Best Graphic Design Software of 2022: Free and Paid, for Windows, Mac, Linux and Online

The best graphic design software makes it simple and easy to set up designs ready to print and distribute.

Creating artwork and other designs for print is a unique activity – and so you’ll need specific software to match. Namely, a dedicated vector graphics design program.

While there are some great drawing and painting software out there, as well as photo editing software, it’s all about having the right tool for the job.

Ideally, you’ll want a tool that caters specifically to designing vector graphics, which also has color editing options that will work in CMYK and HSL in addition to the more common RGB.

This is of particular concern for the graphic design industry, where the images and designs used may need to be recreated in very large formats that require professional printing services.

It is therefore essential that the graphic design software packages used can cope with the distinctions and clear requirements inherent in all levels of the printing and publishing processes.

Desktop publishing software can often cover the same basics, but is geared more towards general publishing than designing images. Additionally, while there are dedicated logo designers, a design team will often need to be able to do more than that.

So here is the best software platform dedicated to graphic design.

Additionally, you might be interested in the best laptops for graphic designers.

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(Image credit: affinity)

1. Affinity Designer

Designed to create professional artwork for screen or print

Reasons to buy
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Cheap

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Collaboration as standard

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Windows PCs and Macs

As a replacement for DrawPlus X8, Affinity Designer is not a rehash and was built from the ground up over a five-year development project by Serif.

Specifically aimed at professional designers and how they work, this software can handle a very wide range of design tasks, including web, branding, concept art, typography, and even repeating patterns, as you might need it on ceramics, wallpaper or upholstery.

The inherent cloud functionality also makes it a good option for teams of designers working towards a common goal. And all these features can be yours for a very low price on Windows PC or Apple Mac.

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(Image credit: Adobe)

2.Adobe Illustrator CC

Now on the 22nd version since 1985

Reasons to buy
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Very powerful

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User interface consistent with Photoshop

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Windows and Mac

Adobe Illustrator is essentially the vector-based version of Photoshop, and the two share many common tools and functions to help designers who use both.

However, if you want to design graphics that can be scaled from a postage stamp to a giant billboard, Illustrator is definitely the tool of choice.

There was a time when you could buy Adobe Illustrator directly, but now Adobe only offers this product on the Creative Cloud (CC) suite, and it’s not cheap.

It may have a powerful feature set, regular updates, and be available for Apple Mac and Windows PC, but the cost is prohibitive for casual users.

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(Image credit: Corel)

3.CorelDRAW

The daddy of vector design apps

Reasons to buy
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Easy to learn and use

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Massively Featured

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite is actually a bundle of software rather than a single application.

The package includes Photo-Paint for photo manipulation, AfterShot for managing RAW files, PowerTRACE for converting bitmaps to vectors, and FontManager for organizing the text styles you actually use.

The main star, of course, is CorelDRAW itself, which is not just a vector drawing package, but also includes desktop publishing functionality, so you can design projects with a multi-page layout. .

The latest version includes a number of improvements, such as the handling of web graphics, editing of vector effects, and the templates menu has been simplified. In addition to that, it is possible to easily search your images as thumbnails.

Another plus is that after a break it came back to Mac with a fully functional version.

Overall, the CorelDRAW graphics suite offers a range of veteran software that remains very up-to-date, and expanding its use to Apple users as well as Windows can only be a plus.

If you want to learn more, read our full CorelDRAW review.

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(Image credit: Corel)

4. Gravity Designer

A free cross-platform vector editor

Reasons to buy
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Free

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Cross-platform and online

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Easy to learn

Reasons to avoid

Complex designs make it slow

Due to the complexity of vector artwork, most software to create it is installed locally, but Gravit Designer also offers online options.

The cloud-based version that runs from any browser and can automatically save to online storage or locally.

Alternatively, on Windows PC, Apple Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS (which you’ll find on a Chromebook), there are installable versions that can make better use of computer hardware.

Our experience is that the online version can be slow with complex designs, but locally installed versions fare much better. However, with a free version that is limited to use, there’s no excuse not to give it a try. There are many awesome examples that designers have created using Gravit Designer that prove that it can be very effective for certain jobs.

Gravit Designer PRO allows unlimited online storage, increases resolution up to 300 dpi, increases printing options in CMYK and HSB in addition to RGB, as well as the ability to work offline, advanced export options and version history, all available for a reasonable annual subscription.

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(Image credit: Inkscape)

5. Ink Landscape

A free tool with many useful features

Reasons to buy
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Free

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On Windows, Linux and Mac

Most business people shy away from freeware for often valid reasons, but Inkscape is definitely worth looking into before committing to CorelDRAW or an Adobe CC subscription.

It is a vector design tool that offers wide file support, extensive text manipulation, and Bezier and Spiro curve types. It also has an extension model that makes it easy to install new features, and there are some amazing ones.

The only caveats we have are that even on a powerful PC it can sometimes be slow when a complicated process involves rendering.

As a GPL-licensed application, with Windows, Linux, and Apple Mac versions, you can also download the source code and compile it for the version of Linux you’re using.

For more, read our full Inkscape review.

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(Image credit: sketch)

6. Sketch

A vector editor designed only for Mac

Reasons to buy
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Easy to learn

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Regular updates

Rather than the scattershot approach of other apps, the creators of Sketch built a tool to meet a relatively narrow requirement.

Sketch focuses on screen design, specifically creating the icons and interface elements for websites and apps. And, since the software is exclusively available for Apple Mac, most designers working on iPhone, iPad, and macOS apps will find it useful.

That said, it can be used more generally, but its strength lies in creating smooth user interfaces.

Sketch is available for a single user license. However, licenses for multiple devices are available.

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(Image credit: Xara)

7. Xara Designer Pro X

A unique document creation solution

Reasons to buy
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Affordable

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Extended models

The company behind Xara started on Atari ST and Acorn Archimedes computers in the 1980s, before focusing its efforts on the PC when Windows arrived.

Its latest version, Xara Designer Pro X, is a comprehensive design tool that can work with bitmaps and vectors with equal aplomb. This means that it can handle DTP (desktop publishing), graphic design, illustration, and photo manipulation tasks in one tool.

For those who want to fake something fast, a license gives you access to over a million stock photos and illustrations to embed, as well as hundreds of template layouts and thousands of templates. design elements.

The price sees frequent discounts on offer. Additionally, a scaled down version called Xara Photo & Graphic Designer is available and is again frequently discounted. Pro X can also be found even cheaper on Steam.

We’ve also highlighted the best laptops for video montage and music production.

What is a vector illustration?

We posed the question to Klaus Vossen, Senior Product Manager for CorelDraw (CorelDRAW review here). So what is a vector and vector illustration and how does it differ from a bitmap.

Let’s start with Vector vs Bitmap. Bitmaps, also called raster images, are created using pixels, which are small dots of color. Think photographs! And while bitmaps are essential to any design workflow, it’s important to know that they can vary widely in size and image quality – unfortunately, they can become blurry when enlarged.

On the other hand, vector images are made up of points, lines, and shapes that can be precisely edited, and because they’re based on mathematical equations, they can be scaled indefinitely to any size. what size. Extremely versatile, a single vector image, say a logo, can be printed anywhere from the corner of an envelope to a roadside billboard, all using the same original file.

So now that we know what a vector file is, it’s easy to see why they’re so important to a graphics workflow. And while there are plenty of apps that offer vector illustration tools, if you want professional results with high-quality output, you need professional software.