Best tools for graphic design

Graphic designers used to have only a few choices when it comes to using tools for graphic design. With the recent surge of development in this particular industry segment, doors are now wide open to accommodate an assortment of professional design tools. Even open-source platforms are joining the fray.

Looking at the number of tools and apps that can deliver similar tasks, you can only wish that you’d find something unique. Here are some of the time-tested tools and also, a few newbies in the world of graphic design.

Procreate

This graphic design tool is a downright art studio, made for iPad and Apple Pencil users. With Procreate’s unique tools and features, you can definitely create outputs that bring out the artist in you. What’s more, its developers brought creativity to a whole new level!

If you’re a pro and want to try drawing and building 3D scenes, you can try the Augmented Reality (AR) feature. Procreate has a handbook that can guide you from the basics to more advanced features.

Features:

  • Transform: Explore and create 2D and 3D layers
  • Procreate Brush Library: Offers 18 brush sets to choose from
  • Brush Studio: Modify brush sets according to your needs
  • Adjustments: Create a more refined artwork

Pros

  • One-time purchase
  • Multi-touch gestures for a smooth operation
  • Get access to hundreds of brushes
  • Helpful drawing guides and assistance

Cons

  • Free-trial is unavailable
  • May be overwhelming to some users

Adobe Photoshop

Initially released in 1990, Adobe Photoshop is the flagship tool of Adobe. It redefines how digital art is made, therefore, it is one of the sought-after tools to date.

Adobe Photoshop offers a wide range of editing tools that come with helpful learning guides. These tools are compatible with the following operating systems:

  • Windows 10 and later
  • Android 7.1 and later
  • iPadOS 15 and later
  • macOS 11 and later

Features:

  • Layers Palette: Get creative and blend different layers to create a new artwork
  • Colour Balance: Adjust the saturation of your images
  • Healing Brush: Remove flaws or unwanted objects
  • Crop Tool: Get rid of undesired parts

Pros

  • 7-day free trial with 100gb cloud storage
  • Can be used in many devices
  • Use retouching tools to polish your output
  • Give your work a new look with the Blending Modes

Cons

  • It is pricey
  • Quite difficult to master

Adobe Illustrator

If Adobe Photoshop is best for retouching photos, the one specifically made for producing vector designs is Adobe Illustrator. Professionals like fashion designers are fond of using this tool especially because the platform helps them transform their sketches to artworks.

Likewise, it is one of the most favourite tools of graphics designers when creating brand logos or infographics. People can use it in different platforms such as:

  • Windows 10
  • macOS 10.12 Sierra and later
  • Android
  • iPadOS

Features:

  • Creative Cloud: Get access to your designs anywhere
  • Data Merge: Combine multiple images into a single file
  • Extensive library: Vast collection of stock images, templates, and fonts
  • Adobe Sensei: Streamline your workflows with this AI tool

Pros

  • 7-day free trial
  • Adobe tools integration
  • Free sketch to create a unique design
  • No resolution changes even after resizing

Cons

  • As expensive as Adobe Photoshop
  • Level of difficulty may be high for others

Affinity Photo

Launched in 2015, this is an editing tool for raster and vector graphics. Professionals love to use Affinity Photo due to its overall functionality. Plus, you can get access to sophisticated editing tools without having to spend much. In fact, it is relatively cheaper than Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Designers can access this tool using their Windows, Mac, or Apple devices.

Features:

  • Comes with Add-on overlay packs
  • Comprehensive editing tools: Panoramic Stitching, HDR merge, etc.
  • Mobile app: iPad users can create sketches and stunning designs from their device

Pros

  • 90-day free trial
  • One-time purchase
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy-to-use features
  • Customizable interface

Cons

  • Raw edits take time

Affinity Designer

This is a world-class software that focuses on vector graphics. Affinity Designer offers straightforward tools and features that can be of help to new learners. It features a version history, so you can go back from whichever stage you were to edit and compare your work.

If you love paying attention to detail, you will love the Zoom feature, which allows you to zoom in 1,000,000%. With its functionality and affordability, it can surely rival Adobe Illustrator’s offerings.

Features:

  • Content Link: Access brushes, styles, and assets using Affinity apps
  • Professional Colours: Use standard-grade colours like Pantone, Apple ColorSync, CMYK, ICC, and more
  • Customizable Effects, Adjustments and Blend Modes: See real-time changes

Pros

  • One-time purchase
  • Available in 9 different languages
  • Reasonably priced
  • Workspace integration

Cons

  • Cloud services is unavailable

Canva

The scope of Canva goes beyond creating cards, collages, or flyers. It can also be used for creating web designs, infographics, lesson plans, and even designing a T-shirt. This Australian platform was founded in 2012. With a large collection of images and ready-to-use template, you can surely finish a project in no time.

