Graphic designers everywhere will ask the question:
What is the best graphic design software this year?
I have compiled the most complete graphic design software list in 2021 just for you. Below you will find the:
- The best raster and vector graphics editors
- Free online graphic design software and paid
- Their top features
- Pricing plans
- PROs and CONs
🖥️ FOR DESKTOP️
🌐 FOR BROWSER (ONLINE APPS)
Without further ado, here are the best graphic design tools in 2021:
Platform: Desktop & iPad
Pricing Plan: starting at $20.99/mo
Adobe Photoshop is one of the most popular and used graphics editing software. It was developed and published by Adobe Incorporation. Its uses are not only limited to graphics editing alone, but digital art as a whole.
- Very widely used. This means that there are a lot of learning resources. Best resources for learning Photoshop can be found at the Adobe Website, PSDDude Photoshop Tutorials and Tuts+.
- It has probably the most advanced engine for photo editing. In recent years Adobe perfected its machine learning & AI assist (Adobe Sensei Engine) that can do automated photo editing (content aware fill, content aware scale, etc)
- Batch processing with Photoshop actions
- Supports masks, alpha compositing and several tools
- Quite costly and you need a powerful computer.
- Updates are mandatory which means that in theory you are not allowed to use versions older than the latest. This creates some nasty problems with incompatible features (eg. old actions might not work anymore)
- Has limited and selected features for iPad users
- Limited support for raster and vector images like SVG files.
- Can be very intimidating for a beginner graphic designer
Pricing Plan: FREE
GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a graphic designing and editing software used for image editing and retouching. It can also be used to perform specialized editing and digital art designs.
- It’s free and easy enough to use
- Opens almost all file formats
- Wide range of tools and features
- Easily expandable and supports command line batch mode
- May not have all features and user tools user needs to complete a task
- Interface is cluttered and almost jam packed
- Difficult to work with text
- Unstable and prone to crashing in some installations
3. Corel Draw
Pricing Plan: $198/yr
CorelDRAW is a vector graphics editor used to create logos, flexes, invitation cards and any kind of vector designing based on the lining. It has a wide range of existing images and logos that can be customized.
- Very effective tool to design two dimensional images such as posters and logos
- Allows user to create customized logos and posters
- Allows users to import/export images
- User friendly interface
- Good for beginners and easy to use.
- Has many features that might take a long time to learn.
- Errors on drawings can be easily spotted, especially when images are enlarged
- Performance issues and instability when working with large or complex documents
- Lack of smart guides
- Quite expensive
Pricing Plan: $299/yr
Xara Designer PRO X or Xara for short is an advanced but easy to use graphic design tool available on Windows. It allows its users to create, edit, and design media such as web pages, photos, and other illustrations easily. It has tons of features that make it an amazing graphic design tool and it is available at affordable prices of about $299 per year.
- Easy to use
- Drag and drop features
- Anti-aliasing features that speed up the editing process
- Can zoom up to 25,000% and more
- Capable of syncing files with Dropbox and Google Drive
- Supports importing and exporting Adobe PSD files, including layer support, alpha channel, and 16-bit color and CMYK layer conversion
- Array of tools for drawing, 3D extrude, text handling, blends, page layout, live effects, transparency and feathering, and shadows and contours
- Only available for Windows
- Its advanced features are sometimes hard to use
- The masking feature is cumbersome and difficult to understand
Pricing Plan: FREE (option for Premium User starting at $4.99/mo)
MockoFun is one of the coolest online graphic designing, photo editing and text editing tool. You can use it to get basic graphics editing done.
- It’s FREE and easy to use
- Can be used by both non-graphic designers and advanced designers
- Advanced photo editor with stunning filters like: Oil Paint, Anaglyph, Kaleidoscope, Polar Coordinates, Dithering, etc.
