offers top-notch editing tools for constructing information graphics. If you’re someone who likes to make elevated visual presentations by adding graphic elements, Illustrator’s abundant toolbox is the way to go. You can make vector-based bar graphs, pie charts, diagrams and other data visuals.

Creative Cloud

One of the most crucial stages of graphic design is the file-saving process. It can be a nerve-wracking experience – especially for professional designers who can’t afford to lose their work. Adobe Illustrator uses the Creative Cloud, which lets you keep your works secure and accessible across multiple devices. It also lets you work with other Adobe programs simultaneously.

Plugins

One of the most impressive aspects of Illustrator is you can add plugins that can enhance your graphic creation. It’s like buying new parts for your car! You can buy add-ons that let you design your own font, create 3D illustrations, and apply pre-programmed effects

Ease of Use

Adobe Illustrator is the optimal graphic design software because it only takes a few steps to install and launch the application. If you’re already familiar with Photoshop or InDesign, then you’ll take to Illustrator in no time. There are similarities in the overall interface of Adobe that’s consistent with most of its programs. The program has a lot of panels on your plate, so it might be a bit confusing for absolute beginners.

Pricing

All Adobe apps are paid, including Illustrator. But if you want to test the waters, the free version of Illustrator comes with a 7-day trial. When that expires, you have the option to purchase it as a standalone app. You can also subscribe to the Creative Cloud and get access to other programs in Adobe Suites

  • Single App – $19.99 per month, billed annually
  • Illustrator + other apps – $49.99 per month, billed annually

Verdict

Adobe apps are a tad pricey. The Illustrator software is also not the best for editing photos, since its focus is primarily on vector images. However, we already know that this is actually Illustrator’s strongest asset. So, if you’re on the hunt for the best graphic design software for logos, banners, digital art and more, Illustrator offers great value for money. Plus, you can integrate it with Photoshop with the help of the Creative Cloud.

CorelDraw
CorelDraw

BEST FOR

Digital art beginners

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  • Vector and raster editor
  • Great functionality
  • Customizable workspace
  • File sharing

If it comes down to the best graphic design programs for drawing, illustrating, and digital sketching, the greatest contender to Adobe is CorelDraw Graphics Suite. It may seem like I’m comparing apples to apples here, but you’ll find that CorelDraw is completely in a league of its own. For an editing software that’s meant to cater to design rookies, CorelDraw is packed with pro features that are killing the game right now.

Features

CorelDraw boasts a highly customizable interface, user-friendly tools and tailored effects that make digital art fast and easy. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Drawing Tools

CorelDraw is the best drawing software if you’re looking for sketching options. The LiveSketch Tool is an easy favorite, which lets you draw simple to complex objects that are crisp, defined, and editable according to your artistic intention. The new Symmetry feature is also one of CorelDraw’s most enticing options, giving you the ability to draw accurate multi-axis and kaleidoscopic art without breaking a sweat.

Customizable Workspace

A clean and organized design space is important for every artist. CorelDraw’s highly customizable work area makes it a highly functional software for graphic design. Unlike most editing applications, you get to rearrange your design to your liking – from your toolbox arrangement to your window colors. Also with Font Manager, you can regroup and organize all the fonts you use for a specific project.

Raster-Ready

CorelDraw owes its performance to its versatility. While the program’s DNA has vector software written all over it, CorelDraw is also capable of doing edits with raster images. It takes the basic elements of a photo editing software and combines it with its superb vector editing features. It’s like a hybrid between Photoshop and Illustrator. It’s a convenient feature for artists who wish to make quick edits that contain both photos and vectors like mosaics, for example.

Corel Cloud

One of the perks of subscribing to CorelDraw Graphics Suite is that you get access to CorelDraw.app. This is the web-based version – think online vector editor. You can either use the web or PC version and save your work altogether in the Corel Cloud. You can access your works at any device or instantly share them with your clients and other viewers. 

Ease of Use

Downloading and installing CorelDraw Graphics Suite was a breeze. The application uses very little capacity in your computer’s memory, despite it being a large program with lots of features. Plus it’s customizable, so you can group your favorite commands and tools to easily locate them. For this reason, it’s the best graphic design software for beginners.

Pricing

CorelDraw Graphics Suite offers two plan variants; a full version and an Annual Enterprise plan. The price is a bit high, but the full version already grants you a lifetime license. And don’t worry, if you’re not ready to make that big purchase yet. You can try out the software’s 15-day free version. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee as well.

