This article is going to give you an overview of some of the graphic design software that is available. Some of the software that is listed is free, some will have a free trial version and some are paid.
Top Graphic Design Software Tools and Apps
Graphic designers need tools like almost any other professional to do their jobs. Graphic design software allows and helps graphic designers make logos, animated videos, infographics, wireframes, designs for physical products, create and design websites, or whatever project that you are working on.
Graphic designers want to and need to create visual designs that are not only functional but also beautiful and eye-catching. The graphic design software listed here will do just that. The graphic design field is very broad and graphic designers will need to be able to not only deliver designs to clients but also to present designs to developers and other designers.
1. Adobe Photoshop
Photoshop is from Adobe and is the most popular graphic design software program that is used to create logos, banners, icons, infographics, backgrounds, and to edit images and photos. Photoshop allows you to define the size of the canvas, isolate elements, create custom brushes, work on 3D objects, and more.
Photoshop allows you to work with and save the following file formats: Photoshop (PSD), Large Document Format (PSB), Cineon, DICOM, IFF, JPEG, JPEG 2000, Photoshop PDF, Photoshop Raw, PNG, Portable Bit Map, TIFF, OpenEXR, Portable Bitmap, and Radiance.
Photoshop is great for creating very detailed images and editing images and photographs.
Learning Photoshop is easy enough to create simple designs or to make edits to images or photos. Of course, to get good enough to be considered a professional takes time and more effort.
What Platforms Is Photoshop Available On?
Photoshop is available for both Windows and Mac.
How Much Does Photoshop Cost?
Adobe offers three options for using Photoshop. Photoshop is available for $20.99 a month with 100GB of cloud storage as part of a yearly subscription service, and also offers a free 7-day trial. Photoshop is also available as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite for $54.99 as part of a yearly subscription service, which also has a free 7-day trial available.
2. Adobe Illustrator
Illustrator is another software program in the Adobe Creative Cloud suite. Illustrator lets you work on vector graphics that can be scaled to any size without losing any resolution. You can create logos, icons, banners, graphics, artwork, and more with Illustrator.
Illustrator is used to create vector images, which can be resized to any size without losing resolution. Compare this to image files that are used and saved by graphic design software like Photoshop, for example, JPEGs, GIFs, and PNG files, which start to lose their resolution when they are resized.
Illustrator is great for creating simple designs that have areas with only one color and that need to appear in a variety of sizes, such as logos and icons that will be placed on websites, business cards, company signs, and billboards.
Getting started with Illustrator is easy, and you can learn to make logos, icons, banners, and more rather quickly. As with a lot of graphic design software, the more effort and time that you put into learning Illustrator, the better you will be.
What Platforms Is Illustrator Available On?
Illustrator is available for both Windows and Mac. Illustrator is also available as a mobile version called Adobe Illustrator Draw.
How Much Does Illustrator Cost?
Illustrator is available on desktop and iPad with 100GB of cloud storage for $20.99 per month and is also available as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite for $54.99 per month on a yearly subscription with 100GB of cloud storage.
Figma is a browser-based wireframing and prototyping software. The fact that it is browser-based is important because all that you need to use is an internet connection.
It does not matter whether the computer or laptop that you are using is a Mac or a PC because Figma and all of the files that you create and use are online, compared to most other graphic design software which is downloaded to your computer or laptop.
There are browser and minimum operating system requirements, but they are rather low, which means that you can use almost any laptop or computer and still use Figma.
Figma is mainly used by UX and UI designers to create wireframes, prototypes, web interfaces, and even icons, and other graphics.
One of the big draws of Figma is that it is free to use for personal use and charges if you want to share your work with others, for example, when collaborating with other UX and UI designers. You use Figma for free to create and store three active projects at a time. That is more than enough for you to work on small projects and learn how to use the software. You can upgrade to one of their relatively inexpensive paid plans whenever you want.
Another draw is that Figma is easy to learn and use. All of the files are intuitively organized and everything for the project that you are currently work is on one screen. An example of this is that all that it takes for you to switch from the design tools to prototyping tools to code that you can pass off to developers is to click a tab.
What Platforms Is Figma Available On?
Figma is available on any computer that has an internet connection.
How Much Does Figma Cost?
Figma is free on their Starter plan with the following features: 3 Figma and 3 FigJam files, unlimited personal files, unlimited collaborators, plugins and templates, and a mobile app.
Figma’s Professional plan is available for $12 per month for each editor and billed annually or for $15 on a month-to-month basis. This plan includes the following features: unlimited Figma files, unlimited version history, sharing permissions, shared and private projects, team libraries, and audio conversations.
Figma’s Organization plan is $45 per month per editor available only on an annual billing basis. Figma’s Organization plan includes the following: everything in the Professional plan, plus organization-wide libraries, design system analytics, branching and merging, centralized file management, unified admin and billing, private plugins and widgets and single sign-on.
Pixlr is a free suite of online image editing software and tools that includes a photo-sharing service.
Pixlr has a large library of effects and filters including brushes, heal tool, an animation tool to add movements, the crop tool, adjusting the contrast, adding text and batch edits, and uploads.