- Pre-made design templates editable online
- Text editor offers typography features including 800 fonts, text styles and creative text lettering. Also includes a cool curved text tool
- Access to over 250,000 stock images, vector shapes and illustrations
- Access to overlays and special effects
- Can be used successfully as an online logo maker too
- Exports JPG, PNG with transparent background and print ready 300dpi PDF
- No free-hand drawing yet
- You can only save up to 10 designs in the free version
Pricing Plan: $9.99
Procreate is a raster editor software for graphic design and digital painting. It is designed for iPad users to explore their artistic possibilities. It comes with many classic and digital art tools
- It gives the natural feel of physical drawing.
- Supports import/export to Adobe Photoshop
- Can be used by beginners and professionals alike.
- It was designed specifically for iOS and iPad users
- Has limited abilities and features, edit and render texts and vector graphics.
Pricing Plan: FREE (option for Pro subscription from $9.99/mo - $30/mo)
Canva is a graphic design platform that allows users create images, fonts and illustrations tool. It is very popular graphic design tool that allows social media users to create posters, graphics and presentations.
- Offers a wide range of easy-to-use designed templates
- Allows for the import of customized photos and images
- A huge library of templates and designs that can be used to make simple designs
- Maximum functions are only available to Canva Pro users-subscribed users
- Limited free icons, illustrations and graphic elements
Pricing Plan: $7.99/mo - $33.99/mo
PicMonkey is an online photo editing and graphic design service. It transcends the regular photo editing tool. It also comes with a wide selection of graphic elements such as: greeting cards, wedding invitation cards, announcements cards, business cards etc
- Has an integrated cloud storage options where users can save pictures
- Saved pictures are re-editable
- Easy-to-use interface
- Easy clicks and instant navigation of tools to edit image
- May be slow to load on browser
- Only premium users have access to full package and full design templates
Pricing Plan: $7/mo - $12/mo
Pixteller is particularly remarkable for its simplicity and easy navigation. Its Easy-to-Use Design & Animation tools can be used by anyone to create Images, GIFs & Videos for personal or business use, with no special know-how.
- Great for personal or business use.
- Can be used by everyone and anyone.
- Doesn’t need special editing or digital skills to navigate
- Can be used to create theme-based images
- Only has limited features and tools.
- Lacks in tutorials for how to use the tool
- Doesn’t have to many pre-made templates
Pricing Plan: $4.99/mo — $6.99/mo
BeFunky is an excellent photo editing application with a wide range of picture editing tools. You can do a whole lot of activities like resizing, cropping and filtering options. With its 30+ tools, there’s a whole lot of effects you can bring to images.
- Well-designed and functional interface
- User friendly and easy to manipulate
- Has an undo button to change a previous photo effect
- It’s best for Android phones and users.
- Plus account where users get to enjoy optimal use of the app isn’t free
Pricing Plan: FREE (option for Advanced and PRO $3.99/mo — $14.99/mo)
Pixlr is a popular online photo editing application. It has an improved and advanced AI intelligence and Machine Learning used as a tool to enhance and improve photo outlook.
- Easy to use and master for beginners.
- Modern photo editing features and tools
- Has different packages for beginners and pros.(Pixlr X and E respectively)
- Availability of wide range of stickers, borders and other graphic elements just to perfect your photo editing.
- AI powered tools for quick and professional editing
- Is not compatible with all image and file formats
- Limited features for text
- There aren’t too many tutorials on how to use the tool
Pricing Plan: FREE (with Ads or Premium for $9/mo - $400/mo)
Photopea is an online multimedia software for editing files from native apps. It is used to edit images and add graphic effects to pictures.
- No account required to use
- Very good performance
- Supports PNG, JPG, SVG, GIF and PDF export formats
- Can read and save Photoshop PSD files, Photoshop brushes and Photoshop custom shapes
- Edits photos easily on web browser
- Great user support
- Is a bit complicated to use (emulating Photoshop)
- Lacks some of Photoshop’s features
Pricing Plan: $29.99/mo
Adobe Illustrator is unarguably the most popular vector graphics editor for creating print or web. So far, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator have been the standard for creating logos, artworks, fonts, graphics comics and concept arts.
