Graphic design is all about the software. Sure, a talented designer can make something beautiful out of Microsoft Paint. But the intuitive controls and flexibility of a good program can make all the difference. So, which graphic design software is right for you?
For designers, software becomes an extension of the artistic abilities. They memorize keyboard shortcuts, become familiar with layouts and generally treat their favorite software as a second language. Having an intuitive and flexible program is important.
Don’t fret. We’ve reached out to some of our favorite designers to get their opinions on the best graphics design software of 2021. Here’s what we found.
Best paid graphic design programs
1. Adobe Photoshop
Image via Engadget
Adobe photoshop is a easily the most recognizable of the graphic design software. From basic cropping that your grandmother could figure out to more complex raster design, when it comes to image mainpulation Photoshop can do it all. Photoshop is known as classis features like the pen tool, layers, masks. but the most recent version adds some cool tricks such as a Frame tool for easy masking and a new Content-Aware Fill workspace. With a potentially limitless skill ceiling, Photoshop is a great graphic design skill to start learning.
Image Via magicsketch
A vector-based tool only available on Mac, Sketch is a program focused mainly on web, app and interface design. It’s recently put a dent in the graphic design competition, with some developers preferring Sketch files from designers rather than layers Photoshop files. Though Sketch is not meant for photos editing or print work, it’s great for designing icons and interfaces that you’ll see on websites and mobile apps. Designers can also create live comps that developers can preview by tapping or swiping through to see what they’ll look like once published.
3. Adobe Illustrator
Image via digitalartsonline
4. Affinity designer
Image via Affinity
In terms of function and style, Affinity Designer is an impressive, low- budget alternative to Adobe illustrator. Affinity Designer even gets praise for being easier to use and faster that illustrator, especially when working with layers. it’s suitable for beginners to use as a leaning tool but sufficiently powerful for freelance graphic design artists on a budget.
Affinity also recently got a big upgrade with new features and performance improvements. This software is a great option for anyone who doesn’t want to splurge on the Adobe offering, but needs something that performs on a high level.
5. Adobe Indesign
Image via creativebloq
A must-have for the publishing community, Adobe InDesign has been used for laying magazines and new papers since 1999. Put together stunning magazines, info sheets and brochures and easily export them to PDF or HTML. Though it’s kind of a one-trick pony, InDesign has a low learning curve and is great for newbies learning how to combine text and graphics.
Image via faceofthedeep
Perhaps the most popular open-source, free raster graphics editor GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) has many of the same features that paid-for programs have. Though its layout is not as sexy as, say, Photoshop, you still get the advanced photo retouching, drawing and cropping capabilities of the better-known programs.
7. Gravit Designer
Image via blenderartists
Gravit Designer is a free vector design application that’s great for logo making, photo manipulation, illustrations and animations. You can use gravit online with their cloud-based software- though some reviews claim that it runs a bit slower that the locally-installed version. The layout is sleek and fully customized.
There’s something beautiful about a good community Inkscape’s user base is passionate and helpful, with this cross-platform software bringing out the best of open-source design. users can put together good-looking graphics and designs with the breath of learning resource available. However, a steep learning curve, clunky interface and less-than-stellar Mac version keep Inkscpae from being a perfect program.
Image via apps4trainer
Accessed through your web browser or its standalone app, Vectr is great for designing (you guessed it) vector images. For high-end designers, Vectr likely doesn’t have all of the features you’ll want. But casuals and amateurs alike will find the low learning curve attractive. Plus, there are dozens of tutorials available on their website for newbies.
Image via Canva
Canva is stating point for anyone with no prior design knowledge at all, looking to create something quickly and easily. It offers a wide selection of templates, fonts and images, some of which are free to use, others need to be purchased. Choose from existing templates or create your own from scratch, then use Canva’s drag-and-drop editor. Sure, it’s wont offer the customization potential of Photoshop, but it’s a great alternative for absolute beginners. Canva uses the freemium business model, meaning you’ll need to upgrade to the pro version to get all the bells and whistles.
Getting serious about your artwork with the perfect graphic design software
Choosing the “best” graphic design software is always tricky, as it’s really a matter of opinion and depends on what exactly you want to create. Every designer needs to decide for themselves what software works best for their design style, needs, medium and, of course, client. But there’s always new design software to discover. Stay on top of all the options out there and give them a shot! Maybe you’ll find a new favorite design program that’s perfect for you and your art.