Whether you are a novice graphic designer or a seasoned digital artist, graphic design software supplies artists with intense tools for producing outstandingly professional designs.
The right tools can make the best use of your practice and talent. A well-made graphic design application includes flexible controls that are simple for a novice to use, but it also contains far more advanced features for an expert user.
Here is a list of the top graphic design programs for creatives, both free and premium, that are perfect for producing amazing digital art. In this guide, we explore seven of the best-rated design products in the UK marketplace, based on our research.
Table of Contents:
Best Graphic Design Software 🖼️: The Selection
Our results below compared how each graphic software provide performed in terms of picture editing, cloud storage capability, vector graphics, and cost-effectiveness.
Vector-based tools are essential, particularly when you're developing high-quality, high-resolution printed materials that need consistency and colour accuracy. The finest graphic design software should also have tools for manipulating the CMYK, RGB, and HSB colour sets.
1. Adobe Photoshop — Outstanding Graphic Design Software for Generalists
The most powerful picture editing software in the world—Photoshop, has incredible AI-powered neural filters, automated sky replacement ☁️, and unequalled selection capabilities.
All of this comes in a practical and elegant interface. That’s why millions of artists use a 💨 cloud subscription for Adobe Photoshop, which is undoubtedly the most well-liked graphic design program on the planet.
This top graphic design tool can help you make banners, posters, sites, or emblems, among other things. Adobe Photoshop includes capabilities for every ability, from little adjustments to complex projects. Even sketch or paint anything you want if you work in graphic design, using illustrative graphics.
With this application, you may do lifelike artwork and layout in addition to picture editing. You may set the dimensions of your canvas, separate objects from their surroundings, make unique brushes, operate in three dimensions, and do a lot more.
Photoshop 2023 Updates
Upgrades to Photoshop continue to provide amazing: Sky Replacing, Landscape Mixing, Neural Filtering, and Color Transferring features that make use of Adobe's Sensei AI integrations. Recently, more practical tools like Previewing Patterns and cloud-stored documents are also now available.
The most recent version, which Adobe calls Version 24 or Photoshop 2023, technologies that were first revealed at the yearly Adobe Max conference.
Highlights included: new scene-removal methods, 1-Click Delete and Fills using Adobe Express, and simplified more accurate Object Selection.
You’ll also come across features still in beta tests. For instance, Live: Gradients and Gaussian Blur. And new “Neural Filtering” to restore photos. Share for Review is a collaborative feature also still being tested.
2. Adobe Illustrator — Top Vector Graphics Software for Specialists
A strong, intricate, and incredibly adaptable vector-based graphics production tool, Adobe Illustrator has been around for what feels like ages and keeps getting better.
In October 2022, they announced the release of Adobe Illustrator 2023 (version 27). It adds several intriguing new capabilities, such as Intertwine, which enables you to change the layer order at particular locations in the image to produce intricate object overlaps—it will save you a tonne of time.
Tools for collaboration are likewise well appreciated, although they have the impression of still being developed. Even if one of them is still referred to as a "beta," they nonetheless perform as intended. In relation to ongoing projects, Quick Actions let you make many adjustments with just one click. If Illustrator manages to add a half dozen more of these, it will have a lot of promise.
Through a monthly or yearly membership, you'll additionally get a solid host of performance enhancements and fresh collaboration features. Choose to buy the single app or the Creative Cloud All Apps suite membership, which gives you access to additional Adobe products like Lightroom and Photoshop.
All of Adobe's software packages are exclusively available through membership, making them a dominant player in this market. Of course, this has the benefit that you'll be able to install and utilise the newest elements as soon as they're available.
Big updates like these are only a part of the tale because new tools and upgrades are made available all year long.
The drawback is that you must pay monthly, but if this is your main source of income, the expense is more than justifiable.
As per usual, you can only buy Illustrator by purchasing a monthly membership for £31 or a yearly subscription for £20 every month. Additionally, there is a single annual subscription available for £239.
The incentive is to use the complete Adobe Creative Cloud portfolio, which is available for a monthly or yearly membership and gives you access to Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, Lightroom, and many more tools. Going for the whole Creative Cloud experience is frequently the best option because these creative tools are made to function together.
However, Adobe provides a 7-day free trial so you may try it out if you're new to Illustrator and aren't ready to commit just yet.
3. Affinity Designer — Powerful Graphic Design Software for Budgets
Although it also has a robust selection of raster-type features, Serif Affinity Designer 2 is mainly a vector-based graphic design program for Windows and Mac.
The program's most recent significant update mostly concentrates on the vector portion of the designer, including a Shape Builder and several Warp tools, along with other strong and widely sought features.
You might be shocked at how intuitive and straightforward it is to handle such dense features, making what is a heavyweight piece of graphic software more flexible and varied.
We argue that Designer has enough functionality to be considered as a potential Adobe Illustrator replacement, despite the fact that its subscription-free, affordable price point would suggest otherwise.
