The level of demand and salary depends on what graphic programs a specialist has mastered for designers. Of course, this does not mean that you need to know all the tools in all areas of design, but you can’t go far with Photoshop alone.
Different tools are required to work with different types of graphics, so, willy-nilly, the designer must master different programs. In our article, we will tell you which are the most popular, give a list of free applications and give an overview of universal tools.
TOP 5 graphic programs for designers
- Adobe Photoshop
With this package, raster images are usually processed, but they can also be used to work with vector graphics if required when creating a layout for printing products or a website. Photoshop is an all-in-one graphics program for designers, and most professionals install it on their computers.
The main audience of Photoshop users is photographers and retouchers who process images and prepare materials for advertising products – banners, covers, intros for posts on social networks, etc. But in this program, you can create a lot of what else.
The functionality of Photoshop is so extensive that it makes it easy to design layouts for websites and mobile applications. If you wish, you can even design a game with it. But to master, it is not so easy, and he has always been distinguished by sluggishness. This encourages web designers to look for other software products. However, Photoshop has enough users among novice designers and large old web studios that everyone is used to working on this software.
The secret of the popularity of this graphics program for designers lies in its diverse functionality, which allows you to work with primitives, text, vector, raster, and even animate layouts. Whatever you lack in terms of features, you can make up for them with additional plugins.
- Adobe Illustrator
Illustrator was created to work specifically with vector graphics. Its arsenal is narrower than that of Photoshop. They draw illustrations and logos using Adobe Illustrator and prepare layouts for outdoor advertising and printing products. It allows you to work with typography. In principle, you can even draw a site or application layout in Illustrator. However, it is much more convenient to do this in Photoshop (and only some layouts can be created using this vector editor alone).
The main users of the program are graphic designers who create logos, as well as illustrators. The software product contains all the tools required for this. Illustrator has never had any serious competitors, and it remains very popular. There are many training videos available on the network, using which you can learn all the extensive features of this program for free.
An additional advantage of Illustrator is its integration into the Adobe product family, which opens up the possibility for the designer to work on one project with several Adobe editors at the same time:
- Do some manipulations in Photoshop.
- Add a couple of strokes in Illustrator.
- Finish everything in InDesign.
Photoshop and Illustrator are paid subscription products (you can purchase a subscription to several Adobe programs at once).
“Gimp” provides the user with many features of “Photoshop” and “Illustrator,” but at the same time, remains free. It can be used separately without resorting to other software products. GIMP is suitable for processing photos and raster images, preparing web interface layouts, and drawing vector illustrations. And if you install additional plugins, this graphics program for designers will become even more powerful.
Many designers do not use Gimp, but it is the main working tool for some. The ability to draw in GIMP is especially important for those who work under Linux operating systems, on which it is extremely difficult to install software products from Adobe.
- Corel Draw
This program for graphic designers is not as convenient and logical as Adobe products, but it has all the necessary features to work with vector images. Corel Draw also contains some tools for working with raster. Still, they use it mainly for layout printing (magazine pages, brochures, and any product with large amounts of text) and for drawing logos and illustrations.
This graphic editor is also paid, although its price is lower than that of Adobe products. The main consumers of Corel Draw are printing houses: Corel has convenient tools for quickly preparing a layout for printing.
Sketch is a fairly popular tool among graphic designers, but Mac OS owners can only use this exclusive solution. It is not possible to install it on Windows or Linux. This software is distributed on a paid basis, but there is also a trial version. This graphics program for designers is “sharpened” exclusively for working with a vector, not a raster.
The program is simple (especially for those with experience using other graphic editors). Still, before starting work, it is necessary to set up the workspace.
Online platforms for graphic designers
- Vecteezy Editor
Allows you to process vector images in a browser and does not require installation on a computer. It is easy to use – no special skills are required for this. With Vecteezy, you can design from scratch or use ready-made images. But it only supports SVG format.
Complex transitions are available in Vecteezy, hotkeys are supported, and there are many other useful options. It is not a professional tool for a designer; however, if you need to sketch or tweak something quickly, this is the best solution.
You can use the free version if you don’t need advanced features like access to vector libraries, unlimited downloads of results, and ads that don’t annoy you. But you can pay for a subscription and work more comfortably. A monthly subscription costs $14; if you pay for the whole year, it costs $9.
- Renderforest Graphic Maker
This software product, created by Renderforest, is not a desktop application but an online platform with a large set of ready-made design templates that can be embedded in a couple of clicks. With Renderforest, you can easily and without any hassle create good quality graphic materials, and you don’t even need education and design skills.
The software product has cloud storage, which gives you access to layouts from any device. There is a special application for iOS, and similar software is currently being developed for Android. On the free plan, you can export as many images as you want, but the number of layouts is limited. The subscription plans are very flexible, and anyone can choose what suits them. Paid subscription ($6.99 monthly) includes premium designs, link access, and full-color customization.
This powerful graphics program is a mobile app and online service for designers and anyone who wants to edit a picture. A desktop application is also being developed, but it will only be available to those who pay for a subscription. Pixlr has a large library of ready-made filters, effects, and overlays.