Pixlr supports the following file types: JPG, PNG, BMP, TIFF, and PXD (which is their layered format).
Pixlr is not recommended for print.
What Platforms Is Pixlr Available On?
Pixlr is available to any computer that is connected to the internet and is also available for Windows computers, Android, and Apple mobile phones.
Stories Pixlr is available for Android and Apple mobile phones and Photomash Studio and Remove Background are both available on Apple phones.
How Much Does Pixlr Cost?
Pixlr offers free and paid plans.
Pixlr’s free plan includes access to Pixlr X and Pixlr E from their software suite and allows for one user.
Pixlr’s second pricing plan is its Premium plan. It is available for $4.90 a month on a yearly subscription or $7.99 on a month-to-month basis and allows for one user. The Premium plan allows access to Pixlr X and Pixlr E, access to their mobile apps (Stories, Remove BG, and Photomash), add free experience, AI tools, exclusive video tutorials, supports 8196×8196 resolution, access to 50,000 templates, fonts, and elements, stickers, overlays, and support.
The Pixlr Team plan allows for a collaboration of five users, with $3.99 for each additional user.
Sketch is a vector graphics editor that is mainly intended for UX and UI design graphics such as prototypes, wireframes, and other designs like icons.
All Sketch designs are saved in a .sketch file format. This file format is supported by popular graphic design software, for example, Photoshop and Illustrator. Sketch also allows you to save your files in other file formats, including JPG, PNG, TIFF, WebP, and more. Plus Sketch allows you to share your files online.
Sketch is not built for photo editing, print work, or illustrated art such as photography.
What Platforms Is Sketch Available On?
Sketch is available online through its website, but is available on Macs. Sketch also has an iPhone app that lets you view documents, play with prototypes, and mirror designs as you edit them on your Mac. You will want to use the desktop Mac app to get the full use and functionality of Sketch.
How Much Does Sketch Cost?
Sketch offers a free 30-day trial and has two paid plans.
The Standard plan is $9 per month for each user or $99 per year paid annually. The Standard plan includes the following: easy access to all of your documents and projects, version histories, shared libraries and unlimited viewers and guests, and a native Mac editor that allows for real-time collaboration, components, prototyping, advanced layout, customizable, and the option to work offline. The Standard plan lets you view projects and documents, inspect designs, download assets, comment, and talk with other users.
The Standard plan lets you work on your iPhone by viewing your documents, play with prototypes, and mirror designs as you edit them on your Mac.
The Business plan costs $20 per month for every user paid on a yearly basis. It gives you access and lets you do everything on the Standard plan, plus single sign-on, unlimited cloud storage, invoice-based billing, technical support via Live Chat, priority support, a dedicated customer success manager, and security reviews.
6. Affinity Designer
Affinity Designer is a cheaper alternative to Adobe Illustrator. Affinity Designer lets you work on both vector graphics and raster graphics and lets you easily switch between them.
Affinity Designer is great for UX and UI designers who want to create logos, illustrations, print projects, icons, UI designs, wireframes, mock-ups, and more.
Some of the features that Affinity Designer has are shortcuts, the ability to track version history, and the ability to save designs in the following multiple formats: PSD, PDF, SVG, JPG, and more. The built-in vector tools let you use custom pens, nodes, brushes, and pencils to add contours, create abstract shapes, design offset paths, build grid patterns, create isometric planes, manage pixel snapping and handle alignments.
What Platforms Is Affinity Designer Available On?
You can use Affinity Designer on both Mac and Windows platforms. It also has an app that is available on iPad, which has the same features available on the desktop versions.
How Much Does Affinity Designer Cost?
Affinity Designer is available on Mac and Windows computers for a one-time price of $54.99 and offers a free 30-day trial version for both. Affinity Designer is also available for the iPad for a one-time price of $19.99.
7. Adobe InDesign
InDesign is a layout and page design software in the Adobe Creative suite for print and digital media. It is used to create graphic designs and design books, digital magazines, eBooks, posters, brochures, and interactive PDFs.
The “adjust layout” option that InDesign comes with, allows you to change the text size in your document, and as you do the graphic design will adjust accordingly.
The learning curve for InDesign is very low and it is easy to use. InDesign makes it easy to design your elements.
What Platforms Is Adobe InDesign Available On?
InDesign is available on both Mac and Windows computers.
How Much Does Adobe InDesign Cost?
Abode offers InDesign for $31.49 if paid on a month-to-month basis, $20.99 per month paid on a yearly subscription, or $239.88 if prepaid for a year.
Adobe also offers InDesign as part of their Adobe Creative Cloud suite for $54.99 per month on a yearly subscription.
Conclusion: The Top 7 Best Graphic Design Software for Graphic Designers
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This article covers only some of the graphic design software tools that graphic designers use to do their job of creating logos, icons, infographics, creating banners, wireframes, prototypes, publishing books, brochures, and more. Hopefully, it will help you as you progress on your journey of being an amazing graphic designer.
For further suggestions, take a look at the articles All About Adobe XD in Web Design, A Brief Introduction to Mobile App Design for UX/UI Designers, and When Is It Ok to Use a Template?.