Adobe’s Illustrator and Photoshop offerings are software favourites in the design industry, but for any creatives who are just starting out in the world of graphic design, they can be an expensive early investment.
That’s why we’ve pulled together a list of our top 25 free graphic design software options. Whether you need a tool for powerful image manipulation, graphic creation or animation, we’ve listed our favourite tools for the job with absolutely no costs required.
Free Illustrator Alternatives
Easily one of our top picks, Vectr is a cross-platform and browser, free graphic design software that hosts a suite of basic but more-than-capable functionality. Equipped with a library of fonts, filters, shadows and tools for entry-level vector editing, Vectr has everything you need for small scale design jobs or larger digital projects.
With an intuitive interface and free tutorials, this free software is an obvious choice for anyone looking to get into graphic design. But don’t be fooled, Vectr is popular even amongst professional graphic designers with its collaborative capabilities that allow live editing and project syncing across devices in real-time.
Close behind Vectr is Gravit Designer, another cross-platform and browser graphic design software that offers up a wide range of vector assets that can be used and adapted to suit any project.
Free your creativity with Gravit Designer’s vast array of design tools like filters, blending, colour and light adjustments, layer management, knife function and more. It supports SVG, PDF, JPEG, SKETCH and EPS formats, as well as offering a cloud feature for smooth transfer of projects from desktop to online.
If your format of choice is SVG, Inkscape may be your preferred software choice as it uses SVG as its main format. This free, open-source, professional vector editor works seamlessly across platforms and provides an immense toolset to help you unleash your creativity.
As well as having tools that most other vector editing software offer, Inkscape also contains features like alpha blending, cloned objects, node editing, tracing bitmap images and variable width strokes. With such a wide selection of options, Inkscape is a great option for any designer looking for limitless design and experimentation.
If you’re just starting out in the world of graphic design, SVG-Edit is a more straightforward and streamlined software that’s easy to get to grips with. This browser-based platform works in most modern browsers and lets you create and edit SVG images, or export them into other popular web files like WMP, JPG, BMP, GIF and TIFF.
SVG-Edit has a standard set of tools that make it ideal for handling any lightweight design. With a reliable and user-friendly interface, this software is ideal for most basic design jobs.
Like SVG-Edit, Photopea is an online-only editor, meaning that it eliminates the need to download an extra piece of software onto your machine. It also supports both vector and raster graphics. Photopea features support for PSD, XCF Sketch, XD and CGR formats, while also allowing you to export your work into a JPG, PNG or SVG file.
Photopea’s best offerings are a powerful brush tool, the ability to work with layers and apply layer masks, blend modes that rival Photoshop’s, general graphic adjustments and grid lines to aid alignment. These features make it suitable for image resizing, illustration creation, webpage design and more.
Free Photoshop alternatives
Gimp has long been a popular, free alternative to Photoshop and it’s still a main contender today. This powerful and versatile software works on all main operating systems and hosts a robust number of tools that make light work of graphic and image manipulation, artwork production and graphic design.
While Gimp’s advanced functionality might make it seem targeted towards more experienced graphic designers, its long-standing userbase means that there are plenty of YouTube and online tutorials to help any beginner learn the ropes.
If Gimp’s wealth of tools and complex interface feels too overwhelming, try Photo Pos Pro. Like a stripped down version of Gimp, Photo Pos Pro still retains a rich set of editing tools but in an easier to understand layout. Photo Pos Pro has a unique feature that allows you to change the layout of the interface depending on your expert level. Opt for the “novice” layout where more advanced functions are hidden from view to give you a clearer editing experience, or switch to the “expert” layout for access to a wider range of professional tools.
Made specifically for photo editing tasks like fine-tuning, fixing contrast and level adjustments, Photo Pos Pro’s features also stretch to fit generic graphic design. If the tool you need isn’t included in the base version, there are expansions and plugins available to help you find it.
SumoPaint is a great beginner’s image editing software for anyone who wants to be able to harness the functionality of Photoshop, but without all of the extra and confusing frills. It runs in most Flash-based browsers, is cloud-based and offers offline editing.
With a strikingly similar interface to Photoshop, SumoPaint also has a selection of tools to help you tackle midweight design tasks. Enjoy over 300 high-quality brushes, clone stamping, symmetry tools, layer effects, layer blending modes and more.
Graphic design isn’t always intricate photo editing and complex artwork creation. If you’re looking for design software that’ll help you make a range of simple graphics, from social assets to email and blog headers, Canva is the best tool for the job.
10. Design Wizard
Browse hundreds, and we mean hundreds, of beautiful, pre-made templates and adapt them to fit your brand with Canva’s easy-to-use editing software. With a selection of fonts, objects and stock images to choose from, you can also upload your own to personalise your project. With over 30 million monthly users, Canva’s user-friendly interface and selection of universal tools make it a firm favourite.
Design Wizard shares many features with fan-favourite Canva – with a library of customisable templates for just about any task, the ability to create custom colour palettes, resizing and basic editing of images and graphics and uploading your brand’s font, pictures or logo.
Where Design Wizard shines is its robust stock image gallery. Design Wizard uses PikWizard, their sister site, which offers a plethora of royalty-free imagery for you to use free-of-charge.
Basic photo editing and creation software
Photo editing software Pixlr X is the newer, more advanced version of popular app Pixlr, which is touted as “the World’s favorite online photo editor”. Pixlr X comes with the same great functions that Pixlr users love, but with a few new and improved adjustments.
