The evolution of technology has touched just about every facet of people’s lives. It has changed the way we work on virtually every task there is. And the art of drawing and its associated disciplines are no exception. What artists used to accomplish with the use of pencil, paper, and pigments can now be done from a computer console.
Below, we’ll present to you our list of 20 best graphic design software for 2020 so that if you’re looking for one, you can make an informed buying decision. If you have already been using graphic design software, but feel you’ve outgrown its use and it’s time for an upgrade, then you’ve come to the right place too.
In this day and age, every business is vying for attention online — be it through paid ads, social media posts, blog content, and many more. This makes it more difficult for you to effectively reach out to your target audience. To cut through the digital noise, you’ll have to create engaging content that is not only informative but also pleasing to the eyes. This is why more and more businesses are focusing on creating graphic content for their marketing campaigns.
After all, research shows that the average human brain processes imagery 60,000 times faster than text. What’s more, a recent study also revealed that 32% of visual content marketers say images and graphics are the most effective tools in their arsenal. It comes first over other content marketing strategies such as blogging, videos, live videos, and podcasting.
Source: Social Media Examiner
So, it comes as no surprise that many companies invest in graphic design. But of course, not all businesses are able to hire in-house designers and freelance graphic artists. As a result, majority of digital marketers use online tools or graphic design software to create visual content independently. In fact, in 2019, alone, the total revenue of graphic design in the United States has totaled $15 billion. What’s more, experts predict that the market for this software will reach $280.15 billion before the end of the year.
If you are looking to capitalize on this demand for good graphics as well, perhaps it is time that you start leveraging tools that will help you create them. To help you out, we have prepared a compilation of the 20 best graphic design software solutions for your organization. Below, you’ll find their strenghts and weaknesses so that it is easier for you to make an informed purchasing decision.
A vector graphics solution, Adobe Illustrator CC, is highly-suitable for professional graphic designers and artists. It has a wide array of tools that can greatly help in the creation of graphic designs for websites, brand logos, video games, and print. It works well with vector graphics, allowing users to come up with beautifully crafted designs, topography, sketches, and illustrations.
The product allows for faster design creation owing to its built-in design presets and templates, which can be easily accessed. Its integration with Adobe Creative Cloud makes sharing of projects by individuals easy. Sharp segments and clear lines can be produced as the solution can create paths that automatically align to the nearest pixel grid. Its Snap to Pixel feature can be customized to align an artwork with precise pixel boundaries.
Adobe Creative Cloud is available in a variety of pricing plans starting at $29.99/month.
Detailed Adobe Illustrator CC Review
A photo, image, and graphic design editing solution, Adobe Photoshop CC is targeted at professional graphic designers, artists, and photographers. It enables users to design websites, posters, icons, mobile apps, and banners using easy-to-use tools and built-in templates. For photographers, the app has tools that aid in picture creation and enhancement, making excellent works of art out of photographs.
Using the software, you can create and enhance illustrations, 3D artworks, and paintings. Unique patterns and effects, along with brushes, aid in the creation and customization of digital works. Other key features include brush smoke smoothing, brush management, access to Lightroom photos, paint symmetry, and luminance masking controls, among many others.
You can avail of Adobe Photoshop CC in a variety of pricing plans, starting at $29.90/month.
Detailed Adobe Photoshop CC Review
A page design and layout solution, Adobe InDesign CC is used predominantly in the creation, preflighting, and publication of documents for both print and digital media. It is a desktop publishing software that can be used to design posters, brochures, stationery, flyers, annual reports, and magazines, among many other projects. You can also create eBooks, interactive PDFs, and digital magazines using the platform.
Adobe InDesign CC has tools that can help you collaborate with writers and editors, which will enable you to come up with and design documents a lot faster. It can share text, colors, graphics, and shapes as it gives users access to its Creative Cloud Libraries. Other notable features include paragraph borders, object height and width, endnotes, fonts, and PDF accessibility enhancements.
You can purchase Adobe InDesign CC as a single application or part of Adobe Creative Cloud. It is available in a variety of pricing plans starting at $29.99/month.
Detailed Adobe InDesign CC Review
Canva is a cloud-based platform that lets you easily create professional-quality graphic designs. It gives you a robust and intuitive drag-and-drop editor and access to over a million graphics, images, and fonts for quickly making any type of content. It can be used by beginners and professionals looking to produce marketing materials, corporate brochures, flyers, invitations, visual charts, book covers, presentations, and more. A vast library of templates is available to help you start your design project for whatever purpose.
