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What is Graphic Design Software?

Graphic design software and image editing tools are utilized by graphic designers to create and organize their work. Examples of graphic design software include design-based tools such as Freehand and Adobe Illustrator and layout tools such as Adobe InDesign and Quark Xpress. Show moreMany graphic designers also use photo-editing programs such as Adobe Photoshop. In addition, graphic designers who do web-based design can utilize tools such as Adobe Flash to take their designs to the internet by utilizing simple HTML language. Start by checking our leader Adobe Photoshop CC, and other recommended solutions in this category.Show less

How was this ranking made?

To prepare this list of best Graphic Design Software we have checked 402 leading apps currently present on the market, comparing their features, how easy are they are to learn, client service, possible integrations and mobile device support with our unique SmartScoreTM rating system. This ranking has been prepared by Jenny Chang, our software authority dedicated to the Graphic Design Software category.

List of Top 12 Graphic Design Software

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1. Adobe Illustrator CC

Our score: 9.6 User satisfaction: 99%

An industry-standard vector graphics software, which supports Adobe Stock marketplace integration for users to access wide collection of design templates. Adobe Illustrator CC has the tools and capability to help users produce artworks with pixel-perfect accuracy. The software lets graphic designers and artists create designs faster.

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2. Adobe Photoshop CC

Our score: 9.6 User satisfaction: N/A

World's leading image and design manipulation platform. Adobe Photoshop CC is ideal for professional photographers, designers, and artists. As part of the Adobe Creative Cloud service, it offers reliable and industry-standard tools that help users easily design posters, icons, banners, web pages, and mobile app graphics.

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3. Adobe InDesign CC

Our score: 9.5 User satisfaction: 98%

A page design and layout app for graphic artists and businesses who are creating and publishing documents for print and digital media such as brochures, magazines, eBooks, and PFDs. This desktop publishing software allows users to design using rich images, graphics, tables, and professional layouts. Adobe InDesign CC also supports the creation of interactive PDFs, eBooks, and digital magazines.

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4. Canva

Our score: 9.4 User satisfaction: 99%

Canva makes it amazingly simple for everyone to create professional quality graphic designs. This intuitive and user-friendly platform gives organizations and individuals access to dynamic graphic design tools. With a drag-and-drop interface, Canva makes graphic design so easy even for beginners.

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5. GIMP

Our score: 9.3 User satisfaction: 96%

GIMP (GNU image manipulation program) is a free, open-source image editing software. The program offers an array of professional-quality features that can easily rival other leading image manipulation software's capabilities. It also supports pre-installed or downloadable plugins that improve its usability.

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6. Pixlr

Our score: 9.2 User satisfaction: 98%

PixIr is a family of web-based and native mobile image editing applications. It is free to use at the moment. Built using Flash, users can access it anywhere as long as the plugin is installed. Pixlr offers a suite of powerful photo editing tools that are comparable to those featured in paid apps.

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7. Inkscape

Our score: 9.1 User satisfaction: 100%

A web-based vector graphics editing tool that is free to use. Inkscape is a vector graphics editor that utilizes a unique native format that sets it apart from other programs of its kind. Inkscape has a clean, consistent, and very stable interface. Additionally, it uses Scalable Vector Graphics and an open XML-based W3C standard.

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8. Autodesk SketchBook

Our score: 9.1 User satisfaction: 96%

A cross-platform drawing and painting software for creatives, it helps users in creating stunning illustrations in less time and staying productive on the go. Autodesk Sketchbook allows creative and design professionals to create stunning illustrations more quickly and easily. The software also helps users stay productive on all major platforms and devices.

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9. PaintShop Pro

Our score: 9.0 User satisfaction: 100%

PaintShop Pro is an easy-to-use image editing software that offers a comprehensive suite of robust image drawing, correction, and editing tools. It provides professional-grade tools that enable users to create graphic design projects, edit photos, improve images with quick fixes, retouch and restore, and add effects to photos.

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10. Tailor Brands

Our score: 9.0 User satisfaction: 96%

A platform that instantly creates logos, social media posts, and ads that you can further customize. Tailor Brands is specifically designed for businesses that aim to improve their branding. It also helps organizations easily streamline their social media management and advertising content production efforts.

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11. Kimp.io

Our score: 8.0 User satisfaction: 100%

Kimp.io is a graphic design software that lets you collaborate with professional designer teams to produce high-quality designs.

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12. PaintTool SAI

Our score: 8.7 User satisfaction: N/A

PaintTool SAI is a painting/illustration program for cartoonists and anime artists, offering amazing color and layer functionalities.

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Graphic Design Software Guide

Table of contents

Graphic design tools are utilized by graphic designers to create attractive images and designs. There are numerous high-quality programs in this category. This begs the question: how do you do informed comparisons to select the best graphic design software product for your specific needs? We help you with this buyer’s guide which details the key features and factors you should consider in your search.

