Graphic Design Software – The Best for Designers in 2022

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Hey Everyone! Welcome to our comprehensive Graphic Design Software guide!

This guide will explore 17 of the best free and paid Graphic Design Software to help you with your next visual concept project.

We’ll go over the basics of what each design software offers, so you can determine the right one that will suit your needs and meet industry standards.

In summary, this guide will cover:

The top free Graphic Design Software
The top paid-for Graphic Design Software
Free vs. paid Graphic Design Software: What works best?
Challenges and benefits of Graphic Design Software

So, let’s dive straight in!

What is the best Graphic Design Software for Designers?

Choosing Graphic Designing as a career option for creatives is excellent since it allows you to illustrate information regularly and is also associated with steady employment prospects.

However, while the job provides several perks, you’ll need to be good at it before enjoying any benefits.

What is the best Graphic Design software for Designers?

Part of being good at Graphic Designing involves having the right software to help you deliver on the technical skills needed to put a visual concept together.

So what makes a quality Graphic Design Software?

Quality Graphic Design Software provides impeccable ability concerning photo manipulation, web and, vector graphics, and desktop publishing, to mention a few.

Many free and paid Graphic Design Software offers a wide range of design features like the ones outlined above to make a Designer’s work stand out.

In the next section, we’ll explore the top paid Graphic Design Software before delving into the top free Graphic Design Software.

The top paid-for Graphic Design Software

Adobe Photoshop

Many Graphic Designers consider Adobe Photoshop the best Graphic Design and image editing software of recent times.

Among the reasons why it has received such high praise are its flexibility and depth in editing and designing.

Furthermore, Photoshop is popular for its features that reduce task repetition.

Other great Adobe Photoshop features include access to a synchronized Adobe creative cloud, a customizable user face, and various mobile and web design tools.

Pros

Cons

  • The software contains 3D design capabilities
  • Access to customizable canvases, brushes, and other tools
  • You can effectively transfer files to other programs
  • Extensive tools and fonts are available
  • Many features may present a steep learning curve for Beginners
  • Relatively expensive
  • Less supportive of vector and raster images

Pricing

Adobe Photoshop costs $20.99 per month per user.

Sketch

Sketch focuses on providing Designers with software that facilitates an all-in-one collaborative design process.

Apart from offering a “one-stop-shop” interface, its intuitive UI assists beginner Designers in quickly navigating the software with little to no instruction.

Other key features include its compatibility with custom plugins, Smart Layout, Efficient snap to grid functionality, and excellent device responsiveness.

Though Sketch boasts several great features, Android and Windows users cannot access Sketch as it’s exclusively made for macOS and iOS users.

Pros

Cons

  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Regular updates on the software
  • Auto Saving feature
  • Easy collaboration between teams
  • You can export layers in PNG format
  • Runs prototypes
  • Apple only
  • Relatively fewer illustration capabilities

Pricing

Sketch is free for the first 30 days.

After that, Sketch’s monthly cost is $9 per editor and $99 yearly per editor.

Affinity Designer

Developed by Microsoft, Affinity Designer is a vector and pixel Graphic Design software that revolutionizes how creatives work.

It is compact with several valuable tools and functionalities, including pan and zoom at 60 fps and easy transition between tools.

It also makes switching between vector and raster workspaces easy without requiring additional applications.

Furthermore, Affinity Designer boasts a versatile grid system great for helping Designers control angles and gutters, and it comes in handy with a feature that allows you to snap options with gridlines.

Additionally, Affinity offers iPad users a graphic design app that duplicates its features on the desktop version.

Its vast features make Affinity Designer an ideal choice for professional Designers.

Pros

Cons

  • Affordable
  • Ropes and Window stabilizers assist in creating accurate curves
  • Affinity Designer comes with on-screen guides to help in the designing process
  • The Boolean operation can also move and edit parts
  • It does not provide users with a perspective grid
  • Lacks a few tools available on Illustrator
  • Their software has no vector eraser in Designer Persona

Pricing

You can purchase the software from the Microsoft Store app for $54.99 for a desktop and $9.99 for an iPad.

Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign is software for Graphic Designers who focus on designing page layouts for magazines, catalogs, ebooks, or business cards.