  • Full version – $669.00
  • Annual Enterprise Plan (for teams) – $198 per year

Verdict

CorelDraw is the best choice for aspiring digital artists and graphic designers. With vector illustration tools and photo editing features combined, there’s a ton of creative projects you can get done. The only problem with CorelDraw is that your file size increases in bigger increments as you put in more elements within your main composition, especially photos. Otherwise, CorelDraw still features an excellent platform with unique drawing necessities that can make digital art-making so much easier.

Adobe InDesign
Adobe InDesign

BEST FOR

Desktop publishing

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  • Advanced typesetting features
  • Amazing typography
  • Great functionality
  • Accurate layouting

Packed with essentials that bring out the best in page layouts and styles, Adobe InDesign completes the holy trinity of Adobe’s best graphic design apps. Whether you’re designing a school publication or a mass-produced marketing material, InDesign can help. It offers truly amazing desktop publishing tools.

Features

Adobe InDesign’s power isn’t limited to traditional art projects though. It’s a design creator with instruments that go way beyond print.

Layout Essentials

If you’re doing heavy-duty layouting, you’ll need a strong editor that will allow you to be creative and efficient at the same time. That’s where Adobe InDesign steps in. For one, InDesign’s greatest asset is its typesetting features. You get to play with different table styles, character styles, paragraph styles and color compositions, and keep them in order through the software’s programmed commands.

Superior Typography

Fonts can be a real dealbreaker for most graphic design apps. And it’s no secret: Adobe’s font library is the best in the market. When you’re using InDesign, you get to use over 14,000 fonts designed by Adobe combined with your own font library. And if it gets a little overwhelming, InDesign’s Character Panel is there to make things easier. The panel lets you access and locate the fonts you use through real-time visual font browsing.

Layering

One of the standout features of Adobe InDesign is its ability to control layers – a distinct feature the software inherited from its sister-apps, Photoshop and Illustrator. Like designing in an art program, layering allows InDesign editors to make certain parts of their document visible or invisible. 

Creative Cloud

Like other Adobe graphic editing software, InDesign is part of the Cloud. That means you get to save and access your work across multiple devices, and use other Adobe apps simultaneously. With InDesign though, cloud sharing isn’t just the key benefit. If you’re working with a team for a project, every edit made by a collaborator gets accessed by all collaborators. This is particularly useful when you’re delegating design tasks to multiple designers.

Digital Pages

Like I said, InDesign isn’t just for print layouts. Later versions of the software paved the way for artists and editors to produce materials outside print publishing. E-books and interactive PDFs are some great examples. Through InDesign’s project-specific workspaces and graphic design tools, it’s way easier to arrange, typeset and layout multiple pages meant for digital publishing.

Ease of Use

The software has a slick interface that makes you feel like you’re in the same workspace as Photoshop or Illustrator. Heads up, though: because it’s a ginormous application, you may expect some crashes, but that highly depends on your computer’s performance.

Pricing

Adobe InDesign certainly isn’t for those looking for the best free software for graphic design. But, the 7-day free trial should give you a good warmup. Once the trial expires, you’ll be automatically signed up to an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, which is the only way you can acquire InDesign. Unless, of course, you cancel it.

  • Single-app subscription – $20.99 per month
  • Full subscription (all Adobe Suite apps) – $52.99 per month

Verdict

Since it’s meant for high-volume work, Adobe InDesign has one of the most complex design features. For a beginner, it may take a little over two weeks to a month to fully grasp the interface and all the tools. But once you get the hang of it, it truly is one of the best graphic design software that makes print or digital books, magazines, newspapers, catalogues, promotional materials, etc.

Inkscape
Inkscape

BEST FOR

Basic vector editing

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  • Clean workspace
  • Simple toolbox
  • Great filters and extensions
  • Multiple export options

Free vector programs were hard to come by until the digital art pioneer Inkscape entered the market. It’s the best free graphic design software for up-and-coming designers who want to try their hand in vector editing. If you’re leaning towards graphic platforms that use an open-source system, Inkscape is the top name in the game.

Features

Organized workspace, easy-to-use tools, and tailored effects are Inkscape’s best qualities. It’s the right fit for novice digital artists, painters, and designers.