By learning more about graphic design software and your options, you will be able to make better selections and decisions. Whether you’re a designer or a business owner in need of the best image creation and editing tool, our guide can help you find what you’re looking for.

Get to know each product with free trial

A wonderful way to start your quest for the best among these graphic design tools is to find out if popular graphic design software providers offer a handy free trial or demo. You can visit the websites of the following top platforms to check the possibility of benefiting from a free trial: CorelDrawAffinity DesignerPaintShop ProPhotoshop Elements 2018, and Xara Designer Pro. These tools have been given high rankings in our graphic design software reviews that you can peruse to do a comparison of the features. 

Subscribing to a free trial gives you hands-on experience while using the software. This lets you gauge whether a graphic design tool has the features and functions you need, and if it can help simplify your work.

Targeted Businesses

  • Freelance graphic designers can utilize this type of software for their individual needs.
  • Graphic design agencies can use these tools to create attractive designs for their clients.
  • Businesses, particularly those that are just starting to grow, can utilize these cost-effective graphic design tools to assist in their marketing and advertising efforts.
  • Social media specialists and managers can use these software to create catchy online marketing campaigns.

Examples of Graphic Design Software

  • CorelDraw: Graphic design software for students, hobbyists, and beginners. You can use it to create social media content, photo projects, newsletters, logos, and more. The product includes useful learning resources. You can install up to 3 copies in your household (this tool is not for commercial use).
  • Affinity Designer: Touted as a complete graphic design product. It is a fast, smooth, and precise vector graphic design tool. All its functions, panels, tools, and features have been designed for the requirements of creative professionals. You can use it to exercise precise control over curves, colors, and performance to create stunning results.
  • PaintShop Pro: Affordable graphic design and photo editing software. You can create attractive designs using textures, patterns, gradients, brushes, and new color palettes. Make use of the simple user interface for fast navigation. The product includes improvements to popularly used tools and new workspaces for your expertise level.
  • Photoshop Elements 2018: Organize your images and improve them with smart photo editing tools. Convert them into striking creations and share your memories. Auto-organize by places, people, subject, and date. In addition, you can auto-curate your best photos based on subjects, faces, quality, and more.
  • Xara Designer Pro: Optimize your photos with detailed retouching. Combine text with images and graphics to create appealing social media posts, posters, and invitations. Experiment with filters, plug-ins, and creative design effects. You can even create your own illustrations and vector graphics from scratch. Finally, the application offers a vast collection of stock photos among which you can easily find the right image.

Types of Graphic Design Software

  • Word processors. Besides text, modern word processors also include graphics tools allowing you to combine text and graphics to create attractive postcards, flyers, booklets, and brochures.
  • Publishing software. Also known as desktop publishing software. They also combine text and graphics but are more advanced. These tools enable you to precisely control image editing functions, kerning, leading, and graphics and text placement. Sophisticated publishing software tools enable you to handle layouts for magazines, books, and other publications.
  • Illustration software. Include text manipulation and word processing features. They allow you to adjust line spacing and kerning, and check grammar and spelling. You can use illustration software for page layout on small projects such as small booklets, letterheads, business cards, brochures, greeting cards, and postcards.
  • Creative printing software. This tool has become popular as inkjet printers have become cheaper to buy. You can use it to create crafts such as t-shirt designs, posters, signs, business cards, postcards, and greeting cards.
  • Presentation software. You can use it to create slideshows, overhead transparencies, reports, and on-screen presentations.
  • Web publishing software. All the above types of software allow you to publish your designs on the internet. Low-end software offer basics like simple web page creation tools, enable you to create animated greetings, and send your files through email. Advanced software offer sophisticated web publishing features for exporting to PDF or HTML. In addition, there are numerous dedicated web publishing platforms.

Graphic design software may all seem similar to each other, but they actually aren’t. They come in different types, each of which cater to different design needs. By knowing what design features you require, it will be easier for you to choose the type of graphic design software to get or subscribe to.

Key Features of Graphic Design Software

  • Colors. Use colors to attract the attention of the viewer and create striking signage and ads.
  • Shapes. Enhance the visual effect of your project by manipulating or exaggerating shapes to create a stunning image.
  • Lines. Organize the graphics and text, divide an image, and create boxes to highlight text within graphics.
  • Mass. Create the optimum amount of contrast to attract the viewer’s interest. This enhances the overall impact of the image.
  • Textures. They can add dimension and depth to graphics. Textures are utilized in website design to include background contrast in web pages. They can create an in-depth, layered effect for ads and websites.

While different graphic design software offer unique feature sets, the features above are the ones common among them. These are the fundamental features that make any graphic design software work and allow designers to create visually appealing artwork.