The software facilitates the creation of high-quality page designs through its exceptional control of images, and access to selection, type, drawing, and transformation tools.

Additionally, its provision of design elements from Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop helps page designs stand out.

Finally, InDesign supports exports in PDF and HTML, which is excellent for fully controlling a publication, magazine, or website’s layout and design.

Pros

Cons

  • Supports HTML exports which is beneficial for creating WordPress websites
  • Allows resizing of multiple objects at one time
  • Benchmark for desktop publishing
  • Efficiently combines graphics with text
  • New users may find all its features overwhelming
  • Pricier than other page design softwares
  • PDF comment integration can do with more work

Pricing

Creators can access Adobe Indesign for $20.99 monthly.

CorelDraw Graphics Suite

Unlike several other graphic design software on this list, CorelDraw Graphics is not a single software but a bundle of 8 tools that will help you complete any creative project.

Some of the tools included are CorelDraw, used for vector illustrations and graphic design, Corel Font manager for unique typography, After the shot, and HDR and RAW photo editor.

Apart from providing designers with several high-performance tools, it offers a user-friendly interface that’s easy to understand for beginner Graphic Designers.

Pros

Cons

  • Easy to learn interface
  • Access to several features
  • Users can choose between GPU and CPU acceleration
  • Offers exceptional PDF importing capabilities and exports up to 48 file types
  • Quite expensive
  • It does not come with a complimentary mobile version

Pricing  

CorelDraw Graphics Suite 2021 has several payment plans, including the option to pay $20.75 monthly, $249 annually, and $499 one-time purchase.

Adobe Illustrator

From creating logos to web graphics, and design packaging, Adobe Illustrator, is considered some of the best vector design software currently on the market.

Many Designers chose Illustrator due to its ability to create high-quality vector art and graphics.

Adobe Illustrator can be used alongside Adobe Photoshop as Photoshop’s image editing tool and Illustrator’s vector editing tool complement each other.

Some key Illustrator features include pathfinder and shape builder to make unique geometric shapes.

Furthermore, it offers a drag-and-drop feature, in-panel editing to work on multiple art projects simultaneously, and a highly accessible and user-friendly interface.

Pros

Cons

  • Industry benchmark regarding vector graphic design software
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac
  • User Interface that is consistent with Photoshop
  • Access to adobe stock images and videos
  • Easily integrated with several Adobe products
  • It is significantly more expensive than other vector Graphic design software
  • Adobe Illustrator is not easy for beginners to use
  • It could potentially take up a lot of space on your device

Pricing

Adobe Illustrator costs $20.99 monthly.

Xara Designer Pro +

Xara’s new Graphic Design Software, Xara Designer Pro + 21.9, offers several comprehensive design tools and a Xara cloud to store creative projects.

In recent years, Xara’s Graphic Design Software has boasted several powerful features like the ability to work with bitmaps and vectors with equal aplomb.

In addition to all its powerful tools, the new version is Microsoft Edge compatible, provides better performance for mobile users, and provides extended support for number lists.

Xara is a competitive paid graphic design tool option as its license grants access to many archived illustrations, templates, fonts, and design elements, and fast performance promotes efficient workflow.

Pros

Cons

  • Reasonable
  • Access to millions of templates
  • Xara offers a super-fast rendering process
  • Offers quick overall performance
  • Provides a real-time drawing tool
  • Only available on Windows
  • Not suitable for beginners

Pricing

Xara Designer Pro + 21.9 costs $16.95 monthly for one user and $9.98 monthly for teams of 3.

Genially

Genially Graphic Design Software helps all types of creatives create interactive content that they can use on various platforms such as websites, social media, and blogs.

The software’s key features include access to numerous templates, collaboration tools, and customizable branding features.

Furthermore, the software facilitates the creation of Gamification, Video presentations, Infographics, and training material.

Pros

Cons

  • Several templates to choose from
  • It gives users access to instruction manuals to help in navigating the software
  • Genially offers several customizable options
  • Their interface can get confusing for new users

Pricing

Genially has 4 tier pricing options, including a free option, a Pro version for $7.49 monthly, and a Master version for $20.82 monthly.