The graphic design solution allows you to configure templates and documents as well as to edit your designs. And since it’s an online platform, it enables collaboration by letting others edit or apply changes to your designs, and comment on your project. You can also publish your designs on the web or download and print them. Canva is free for teams with up to 10 members and comes with 1GB of storage and access to more than 8,000 templates. There is also a low-cost plan for work and a quote-based enterprise plan which unlocks more features, unlimited storage, and advanced tools.
Detailed Canva Review
A free and open-source image editing software, GIMP has a ton of features that can give the most popular software in its category a run for its money. This feature-laden tool is capable of easily fine-tuning images and creating remarkable works of art from simple photographs. Its notable functionalities include noise reduction, image enhancement tools, customizable brushes, and color adjustment tools.
GIMP also has features that can greatly benefit advanced users such as Bezier curves, filters, layer masks, and an animation package. The platform supports pre-installed or downloadable plugins, a handy feature. Its user interface is simple and can be used with ease, requiring no training at all. Albeit the product may not have the comprehensive functionalities of commercial editing tools, it has all the editing features that you need. Customization options, meanwhile, let users enhance productivity. The software also supports third-party plugins.
Detailed GIMP Review
Pixlr is a suite of web-based image editing apps that can run on any browser and operating system. The software offers all essential photo editing tools for basic and professional-level enhancements, multi-image format templates, and over two million filters, overlays, and effects. While it has an array of tools for sophisticated editing, it also provides tools for quick image fixes and tweaks without sacrificing professional quality. This makes it a handy tool for swift touch-ups and, with native mobile apps, for editing on the go.
Pixlr is made up of four applications – Pixlr X, an online photo editing platform, Pixlr Editor and Pixlr Express, which are web apps; and Pixlr Pro. The first three are free while the last one comes in an affordable subscription-based plan. The software is a lightweight app and consumes little memory even on mobile devices. Pixlr has a solid and large community of fans. To date, it has racked up more than 500 million total users and 10 billion total images edited using its applications.
Detailed Pixlr Review
A feature-rich and open-source graphic design software, Inkscape is known for its ability to easily create vectors. It has a wide array of vector editing tools that are very handy for graphic designers. These tools can be used to manipulate graphic aspects such as shapes, paths, text, clones, gradients, and transparency effects, among many others.
Creative Commons metadata, node editing, path operations, circumfluent object text, and node editing, among many other operations, are likewise supported. The solution is so robust that it is comparable with expensive tools of its kind. With Inkspace, users can play with image shapes, apply filters, and fill them with gradients. Projects can be saved in SVG, EPS, JPG, BMP, PNG, PostScript, or TIP formats, which can be exported to vector-based formats. Inkspace comes for free, so you don’t have to worry about investing in the app.
Detailed Inkscape Review
Autodesk SketchBook is an on-premise sketching app for artists, designers, and creative professionals. It offers easy to use but powerful drawing and painting tools for creating artworks, visual designs, and stunning illustrations on desktop and tablets. It comes with an intuitive interface and a rich toolset that includes customizable brushes, gradient fills, color library, advanced layers, blending modes, perspective guides, stroke stabilizers, and layers, among others. All these tools and capabilities are intended to give you a natural painting and drawing experience, whether you’re using touch input or a stylus.
The software’s powerful digital drawing engine gives you speed and precision for creating masterpieces for sizes of up to 100 megapixels canvas. It supports various image formats like JPG, PSD, PNG, TIFF, and BMP. Autodesk SketchBook comes in three editions, each optimized for the device and platform you’ll be using it on – desktop, Windows 10, and mobile. The software is free for individual use, while an enterprise license is offered at $85/year for multiple users.
Detailed Autodesk SketchBook Review
Image editing software PaintShop Pro is an easy-to-use tool that has a myriad of features, which include image drawing, editing, and correction, among many others. Its high-grade tools give you the ability to edit images easily, create graphic designs, and improve your photos using restore, quick fixes, effects, and retouch features. The software is not only inexpensive, but it also comes with several user-requested improvements.
PaintShop Pro’s creative tools, intuitive interface, and faster performance are bound to enhance productivity. The platform’s tools and features are highly customizable, allowing you to come up with your own unique editing environment. Also, it does not only allow for photo editing but lets you manage your photos using its built-in organizer and even view EXIF data and geotags, conduct face searches and image ratings.
The software is available in two enterprise pricing plans starting at $63.99.
Detailed PaintShop Pro Review
Piktochart is a cloud-hosted graphic design software built to help you create quality presentations and professional-looking infographics. It allows you to produce your content quickly and tell your visual stories with impact, be they in the form of infographics, reports, printable posters, or slide presentations. The process is made quick and simple with a drag-and-drop editor – just choose from a selection of 600 pre-built templates, add interactive elements like charts and images, tweak fonts and colors, and print it or share it online.