Although users can access it via a web browser, a downloadable app is also available for Mac, iOS, Android, and Windows users as well.

Features:

  • Drag-and-drop mode: Helps you manage your time wisely
  • Collaborative tools: Allows teams to share their work real-time
  • Shareable on social media platforms: Reach more audience by promoting your brand

Pros

  • Free-trial mode available
  • A library of 1000+ templates
  • 3 pricing plans for different users
  • Increases engagement

Cons

  • Some images including advanced features come with a fee

Adobe InDesign

Magazines, brochures, and e-books all need to have a good layout design. Professionals know that a poor layout planning will not catch a lot of attention. Instead, it will affect quality and productivity. This is where Adobe InDesign comes into play.

Publishing companies and businesses that thrive in multimedia publications are among consumers that benefit the most from Adobe InDesign. Designers can access this program using Windows and macOS compatible devices.

Features:

  • Share for Review: Promotes team collaboration
  • Creative Cloud Library: manage and access creative tools such as colours, character and paragraph styles, graphics, and themes
  • Integration of Adobe tools: Jump between InDesign and Illustration while maintaining the desired format

Pros

  • 7-day free trial
  • Effortlessly work with layers
  • Collaborate with teams
  • Perfect when using presentations with many images

Cons

  • Costly
  • Complex settings
  • File size is big

Pixlr

The online photo editing tool, Pixlr, was introduced in 2008. Due to its uncomplicated system, it only took them a few years before rising to fame. It allows users from different age groups to become that artist they never thought they could be. For instance many online casinos have used this tool, as they need extensive features and smooth interface because of the fast pace of the business.

Both young and old access it almost every time they need to do some touch ups. This tool can be accessed using a web browser and iPad and Android devices.

Features:

  • Drag-and-drop: This feature makes it easy for amateurs to
  • AI Cut-out: Simple remove unwanted background by using AI tools
  • Thousands of templates: Get job done faster by finding the right template you need

Pros

  • Free trial version
  • Affordable price
  • Offers 3 different subscriptions
  • User-friendly interface
  • Compatible with various formats

Cons

  • Limited access with Free version
  • Ads can be annoying with Free version

Figma

Lastly, there’s Figma. This graphics editing tool made some noise when it was introduced in 2015. What makes it special is that artists can get access to a range of editing tools to bring their ideas to life. Edit photos with Figma from any device powered by Windows, Linux, Mac, or Chrome OS.

Experience worry-free editing with Figma because every work gets saved instantly in the cloud software. On top of that, they can save an unlimited number of files for free.

Features:

  • FigJam: Use this whiteboard for easier, more effective team collaboration
  • Creative tools: Sketch using contemporary pen and use OpenType for an avant-garde look
  • Cloud software: Access your files anywhere. There’s a version history, so you never have to worry about losing files

Pros

  • Free version available
  • With over 1,000 templates in the Figma community
  • Access to plug-ins and widgets
  • Mobile app available

Cons

  • Requires internet access for real-time changes
  • Figma files must be refreshed regularly before you can see your co-worker’s design

Inkscape

This tool has been in the industry for almost two decades. It goes to show how great of an impact it brought in the lives of its users. You can easily access Inkscape from your web browser. Other platforms that support Inkscape include Mac, Linux, and Windows.

Features:

  • Object Creation: Choose among the pen, pencil, and calligraphy tools
  • Manipulation: Explore transformations, Z-order operations, and layers
  • Colour Selector: Choose from a range of colours that professionals use

Pros

  • The tool is 100% free
  • Flexible creative tools
  • Learning resource available
  • Supports various formats

Cons

  • Navigating using a small screen can be challenging

Pointers in Choosing the Best Graphic Design Software

Photo-editing is one of the greatest skills that can help you land a decent job. A reason why knowing how one compares to the other is crucial. Here are some things that you need to remember before subscribing:

  1. Check the reviews. Researching is one way you can compare them and filter which ones you would probably not get.
  2. Make sure to get value out of it. Do not dwell too much on the cost. But only purchase plans and add-ons that you need.
  3. It must have a straightforward interface. If you’re a beginner, you may find things quite overwhelming.
  4. Make sure it has some learning guides. You’ll need to be equipped in order to progress from a novice to a professional artist.
  5. Choose one where you can collaborate with others. This ensures that you get to complete your task efficiently by brainstorming

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