Genially - Graphic Design Software

Finally, their Team version costs $79.15 monthly.

The top free Graphic Design Software

Inkscape

Inkscape is a publicly accessible vector graphics editor compatible with Windows, GNU/Linux, and macOS X.

It’s a common choice for beginner Designers on a budget, as access to all its features is free.

But don’t let the zero price tag lead you into thinking it performs any less than the industry standard.

The software offers several attractive design functionalities, including object creation and manipulation, text support, fill and stroke, and path insetting and out setting.

Furthermore, Inkscape supports file exports in various formats and renders projects with anti-aliasing technology.

Finally, to keep up with its robust usage, Inkscape provides new features and regular updates to its software.

Pros

Cons

  • Easy functionality
  • Regular updates
  • Inkscape supports multiple gradients
  • It offers a wide variety of tools
  • Inkscape comes with preset filters to help you in saving time
  • It consists of Bezier handles for easy movement of nodes
  • Graphics do not blur when resizing
  • Processing time takes longer than the average Graphic Design software
  • Illustrator compatibility could be better
  • A few flaws in the Mac version

Pricing

As mentioned earlier, Inkscape is free.

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)

GIMP is an open-source image editor that, despite being free, offers many tools that could almost compete with top-ranking Adobe Photoshop.

GIMP provides tools that aid Designers in manipulating high-quality images and in creating unique art creations from scratch.

Other standout tools include color management features to help in high-fidelity color reproduction and the ability to integrate projects with programming languages such as Scheme, Python, and Perl.

Pros

Cons

  • Regular updates
  • Provides tutorials for every feature
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Lightweight software
  • Compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, Solaris, and BDS
  • Updates are less common in comparison to other graphic design software
  • Not the best interface for Mac Users

Pricing

GIMP is an open-source platform free to all its users.

Gravit Designer

Gravit Designer is a vector Graphic Design Software fully loaded with several features that help creatives create all sorts of illustrations.

Unlike many vector illustration software that usually requires installation on your computer, Gravit facilitates web browser usage, automatically saves your projects on a cloud, and supports several different file formats such as SVG, JPG, and PNG.

Gravit also has an installable version of its software, should you prefer locally installed software.

While many Designers consider its functionality somewhat limiting, you may still be able to create complex designs using Gravit Designer.

Pros

Cons

  • Installable and available online
  • Gravit Designer is free
  • The interface is Beginner friendly
  • Software tends to become slow with complex designs

Pricing

Gravit Designer is free.

For a broader range of features, Designers can access the paid version known as Gravit Designer pro.

Photoscape

Photoscape is a Graphic Design Software specifically focused on providing ease of use to all levels of Designers.

It provides all the tools necessary to edit and process clean images despite being free.

Some key Photoscape features include a batch editor for editing several photos simultaneously, a screenshot capturer, drawing tools, and numerous photo editing features.

Photoscape is also considered a quality Graphic Design Software because of its raw converter that helps to give you more image manipulation control.

Pros

Cons

  • Raw image convertor allows easy conversion of images to JPEG
  • Compatible with all platforms
  • Integrated editing ability for efficient cross-referencing
  • Lightweight software
  • Not ideal for complex image editing

Pricing

Photoscape is free

Vectr

Vectr is a cross-platform editing tool targeted at vector Graphic Designers.

The software is an excellent option for beginner Designers considering its easy-to-use interface that needs little to no instructions.

Despite Vectr lacking advanced tools for complex projects, it provides many essential tools to complete any simple task.

These tools include fill and stroke, alignment elements, and shape and pen tools.

Pros

Cons

  • Easy to use interface makes it suitable for Beginners
  • Facilitates offline editing for up to 100 edits
  • Compatible with several platforms, including ChromeOS, Linux Mac, and Windows
  • Allows team collaborations
  • No installable version

Pricing

Vectr’s online-based Graphic Design Software is free.

Lunacy

Lunacy is a vector Graphic Design Software that uses AI technology to help creatives create design projects more quickly.

It’s also a common choice for beginners considering the software is free, does not display ads, nor are any features locked.

And while the software is free, it offers several tools to help Designers create beautiful designs.