Pixlr applications exist in two versions – Pixlr X and Pixlr E. The first is intended for non-professionals and is available to any beginner. Still, to fully use the second, you need to learn how to operate with brushes, layers, and filters and be able to clone objects. However, the main tools for editing graphics are in both versions. But if you need advanced features (for example, removing the background using AI technologies), then you need to choose a subscription plan and pay for it. There are only two: $4.90 and $14.99 per month.
The secret behind the popularity of this online design platform lies in its simple drag-and-drop editor and versatile templates. Although you don’t have to use a template, you can start an empty project by creating a new canvas and styling it according to your ideas. Canva offers ready-made color palettes, icon sets, and typefaces.
In addition to the online version, there is also a Canva mobile app suitable for the average user and small businesses that need to quickly create promotional materials (for example, covers for posts on social networks).
You can use this graphics program for designers for free or subscribe (which will give you access to the cloud for storing files and an extended library of templates and videos). Subscriptions can be purchased for $12.95 per month (various plans available).
The best hybrid graphics programs for designers
Hybrid programs are those graphic programs that work with both vector and raster.
This professional raster graphics product is a great addition to AutoCAD.
RasterDesk has a basic version (RasterDesk) and a professional version (RasterDesk Pro). With the help of the basic one, you can improve the scan quality, edit the photo, and convert a raster image into a semi-automatically vector. Professional modification of the program vectorizes images completely automatically, can correct vector graphics, and recognize texts.
Inkscape is a graphic design software that can be installed on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. This open-source editor is designed to work with vector graphics and supports almost all popular formats. Its toolkit is extensive: in addition to the usual layers, filters, and brushes, there are animations and packages for optimizing images.
Another free graphic editor with an intuitive interface. The set of functions is the most basic, so it is recommended to start with this program for young graphic designers who are just trying their hand at working with vector graphics.
Edited files are saved automatically. Performance is also automatically optimized not to slow down the user’s computer.
Graphic programs for creating presentations and infographics
This graphics editor was created specifically to visualize large amounts of data in the form of infographics. It allows you to add pictures and text and edit headings. The logic of adding data could be clearer and takes time to understand. The weakest point of this graphics program for designers is the creation of diagrams exclusively through spreadsheets.
If you are looking for some simple graphic software for designers – primarily for creating presentations – then look at the Prezi online editor. You need to select the desired template, customize it to your needs and fill it with content – change texts, pictures, and headings.
Creately makes it easy to draw flowcharts and organizational tables. You can choose the fill and shape of the shapes.
Like other charting software, Truii generates an image based on table data. Filling in such a table with information becomes a long, detailed process requiring care and accuracy.
This graphics program is useful for those who often draw mind maps (intelligence maps). For example, students. The interface of this editor is simple and allows you to create very large mind maps. It is great for collaboration: notifications are sent to the mail of all participants, and everyone can leave comments on the mind map.
- Mind the Graph
This product differs in advanced functionality from the graphics programs for drawing infographics. There is a library of ready-made pictures, edited and changed at the user’s request.
The best free graphics software for designers
- Gravit Designer
Works on OS: Linux, Windows, Mac OS, and on the web.
Previously, Gravit Designer was called Gravit. This graphics editor is designed for full-fledged work with vector images. With it, you can perform any task: drawing icons and illustrations, interface design, preparing presentations, and animation.
The interface of this program for graphic designers is intuitive and easily customizable. Gravit Designer offers a variety of tools to create stunning and detailed vector art. For example, these are boolean operations that can be canceled and do not destroy the source code, “Path Graph” and “Knife,” an advanced text engine, and various color blending and filling modes.
- Photo Pos Pro
Works on OS: Windows.
For those who use Windows exclusively and are looking for a simple, user-friendly graphics program for designers (with fewer features than GIMP), the Photo Pos Pro editor will be useful. It was developed specifically for photo retouching and perfectly adjusted contrast, saturation, and illumination. However, with the help of Photo Pos Pro, you can perform more complex manipulations.
The interface of the program is very user-friendly. There is detailed help that will help the beginner get comfortable. Many plugins have been created for Photo Pos Pro that expands the program’s functionality.
- Raw Therapee
Works on OS: Linux, Windows, Mac OS.
This powerful software product is designed to process RAW files. Its functionality is very wide, and there are so many settings that it will take a lot of work to learn the program from scratch. But for advanced users, this program for graphic designers will greatly please with its capabilities.
With RawTherapee, you can edit photos in the smallest details and nuances:
- Change color reproduction and sharpness.
- Remove noise.
- Adjust white balance, exposure, and other parameters as you need, as well as manage curves.
These tools destroy the source once the image is ready, so you don’t have to worry about the original.
- Daz Studio
Works on: Windows, Mac OS.
This graphics program for designers is designed to move in space, customize various three-dimensional shapes (animals, things, people), and add animation effects.
It opens up possibilities for creating entire 3D worlds with unique characters, drawing certain design elements, etc. However, unlike its paid counterparts, this software product does not allow modeling and texturing objects. The Daz Studio website contains a table with a detailed comparison of this program and alternative graphic editors.
The more advanced tools a designer uses, the faster and better he can implement his ideas and create real digital masterpieces. Therefore, the choice of professional software should be taken seriously.