5 Best Graphic Design Software of 2021 (Both Free and Paid)

There is a saying that an expert is just as good as its tools and his knowledge.

And that’s true, if you want to be stellar at graphic design, you need a lot of experience and the software to help you achieve those goals.

Which does bring the question, what tools should you use if you want to be the best at graphic design.

There are many good graphic design software available in the market. In this article, we're going to highlight some of the best graphic software, both free and paid.

Let's get started.

Best Graphic Design Software

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How To Choose The Best Graphic Design Software?

Once you identify the need for a good graphics design software, you have to figure out how to pick the right option to focus on. Every task might have a specific tool where you can do it better.

Here you have a list of things that you should consider when you want to choose the right graphics design software!

1

Think about your task and the type of work you need to do. Some projects will require a lot of vectorization, others will focus more on logo design, retouching photos and so on.

2

Can you expand it with add-ons or plugins? Ideally, the best graphics design software should have some ways to expand it in order to fulfill any specific requirements.

3

Is the interface easy to work with? Many graphics design tools can be very complex, and it can take some time to learn their interface. While some are super easy to use.

4

Can you export to multiple formats? This is important, especially if you have clients with different operating systems or preferred design programs.

5

Pricing is just as important. Some graphics design software comes with a subscription, others are a one-time-payment, and costs are usually all over the place. Find something that suit your budget.

6

Are there regular updates? The top tier graphics design software tends to have frequent updates, and they do listen to client feedback too. That alone makes it well worth your money.

5 Best Graphic Design Software of 2021

1. Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop Graphic Designer Software

overview

Adobe Photoshop is the premier photo editing and graphics design tool out there.

It’s the go-to design program for a lot of people because it can be used for raster-based images, be it for creating, editing or retouching this type of images.

You can change the size of an image without a problem, and the app itself has all kinds of plugins and tools to make it versatile and easy to adapt to your needs.

Photoshop is great for things like posters, web files, video and animation, app mock-ups or websites, creating digital images or retouching photos.

It’s one of the top tools for digital work, although it’s not for layout text or creating graphics.

key features

You can remove items from images, something that helps you customize images the way you want and without any restrictions. 

It makes the process simpler and a lot more convenient, while making sure that you have access to all the solutions you need.

Drawing images with a pen or pencil is a lot easier and more convenient than ever before.

You are in complete control, and you can adapt and implement the features you want in a cool and creative way as you see fit.

Crop and customize images the way you want, without having to use any external tools. 

You can be as creative as you want and fully improve the experience without any worries.

Creative Cloud access is great because you get to access content and files created with other Adobe apps. 

You also have synced libraries, touch and stylus input support and many others.

You can manipulate the image colors and implement the colors you want, while removing anything you want without any restrictions.

pros and cons

Pros

  • It has a lot of cutting edge tools
  • Graphics can be customized for any purpose you want
  • Supports digital painting, animation and graphic design
  • They have a dedicated stock library
  • Resizing and cropping is very simple
  • You can use it for high end graphic creation
  • It’s possible to edit the video layers and animation

Cons

  • The interface can be difficult to use for beginners
  • Its price is quite high
  • It requires a lot of computer resources
  • Not a lot of support for vector graphics

PRICING & PLANS

Adobe Photoshop offers three payment plans:

  • Annual Plan (paid monthly) - $20.99 per month
  • Annual Plan (prepaid) - $239.88 per month
  • Monthly Plan - $31.49 per month

FREE TRIALS

Adobe offers 7-days free trial of Photoshop.

Get started with Adobe Photoshop today. The link is given below.

2. Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator Graphic Design Software

overview

Adobe Illustrator is designed as the ultimate tool for vector graphics.

You can use it to create mobile graphics, web graphics, product packaging, billboards, illustrations, icons, logos and so on. 

It also has a mobile version for iPad, if you want to harness your productivity on the go.

It also has great features like repeating patterns and images, collaborating with others is a lot easier, and you even have enhanced glyph snapping. 

To make things even better, you can save multiple versions in the cloud and revert to the one you want.

key features

Cloud libraries are very useful because you can access files from other Adobe tools. It’s more convenient and it makes the process very comprehensive.

Color syncing is needed in many cases, and it helps add a lot more value and visual appeal to your work.

CSS extraction is needed in order for you to grab and use the code without writing it again. It helps save a lot of time and money.

Font search can be great if you want to find a certain font and use it as quickly as possible. It just makes the experience a whole lot more comprehensive.

Touch type tools are indeed needed in case you want to illustrate on the go. It helps quite a bit, especially if you use a device that has a touchscreen.

pros and cons

Pros

  • Adobe Illustrator is extremely versatile and it has a variety of options
  • It comes with Creative Cloud library tools
  • You can work with vector graphics
  • Image tracing tools
  • Great file recovery
  • Stellar support and assistance

Cons

  • It requires a lot of storage space and resources
  • You need to undergo proper training and tutorials before using it
  • There are no universal shortcuts and hotkeys
  • There are no advanced graphic design tutorials

PRICING & PLANS

Adobe offers Illustrator at the same price as Photoshop:

  • Annual Plan (paid monthly) - $20.99 per month
  • Annual Plan (prepaid) - $239.88 per month
  • Monthly Plan - $31.49 per month

FREE TRIAL

Similar to Photoshop, one can get a 7-day free trial on Illustrator .

Get started with Adobe Illustrator today. The link is given below.

3. CorelDRAW Graphics Suite

CorelDRAW Graphic Design Tool

overview

CorelDRAW is a vector graphics editing tool. It was created by Corel and it’s very useful for graphics design, as well as collaboration, typography, photo editing, layout and many others.