Drawing Tools

Inkscape is among the best drawing software with tools that can satisfy any artist. The Pencil tool is your best bet in freehand drawing. Use the Pen to create line art and curves. The Shape tool makes it easier to incorporate accurate artistic elements into your piece. The Calligraphy feature is particularly my favorite – it lets you add calligraphy strokes using freehand. 

Tailored Filters

If you wish to add visual effects to your work but mixing and matching isn’t your strong suit, you can just let Inkscape do the work for you. You may choose among the filter windows’ ready-made filters like Bevels, Overlays, Distort, Textures and Bumps to add special effects.

Multiple File Formats

Inkscape is one of the best free art programs that support SVG image files. This file format is suitable for graphic designs that require high scalability, such as website elements. It preserves their original quality, meaning they won’t look pixelated when viewed in different sizes. Inkscape can also export different file formats such as PNG, EPS, PDF, PostScript, OpenDocument and many more.

Image Tracing

Newbie digital artists would usually start with tracing images for their artwork. And because Inkscape can import Bitmap images like JPEG or PNG, you can use the software’s tools and commands dedicated to tracing. With the help of the Selector Tool and the Path menu, you can trace imported images very easily.

Ease of Use

You can get Inkscape for your computer like downloading any application off the Internet. But since it’s an app from the web, you might want to double-check your computer’s memory to see if it can hold up well. 

The interface is neat. Quite a departure from the Adobe style, but easy to get along with. Inkscape also has its own Wiki, which is a huge plus. It’s created by users and developers to guide new vector software users. 

Pricing

For such a great graphic design software, it’s honestly astonishing that Inkscape is completely free. The small price you may or may not pay is the donation asked by the creators. They don’t really require a specific amount, and it’s optional.

Verdict

The downside to Inkscape being free is that it’s somehow limiting. You can only do so much with free graphics software, so don’t expect Inkscape to blow your mind. But it provides good enough tools for an array of purposes, like making a simple clip art or designing a t-shirt. And besides, there’s still a good number of professionals who prefer Inkscape above other digital art programs. It’s all about maximizing the toolbox potential of the best free graphic design software.

Sketch
Sketch

BEST FOR

UI/UX designers

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  • Simple and easy features
  • Great interface
  • Multiple artboards
  • Awesome plugins

Vector-wise, Sketch is one of the best programs for graphic design. It can keep up with other expensive editing software when it comes to creating powerful visual elements of a website, app, or product design. Whether you’re designing a project as a lone wolf or part of the pack, Sketch has plenty of room for crazy ideas to develop and shine.

Features

Sketch has superior graphic design tools that speak to web designers and product developers. The software is at its strongest when it’s used to create web interfaces and product prototypes.

UI/UX Design Templates

Sketch is an ideal graphic design software for User Interface (UI) or User Experience (UX) designers. Whether you’re designing a website or a mobile app, Sketch gives you the freedom to create your own templates or use pre-made ones. It lets you create and work with multiple artboards. Using Artboard Presets, you get to choose from predefined screen dimensions to save you time and effort.

Vector Drawing

Sketch isn’t the best for image editing, as it hardly supports bitmap images. But it is the best software for drawing. Sketch makes vector drawings look like a piece of cake, thanks to its highly adaptable features. And the fact that you can re-use design elements again and again just makes the process more efficient. Smart Guides and Easy Grids also make sure that all your measurements are accurate, so there’s less time to be technical and more time to be creative.

Plugins

Adding plugins to your work enables you to enhance your work, unlock new skills, or fulfill specific design goals. With extra graphic design features, like exporting website layouts directly as code, for example, Sketch has thousands of unique plugins that help you create outstanding designs.

Enhanced Collaboration

When you’re using a team version of Sketch, collaboration among managers, designers and even developers are as smooth as it gets. Using a cloud workspace, everybody gets to access the work, and the latest edits are always immediately reflected in each user’s file. 

Ease of Use

Sketch is one of those design programs that really embodies simplicity. The polished interface catches the eye immediately. Even for first-time users, navigation won’t be a problem. It also takes just a few minutes to render art, which is a real time-saver for graphic designers. Just one thing –  if you’re using an older version of macOS, I suggest using an older version of Sketch to avoid crashes.

