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Any professional graphic designer or anyone else wanting to create quality design pieces using current technology needs the best graphic design app available. This apps provides access to a range of creative options for design projects of any kind.
There are many software programs available for creating print and digital designs. These range from versatile multi-purpose software packages to specialist tools aimed at more specific types of design.
Most of the best graphic design app has a cost, which is unsurprising given the amount of work that goes into developing, maintaining and updating such powerful tools. While the best free graphic design app has come a long way, it still can’t compete with the breadth of tools offered by professional packages.
Free graphic design app can be a good introduction for those looking to experiment without the learning curve involved with more complex tools. We’ve picked out the best graphic design app overall and the best free graphic design app based on our reviewers’ experiences with each program.
After spending time exploring and testing each program’s features, our reviewers have come to a verdict on how they measure up in terms of usability, power and features, compatibility and use of resources, and value for money.
Looking for tips on choosing the best graphic design app for you? Check out the questions section at the bottom of this article. Meanwhile, if you’re in need of some design inspiration.
For more software options for other purposes, see our guides to the best digital art software and the best video editing apps.
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The best graphic design app available today
1. Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Illustrator is the best graphic design app for vector drawing and editing. It is the industry-standard software for a reason and still offers the most powerful range of tools and features for vector editing. Illustrator is a versatile program that can be used on PCs, Macs, and even iPads. With its wide range of features and shortcuts, it is perfect for creating anything from illustrations to logos.
You need to subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud to use Illustrator, either on its own or as part of a suite of apps that also includes Photoshop and InDesign.
The subscription model for Adobe Illustrator is advantageous because you always have access to the latest software updates. However, the cost can be prohibitive, although Adobe typically runs promotional deals and offers discounts for students. For more information on how to download Adobe Illustrator, see our guide (opens in a new tab).
If you need top-notch graphic design app for UI design, prototyping, and/or icon creation. The sketch is definitely worth considering – especially if you use a Mac. Although it doesn’t offer the same range of features as software like Adobe Illustrator or Affinity Designer. The sketch is still a great option for UI design and is easier to use if you only need it for that one specific purpose. This program is very easy to use because it has a minimal interface. However, if you need more features, there is a wide range of plugins available to you.
The software was due for a revamp in 2021 and it got one, with the addition of new features focusing on better collaboration. For example, developers can now view, inspect, and measure your Sketch designs in any browser. On any operating system, all without having to pay a single cent.
3. Affinity Designer
If you’re not a fan of Adobe’s subscription model, then Affinity Designer by Serif is a great alternative. Affinity Designer is one of the most popular graphic design app programs available. It is a one-time payment software program that has become increasingly popular due to its added features, many of which rival those found in Illustrator.
If you’re worried about compatibility with Adobe software, don’t be. Affinity Designer works with both Illustrator AI and Photoshop PSD files. And you’ll probably find that Affinity Designer runs faster than Adobe Illustrator, too.
The best part about it is that you only have to make a one-time payment, and it’s very reasonable. There are no subscription fees, but you still get software updates.
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4. Creative Cloud Express
Adobe Creative Cloud Express, formerly Adobe Spark, is the newest addition to the Adobe family. With affordable entry-level graphic design app like Canva and Picsart, Adobe Creative Cloud Express offers users the ability to create professional designs with ease.
Available online and as a mobile app for both iOS and Android, Adobe’s suite of apps delivers the basic photo/video editing tools. The Asset Library is an accessible one-stop package.
The app is free to download and free to use for a limited number of basic tools. If you sign up for a premium CC express account, you can unlock more features for $9.99 / £10.10 a month or $99.99 / £101.15 per year.
You can try out the premium version for free for 30 days before you decide whether to commit.
Although it was first launched in 1989, CorelDraw has lost some of its popularity to Adobe Illustrator. However, it still has legions of fans, and the 2021 version of the software introduced some major updates.
Although it has been available for Windows only, a Mac version has been available since 2019, expanding the potential audience for the software. With features that rival those of Illustrator, this package comes at a more affordable price.
Paying is more flexible too since you can choose between one-time payment or a subscription.
What makes CorelDraw lower on our list of the best graphic design app? It’s tough to compare CorelDraw and Illustrator side-by-side and determine which is the ‘better’ tool. They both have plenty of features, but their interfaces are noticeably different.
Although some CorelDraw fans argue that it is simpler to use than Illustrator, the latter remains the industry-standard tool. In many occupations, you will be required to use Illustrator. When it comes to importing and exporting AI and PDF files to CorelDraw, there is no issue. The main reason to choose one format over the other is simply due to personal preference in terms of interface and workflow.
If you have the time, we suggest signing up for the free trial of both so you can compare them for yourself.
6. Gravit Designer
Gravit Designer is a powerful free graphic design app created by the same team behind Corel Draw. With its clean and intuitive interface, it is perfect for a wide range of design jobs. From icon design and prototyping to vector illustration and animation.
Gravit Designer is available both online and as a downloadable app. When you sign up, you’ll automatically get a free trial of Gravit Designer Pro. After the trial period is over, you’ll be transitioned to the free version. If you want to keep the Pro features, you’ll need to pay for a subscription. Check out the full comparison of the Pro and free versions here.
Vecteezy is a powerful, in-browser vector editor that lets you work with ready-made vectors or create your own designs from scratch. With Vecteezy, you can easily customize vectors to suit your needs or create completely new designs.
No matter which way you go about it, Vecteezy is easy to use and comes with some great features like advanced transformations and keyboard shortcuts. A-Pro version subscription gets you access to even more tools and resources. To learn more about how it works, check out our guide to using Vecteezy.
Vectr is the most ideal free graphic design app for working collaboratively. It not only has vector tools, filters, shadows, and fonts but also includes excellent live collaboration and synchronization options.
These enable you to easily collaborate with colleagues or clients, so they can see your progress and provide feedback on your work.
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SVG-Edit is a great way to edit and create SVG files using a standard vector toolset, and there’s no need to download anything since it works right in your web browser.
It’s not the most comprehensive vector app out there, but it doesn’t really need to be. For simple vectors or even slightly more detailed ones, it’ll do the job just fine.
Although VectorStyler is not as well-known as some of the other vector software programs. It is quickly gaining popularity, especially since it is now available for both Mac and Windows users. Its most popular feature is the wide range of scalable vector brushes, as well as the inclusion of some tools that are not available in other Adobe Illustrator alternatives, such as the shape builder, blend tool, and pattern tool.
The software can open and import Illustrator files, as well as import AI brush collections. You can also create vector brushes from artwork and dynamically link brush content to editable artwork.
The user interface is very easy to understand, and the warp options are very intuitive. Although we found some of the unique filters and tools interesting, VectorStyler is twice the price of Affinity Designer, our top pick for the best non-subscription vector software.
Although it lacks some of the tools that Affinity Designer offers, it may be worth considering if you need them. However, we find that it’s usually possible to find a workaround. While it may be easy to use different apps with Adobe Illustrator and Affinity Designer, another downside is the lack of a wider ecosystem.
Although VectorStyle has many capabilities, it does not have the pixel tools that are available with Affinity and Photoshop. Additionally, there is no iPad app, which is a big advantage of Illustrator and Affinity Designer for graphic designers who work on the go or with a stylus.
To conclude, I’ll suggest that users select their design app based on the features they offer, as designing a logo or website isn’t just about picking from a list.