Crafting visual messages and stories for marketing, corporate, or educational use can be done in minutes. Piktochart is equipped with design flexibility and HTML publishing capability to let you come up with web publisher-ready designs and presentations. It also allows you to save your finished project for future editing and as ready reference. Piktochart is available in several plans for individuals, teams, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions. Prices start at $12.50/month.
Detailed Piktochart Review
Photoshop Elements is an on-premise solution for creating, editing, organizing, and sharing your photos. It is intended for professional photographers and those in the photography business who work on and need to manage a massive collection of images.
The software gives you intelligent editing that applies machine learning for fast photo enhancements and precise tweaks. For instance, you can use an open eye and set the software to automatically apply them to all pictures with blinking or squinting eyes. There are also guided step-by-step edits for applying effects, putting custom frames, and other image edits.
Another highlight of Photoshop Elements is its automation capability in managing and organizing your photos. It can automatically categorize your photo by subject, date, title for easy tracking, and searching. Regardless if you have thousands of images, the software can auto-curate them and even suggest photos based on smart tags and embedded image attributes or details. Photoshop Elements is offered at $99.99 for a full license.
Detailed Photoshop Elements 2018 Review
Venngage is an online infographic maker app built to help you quickly relay your stories and present your data. All it takes is three simple steps – you select a template, add visuals and charts, and personalize your design. It removes the complication and expense in making professionally-designed templates since you can do it yourself through a drag-and-drop interface, free form canvas, customizable templates, and quick addition of multimedia design elements you need for your project. You can immediately create visually appealing charts, graphs, and infographics, put in your branding like theme and logo, and publish your content on your blog, website, or social media.
Over 21,000 businesses already use Venngage for producing reports, social media visuals, presentations, posters, promotional and marketing materials, and infographics. It is applicable for use not only by design artists working for clients but also as an internal message and communication tool for educational and corporate organizations.
Venngae is offered free to students. There are paid plans for businesses and individuals that start at $19/month.
Detailed Venngage Review
Gravit Designer is a powerful vector graphics design software that you can use online or download and install on your computer. Despite being a full-featured design solution that you can use for personal and commercial purposes, it is offered at no cost at all. You can use it to make screen designs, presentations, high-quality icons, illustrations, app designs, and print materials.
It works on any platform or operating system, boasts of unmatched precision, offers structured content, comes with grids and auto-layouts, has multiple styles and effects, and provides a robust text engine. It is made for vector graphics and comes with advanced tools for sketches, presentations, and transformations, among others.
Gravit Designer runs on today’s popular browsers as well as on macOS, Linux, ChromeOS, and Windows computers. It offers dozens of predefined dimensions or presets for easily making designs for print, social media covers and content, websites, tablets, and smartphones. The software is highly customizable and comes with a simple but intuitive interface.
Detailed Gravit Designer Review
PhotoScape gives you over a dozen design and editing functions in one on-premise package. It is an image editor, photo viewer, batch editor, page merger, animated GIF maker, photo splitter, screen capture tool, color picker, RAW converter, photo file renamer, and more. All these tools and functionalities are offered in a lightweight, responsive software that is completely free. Simply download it from its official website and install it in your computer.
While it has many helpful tools, the core feature of PhotoScape is its image editing and design module packed with several features for making adjustments in color, size, resolution, brightness, gamma, backlight, and more. It has text, design, and drawing tools like filters, paintbrush, effects brush, and clone stamp, among others.
It is cross-platform and works on Mac, Windows, and Linux machines. It is offered in several languages and comes with a separate but also free edition – PhotoScapeX – for Windows 10 computers.
Detailed PhotoScape Review
3D modeling, rendering, and animation tool Autodesk 3ds Max is designed for use in games and design visualization. It is part of Autodesk’s collection of tools for product design and manufacturing. The solution is popular among film and TV visual effects artists and professionals, along with game designers and developers of virtual reality games. Uses include infrastructure and building design, construction, product development, and planning in the manufacturing sector.
Autodesk 3ds Max lets you create massively designed game worlds, characters, and building environments. It also allows for the animation of characters and the creation of scenes that contain them. What’s impressive about the solution is its 3D rendering capability, which includes simulation of real-life camera settings. This is especially useful in 2020 and beyond, as 3D is a cornerstone of graphic design trends as we head into the new decade.
The software is available in different pricing schemes starting at $185/month.