Pricing

Sketch offers two options for mac users:

  • Individual package – $99, lifetime license
  • Team subscription – $9 per collaborator, per month. $99 if billed annually

The first one lets you purchase Sketch as a standalone app. It’s yours forever, but it only comes with a year’s worth of app updates and cloud saving. You can choose to renew it for another year, for $79.

A team subscription, on the other hand, grants a shared Cloud workspace for all collaborators, with regular updates. No license keys required.

Both plans have a 30-day free trial.

Verdict

All graphic design apps have flaws, and for Sketch, it’s the technical stuff. Designers may encounter a few glitches and bugs, especially for teams with collaborators that don’t use the same version. But it’s not a problem that updates can’t fix. Sketch can still compete with other vector graphics editors like Adobe Illustrator in getting the work done. Alternatively, Sketch is the best graphic design software for mac users who are looking for cheaper options.

Corel Paintshop Pro
Corel Paintshop Pro

BEST FOR

Graphic designers on a budget

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  • Easy to learn
  • Best alternative to Photoshop
  • AI Commands
  • Filter presets

Corel Paintshop Pro is a haven for freelance photographers, graphic designers, and digital artists. It’s one of the best graphic design software for Windows that can do simple photo retouches, playing with filters and adding compositions. If an app can compete with Adobe Photoshop in terms of photo editing toolsets, smart commands and quick navigation, that’s Paintshop Pro.

Features

Paintshop Pro is great for both raster and vector editing, but it works best with enhancing photos. With well-rounded raster tools, the best design software is a master of photo fixes, filters, and retouches.

Editing Shortcuts

One of the standout features of Paintshop Pro is its ability to fast-track multimedia edits without compromising quality. For one, its specialized tab that lets you manage your photos makes for an orderly editing process. It has a basic interface that gives easy access to everything; a good workspace for graphic design beginners. 

Quick Fixes

As for the tools, it almost feels like most of them can work on their own. The SmartClone tool is particularly impressive. It’s quite similar to Photoshop’s Content-Aware feature. You can simply select an unnecessary or distracting element of a photo and the command removes it automatically.

Automatic Tools

Speaking of automation, Paintshop Pro is a graphic editor taps into the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for faster edits. This reduces manual editing work by allowing users to execute commands in just one click. Dirt on your photos? You can smoothen that out through Paintshop Pro’s AI Denoise. Other cool AI-powered features include the AI Artifact Removal, AI Unsampling, AI Style Transfer, and AI HDR Studio for Paintshop Pro Ultimate subscribers.

Effects and Filter Packs

Paintshop Pro lets you add third-party plugins for extra features and graphic design tools. You’ll have to pay more for it, but it’s worth it if you’re going for a higher level of editing work. A good example is GRFX Studio Pro which gives you access to tons of filter presets, and ParticleShop brushes for creative strokes and effects.

Text Formatting

Paintshop Pro is great for projects like posters, banners and invitations too. Although limited, the software still has good functionality for simple vector works and layouting, thanks to its Text Formatting features. It’s easier to arrange and modify the appearance of text through rendering, inputting or editing by changing your Text Format settings. 

Ease of Use

Paintshop Pro is the best simple graphic design software. It breaks down the complexities of image editing into easy and understandable tools, windows and panels. Just one reminder: before installing the app, check your computer’s memory first. Paintshop Pro has the tendency to run slow on older computers, making it harder to work or open large files like raw images.

Pricing

Paintshop Pro is free to use for 30 days. After that trial period, you’ll have to pay for it with a 30-day money-back guarantee. The software grants a perpetual license, so the app is yours forever. You can choose between the regular app or its Ultimate edition, which gives you access to more of Corel’s editing software.

  • Corel Paintshop Pro 2021 – $79.99
  • Corel Paintshop Pro 2021 Ultimate – $99.99 (includes extra software like Aftershot, Corel Painter Essentials, Sea-to-Sky Workspace, PhotoMirage Express, etc.)

Verdict

If Inkscape is the vector master, Corel Paintshop Pro is the raster supreme. Paintshop Pro is your best partner when you have a whole bunch of photos to edit but you don’t have Photoshop or Lightroom. It’s cheaper and a little more user-friendly. Newbie digital photographers and photo editors can easily maximize the design software. But it’s for Windows only, so there’s that. Its vector abilities are limited, too. That’s why if your work consists mostly of photo editing, you can get the best out of Paintshop Pro’s workspace, especially its automated features.

