Graphic design software is made up of powerful tools that are basically used in the creation, editing, and management of computer graphics.Graphics may come in the form of images, clip art, drawings, illustrations, digital paintings and artworks, web graphics, icons, logo, titles and headings, and backgrounds, among others. Fat Paint is known as web’s best graphic design software, paint, and logo maker. It is free to use image editing software that lets you create pages, vector illustrations, logos, edit photos and design products online. My Paint – Open Source Graphic Design Application for Windows and GNU/Linux.
Best graphic design software
Read on for our detailed analysis of each app
While there are a large number of graphics programs, built to allow you to create, develop, and manipulate graphical images, there is a smaller set of dedicated graphic design software packages.
A key distinction between graphics software and graphic design software is that the former needs to be able to work to a wider range of formats, not least for printing.
Best Graphic Design Software
This is especially a concern for the graphic design industry, where the images and designs used may need to be recreated in very large formats that require professional printing services. Therefore it's essential for the graphic design packages being used to be able to cope with clear distinctions and demands inherent to all levels of print and publishing processes.
A key concern isn't just faithful representation of colors, but also ensuring image integrity even when blown up to large sizes, regardless as to whether they are to be reproduced for short-run printing or long-run printing.
Additionally, an advantage of digital graphics design software is the ability to edit, adjust, or otherwise manipulate the same designs so they can be applied for different media.
Here then are the best in dedicated graphic design software platforms.
- We've also highlighted the best free software for graphic designers
1. Affinity Designer
Built for creating professional artwork for screen or print
As a replacement for DrawPlus X8, Affinity Designer isn’t a rehash and was built from the ground up over a five-year development project by Serif.
Specifically aimed at professional designers and how they work, this software can handle a very wide scope of design tasks, including web, branding, concept art, typography and even repeating patterns, as you might need on ceramics, wallpaper or soft furnishings.
Inherent cloud functionality also makes it a good option for teams of designers working towards a common goal. And all this functionality can be yours for a very modest £48.99 ($49.99) per seat on Windows PC or Apple Mac.
2. Adobe Illustrator CC
Essentially, Adobe Illustrator is the vector version of Photoshop, and the two share many common tools and functions to aid designers who use both.
However, if you want to design graphics that are can be rescaled from a postage stamp to a giant billboard, then Illustrator is certainly the tool of choice.
There was a time when you could buy Adobe Illustrator outright, but Adobe now only offers this product on the Creative Cloud (CC) suite, and it isn’t cheap.
There is a Student version, with a 65% discount, but a business customer will be paying £19.97 ($19.99) per month to have single seat access to this application.
It might have a powerful feature set, regular updates and be available for both Apple Mac and Windows PC, but the cost is prohibitive for occasional users.
3. CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2018
The daddy of vector design applications
CorelDRAW was most designer’s first ever serious Windows application, and many still have great affection for it today.
However, this isn’t a cheap tool as you must spend £599.99 ($792) on the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2018 to get CorelDRAW, even if you only want that specific tool.
That makes it one of the most expensive per seat solutions, even making Adobe’s subscription costs look affordable.
What you get for the money is a massively powerful suite that can work with both vectors and bitmaps in a seamless design workflow. It’s remarkable in terms of the feature set and how relatively easy it is to learn.
4. Gravit Designer
Due to the complexity of vector illustrations, most software for creating them is locally installed, but Gravit Designer has online options too.
The cloud-based version that runs from any browser and can automatically save to the online storage or locally.
Alternatively, on Windows PC, Apple Mac, Linux and Chrome OS, there are installable releases that can better utilise the computer hardware.
Our experience is that the online version can get slow with complex designs, but the locally installed versions cope much better.
Whatever platform you use it on, the application is free, so there isn’t any excuse for not giving it a try. There are plenty of impressive examples designers have created using Gravit Designer that prove it can be very effective at some jobs.
A free tool with plenty of useful features
Graphic Design Software For Mac
Graphic Design App For Windows 8
Most business people shy away from free software for often valid reasons, but Inkscape is certainly worth looking at before you commit to buying CorelDRAW or an Adobe CC subscription.
It’s a vector design tool that offers broad file support, extensive text manipulation and both Bezier and Spiro curve types. It also has an extension model that allows new features to be easily installed, and there are some amazing ones available.
The only reservations we have are that even on a powerful PC it can be slow at times when a complicated process involves rendering.
As a GPL licensed app, along with Windows, Linux and Apple Mac versions, you can also download the source code and compile it for whatever version of Linux you use.
For a complete analysis of Inkscape check out our full review.
Rather than the scatter-gun approach of other applications, the creators of Sketch built a tool to address a relatively narrow requirement.
Sketch is focused on screen design, specifically creating the icons and interface elements for websites and applications. And, as the software is exclusively available for the Apple Mac, mostly designers working on iPhone, iPad and macOS applications are going to find it useful.
That said, it can be used more generally, but its strength is creating slick user interfaces.
Regrettably, Sketch is available only on a subscription model that costs $99 (£75.60) per year, although updates are released very regularly.
7. Xara Designer Pro X
A one-stop creative document solution
The company behind Xara started out on the Atari ST and Acorn Archimedes computers in the 1980s, before focusing its efforts on the PC when Windows came along.
Its latest version, Xara Designer Pro X, is a comprehensive design tool that can work with both bitmaps and vectors with equal aplomb. That means it can handle DTP (desktop publishing), graphic design, illustration and photo manipulation tasks in a single tool.
For those wanting to mock something up rapidly, a license gives you access to over a million archive photos and illustrations to incorporate, along with hundreds of template layouts and thousands of design elements.
The price is £199 ($299), and a cut-down version called Xara Photo & Graphic Designer is available that costs just £49.99 ($59.99). And Pro X can be found even cheaper on Steam.