There are a lot of programs for graphic design: some better suited for beginners, and others for complex and large-scale projects. We prepared a selection of popular graphic editors for Windows, Linux and macOS, their features, pros and cons.
Vector and bitmap graphics
Some tools are suitable for working with vector graphics and others for raster graphics. Let’s explain the difference.
Raster images are made up of pixels that have color and coordinates. They include photographs, digital drawings, or photorealistic images.
Vector images are pictures which consist of a set of reference points and curves connecting them. They are usually logos, icons and technical drawings.
10 programs for graphic design on the PC
Adobe Photoshop is a graphics editor for working with raster and vector images and videos. The program is optimized for Windows and macOS, and there are also versions for iPad and mobile devices.
Designer thinks that Photoshop is loved by novice designers because it has a free trial period, and there are courses and video tutorials online on how to use it.
Adobe Photoshop features
What you can do in the Photoshop graphics editor:
- improve photo quality and color reproduction;
- create collages – fragments of different photos glued together;
- retouching photos;
- create mockups – images that are used to show the customer a product design or corporate identity;
- restore old photos or images;
- prepare the image for printing;
- to process text elements.
The advantages of Photoshop – support for all major file formats, a large set of tools, the availability of a library of effects and filters and the ability to create your own.
There are some disadvantages:
- first, Photoshop requires a lot of power from the device, otherwise it can “hang”;
- second, the official version of the program is quite expensive.
The download of Illustrator is another Adobe program for creating vector images, but it is also capable of working with bitmap graphics. It is used for creating illustrations, icons, layouts and logos. The program has a lot of ready-made filters and special effects.
The features of Adobe Illustrator:
- work with geometric shapes;
- converting text into curves: you can change the appearance of letters to make a beautiful inscription;
- working with assembly areas and creation of banners in different sizes;
- raster to vector conversion;
- creation of illustrations.
The advantages of Adobe Illustrator:
- it is suitable for different operating systems;
- a huge number of functions;
- The popularity: any print shop works with the .ai file format.
The disadvantages of Adobe Illustrator:
- relatively high price;
- the editor weighs a lot and will be slowed down if your device doesn’t have enough power. For example, Windows will require 2 GB of free space on your hard drive and additional free space is needed during installation.
CorelDraw is a program in which you can draw in perspective, edit vector images and photos, create animations and templates for applications and websites. In it you can work with files created inAdobe Photoshop.
The program is used:
- to process photos;
- creating content for sites and social networks;
- modeling objects;
- drawing vector images.
Advantages of CorelDraw:
- synchronization with cloud storage;
- working on different devices;
- it supports the Cyrillic alphabet.
Cons of CorelDraw:
no tools to create infographics;
interface is quite complicated for beginners;
the files are not always correctly exported to other programs.
A vector-based graphics editor supported only on macOS devices. It is often used for designing websites and applications. In Sketch, you can work with fields of any size and with any number of layers. The interface design is minimalist, just the way Apple likes it. It has a free trial period.
Features in Sketch
With Sketch, you can create and edit vector graphics using a huge library of brushes and effects. In addition, in the program you can:
- use simple tools – pen, pencil, figure and text insertion to create images;
- to color objects in multiple layers;
- create symbols – templates for layers or shapes;
- prepare images for printing.
Pros of Sketch:
- you can watch a personalized design feed of other designers’ work without registration;
- easy interface.
Cons of Sketch:
- there is no mobile version of the editor;
- It is not compatible with the Adobe editors that most designers and printers use;
- relatively short period of free use – 30 days.
A raster-based graphics editor optimized for Windows. The interface is similar to that ofAdobe Photoshop. There is a free rate with limited functionality, which is well suited to beginner designers.
Functionality of Artweaver
The set of functions is the same as in Photoshop:
- image editing;
- creating gradients;
- creation of filters for image editing.
Advantages of Artweaver:
- support for many image formats;
- large library of brushes with the ability to change them;
- there is a free version.
Cons of Artweaver:
- outdated interface;
- support for only one operating system;
- the free version is slow and cannot be used in commercial projects;
- the functionality for a large design project is not enough.
Raster graphic editor with open source code. It can be installed on any operating system. Krita has a large number of brushes and has a brush editor, so it’s great for drawing.
Functionality of Krita
In the editor, the graphic designer can create bitmap illustrations and logos, as well as frame-by-frame animations.
Pros of Krita:
- it is a free editor;
- huge library of brushes, you can use brushes created by other users;
- it supports many file formats and works with HDR technology.
Cons of Krita:
- no tools for retouching images;
- weak tools for working with text.
