Comparing top graphic design software tools? We've compiled some of the most popular software for entrepreneurs — and you.
Which is the best graphic design software for your business in 2021?
We wrote this article (and made a small offering to the taco gods) to help you answer that question. We’ve compiled 10 of the best graphic design software tools available today, so you can compare their features and prices to determine what’s best for you. Plus, we threw in a few current AppSumo deals at the end of the article to support your design efforts.
The marketplace for graphic design tools has a little bit for everyone. If you’re a professional designer looking for a software that keeps up with your talent, we’ve included tools that give you maximum creative control. If you’re a business owner just looking for a simple, low-cost way to create graphics for your business, there are multiple options below for you as well.
Get cozy in your favorite blog reading chair, because here are the best graphic design software tools in 2021.
Cloud Based Graphic Design Software
Pixlr is another image editing tool that’s often used for online graphic design. You can easily remove image backgrounds, add text and stickers to photos, and use simple filters like you’re on Instagram.
Like many of the online tools in this article, Pixlr also starts free. You can begin editing images, creating graphics, and building out your marketing collateral in minutes.
AppSumo Review: 4.29 / 5 tacos (24 total reviews)
Price: Pixlr lets you start using the tool for free. Paid plans start at $4.90 per month, billed annually. Or you can grab the AppSumo lifetime deal of Pixlr at $49.
Canva is a popular online graphic design tool known and used by seasoned designers and amateurs alike. It has a drag-and-drop functionality, which makes it easy to learn and use.
Free versions of Canva also make it useful for people without a graphic design budget. If you prioritize simplicity, cost-saving, and speed, Canva is a reliable choice.
Cost: Canva uses a freemium pricing model. Premium accounts start at $9.95/month.
💡 Looking for an alternative to Canva? Here’s our list of top Canva alternatives you can find online.
Vectornator is an illustration and design app, specifically optimized for iPads and Macs (available on iOS 13, iPadOS 13, and macOS Catalina and later), to deliver a unique and engaging experience. It’s made for artists who love to make vector art, drawings, typography, UI design, and more.
Artists can prototype and play with new ideas in a notebook and storyboard-like format, or export their designs to other software. Vectornator also scales beautifully to 5K iMac displays and supports the M1 Mac lineup.
Cost: Vectornator is completely free.
Crello‘s Animation Maker suite is what sets it apart from many cloud-based graphic design software. It gives users animated templates and objects to use to bring more engaging images and videos to life. Animated templates include formats for vertical and square video, Facebook and Instagram stories, and Facebook cover videos, which will help set your brand apart online.
Crello also comes with a large template and image library including illustrations, with plenty of options for various web content formats and platforms.
AppSumo Review: 4.49 / 5 tacos (109 total reviews)
Cost: Crello Pro plan starts at $7.99 per month, billed annually. Or you can get its annual deal on AppSumo for $67.
Another popular online graphic design tool, Stencil, enables fast graphic creation and photo editing for people on the go. Like Canva, Stencil is a drag-and-drop tool that lets you create stylish designs, fast. In fact, you don’t even have to go to their website to start editing: Use Stencil’s plugin to edit photos without leaving your current web screen.
Stencil also offers thousands of stock images. If you want to quickly throw together inspiring quote posts, Stencil even has a quote feature. Just browse thousands of famous phrases and use the ones you love in a graphic, without transcribing or research.
If you’re deciding between Stencil and Canva, we wrote a post to help you make up your mind.
Cost: Stencil uses a Freemium model. Their premium package starts at $9/month.
This online photo editor and design tool gives you tools and templates to achieve professional designs. Fotor lets you touch up images more than Stencil or Canva. It’s good for designers who want to also clean up or tweak photos through light exposure and photo reshaping.
Fotor provides templates to help you design collages, social media posts, and logos. It includes resizing and other graphic/photo editing effects.
Cost: Fotor uses a freemium model. Their premium package starts at $3.33/month.
Unlike other graphic design software, Figma shines with its collaboration capabilities. You can add as many team members as you want as free “viewers” to get stakeholder feedback via comments on your design.
Figma also comes with features like auto layout, asset libraries, and shareable prototyping features. Never worry about losing a thing with auto-save. Sketch (more on that below) and Figma share some plugins and integrations, so you can often find that additional functionality—or even build it yourself—if you need it.
Cost: Figma starts free for 3 projects with 2 editors and scales up to $12 and $45 per editor from there.
AppyPie Design is a unique design platform that is particularly interesting because it lets everyone design, irrespective of their experience with any design software. The platform lets you design stunning banners, cards, logos, posters, edit photos and more for free.