Xara Designer Pro X
Xara Designer Pro X

BEST FOR

Basic photo editing and vector art making

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  • Drag-and-drop editing
  • Great for web design
  • Nice photo editing tools
  • Vector + raster editor

Xara Designer Pro X covers a wide scope of design requirements – a good reason why design students, freelance artists and small to medium businesses prefer using it. It’s the best graphic design software if you want a one-stop-shop for all design tasks, made easier. You can create digital illustrations or a website, enhance photos, or layout multiple pages using a rich breadth of artistic tools and features.

Features

If you’re an all-around designer that needs a little bit of everything, Xara Designer Pro X ticks a lot of boxes. 

Drag-and-Drop Editing

Among its other stellar qualities, the drag-and-drop feature that takes the center stage. It may sound a little ‘too basic’ for a professional graphic design software, but it’s perfect for when you want to do your edits quickly and efficiently. For layout artists in particular, the key benefit is easily arranging design elements, editing them and adding details.

Vector Graphics

Xara Designer Pro X is the best illustration software for vector art beginners. It features an impressive set of vector-based lines and object drawing tools that are easy to work with. The QuickShape Tool lets you choose from pre-made objects to form beautiful, accurate images, the Blend Tool lets you mix and match a variety of shapes. The 3D Extrude Tool lets you play with 3D graphics like shades, depths, and more.

Photo Manipulation

Thanks to its advanced photo editing features, Xara Designer Pro X is at par with some major raster graphics editors. Its prearranged editing commands can spare photo editors the manual labor of enhancing or manipulating photos. The Magic Eraser Tool is the best match for Photoshop’s Patch Tool, which automatically removes unwanted objects from an image to produce a clean and seamless finish.

Xara Cloud

Aside from the graphic design program, you also get access to the Xara Cloud so you get to save, update or share your works very easily. Your documents are synced across multiple devices for quick viewing, or if you’re a commercial designer, you can also give access to your clients and other design collaborators who wish to receive, view, or pitch into your works remotely. 

Vector Anti-Aliasing

Designer Pro X is one of the trailblazers in vector anti-aliasing. Anti-aliasing is the process of retaining the optimal quality of images for screen display, so you have clear elements, bright colors and smooth edges while working. Not all design programs have this feature.

Ease of Use

The design software gives little to no trouble at all in terms of performance. Launching it is fast, easy, and free from crashes. Good for long-term use, Designer Pro X works best for light to moderate editing, since it’s power-packed with some pretty versatile features.

Pricing

You can try Xara Designer Pro X for free, within 14-days. You get full access to all of its features during the trial period. After that, you’ll have to purchase the app for $199 via one-time payment with a 30-day money-back guarantee. It comes with a perpetual license so you can use it for life.

Verdict

Xara Designer Pro X is the Jack of all trades. It mirrors the abilities of Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign wrapped into one. But that could be its weakness too. Since the software features many different editing styles, some of its abilities can only be used to a certain extent. Add to that its Windows-only compatibility, so designers with different OS can’t use it. Otherwise, for an all-in-one cheap editing software, Xara Designer Pro X can still accomplish a good set of design tasks.

GIMP
GIMP

BEST FOR

Graphic design rookies

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  • Very easy to use
  • Completely free and accessible
  • Mimics Photoshop features
  • Good compatibility

GIMP is a free graphic editing application that features simple tools to execute creative design pieces. If you’re in search of a Photoshop replica without having to pay for it, GIMP is definitely the top candidate. It’s one of the most practical and sustainable alternatives to expensive graphic design programs that not all creatives can afford.                

Features

GIMP is full of design instruments that can cater to your needs in various projects such as digital art, icons, photos, layouts, scripted images, prototypes and more.

Photo Enhancement

The software mainly works with raster images, so most of its editing tools are good for photo enhancement. The commands and features in GIMP graphic design are almost identical to Adobe. However, they are not as deep and complex in terms of editing techniques. Some of its best photo editing features include cutting, smoothing, scaling, healing, masking, and montaging. The Selection tool looks as if it came straight out of Photoshop, with powerful commands that allow you to manipulate colors, compositions, etc.

Interactive Art

Art that can be viewed and distributed in multimedia platforms is a recurring trend these days, especially in marketing. With GIMP, you can make simple cartoons, banners, memes, GIF art, and a little bit of motion graphics. GIMP also supports numerous file types like JPEG, PNG, SVG, PDF, TIFF, GIF, PSD, etc. You can be certain that your works have high compatibility.