An editor for working with vector and raster images. The developers of Affinity Designer call it the fastest, easiest and most accurate vector graphic design software. The editor works on Windows, macOS, iOS, and there is an iPad version.
Affinity Designer Features
Here’s what you can do in Affinity Designer:
- customize vector brushes;
- customize your own layout grids;
- work with both raster and vector images;
- develop dynamic characters and isometric graphics for video games.
Advantages of Affinity Designer:
- supports automatic cloud synchronization, you can create your own keyboard shortcuts.
- It works with documents of any complexity;
- it weighs less, so it works well on medium-powered devices;
- you pay only once – you don’t need to renew your subscription each year.
Disadvantages of Affinity Designer:
- It is not possible to export an image with all layers in any of the vector formats;
- None of the usual features that are available in Adobe editors, such as the eraser.
A free program for image editing and formatting. Suitable for Windows and macOS. In Photoscape great number of tools for processing photos. Suitable for beginners because the interface is very simple and clear.
In Photoscape you can:
- process photos (including batch processing);
- create collages;
- create animations;
- quickly convert files from RAW to JPG format.
Pros of Photoscape:
- free editor;
- does not take much space on your hard drive.
Cons of Photoscape:
- One of the main disadvantages is that the editor has ads. Also, it is impossible to work with multiple files at once.
A professional vector graphics editor for Linux, Windows and macOS devices. The tool is free and has open source code. Files are created in SVG format.
The functionality is the same as in the previous programs:
- changing the shape and color of pictures and text;
- raster to vector formatting;
- working with drawing tools (ellipse, star, spiral, or gradient);
- collaborative design.
Pros of Inkscape:
- free access;
- rendering: you can draw static elements into 3D objects;
- tool is used in movies, commercials, video games, or to create architectural 3D visualizations.
Cons of Inkscape:
- It is relatively slow;
- exporting bugs do occur.
A free raster-based image editor that can be customized. Partially supports working with vector graphics. In it, you can create logos, scale and crop photos, retouch images and convert them into different formats.
What GIMP does for you
With this application you can quickly perform simple tasks: crop images, remove red-eye effect, crop illustrations and add text to them.
The good points of GIMP are:
- a wide range of tools for image processing;
- It is able to open PSD and PDF formats, which are the most often used by clients or other designers.
Cons of GIMP:
- it is not possible to adjust each layer of an image and apply effects to it;
- doesn’t support CMYK color format, which limits what you can print.
- online programs for graphic design
A simple and free online graphics editor that is suitable for drawing vector graphics, web design, mobile application prototyping, logo design.
Functionality of FIGMA
The program is mainly used for web design, but there are features that are suitable for working with graphics:
- adjustment of color saturation, brightness, contrast;
- use of Google Fonts;
- arranging design objects with the help of a modular grid;
- drawing vector shapes.
Pros of Figma:
- clear modern interface;
- automatic saving in the cloud and the ability to easily revert to previous versions;
Cons of Figma:
- poorly developed text editor;
- you cannot work offline;
- no keyboard shortcuts to customize.
Renderforest Graphic Maker
Online service for graphic designers with cloud storage and free version.
Features Renderforest Graphic Maker
The main functions of the service:
- creating and editing images;
- working with fonts and animation;
- creation of presentations and intros for videos;
- there is an opportunity to superimpose music on the animation and video.
Pros of Renderforest Graphic Maker:
- a wide range of features (animation and video creation, logo development and website and app prototyping);
- very simple and intuitive interface;
- a large number of templates with the ability to sort them by topic.
DisadvantagesRenderforest Graphic Maker:
- not enough memory;
- limitations on the format of the import video in free mode;
- the free version leaves watermarks on the files.
This is a suite of cloud-based image editing tools that includes several photo editors and a photo sharing service.
Like other bitmap editors, in Pixlr you can:
- retouch photos;
- change the saturation and temperature of a photo;
- work with highlights and shadows;
- create collages from photos;
- apply filters or special effects.
Pros of Pixlr:
- a large number of opportunities for photo processing;
- the created objects can be published on social networks directly from the program.
- the disadvantages are the lack of the menu.
Cross-platform service for graphic design. The editor gives access to a large number of design templates, illustrations, fonts and stock photos.
The basic functionality is like other online editors. But Canva has a lot of ready-made file templates:
- business cards;
- posts for social networks;
- infographics, etc.
Pros of Canva:
- canva is loved for its large number of templates – it creates posters, presentations, booklets, and gift certificates. Most of them are free and comply with modern design trends;
- it is possible to work in the service on different devices.
Cons of Canva:
- not all fonts are adapted to Cyrillic;
- in the free version of the program can not change the size of the image.