Using HTML5 instead of Flash, this online photo editor guarantees a smooth user experience and slick interface. Edit any image with ease with its basic adjustment tools like resizing, cropping, filters, layer editing and blending modes. Pixlr X even has an Auto-Fix tool to prevent over-editing.
If you’re looking to edit photos in a pinch, Google-owned app Snapseed is perfect. With a limitless number of edit combinations thanks to its wide array of filters and tools, you can really unlock your creative potential with this mobile app. Snapseed has customisable presets and a layer function which means that you can blend presets, and even images, together.
Snapseed also has an open-source desktop application for more control and precision. With 29 tools for all the basic adjustments you’d ever need to make, Snapseed is a powerful tool that’s one of the best, and most reliable, photo editors out there.
Fotor doesn’t quite match the capability of Pixlr X and Snapseed, but it still gets the job done if you’re looking for basic editing software. No downloads are necessary for this online image editor and there are plenty of effects to explore within Fotor’s free plan.
Retouch images, add filters, make light, colour and size adjustments, choose from a library of templates and play around with stickers, frames and clip art to bring your work to life.
Infographics have become an extremely popular way of visualising information, and they’re not just for bigger brands who can afford to hire a graphic designer. With the free version of Easelly, you can build your own infographic from scratch or customise one of their pre-made templates, and then edit it with their selection of images and fonts. The software allows you to save your infographic in PDF or JPG format.
Whilst this might all sound very standard, Easelly’s user-friendly interface and array of trusty editing tools make the process straightforward and incredibly effective at creating beautiful infographics.
If you’re interested in presenting complex data in a visually-appealing and creative format, Infogram has everything you need for the job. This design tool lets you transform regular graphs, charts and maps into engaging infographics.
Simply enter all of your data into an Excel-style spreadsheet and watch Infogram upload or change your results in real time. This software also enables you to upload your own images and videos. With lots of templates to choose from and customise, Infogram is a great way to present data and statistics.
Visme’s graphic abilities extend past infographics, making it an essential tool to keep on hand if you’re looking to create a wide variety of graphics. Build banners, social graphics, animations, interactive presentations, charts and graphs and more. Its selection of graphic formats are handy for telling visual stories and creatively displaying data.
Visme’s free version provides a number of templates to choose from, which you can then easily customise or even add animate effects to. When you’ve finished your masterpiece, Visme allows you to share, publish or download your work.
Another versatile graphic-making tool, Snappa lets even the most inexperienced designers create vibrant and attractive infographics with just a few clicks. Browse their social media, infographic, banner and infographic templates before using a variety of editor tools to change the look and feel to suit you.
Remarkably similar on the outside to the likes of Easelly, Infogram and Visme, what sets Snappa apart from the rest is that its free plan offers a more bountiful number of features – not just the essentials.
Animaker is an animated video development tool that lets you take your graphics to the next level by creating visually-stunning animated infographics – no video skills necessary.
Choose an animated template from their library and then adjust the video to your needs in the graphic editor. There’s a little more learning involved with Animaker, but nothing that you can’t learn after a little play around. Animaker also offers a range of characters, icons and images to help you build your fully animated video infographic. Impressive, right?
For the illustrators, comic and concept artists, Krita is an open-source graphic design software made for drawing. Whilst its star feature is the ability to paint beautiful creations, Krita also has the functionality for photo and image manipulation.
Krita provides you with a full set of brushes to tackle any type of project and plenty of drawing tools like brush stabilisers, a pop-up colour palette, vanishing points, smooth shapes, layer masks and more. And if the function you require can’t be found, explore Krita’s available plugins, from filters to painting assistants.
Looking for a realistic painting tool? Artweaver lets you transform your regular photos into painted works of art. Perfect for novices, Artweaver is easy-to-use, lets you customise your projects and gives you access to many tools, presets and more. This tool even has brushes that mimic the strokes of famous painters like Van Gogh.
Create all kinds of digital art with MediBang Paint Pro. It enables you to create paintings and comics on any device. With over 800 tones and backgrounds, plus more than 50 brushes and 20 fonts, MediBang Paint Pro is any digital artist’s dream.
Once you’re finished with your work, you can easily transfer it across devices, or you can use the cloud function to collaborate with other artists.
For anyone looking to venture into the world of 3D design, SketchUp is a great entry-level program. It offers an easy introduction into building, starting you off at drawing lines and shapes. These can then be manipulated and turned into 3D forms.
This 3D modelling software provides “hundreds of professionally-developed extensions at your fingertips,” to help you visualise your ideas and push the boundaries of your creativity
An upgraded version of Microsoft Paint that was introduced with Windows 10, Paint 3D offers even more brushes and tools to create digital masterpieces with. Enhance your 2D and 3D designs, create stickers, browse textures and filters and draw with the 3D doodle tool.
For more serious 3D designers, Blender is a popular 3D content creation program that hosts a suite of tools for creating visual effects, 3D models, interactive 3D apps and animations.
Blender’s powerful list of functions includes rendering, modelling, texturing, animation, video editing, python scripting and more.
Daz is potentially the best free graphic design software for animators, illustrators and designers. Daz combines a number of different tools like Hexagon, Genesis 8 and Daz Studio in order to make designing 3D rigged human models possible.
As well as that, Daz can be used for 3D animation, figure posing and rendering and creating digital locations. Despite having a rich offering of tools, Daz’s interface makes it friendly for users of any experience level and helps them to produce exceptional virtual environments and detailed characters to live in them.
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