Smart Cropping

GIMP’s Crop tool has some cool features that make cutting and snipping more than just a basic editing option. Along the feature’s panel, you can find a collection of cropping styles. There’s a tool that lets you crop freely or within a fixed aspect ratio, one that lets you crop just a single layer or the entire photo, another that lets you crop in reverse by starting from the middle, and so on.

Customizable Workspace

GIMP’s interface is highly customizable, which means you get to re-arrange your work station according to your preference. You can move certain parts of the workspace to make them look more organized in a way that suits your taste. You can also enhance your graphic design program with extra features by downloading plugins developed by the GIMP Community.

Ease of Use

GIMP is by far the most adaptable graphic design app. You can simply download it from the website and install it in a matter of minutes. It can run smoothly on any computer type, and the interface is easy on the eyes. 

The workspace provides comfortable navigation with the main workspace, toolbox, layers, windows, paths and channels neatly placed for easier access. The name tabs also display a thumbnail, which is a plus when you’re switching between multiple graphic design projects. 

Pricing

GIMP is completely free for all Windows, macOS, and GNU/Linux users. No monthly payments, plan subscriptions, whatsoever. All third-party plugins engineered by designers within the GIMP Community are free and downloadable as well. 

Verdict

GIMP is a solid app for amateur and novice artists who are looking for the best free art programs. It’s essentially the clone version of Photoshop. But since it’s a free software, GIMP’s features are not as powerful as those of commercial computer art applications. Definitely not the ideal software for heavy editing. But for recreational edits and basic graphic illustrations, you can count on it to do the work.

Gravit Designer
Gravit Designer

BEST FOR

Online vector and photo editing

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  • Clean interface
  • Online and offline editing
  • Effortless tools
  • Multi platform

Gravit Designer is an online graphic editor that’s free and accessible for beginners. With a collection of SVG editing tools, you can fulfill a multitude of vector tasks without paying for an expensive graphic design software

But is it good enough to do your designs justice? 

Well, this Gravit Designer review will prove that it is.

Features

With a streamlined interface and straightforward design tools, Gravit Designer has features that can please even non-design students, freelancers and dabblers.

Vector Art

Gravit Designer specializes in vector illustrations as it uses scalable vector graphics. It’s the best free graphic design software for digital art newcomers. Using its Smart shapes, you can easily draw predefined objects and convert them into editable vectors through anchors and paths. You can also experiment with the text engine in adding text components to your visual projects.

Photo Editing

Although not the strongest, Gravit Designer still is a good basic photo editor. The software lets you work with layers, so you can be creative in building photo compositions and controlling its elements. You can also enhance images with the help of fill and effects such as shadows, levels, overlays and bevels, etc.

Multiple Export Settings

Gravit Designer is among the list of vector graphics editors that support optimal file types. It mainly works with SVG and SVGZ file formats. These file types are the best for creating vector images because they retain the exact quality of all visual elements when viewed in different sizes. The software also exports bitmap images like PNG, JPEG, PDF, EPS, and more. You can also export only selected parts of the artboard by trimming other areas.

Clean Workspace

We know that artists like to work in an organized workstation. So if you’re using Gravit Designer, that’s totally out of your worries. The graphic creator features a clean, slick interface that makes for smooth navigation. It’s very easy to open multiple documents, access the tools you need, and pick the right commands in the windows. There’s also a dedicated tab for quick tutorials.

Ease of Use

For casual creatives, using Gravit Designer is like a child’s play. You can use the online graphic editor on your browser, so you can make your designs while switching between tabs on Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Or if you want quicker access on your desktop, you can just download the app straight from the website at full ease.

Pricing

Gravit Designer is free to use, whether on your browser or as a desktop app. There is also a paid plan, Gravit Designer Pro. It comes with add-ons and extra features such as unlimited cloud storage, file integration, advanced path tools, master pages and more. 

  • Gravit Designer – FREE
  • Gravit Designer Pro – $49 per year, 30-day free trial and money-back guarantee

Verdict

Online graphic design programs aren’t really known for accomplishing state-of-the-art deliverables, but Gravit Designer can be an exception. Yes, the tools aren’t nearly as good as Illustrator. Yes, the interface and its features are pretty basic. But it can and will deliver. Although the software still has a long way to go in matching the depth of commercial graphic design tools, Gravit Designer can still satisfy art beginners.