These features include an Image Upscaler that makes it easy to increase image resolution and an avatar and text generator to aid Designers in creating unique projects.

Finally, Lunacy works on Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Pros

Cons

  • Readily shares documents with up to 100 team members
  • It has a variety of basic and advanced features
  • Cross-platform software
  • Graphic Designers can access their software both offline and online
  • Easy to use
  • There can be performance issues when working with larger files
  • You can sometimes encounter slow loading times

Pricing

Lunacy is free.

Pixlr X

Unlike many of its free competitors, the newly introduced Pixlr X is a web-based photo editing software that facilitates complex editing techniques.

Aside from offering a variety of tools, Pixlr X has an easy-to-use interface that makes its desktop app great for Advanced photo editors and Beginners too.

Some standout features of Pixlr X include access to preprogrammed aspect ratios to suit various platforms, a wide selection of texts, filters, and effects, and a layering tool.

Lastly, as the software is relatively new, Designers can expect further improvements that will make Pixlr X a leading contender in free photo editing.

Pros

Cons

  • Provides advanced editing features
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Supports layers
  • Some features are only available in beta

Pricing

Due to its open-source nature, Pixlr X is free to all users.

Adobe Express

Although Adobe Express is an online design tool targeted at one-page designing, it offers several great templates and assets should your end goal be to design a one-page project.

Apart from having access to its rich and extensive template library, you also get free access to the Adobe Stock royalty-free collection.

And for Designers who like to make creations on the go, it’s not just available on desktop but has a mobile app too.

Pros

Cons

  • Considering it is free, it gives access to a considerable amount of tools
  • Unlike many Adobe products, it does not have a steep learning curve
  • Great for building unique websites
  • Limited embed functionality
  • Only conducive for one-page websites
  • The free version exports all projects with branding

Pricing

Adobe Express is free; however, a premium option is available for $9.99 monthly.

Canva

Canva is a web-based and installable graphic design tool specifically great for new Designers helping brands to create promotional and advertising material.

The software has an intuitive interface that makes it easy for almost everyone to use.

Furthermore, it gives Designers access to several templates, helping you save time on your projects.

Pros

Cons

  • Intuitive nature makes the software easy to use
  • Saves time
  • Canva comes with preset aspect ratios
  • Offers pre-made logos
  • Limit to free templates on the free version
  • Lacks sophisticated technology to design complex projects

Pricing

Canva is free; however, there is an option to upgrade to a paid PRO version.

Having explored the top paid and free Graphic Design Software, let’s now review the overall Top 5 best Graphic Design Software by comparing their features, prices, and other key elements.

Top Graphic Design Software comparison

As a result of their popularity and quality, these five Graphic Design Software are regarded as the best we have seen in recent years.

Software

Benefits

Price

Rating

Free Trial

  1. Adobe Photoshop
  • The software contains 3D design capabilities
  • Access to customizable canvases, brushes, and other tools
  • You can effectively transfer files to other programs
  • Extensive tools and fonts are available

$20.99

4.8

7-day free trial

  1. GIMP
  • Provides tutorials for every feature
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Lightweight software
  • Compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, Solaris, and BDS

Free

4.4

Unlimitedly free

  1. CorelDraw
  • Easy to learn interface
  • Access to several features
  • Users can choose between GPU and CPU acceleration
  • Offers exceptional PDF importing capabilities and exports up to 48 file types

 $20.75 monthly, $249 annually, and $499 one-time purchase.

4.5

15-day free trial

  1. Inkscape
  • Inkscape comes with preset filters to help you in saving time
  • It consists of Bezier handles for easy movement of nodes
  • Graphics do not blur when resizing

Free

4.4

Unlimitedly free

  1. Adobe Illustrator
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac
  • User Interface that is consistent with Photoshop
  • Access to adobe stock images and videos
  • Easily integrated with several Adobe products

$20.99

4.8

7-day free trial

Free vs. paid Graphic Design Software: What works best?

Though it’s always great to get a good deal or pay next to nothing for software, sometimes making a significant payment is worthwhile.

Also, on the flip side of the coin, why break the bank when you can get good software for an affordable price?