This graphic design product is quite appealing and costs a one-time fee of £60. Even better, £140 will bring you the whole Affinity creative suite for Windows, Mac, and iPad, including Affinity Photo, Designer, and Affinity Publisher. That is a very competitive set of offerings for the price.
What to Expect 🌞
So we’ve established that the price-to-feature ratio is very good—suitable for an online business on a tight budget. But how do you get started?
The process of creating a visual, regardless of whether it's a piece of art, a logo, or even simply a symbol, can be rather difficult. The greatest graphic design software thus frequently has pricing deals that match this.
Of course, there are frequent outliers, and Affinity Designer, which doesn't require a membership, is one of them. Let's examine what makes the creative development software tick in light of the recent release of version 2.0.
Thank goodness, there are versions of Affinity Designer for both Windows and iOS. There is an iPad alternative as well. Both Apple/Intel M CPUs are compatible. Both platforms require 1-3GB of storage space during the install and a baseline of 8GB of RAM (the greater the merrier, as with other apps).
Although you can get a copy for just £36 to mark the new launch, the standard pricing without a discount is still quite appealing at £60.
Furthermore, this is a one-time purchase rather than a membership. The savings become immediately apparent when you take into account that Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator each cost £20 monthly in the Creative Cloud membership.
A new "Universal Licence" that bundles Designer with Affinity Photo and Affinity Publisher is also available. With that, you can operate on Windows/iOS machines. The iPad versions of Serif's picture editing, graphic design, and DTP tools also come included.
For £90, as long as you’re in time for the latest seasonal deal, you can purchase all of these items. If there is a drawback, it is the absence of a cheap upgrade route for current users.
Overall—what was an already extremely promising product has been greatly improved with Serif Affinity Designer 2. When you draw, slice, and bend your forms to create striking artwork, the additional improvements will surely provide you with more creative freedom.
4. Gravit Designer Pro — Best Freemium Graphic Design Software
The majority of software for designing vector graphics is locally installed due to the intricacy of images, however, Gravit Designer also includes online possibilities.
The🚀 cloud-based option for Gravit Designer (now called Corel Vector) is accessible via any browser and can seamlessly store data for both web and personal storage.
Further reading 📖… How Secure is the Cloud? ☁️
As a substitute, there are downloadable editions for iOS, Windows, Linux, and Chromebook OS that can make greater use of the computer hardware.
According to our research, the cloud-hosted variants can handle complicated designs considerably better than the internet ones, which can become sluggish. There is no reason not to give it a try, though, as there is a restricted free version to utilise.
Many outstanding examples that designers have produced with Gravit Designer demonstrate how powerful it can be for certain tasks.
Gravit Designer PRO offers limitless online storage, up to 300 dpi quality, and CMYK and HSB print choices in addition to RGB. For a fair yearly fee, you can also get the option to work offline, sophisticated export choices, and version history.
With this software, produce animations, edit photographs, and make logos. The free edition of Gravit does not include an offline version. The program can be completely tailored to the demands of the user. Gravit's premium edition offers more sophisticated capabilities, including additional export choices, an offline version, greater colour space, etc.
5. Inkscape — Best Graphic Design Software for Free
For good reasons, most businesspeople avoid using free software, yet Inkscape is unquestionably worthwhile to consider before making a CorelDRAW or Adobe CC membership purchase.
A vector design application called Inkscape provides significant text editing, Bezier and Spiro curve types, and broad file compatibility. Additionally, it includes an extension-based approach that makes it simple to add new features, and there are several incredible ones available.
The only issue we’ve encountered is that, even on a strong PC, this program can occasionally be sluggish when completing complex processes.
It’s a wonderful free tool for producing vector graphics (scalable images that don't blur when resized). It's actually so good that it can serve as a genuine substitute for expensive software like Adobe Illustrator.
Inkscape supports the SVG format and can import and output pictures in PostScript, EPS, JPG, BMP, PNG, and TIP formats. The many effects and advanced, industry-grade options available in Inkscape are numerous.
As for the user experience, if you can accomplish it in Adobe Illustrator, there's a good chance you can accomplish it in Inkscape. For free vector software, that's really amazing. Giving it a shot at the very least could be worthwhile, to see how you like it.
It serves as more evidence of how strong Inkscape is that there isn't enough room to mention everything it can accomplish 🌴.
6. Sketch — Top Graphic Design Tool for Screen Design on Mac
A graphic design application for Macs exclusively, Sketch concentrates mostly on digital and screen 🖥️ designing…
Sites, applications, and user interfaces are made using these digital designs—but Sketch isn't designed for photo retouching or printed creation, in contrast to Photoshop
With Sketch, you can collaborate with other designers on the site to make a prototype. According to the content, the item will seamlessly resize thanks to the program's intelligent layout capability.