- Advanced and sophisticated graphics tool
- Has a wide range of tools and features.
- Creates both print and web graphics.
- It’s the standard for all other vector graphics.
- No canvas rotation feature (users have been asking it for a long time)
- Complex. Not suitable for beginners
- May take a long time to learn and master
- Some performance issues on older computers
- Default settings for some tools are a bit weird
Pricing Plan: $49.99(one-time payment)
Affinity is a graphics vector design software and shape drawing tool. It supports raster brushes and custom vector, dynamic symbols, stroke stabilization, text style management, and vector/pixel export options. It can be used to create graphics art and digital design.
- Good alternative for Adobe Illustrator
- Compatible with most graphics file formats
- Can import data from files, especially Adobe Freehand (specifically versions 10 & MX)
- Allows user to set up grid and isometric video game graphics.
- Very intuitive and flexible gradient tools
- Seamless in-application switching between vector and raster graphics editing (Affinity Designer)
- Great tools for isometric design
- Lacks image tracing
- Doesn’t allow export of .AI files
- Doesn’t provide tools for text warping
- A bit of a complicated UI and sometimes it’s hard to find a certain tool
- Has some minor performance issues on older computers
- No support for RTL/BIDI languages
- The brush engine isn’t as developed as with other tools
Pricing Plan: FREE
Inkspace is one of the most popular Vector graphics editor. It can be used to design, create or edit vector graphics.
- Supports multiple vector formats
- Powerful tool to create two dimensional vector images logos, designs and other scalable vector graphics
- Created shapes can be manipulated with transformations such as moving, rotating and scaling.
- Beginners and non tech savvy folks might struggle maximize its features
- Options and features are limited
- No support for CMYK colors
- Does not export to .AI
16. Gravit Designer
Pricing Plan: FREE (option to upgrade to PRO $49/yr)
A free vector design application that’s great for logo making, photo manipulation, illustrations and animations. You can use Gravit online with their cloud-based software — though some reviews claim that it runs a bit slower than the locally-installed version. The layout is sleek and fully customizable.
- Cool and plenty of features and capabilities
- Cloud storage is very useful
- Can import most vector formats (including .AI)
- Free version not nearly as effective as Pro
- Performance problems with large images
- Complex UI, not suitable for beginners
- No grid snapping
Pricing Plan: FREE
Vectornator is an vector graphics design software that can be used to design and almost everything. It’s flexible and intuitive.
- Has an intuitive user interface
- Has a wide variety of tools and features
- Easy clicks to create amazing and creative layouts
- Effective tool for producing vector drawings with a pen tool.
- Specifically for iPhone, iPad and Mac users
- May consume a lot of time, especially if you aren’t good at using the iPhone pen.
Pricing Plan: FREE
Vectr is free, intuitive, simple,yet powerful to perform vector graphics editing tool. It is used by bloggers, digital marketers and website designers.
- Handy and easy for new users of vector
- User friendly interface
- Limited templates for users
- It’s mostly best for simple tasks and small projects.
19. Tailor Brands
Pricing Plan: $3.99 - $12.99
Tailor Brands is a graphic design tool for quickly generating a logo. They have a wizard like logo building process, a very good tool for those with little design experience.
- Design logo
- Quick Images
- Lots of presets
- Covers a range of tasks (e.g. socal media)
- Relatively cheap
- Great for those with little experience
- Not the most advanced tool for logo design
- There is no free trial
- Limited customization options of the end result
Doesn’t matter if you are into vector graphics, logo design, photo editing, marketing design, etc. I hope that you found this list useful.
For sure I could not include ALL of them, but I did try to include the most important graphic design software (free & paid).
It’s up to you to decide which of these you think is the best graphic design software free or not!
If you are looking for a tool for your next graphic design project, now you know what your options are regarding graphic design software.
Check out this huge list of 104 Photo Editing Tools You Should Know About