Graphic design is a unique profession, meaning you need unique software to get the job done. There is no shortage of graphic design software options these days. Unfortunately, a lot of these come with a hefty price tag or only work with certain operating systems, making it difficult to find a program you can rely on consistently. As a graphic designer, it is important that you find the best option for you and your requirements, whether you are designing vector-based graphics or editing images. This could be anything from a traditional tool from Adobe, to a lesser-known open source tool such as GIMP. Here are the best graphic design software options in 2020.
Best paid graphic design software options
One of the leading software choices to design and create logos, sketches, typography, and more, Adobe Illustrator is a top choice for graphic designers. Adobe Illustrator allows you to draw pixel-perfect shapes or rescale graphics from the size of a postcard to the size of a billboard, and offers a slew of other features. It’s no wonder it is one of the top graphic design software options out there. Adobe Illustrator is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X.
Cost: Adobe offers a subscription to just Illustrator for $20.99 per month, or you can subscribe to the full Creative Cloud suite for $52.99 per month.
When it comes to image editing software, Adobe is in the lead with Photoshop. With various photo correction and manipulation tools, there are seemingly endless editing options with this software. What’s even better about Adobe is that they offer many of their products in app form, meaning you can edit on the go between your desktop and mobile device. Adobe Photoshop is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X.
Cost: Adobe offers a variety of subscription options for their products, including the Photography Plan for individuals that includes Photoshop starting at $9.99 per month.
Adobe InDesign is a must have tool for the publishing industry. Ideal for laying out newspapers, magazines, flyers and more, InDesign has been the go to tool since 1999. InDesign is not typically used for creating images or drawings, but rather to layout graphics built in other programs. Adobe InDesign is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X.
Cost: You can subscribe to InDesign for $20.99 per month, or subscribe to the full Creative Cloud suite for $52.99 per month.
*All Adobe products are compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X.
CorelDraw offers full control over vector images, a multitude of tools and alignment guides, and much more. A comparable alternative to Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw is a great graphic design software option if you need to design logos, packaging or any other layout related work. CorelDraw Graphics Suite 2020 is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X.
Cost: CorelDraw offers several options for purchasing their software, with one option being the CorelDraw Graphics Suite 2020 which is available as both a one time purchase or as a subscription service.
Sketch is a vector-based tool ideal for web, app, and interface design. This software is often used for designing icons and interfaces for websites and mobile applications. A popular feature of Sketch is that you can create live comps for developers to preview, emulating what your design will look like and how it will flow once published. Sketch is compatible with Mac OS X.
Cost: Sketch costs $99 per year per device.
Best free graphic design software options
GNU Image Manipulation Program, also known as GIMP, is a popular software alternative to Adobe Photoshop. It offers similar tools for image composition, photo retouching and more. Where it differs is that this software is free and open-source. GIMP is a popular photo editing alternative to those that don’t want to or cannot afford an Adobe subscription. GIMP is compatible with Windows and Mac OS X.
Another comparable alternative to Adobe, Inkscape is an open-source vector editing software. Inkscape is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X, and while it is a powerful tool, it won’t overpower outdated hardware. Inkscape is used for drawing SVG (scalable vector graphics), although it can also import raster or bitmap graphics. This means that you can bring photos into your Inkscape designs. However, Inkscape is not a photo editing software. So you want to make sure you have done any editing you need to on your photos in another software before importing them into Inkscape.
Created in 2004, Paint.NET was designed to offer a more advanced experience than MS Paint. The original goal was to provide a free replacement for Windows Microsoft Paint. The result was a powerful image and photo editing tool. Paint.NET is only available for Windows.
Great for designing vector images, this graphic design software can be accessed through your web browser or its standalone app. Vectr does not come with all of the features you would find in Illustrator, but it is a great option for beginners or casual designers.
Pro tip: If you are designing for print, make sure your color profile is set to CMYK in the software that you are using.
Printing your graphic design projects
If you lack the experience or just need design done quickly, don’t worry! Printivity has you covered. In addition to the complimentary print templates and our helpful customer service representatives, we also offer design services. Our design team will work with you whether you need a small adjustment or to create a project from scratch. Contact us for design advice and a quote today!
No matter the software you are using, if you are designing for print, it is important that you always prepare your files in the preferred format for printing. PDF is universally accepted and the ideal file format for most print providers. Once you have finalized your design, make sure you save your file in PDF format and flatten it before you submit it to your printer. When you are ready to place your order, or if you have any questions during the ordering process, contact Printivity at 1-877-649-5463.