Benefits of Graphic Design Software

  • Enhances employee pride. You can use graphic design software to create a strong brand identity that reflects your organization’s vision in all things including staff apparel, business cards, and company communications and websites.
  • Helps to save time. Graphic designers can save time by easily identifying the best file format to use for your business cards, website images and photos, and more.
  • Helps to save money. Poorly designed graphics can prove to be costly for your company. So, do not hesitate to pay for a good graphic design software program to produce high-quality output and save money in the long run.
  • Improves viewer interaction. Graphic design software enables you to create stunning visuals that can help to increase your organization’s social media views, followers, and shares. You can include appealing visuals in your printed materials, social media posts, blogs, websites, and e-newsletters to grab and engage readers’ attention.
  • Differentiate yourself. Create a unique identity that gets attention, differentiates your products and services, and ensures your followers keep coming back for fresh content.
  • Bolster your brand. Strong companies and brands have highly recognizable typefaces, color schemes, and logos. Use graphic design software to create an easily identifiable face for your company and brand that helps you to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Because different graphic design software have different features, they also offer different benefits. However, you can expect to enjoy the general benefits listed above, especially if you’re able to choose a software that specifically suits your needs.

  • Brighter and louder colors. The era of muted and safe colors is over. Now, companies are experimenting with bold colors combined with professionally edited images to create stunning in-your-face designs. Check out the work of the music experts at Spotify to understand what we are talking about.
  • Bold typography. Another notable trend is the use of bold typography to attract reader attention and fight content saturation. Daring and big fonts are being used to grab eyeballs. For example, Wired magazine uses a bold mix of fonts to place emphasis on individual titles and important info on the page.
  • Artificial intelligence. AI is everywhere and in terms of graphic design, it will help designers create designs faster and more accurately, as AI-powered software is able to utilize machine learning.
  • Physical immersion. Virtual reality has been around for a while, but in the future, we will likely see more graphic design software incorporate it in their feature sets.

Potential Issues

  • Adapting to new technology. It is a challenge for graphic designers to anticipate changes in software and technology, adapt to and master them, and at the same time be open to fresh influences that can help to improve their work.
  • The need to be multi-skilled. Graphic designers need more than just expertise in typography and design to excel in their field. They also require conceptual thinking and execution skills, and expertise in a range of areas such as interaction design, motion graphics, and more. Plus, they should develop the ability to effectively utilize the latest technology and software to improve their output.
  • Designing for human experience. With technology ever-evolving, the lines between technology, creativity, and human experience could be easily blurred. Designers must be able to design for human experience despite the wide availability of AI-powered designs.
  • Maintaining design fundamentals. As mentioned above, graphic design technology keeps on evolving. While it’s good to harness the power of technology in design, it’s also important that designers maintain fundamental design elements and principles to make their designs more appealing to people.

How to Make the Most of Graphic Design Software

Today’s graphic design software are powered by advanced technology. They also offer a wide range of smart design tools. But there are a few things to keep in mind to help you make the most of them. Here they are:

  • Choose the right software. It’s important to know what to look for in a graphic design software. Consider your needs first and see whether the features and tools of the software you’re looking to get or subscribe to meets those needs.
  • Keep on learning. Having the best graphic design software is just one part of the equation. Designers should not stop learning about the latest design techniques.
  • Stay updated. Keep your software and hardware updated. Stay up-to-date with design trends as well.
  • Invest in good hardware. This is already a given for professional designers. While some graphic design software are not that demanding when it comes to hardware specs, utilizing capable hardware can make designing more enjoyable and efficient.

Choosing the Best Graphic Design Software

Calling a graphic design software “the best” is highly relative. Since different software offer different features and different users have different needs, what’s best for one user may not be the same for another. Software reviews and free product trials are your best friends when searching for the most ideal graphic design software for you and your team.

List of Graphic Design Software Companies

Order by:

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  • User Score
Product name:
Category:
Smart Score:
Price:
User Satisf.
User reviews:
Drawtify reviews