The cloud-based design platform lets you come together as a team and collaborate on projects. This makes it easier for all employees irrespective of their locations work in a cohesive manner and make changes in real-time. The cloud storage makes it safer and since it all syncs on all devices, it is easier to work on projects even when you are on the go!
Cost: AppyPie Design is completely free to use. All features are free and it’s all access all the time.
Offline Graphic Design Software
You’ll notice that Adobe is behind multiple amazing graphic design tools on this list. Adobe is one of the biggest names in design software — for good reason. The true Adobe graphic design tool, Illustrator, provides comprehensive tools for creating captivating visuals for your brand.
Adobe Illustrator lets you design freehand, making your art come alive on the screen. You can upload or create new fonts for text the world has never seen before. From simple social media graphics to your company’s logo, Illustrator gives you full creative control.
Cost: Adobe Illustrator starts at $20.99.
💡 Feel free to check out the best free and paid Illustrator alternatives for more affordable options.
10. Adobe Photoshop
Another member of the Adobe suite, Adobe Photoshop, provides robust photo and graphic editing. This tool requires a higher learning curve than some of the drag-and-drop tools mentioned above. But it also offers a much wider range of functions and control. From basic tools like text overlay, to complex features like controlling file sizes, Photoshop has a lot to offer.
Photoshop is used by professional designers all over the world and the Photoshop Elements 2019 Online Introduction Course (free in our store!) can get you started.
Cost: Adobe Photoshop starts at $20.99.
💡 Here’s our list of the best alternatives to Photoshop you can find in the market.
Another top graphic design tool, Affinity, was created for professional designers, putting it in the same camp as Adobe products when it comes to cost and features. The toolbar lets you perform everything from image cropping and resizing to text overlay.
While not exclusively a Mac product, Affinity was designed to cater to Mac products. But they’ve recently released a version for Windows users as well.
Affinity also lets you tap into work from talented artists. Beyond the standard price, you can choose various creative bundles that include exclusive fonts, illustrations, and more.
Cost: Affinity is $49.99. (Yes, that’s a one-time fee, not a subscription.)
12. Gravit Designer
Gravit Designer can fit in multiple categories in this article. It can be used online, on your Mac or Windows, and more. As they put it, “Apply multiple fills, gradients, textures, borders, effects, and blending modes to any object.”
Gravit is a simple drag-and-drop graphic design tool suite. You can use a pen tool to draw your own graphics. It includes borders and other shaping functions, as well as image upload and editing tools.
Cost: Gravit uses a freemium model. The premium features start at $49.00/year.
Graphic Design Software for Mac
Sketch is a graphic design tool exclusively for Mac users. It’s considered one of the best graphic design software tools on the market, particularly preferred by UX and UI experts. Sketch creates wireframes and clickable product prototypes.
For Mac users interested in designing a usable model before they design their application or website, Sketch makes it easy. Simply mock up your designs in sketch, perform user tests on the clickable designs, and then pass those designs to your developer when you’re ready for a full product.
(If you’re interested in prototypes, you may also consider learning about Adobe XD.)
Cost: Sketch costs $99 per year, per device.
Graphic Design Resources to Support Your Workflow
After you select the best graphic design software for your business, the next step is to get other design-related tools and resources that support your workflow. Here are our best deals on graphic design resources. Or you can check out our post on the 30 must-have resources in 2021.
With FreshStock, you get access to an asset library with the most diverse collection of premium, curated stock vectors and templates created by world-class artists. Its subscription starts at $49 per month ($42 per month if billed annually), but for a limited time, you can get lifetime access to FreshStock at $69.
EpicPxls is an online design template marketplace. Get the fonts, templates, illustrations, and designs you need to make graphic design simpler and faster.
StockUnlimited gives you access to 1+ million high-quality stock photos; songs and sound effects for videos and podcasts; and even a built-in image editor. Get a 3-year deal on StockUnlimited for $49.
How to Pick the Best Graphic Design Software
What is the best graphic design software for your business? Maybe a better question: What does your heart (and wallet) tell you?
Choosing the best graphic design software ultimately comes down to your priorities. Do you prefer speed or creative control? Are you more inclined to save a few bucks or invest in top-of-the-line design tools? Are you team Edward or Jacob? (Okay, okay, I’ll send that joke back to 2008.)
If you’re looking for options that make the most financial sense, here are a few AppSumo deals you should check out:
You’ve got the vision. Now let’s see you bring it to life.
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