This is a graphics suite that receives frequent updates and it can be used by graphics professionals of all skill levels.

It has essential vector illustration software, graphics tools for small businesses, and also design galleries and a variety of extra tools.

key features

LiveSketch tool makes it easy to create sketches on the fly and customize them the way you want.

Font search and filtering is crucial for those of us that have a massive font library and want to check as well as preview a font before using it.

Importing legacy workspace is a great idea, especially if you have an older version of the app, you can use the older workspace

Enhanced vector nodes, handles and previews can help you improve your work and customize everything according to your experience and the knowledge you have.

Great interface designed to make it easy for you to access all the features you want quickly and with a very good set of results.

Stylus enhancements are very useful if you use a touch display, since it can improve the way you design on the go or on specialized touch devices.

PROS AND CONS

Pros

  • It has a very good interface and stellar design
  • Easily create signage, logos, vehicle wraps, textiles, illustrations & more
  • The shaping docker gives stellar usage
  • Right clicking offers amazing vectorization
  • It has a lot of training videos
  • 48+ file types are supported
  • supports EPS and third party PDF capabilities

Cons

  • It requires a lot of storage space and resources
  • Navigating takes a bit of getting used to
  • You need to undergo proper training and tutorials before using it
  • There are no universal shortcuts and hotkeys
  • There are no advanced graphic design tutorials

PRICING &PLANS

CorelDRAW premium version is available for $474. Annual subscription will cost $198. Users who prefer to pay on monthly-basis can buy it at $16.50 per month.

FREE TRIAL

You can try CorelDRAW for free during its 15-day trial plan. Signing up for the free trial doesn't require a credit card.

money-back guarantee

CorelDRAW Graphic Suite purchased directly from Corel qualify for the 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee. If you're not satisfied with the product, you can claim full refund within the 30-day period.

Get started with CorelDRAW today. The link is given below.

4. Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign Graphic Design Tool

overview

Adobe InDesign is a graphic design tool specialized on things like page design and layout design for digital media and print. 

It also comes with access to Adobe Stock imagery. In addition, you can share your feedback and content in PDF, manage your production and so on.

You can use Adobe Indesign for interactive PDFs, posters, ebooks, digital magazines, publishing books and many others.

key features

PDF accessibility tools are important especially for a tool that’s specialized on working with PDF content.

HTML export is extremely important when you work with web pages or when you want approval for a certain web page option.

Tag page items and text management: this is one of those tools that make it easy to find items and text on a page. You just tag it and search for a tag.

Font search and filters are always important, since you might have dozens or hundreds of fonts in your library. You just want one that really suits your needs and requirements.

Creative Cloud library is a great tool for all of us that want to share files between Adobe apps. This is done seamlessly and without a problem.

Adjusting layout is possible, and you can change the template text, with the text being adjusted automatically for you.  

pros and cons

Pros

  • It’s a versatile, very easy to use tool
  • You can set up sections, chapters and page numbers automatically
  • Working with images is a delight
  • Cover design and editing

Cons

  • Resource hog
  • Library items can take a while to update
  • The design can be improved
  • Overwhelming for new users

PRICING & PLANS

Adobe offers InDesign at a monthly subscription of $20.99.

FREE TRIAL

It offers a 7-day free trial during which one can test all the premium features of Adobe InDesign.

Get started with Adobe InDesign today. The link is given below.

5. Inkscape

Inkscape Graphic Design Software

overview

In case you want a simple, free and convenient graphics tool, you can go with Inkscape.

It's an open source vector graphics editor for GNU/Linux, Windows and MacOS.

The thing that makes this tool stand out is that you don’t have to pay anything for it, and it still can be used for web design, illustration, vector imagery and everything in between.

It’s extremely convenient and reliable, and it does a very good job at helping you bring your digital creations to life in an exciting and unique manner.

key features

Very good text tool that helps you implement texts into your work quickly and without any worries

Spiro and Bezier curves are needed in many digital art creations, this can help you bring things to live in a quick manner

Very flexible drawing tools are a godsend, since you can easily adjust them to your own needs. Everything is created with ease of use and flexibility in mind.

It has a broad file format compatibility, which is always great since you can work on any features you want.

pros and cons

Pros

  • It’s free and easy to use
  • Cross-platform compatibility
  • Wonderful path and placement tools
  • Great extension ecosystem and community
  • You can download plugins or create your own
  • Comes with support for multiple gradients

Cons

  • It has poor interoperability with other tools
  • Text formatting can be better
  • It can have a steep learning curve

PRICING & PLANS

As already stated above, Inkscape is totally free to use.

Get started with InkScape today. The link is given below.

Should You Pay for Graphics Design Software?

As you can see, there are free and paid graphics design solutions, so you have to figure out what option suits your needs the most.

The truth is that it all comes down to what you need. For simple tasks, tools like Inkscape, GIMP and many others can be more than ok.

However, if you are working on complex projects and you need a variety of features, tools like Illustrator, Photoshop, Corel Draw and many others can make a difference.

Wrapping Up

It’s extraordinary to see just how much graphics design software has evolved over the years.

Nowadays, there are a plethora of graphics software solutions on the market, so it all comes down to assessing your needs and figuring out what works for you.

Pricing is very important too, since some of these tools can be very expensive. In the end, you have to assess your workflow and needs, and then stick to the app that suits your requirements.

Since many paid tools have a trial or a monthly payment system, you can easily try them before you commit for the long term!

Best Graphic Design Software

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