Find hundreds of plugins that let you modify vectors and do other design tasks with pixel-perfect accuracy. Another item that can be produced with this application is digital icons. The negative of Sketch is that it's not very good for print design or drawings.
What You Can Expect
Instead of taking a general approach like other programs, the developers of Sketch developed a program to meet a rather specific need.
The primary focus of Sketch is screen designing, especially producing the icons and user interface components for sites and software. The majority of designers working on iPhone, iPad, and macOS apps will find it handy as the tool is only offered for the Apple Mac.
Despite the fact that it may be applied more broadly, its speciality is designing elegant UIs. With its simple shortcut keys and streamlined operation, Sketch is one of the greatest user interface tools available today.
Overall, it has a ton of features and a huge library of Sketch Plugins. A single-user licence for Sketch is offered. However, there are also licences offered for handling multiple devices.
7. Xara Designer Pro X—Top Graphic Design Tool for Windows
The team that created Xara first worked on Atari and Acorn computers in the 1980s before shifting its attention to the PC when Windows got introduced.
The most recent version of the software, Xara Designer Pro X, is a complete design tool that handles both bitmaps and vectors equally well.
This implies that it can perform activities related to DTP (desktop publishing), illustration, graphic design, and picture editing using only one tool.
A licence offers you access to over a million-strong library of pictures and graphics to use, together with hundreds of preset layouts and thousands of design components, for those who need to quickly knock up anything.
Due to bitmaps and vector graphics being compatible for use with Xara Designer—desktop publishing, illustration, graphic design, and image editing can all be handled by the application in one portal. To help you get going fast, the graphic design software offers you hundreds of template components.
If you use vectors to design any form, line, or curve, there won't be any quality loss as you enlarge it. Custom design components may be made and included in any of your projects. Your artwork will have a unique touch thanks to the software's gradients, outlines, and transparency features.
Best Graphic Design Software 🌴 — Buying Guide
We’ve reviewed some of the most popular graphic design tools used by artists and professional designers today. Now, let’s take a second to learn about this topic…
Graphic Design Software Explained 📚
The production and placement of graphics in a project to communicate ideas or messages is known as graphic design. Users of graphic design tools or software may work on many different areas of design—including vectors, picture modification, colour editing, and contrast adjustment, among other things.
Ways to choose the best graphic design systems:
Know Your Objective 💡: Consider first how serious and professional the software has to be before choosing one of the top graphic design programs to download and utilise.
You have the choice to be less picky about the application you select if all you want to do is create straightforward designs and files.
However, it would be wiser to strive for one of the more advanced and pricey applications on our list if you intend to produce something for professional printing.
Why are Vector Graphics Important? ⭐
Let’s describe a vector in detail, explaining how a vector illustration differs from a bitmap, and so on.
We’ll begin by comparing vectors with bitmaps. Pixels, like this 🏭 emoji, are little coloured dots, used to make bitmaps, sometimes referred to as raster images. While bitmap graphics are a necessary component of any design workflow, it's crucial to be aware that their size and picture quality can vary greatly, with the regrettable possibility of becoming fuzzy when expanded.
Vector illustrations, on the other hand, are composed of points, lines, and forms that may be altered in great detail and—since they are based on mathematical formulae—they can be resized endlessly to any dimension.
Vectors vs. Rasters
For digital designers, artists, and creatives, vector and raster graphics are both necessary. But what are the distinctions?
"Resolution-independent" describes vector graphics—this implies that mathematical equations are used to create vector images, which are composed of lines, points, and curves, so that you may enlarge them without losing quality.
Raster graphics can seem fine at their intended size since they are formed of pixels, but—once again— they cannot be scaled up without losing quality. The use of both has benefits and drawbacks. You can 🐉 find out more here.
FAQs 📚 for Best Graphic Design Software
What Software do Most Graphic Artists Use?
The majority of graphic designers, digital artists, picture editors, and other professionals use Adobe Photoshop since it is the most widely used and flexible program on the market.
What is the Most Effective Graphic Design Tool for Beginners?
Canva is a very user-friendly program made specifically for those with no background in graphic design. Because of how simple it is to use and the availability of templates, anyone can create graphics.
Which Software is Essential for Graphic Design?
For graphic design, you need creating and editing tools that can work with both text and visuals. Some of the most well-known graphic design programs available today are Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, CorelDraw, GIMP, and Canva.
What Should I Expect to Pay for Graphic Design Software?
Applications for graphic design can be expensive or affordable, depending on the provider. One popular open-source, free graphic design program is called GIMP. But the most popular on the market, Adobe Photoshop, costs £17/month when paid annually.
Early versions of graphic design tools were challenging to use. Technology has advanced significantly, and today's software is user-friendly and encourages more creative expression. The best platform to choose will rely on your job and the goals you have for the program.
Businesses are constantly searching for talented graphic designers to help them grow. So, as a graphic designer, you must create a website that beautifully displays your work. Prospective employers and clients will assess your expertise through the lens of your graphic portfolio.