Whether you spend significant money to get great software or are part of the crowd that thinks there’s always a cheaper alternative, choosing between paid and free software will boil down to whether the software can help you achieve your project goals.

While bearing that in mind, here are a few things you may want to consider before taking the plunge to obtain free or paid software:

Preprogrammed Watermarks

Several free Graphic Design Software put preprogrammed watermarks on all the content you produce through their software to make money through advertising.

Usually, having a watermark on a project messes up the intended look of the final project.

So, if you’re not for having branding all over your work, then you might need to consider a paid option.

High-quality finished images

Whether you choose to obtain free or unpaid Graphic Design Software, your choice of software should be able to produce high-quality finished images.

Images with high precision will stand out on any logo, look exceptionally good in print, and prominently show every detail on any platform.

Support

While it may not always be the case, paid software provides more support to its users than free software.

The support includes regular updates, responsive technical assistance, and software changes that accommodate its user’s needs.

So, the next time you are in the position to choose whether to obtain free or paid Graphic Design Software, first consider the amount of support each will offer you.

Template and tool feature

If you’re a beginner Graphic Designer, having software that offers several templates may make executing your work easier.

Free Graphic Design Software provides its users with several templates, and the interfaces are typically straightforward, making it easy to navigate Designer platforms.

On the other hand, professional Graphic Designers enjoy having access to detailed tools that let them create complex projects from scratch.

the challenges and benefits of using Graphic Design Software

While not always the case, paid graphic software offers more detail-oriented tools and fewer templates.

Now that you know what to expect from free and paid Graphic Design Software, let’s look at the challenges and benefits of using Graphic Design Software next.

Challenges and Benefits of Graphic Design Software

While working with Graphic Design Software is a breeze for some professionals, it can come with its challenges from time to time.

We explore the potential benefits and letdowns of Graphic Design Software below.

What are the benefits of Graphic Design Software?

Offers flexibility

Graphic Design Software helps creatives save time because they can create unique visual content without physically capturing images.

In addition, with Graphic Design Software, they are able to produce output in various formats, Designers can easily use final projects on multiple platforms.

Economical

With several free competent Graphic Design Software available to Designers, you don’t have to splurge on tools to create beautiful projects.

Increased audience interaction

Using Graphic Design Software to create high-quality visuals helps grab viewers’ attention, leading to successful marketing and customer retention.  

Reduces the amount of human intervention needed

Graphic Design Software, which often uses intuitive features to help edit images and videos, requires less human intervention to create beautiful designs.

What challenges may Graphic Design Software present?

The software makes the industry more competitive

With so many free and paid software options available to creators, anyone can become a Freelance Graphic Designer.

With the number of Freelance Graphic Designers rising, the industry is getting a lot more competitive, making it harder to stand out as a Graphic Designer.

Could negatively impact the creative process

For several creators, the implementation of design software has negatively affected the creative process.

For one, by relying on intuitive software that offers several templates, Designers may display laziness in educating themselves about complex design processes.

Additionally, Graphic Design Software tends to mitigate the research process conducted before the creative process, impacting design outcomes.

Lack of uniqueness

With several Graphic Design Software offering the same templates to their users, the element of the uniqueness of final design projects may be diminished.

Graphic Designers can lose data

Improper shutdowns of software or clicking the wrong button can lead to unintentional data loss.

And if your software doesn’t come with access to a cloud that automatically saves your work as you go along, you may risk starting from scratch multiple times during the design process.

Conclusion

With thousands of Graphic Design Software currently available on the market, creatives are taking advantage of how Graphic Design Software makes the creative process more manageable.

However, not every software out there is tremendously valuable.

Some are way better than others; hence it’s essential to know which ones lead the pack of good software, so you can get straight into creating projects without hassle.

This guide provided a breakdown of the top paid and free Graphic Design Software currently popular by many Designers.

Hence, we hope that by reading this guide, you can sift through all the software options in the market and get one that will suit your pocket and help you achieve your goals.

All the best!

FAQs

References

Inkscape

Adam Enfroy

Affinity Designer

Sketch Bragg Media

Canva

Adobe Photoshop

Photoscape

Vectr

The Art Institutes

Capterra

Lunacy

GIMP

Adobe InDesign

Adobe Express

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