10 Free Graphic Design Software Everyone Should Know

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10 Free Graphic Design Software

Web design
November 3, 2022
9 minutes

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Graphic design is one of the most important aspects in building any kind of business. But what tools can you use to create stunning graphics for your business? Let’s discover some awesome free graphic design software!

Whether you’re a newbie designer, a well-versed professional, or simply a non-designer looking to create some simple graphics, you’ll need reliable graphic design software.

Although professional design programs can cost a pretty penny, there are numerous free graphic design software out there, which can be a great asset, regardless of your experience level.

So, what are the best free graphic design software and what can you use them for? Let’s find out!

What is graphic design?

Graphic design is a broad term, which encompasses many different aspects of commercial enterprise. It is what brings the idea behind a brand and its identity to the real world.

Packaging, merchandise, information, entertainment, they all use graphic design in some way. Of course, some brands bank on bare-bones, virtually nonexistent design, but no brand can exist entirely without it. As with any craft, perfection in graphic design needs the proper tools. With the development of technology, the possibilities are virtually endless, but that also means that certain projects will require different features from their design software.

When thinking about what are the best free graphic design software, you need to consider what you need from the program. You need to think about what kind of projects you want to create.

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Here are some of our favorite free software for graphic design!

What are the best free graphic design software?

I know; you’re here because you want to know which graphic design software is free. Well, while there aren’t many completely free options, the few that exist have some awesome features.

Canva

Although most famous, Canva is a bit of a controversial choice. Many designers argue that it’s too template-oriented and simplistic, as you have a wide range gallery of premade objects. However, it’s considered to be one of the most popular and best free design programs out there.

This has given rise to the belief that it’s not a real graphic design tool. But, no one likes gatekeeping. Canva can be a lifesaver, especially if you’re not a designer yourself. It’s the best choice for simple projects that need to be done quickly.

It has a variety of great free templates for many types of graphic design projects. Whether it’s social media posts, business cards, invitations, logos, or posters.

One drawback is that it can be slow and laggy, and it requires a constant internet connection. This can be doubly frustrating when you’re on a tight schedule.

Also, while there are many gorgeous templates available, some of the features do require a pro version, which comes at $119.99 per year for one person or $149.90 per year for a team of 5 people.

unnamed.jpg Canva dashboard

Krita

This is one of the rare free graphic design software that’s completely free, i.e. doesn’t have a paid plan option. As such, it’s maintained through donations from the community.

Krita originally started as a photo-editing program, but since 2009 its main use is for illustration and digital painting.

This makes it an amazing tool if you want to hone your craft and build a beautiful portfolio. It has many different and incredibly useful sets of tools for all kinds of digital drawing.

The con is that, while it’s free, it does take up a lot of memory, so it can be a bulky investment in that sense.

Gimp

Gimp is one of the most popular free software for graphic design, and rightly so. This photo-editing program works on any OS, making it incredibly versatile.

In contrast, its main paid competitor Photoshop is only available for Windows and Mac OS. Gimp has a similar interface to Photoshop, which makes it easy to use, especially if you’ve used Photoshop before.

However, there are a couple of negatives.

  • It can look different on different OS. Some of its features are best represented on Linux, which isn’t as common as Windows or Mac OS.

unnamed.png Gimp on Linux OS

unnamed (1).jpg Gimp on Windows OS

  • It isn’t compatible with Photoshop plugins. This can make alternating from Photoshop to Gimp a bit difficult to navigate.
  • Lack of customer support. This means if you have issues with the program, you’ll have to do a bit of digging on the internet to solve it. But, almost all solutions can be found online.

Synfig Studio

Animation is all the rage in web design right now. Synfig Studio is a 2D animation tool. It’s open source and you can download it for free.

It’s a wonderful tool for creating professional quality 2D animation. It’s vector based, so scaling the images is easy.

It has great plugin capabilities, among them, automatic lip-sync animation, which is a godsend in saving time. Overall it’s a great tool for creating all sorts of 2D animation.

The downside is that it can be** tricky to get a hang of**, even if you have a background in animation, but with a little patience you will be able to create anything you can think of.

Another downside is that it is rather bulky, given that it provides such powerful tools. Users report that it’s a good idea to save your progress, as it has been known to crash.

Lunacy

Lunacy is another good free graphic design software. It’s very user-friendly, especially if you’re a complete beginner.

It has some amazing features. You can share a document and collaborate with 100 people, which makes it great for startups. It has an enormous library of various graphic design elements, such as photos, icons, and illustrations.

It also comes in 21 languages, which is considerate for the international designers out there. It’s also worth noting that Lunacy works both online and offline, so you can work on your design anywhere and at any time.