What Is Graphic Design Software?

Graphic design software is a computer program or a set of programs that enable users to create, edit, or manipulate visual illustrations composed of computer graphics. It contains tools and commands that allow you to add or change the elements of raster images (pixel composition) like photos, or vector images (path composition) like logos. 

What Are the Benefits of Using Graphic Design Software?

Graphic design programs make every visual artist’s life easier. These are some of the key benefits of using them.

Collaboration

For designers working in teams, utilizing a graphic design software ensures project coherence among all collaborators. It also makes the delegation of tasks highly systematic.

Consistency  

Computer-generated tools can help you come up with consistent, repetitive and measurable actions.

Efficiency 

If you’re dealing with multiple projects, the tailored commands and automated features of design programs save you time and effort. 

Accuracy

With the help of advanced graphic design tools, you can create objects with more accurate compositions instead of using traditional design instruments.

How to Choose the Best Graphic Design Software?

To help you narrow down your options to a good few, we’ve prepared an easy-to-follow buyer’s guide.

Use Case 

Here’s how you can spot the best graphic design software: consider your deliverables. 

Are you creating a logo, icon, or any vector illustration? Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape and CorelDraw Graphics Suite are the best candidates.

Photoshop, Paintshop Pro and GIMP can do just about anything when it comes to editing photos.

For website/UI designers – Illustrator, Sketch, and Xara Designer Pro X are made for creating website elements. Designing multiple pages is best done in Adobe InDesign.

There’s the right software for every task and purpose. It’s all about identifying which shoe fits.

Features 

Ask yourself this: what aspect do you value most in a graphic design app? Is it having a simple and organized navigation like what you can find in CorelDraw and GIMP? Or do you want a rich breadth of tools, panels and windows like what Adobe Suites can offer? The list goes on, but it all boils down to finding options that match the scope of your work.

Pricing

If basic editing is what you’re after, then there’s no need to shell out some cash for pro features and tools. Inkscape, GIMP and Gravit Designer should do the trick.

But if professional graphic design is what you do, you can get the best results from paid apps like Photoshop and Illustrator. Those on the cheaper side of the spectrum but still worth еvery cent include Designer Pro and Paintshop Pro.

Functionality

Most graphic designers today can adapt to different formats, so design programs should be able to do so too. Adobe products have the most powerful, well-rounded specs in the game so far – perfect for long-term use. CorelDraw Graphics Suite and Xara Designer Pro X are great contenders in terms of tool versatility and interface adaptability.

Wrap Up

Clearly, the perfect graphic design software is a mixture of many things.

Ultimately, you can choose the best graphic design software by simply considering your needs and wants as a designer. Go through our list and don’t be scared to test the options. We’re sure you’ll find the right match on this list.  

Good luck!

Your creative nature may be also interested in:

Best Logo Makers

Data Visualization Software

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FAQ

Which software is the best for graphic design?

Adobe Suites still have immaculate power overall graphic design apps, if we’re talking ability and functionality. They also happen to be the most expensive, but with top-notch tools and features.

What’s the best graphic design software for beginners?

It depends on your skill level, but if you want a place where you can learn fundamental skills and basic techniques, that’s GIMP. It’s also a good training ground if you plan to enter Photoshop. Besides, it’s free.

What is the best free app for graphic design?

Inkscape, GIMP, and Gravit Designer are among the best free graphic design software. If you’re editing raster images, GIMP has the adequate tools. But if you’re creating vector illustrations, Inkscape or Gravit Designer are a great choice.

How do you design a logo?

Ideally, you can create a logo by simply looking at a brand’s mission, vision, or key statement. From that, you can experiment with visual icons, colors, and typography that match the brand identity. Of course, you’ll need a logo design programme for that. Illustrator is the best graphic design software that makes logos, used by professionals.

Should I learn Illustrator or Photoshop first?

Photoshop, just because you can do anything with it. It’s a great starting point especially if you’re going the Adobe Suites route.

Is Inkscape as good as Illustrator?

Not quite, since Inkscape’s tools are fit for basic vector editing only. Illustrator has more complex features that are meant for expert design work.

How much does Inkscape cost?

Inkscape is completely free.