Visual communication has gained importance in how we talk at a personal level and transmit information at a business level. So, it’s not surprising that graphic designers have been mainly growing in numbers, with a significant portion of them even working as freelancers.
Be it for the small village Caffe that needs a poster for a party it’s having or a big corporation that needs a remodeling of their logo, graphic design can only be achieved with the help of three essential tools: Creativity, Skills and Software. Now, the first two come from you, with practice and effort, but the last one is different.
There’s a large variety of graphic design software, with different areas where they excel. From raster and vector image editing to page layout to typography, among others, the first thing you need to understand is what kind of project you will be working on, even though nowadays most software is considered a jack-of-all-trades.
Despite that, if your work makes you travel through the various design areas, like logos or posters, we recommend using a combination of one or two. But how should you choose them? That’s what we’re here for! Let’s start with the three musketeers of Adobe: Photoshop, Illustrator, and Indesign.
Best Graphic Design Software
Whether you are a beginner in graphic designing or an experienced digital artist, employing the right tools can magnify your talent dramatically. A decent graphic design software provides intuitive controls and flexibility that a beginner can effortlessly understand and has considerably exceptional tools for an experienced user.
An ideal way to know which graphic design software would suit you best is to get hands-on with the software and experiment with them. Every graphic design software is characterized by its features, usability, performance, cost, and accessibility. Most paid graphic design software provide a free trial for users to understand the product better.
We have explored and put together a list of the four best graphic design software in the field today. These graphic design software are tried and tested and can help you create stunning custom designs that will leave your clients spellbound.
So, let's get started!
Probably the oldest graphic design software of all. Photoshop has evolved dramatically and has put a mark on other editing skills too.
Things like image editing, typography, 3D modeling, and drawing are its specialties, making it one of the most popular tools among designers and photographers all around the world - from up and coming studios from Portugal like Cartazes all the way up to age-old design agencies like Studio Center.
- Customizable Interface (workspace layouts that include 3D, Graphic and Web, Motion, Painting, and Photography).
- Plenty of educational material.
- Large offer of photo manipulation and correction tools, as well as typography and drawing ones.
- An interesting concern with mobile and web design.
- 3D Design capability.
- A data cloud where you can have all your documents synced.
- Efficient touch input (works with Microsoft Surface Pro and Apple Ipad).
- It brings a complimentary mobile app.
- It offers an easy and efficient file transfer system between different Adobe programs.
- Can edit video and animation (even though there are tools much better for that kind of project).
- No way of owning it “forever”, meaning every month/semester/year you need to open your wallet.
- Its premium tools are still a bit far from the everyday designer’s budget.
- It doesn’t work that well with vectors and SVG images.
- Too many tools and a complex interface can become overwhelming to new users.
In order to buy it, you’ll need a Creative Cloud subscription. For $9.99 per month, you can get the photography plan, which also includes Photoshop Lightroom. For all those that are still on an ancient licensed version and don’t use Creative Cloud, we recommend updating it - there are a lot of great features waiting for you!
What Photoshop can do with photos, Illustrator can do with artwork, page layouts, website mock-ups, corporate logos, and others? Even though, like the latter, it has increased its versatility of tools, the aspect where it really excels is vector creation and editing.
- Customizable interface (you can even drag and drop panels wherever you want them)
- A large variety of different tools for diverse design projects.
- It has In-Panel editing, meaning you can work on different artboards effortlessly.
- It’s the holy grail of vectors - instead of pixels, it uses mathematical equations and directions so you can print your pics in whichever size you want without worrying about pixelization.
- Offers small-sized files.
- It allows you to grab over 90 million images from Adobe Stock and work with them, as well as an amazingly extensive typography library.
- It offers an easy and efficient file transfer system between different Adobe programs.
- Costlier than most vector-based tools and works with the same subscription-based system as Photoshop.
- It has a steep learning curve, mainly due to the fact that it offers too many tools and options.
- Known for using a lot of CPU memory.
- Same as Photoshop, Illustrator works with a subscription, with the difference between personal use ($9.99) and enterprise use ($39.99).
We’ve talked about Adobe’s solution for photos and vectors, but what about publishing art? Indesign is your answer. Be it designing beautiful magazines, info sheets, brochures, and posters; this tool is what you need, exporting your projects in PDF or HTML.
- Unlike the latter two, this one is pretty easy to use and very intuitive.
- Adjust Layout. These two words are amazing, as it allows you to work with templates and, with a single process, only change the text, automatically adjusting the design.
- We all know how annoying it is to resize images on Word. The “Sensei Technology” on Indesign offers you automatic resizing and arrangement!
- You can grab images from other Adobe products and combine them with text for easier optimization of files. It also brings an enormous font library.
- It provides you the opportunity to add tags to indexes, anchor text frames, keywords, table of contents, footnotes, and captions with hyperlinks.
- Perfect for web design, you can export HTML (works really well with WordPress sites).
- Known as the industry standard for desktop publishing. Moreover, to make appealing desktop, you can use best desktop app to access millions of icons, graphics and illustrations.
- Even though it’s easier to use than Photoshop and Illustrator, like most Adobe programs, it can be a bit overwhelming at the start.
- Again, like most Adobe software, it’s a bit expensive, more than the rest of its competitors.
- The comment integration on PDF’s and the overall formatting definitely needs some improvement.
CorelDraw Graphics Suite
If the previous 3 were the three musketeers, the CorelDraw Graphics Suite is the D’Artagnan of the group. Similar in offers, but from a different brand, Corel has made front to the adobe software for the last couple of years, being its most ferocious competitor at the moment. Be photography, design, and others, its versatility is a crucial aspect and probably its best selling point.
- Amazingly extensive resource library. From photographs to fonts, templates, gradients, vectors, and more, its content exchange feature allows you to get access from all that.
- Different from Adobe, here you can get 3 different payment programs.
- Customizable Interface. No graphic design software can really survive without this option.
- To boost productivity, you’ll find some under-the-hood innovations and amazing performance enhancements.
- Got a Surface Pen you want to use? No lag at all!
- While working with sophisticated vector graphics, you have the choice to go for the GPU acceleration option instead of the regular CPU.
- It can export in 48 different types of files.
- Unlike Adobe, you only have this one, meaning all tools are crammed into a single software. Not only are you not able to dive deep into some techniques, but for beginners, that can turn chaotic really fast.
- Too many payment options might confuse the user.
- You can get its free trial for 15 days, but its full version costs $474, even though you can use its 30-days money-back guarantee. An annual subscription costs $198, and its monthly is $16.50.
Prefer reading- Fundamentals to create the best Motion Graphics Templates.
Adobe and Corel are the two main fighters in this ring. We recommend starting with Adobe, as it usually offers a more intuitive and industry-standard experience. However, if you don’t feel comfortable with it, or your pc doesn’t work that well with it (Adobe is made primarily for Mac users, even though it works for PC as well), you can try out the Corel tools.
Hope you can finally get hands-on practice on these graphic design software best in business. You can also start with some free graphic design software and work your way up, but in this specific case, “paying” also means “quality,” meaning you won’t get the amazing tools you get on these in the free software.