Drawtify

Graphic Design Software
8.0
$8.33
97%
Kimp.io reviews

Kimp.io

Graphic Design Software
8.0
$389
100%
Tailor Brands reviews

Tailor Brands

Graphic Design Software
9.0
$5
96%
Genially reviews

Genially

Graphic Design Software
8.9
€1.25
-
Youzign reviews

Youzign

Graphic Design Software
8.9
$97
-
Deep Art Effects reviews

Deep Art Effects

Graphic Design Software
8.0
$6.66
93%
DesignCap reviews

DesignCap

Graphic Design Software
8.0
Free
100%
DesignPac reviews

DesignPac

Graphic Design Software
8.0
$300
100%
ZapWorks reviews

ZapWorks

Graphic Design Software
8.1
$35
100%
LiveTour reviews

LiveTour

Graphic Design Software
8.0
$29
100%
Onshape reviews

Onshape

Graphic Design Software
8.9
$125
89%
Wacom MobileStudio Pro reviews

Wacom MobileStudio Pro

Graphic Design Software
8.8
$1.999
99%
Autodesk SketchBook reviews

Autodesk SketchBook

Graphic Design Software
9.1
$29.99
96%
Xara Designer Pro reviews

Xara Designer Pro

Graphic Design Software
8.9
$299
83%
Fatpaint reviews

Fatpaint

Graphic Design Software
8.5
$9
100%

Things to consider when you invest in a SaaS

Picking a an appropriate SaaS program from the scores of good quality platforms out there can be a complex task. To assist you, we have prepared this quick briefing. Find out if the SaaS vendor offers the following advantages:

Reduced Cost: Most SaaS apps are pay as you go, and you don’t have to worry about added expenses for software maintenance or IT resources, upfront licensing fees, or in-house IT employees.

Fast Set-up Time and Minimized Risk: You should be able to implement the SaaS system quickly and easily. Make use of the free trial to understand if the app fits your needs. If you choose a wrong program, you can bail out easily with minimum losses.

Customization and Integration: Select a vendor that offers a wide range of software packages and modules. You should be able to pay only for the functionality you use to meet the current requirements of your organization.

Security and Control: The system should offer robust security. Pick a vendor whose databanks are more secure than those in your office to maximize the advantages.

The Infrastructure: The provider should provide the needed infrastructure so that you need not host anything in-house or require the help of internal IT resources.

Web Access: Your staff members should be able to access data anywhere, anytime. To help them be productive on the go, choose a vendor that offers mobile apps that are compatible with widely used operating systems.

Consider all the six important aspects mentioned above to pick the right system for your needs.

Frequently asked questions about Graphic Design Software

What is the best graphic design software?

Based on our analysis of its features and user satisfaction scores, the best graphic design software as of this writing is Adobe Illustrator CC. It features a wide variety of design tools, filters, and effects that can be used to design websites, video games, logos, promotional materials, and print media. Adobe Illustrator CC lets users produce designs with pixel-perfect accuracy. What’s more, it makes designing faster, thanks to readily accessible presets and templates.

What are the benefits of graphic design software?

Aside from helping designers create beautiful artwork more efficiently, investing in graphic design software also have other benefits:

  • Cost efficiency. Poor design can actually cost your business in different ways. So, investing in a good graphic design software that can help you or your designer create stunning designs will go a long way.
  • Improved customer engagement. Nobody likes bad design. The materials you publish, send, and generally show to your customers and the public say a lot about you. Graphic design software helps you create visuals that catch people’s attention—in a positive way.
  • Enhanced organizational pride. Design is one of the best ways to bolster your brand. With a good and thriving brand comes happy and proud employees.
What are the features of graphic design software?

Different graphic design software offer unique feature sets, but below are the features they commonly have:

  • Color selections and palettes. All graphic design software let you choose the perfect colors and hues for your design.
  • Shapes and lines. Graphic design software give you access to shapes and lines that you can manipulate to create your design exactly the way you want to.
  • Mass and texture settings. By letting you alter and set mass and textures, you can create the ideal amount of contrast and depth, and work according to your desired dimension.
  • Presets and templates. Most graphic design software provide a wide range of design presets and templates that help make designing faster and easier.
What is the easiest graphic design software to use?

Based on user satisfaction ratings and reviews, Canva can be considered as the easiest graphic design software to use. Its user-friendly, drag-and-drop interface makes designing a breeze even for beginners and non-professional designers. For the determined, it may only take several minutes to get used to Canva’s tools and functions.

What is a good free graphic design software?

Besides Canva, a good free graphic design software to check out is GIMP. This open-source image editing platform packs an array of professional-quality features, including the remarkable montage features that allow users to easily fine-tune photos and images, and create artwork from scratch.

Jenny Chang

By Jenny Chang

Senior writer at FinancesOnline who writes about a wide range of SaaS and B2B products, including trends and issues on e-commerce, accounting and customer service software. She’s also covered a wide range of topics in business, science, and technology for websites in the U.S., Australia and Singapore, keeping tabs on edge tech like 3D printed health monitoring tattoos and SpaceX’s exploration plans.

Updated

Why is FinancesOnline free? Why is FinancesOnline free?

FinancesOnline is available for free for all business professionals interested in an efficient way to find top-notch SaaS solutions. We are able to keep our service free of charge thanks to cooperation with some of the vendors, who are willing to pay us for traffic and sales opportunities provided by our website. Please note, that FinancesOnline lists all vendors, we’re not limited only to the ones that pay us, and all software providers have an equal opportunity to get featured in our rankings and comparisons, win awards, gather user reviews, all in our effort to give you reliable advice that will enable you to make well-informed purchase decisions.

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