Detailed Autodesk 3ds Max Review
Onshape is a cloud-based design platform for 3D CAD, data management, and real-time collaboration. It is intended for use by designers, manufacturers, and engineers, helping them and their team closely work together wherever they may be located since the software can be accessed from any web browser and used on any device. Onshape also comes with version tools and instant access to a single master CAD that eliminates the need for copying or duplicating files. Among its features are part or component modeling, assembly modeling, drawings, file sharing and import/export, and data management.
Onshape provides cutting-edge parametric 3D modeling and comprehensive associative 2D drawings. It allows for top-down design together with multi-part modeling and in-context editing. It offers a secure and centralized online database that allows authorized team members to see design changes made by colleagues.
The software is free for educational use. For commercial use, it offers standard, professional, and enterprise plans that start at $1,000/user per year.
Detailed Onshape Review
Xara Designer Pro is a unified creative solution producing print and web designs. It is an on-premise software for Windows PC but has a cloud add-on that allows you to edit and share your Xara files and projects using any web browser and device.
The software boasts of speed and performance in renderings, creation, and adjustments. It has an array of tools for drawing, 3D extrude, text handling, blends, page layout, live effects, transparency and feathering, and shadows and contours. Aside from design tools, it has professional photo handling capabilities, web graphics and website creation and management features, and industry-standard compatibility.
Xara Designer Pro gives you a single integrated software for your graphic design requirements. No more using separate tools for image editing, illustrations, vector rendering, and web design. You get them all and more in one powerful package. While it offers fast performance, it consumes little of your computer’s resources. It likewise does not require a steep learning curve and comes with easy to use drag-and-drop interface and WYSIWYG editor. Xara Designer Pro enterprise license is offered at $299.
Detailed Xara Designer Pro Review
Scalable Vector Graphics enables you to recreate vector drawings programmatically, and SVG-edit gives you a quick and easy to use tool for modifying an SVG file or outputting SVG. The solution offers simple navigation – you just drag and drop an image on your browser, and you’re good to go.
The software can modify SVG files and support conversion to other file formats such as PNG, BMP, WMP, and JPG. Among its core features are freestyle drawing, wireframe modes, lines, polylines, converting shapes to path, raster images, stylized text, and layers.
Detailed SVG-edit Review
A complete website and mobile content visual development software, Adobe Dreamweaver CC next on our top 20 graphic design software list. This tool allows you to create, publish, and manage websites, content, and web apps all from a single dashboard. It has a wide array of features that you can use to make websites in different languages. These websites can be viewed from any device using any browser.
Using the solution, site designers can easily and immediately introduce their products to the web as the app comes with customizable templates. Also, it can aid coders so that they can make fast edits and updates. When creating sites and web apps, you need only to code it once, and the product does the rest for you. Your website will show across different screen sizes, depending on the device being used. Adobe Dreamweaver CC is updated continuously, helping enhance your coding, publishing, and managing experience.
The software is available in several individual and enterprise pricing models, starting at $19.99/month.
Detailed Adobe Dreamweaver CC Review
Renderforest Logo Maker is a suitable option for businesses that are looking for a hassle-free way to create quality logos directly from their browser. This online logo generation platform simply requires users to specify their ideal logo, and Renderforest will leverage its proprietary algorithms to closely match their descriptions. Multiple suggested logos will be provided for your perusal, and the colors, font style, and the text can all be easily customized on a user-friendly logo editor. Afterward, you can download them for your perusal.
Renderforest Logo Maker has a completely free to use option, but those who are looking for more flexibility in customization can opt for the paid logos. These come in an SVG file and features more interactivity, such as custom animations and other premium functionalities.
Detailed Renderforest Logo Maker Review
Would you go for a graphics design software that has everything or one that has just the basic capabilities? In the same vein, would you be better off with a paid design solution or a free one? The answers to these questions largely depend on what you will use it for. Fortunately, the products that we’ve included in this list cover all possible needs and purposes, giving you a wide range of options.
If it will be the heart of your digital design studio for your high-end clients, then it is wise to invest in the most capable, cutting-edge software. It may come at a premium and have a steep learning curve, but you wouldn’t want anything less than the best that can handle design projects regardless of size and complexity. Still, big projects may require additional project management tools, so unless you have a dedicated team for graphic design, you need to keep this in mind.
On the other hand, if you are a marketer who needs to regularly come up with infographics and campaign posters, then you may try free, easy-to-use online design software that offers basic tools. That’s the practical route if you don’t want to outsource the design process. You only need to form a great marketing team, and you’re all set.
Now, if you are looking for a video editing solution to complement your preferred graphic design platform (and complete your visual content creation tools), you can check the top picks in our video editing software category.
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