Lunacy uses the .sketch format, so it’s compatible with Sketch, which is paid for and works only on Mac OS.

However, it has no built-in templates, which makes the design process a bit slower. Also, not all of the graphic elements are free.

Inkscape

Inkscape is another free graphics editing software that can suit your needs no matter what your skill in design. It’s versatile and allows you to create all kinds of projects.

If you need a powerful tool that has a great and supportive community of users, Inkscape is the tool for you. It also has tutorials and tips integrated into the program, so you have a great support system while using it.

Here are some of its key features:

  • It’s vector based and has the option for node editing. This means you can customize and edit even the smallest elements.
  • Loads of amazing filters and effects you can use for free. These features can kick a design up a notch.
  • With Inkscape you also have a tool for object creation, which you can use to create any kind of visual you want.

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One downside to Inkscape is that the final design process can be a tad slow for large projects, and it might take a little time to get used to and figure out.

There have been reports of bugs in the Mac OS version of the software, as well. And the integration process with Illustrator isn’t as smooth as you’d like.

Easel.ly

This is an infographic-creating tool that is extremely beginner friendly. With it, you can create stunning infographics for your project with little prior knowledge.

You can make infographics in PDF or JPG formats, which are easily imported into other projects. This also allows fast sharing, so it can be of great help in collaborative projects.

Easelly is great if you need an infographic but have no time or money to hire a designer. But, if you are a designer yourself, it might be a bit too simplistic and maybe lack some advanced features and tools.

It also has no autosave, so you need to be extra careful not to lose your progress. This can be a bit of a hassle, especially if you don’t have perfect working conditions.

SketchUp

This free graphic design software is one of the most popular 3D modeling tools out there. It’s popular with architects as well as graphic designers, and it’s easy to see why.

The interface is very intuitive, which means it can be used by beginners and professionals alike. It has a free version, as well as a free trial for the pro version.

The possibilities of creation with SketchUp are vast, and it’s a great tool for unleashing your creativity in 3D modeling.

SketchUp’s downside is that the rendering can never fully achieve photo realism. This means that if you want a fully photo-realistic image, you will probably have to rework it a bit in another program.

Another problem that users report is that moving and copying objects can be tricky because it has no embedded copy function.

Blender

Blender is a versatile program that can help you create anything from 3D models, photo edits, and simulation to fully rendered animation.

It has a great sculpting tool, which allows you to create stunning objects which you can then animate.

Blender has great features and tools for animators and VFX artists, or anyone working in video editing. You can export your projects in a variety of file formats, which makes it extremely valuable for different projects.

unnamed (2.png Blender homepage

However, it’s not beginner friendly, and even some professional designers have a learning curve ahead of them.

Also, the viewport tends to be a bit slow, and detailed projects can make the program laggy.

SVG-Edit

Vector graphics are a key component of modern graphic design. Vector graphics are easily scalable, which means you can make them bigger or smaller, and they will look good on any screen, regardless of size. This makes it great for creating blogs or websites.

SVG-Edit is a great free graphic software. It has a huge picture library which you can use to create your designs, as well as a user-friendly interface.

You don’t have to download any software, and it is a fully browser-based program. It has many great tutorials and guides, which make navigation even easier.

However, it doesn’t have an app available, so you have to be online and use it in a browser.

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Conclusion

So, which is the best graphic design software to try out? Since they’re free, you can experiment and try as many as you can.

However, there are a few things you should consider.

  • What kind of project you’re working on: A website design tool is vastly different than something for animation or video editing. Say you’re wondering which graphic design software is free and has animation and video editing features; then trying out free programs like Synfig Studio or Blender is a great idea.
  • Your skill in design: If you’re a beginner, it’s best to stick with the easiest programs until you get the hang of design as a whole. Canva is probably the winner for user-friendliness. If you already have experience, challenge yourself and develop your skills further. Learning graphic design can be difficult, but it’s rewarding in the end.
  • The cost of DIY design: Bad design can damage your business, and it can be time-consuming. This can prevent you from focusing on other important tasks, and hurt your business.

If you figure out that DIY design is a bad idea for your business, consider trying out the fastest, easiest and most inexpensive professional graphic design solution there is: an unlimited design, like ManyPixels. With a ManyPixels subscription, you can get all the graphic design projects and visuals you could ever need. Whether it’s web design, app design, or smaller projects like logos or icons, we’ve got you covered.

Find out how and where to outsource your graphic design needs

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Guest Writer: Julija Popovic

November 3, 2022

I hold two degrees in history, and am currently working on a project of creating a digital library of Medieval manuscripts. I still like to have a foot in the 21st century though, so I write freelance about my other big passion, art and design. All Lord of the Rings references and puns I make are intentional.