Graphic design is necessary for effective marketing. Did you know that people can retain 65% of information three days after when it’s paired with an image?
Premium software and exclusive memberships are usually costly, meaning it can be hard for professionals to invest in the best software out there (especially if they’re just starting out).
Fortunately, you can create your own amazing graphics, illustrations and infographics without having to spend a fortune! We’ve compiled a list with the best free graphic design software for 2019.
Keep reading it to find out everything you need to know about each and every one of them!
Inkscape is an open-source graphics software that comes with a consistent and stable interface. The editor runs smoothly on Windows, Mac and Linux.
It comes with a huge array of advanced tools and effects and can easily compete against Adobe’s Illustrator.
With Inkscape, you can create stunning vector art that no one will be able to tell was made using a free, open-source program.
Here are some of Inkscape’s main features:
- A wide range of pen tools, including pencil, brushes as well as drawing and calligraphy modes.
- Perfect for designing SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics).
- Compatible with multiple file formats, making it so much easier to import graphics from your own library without having to worry about compatibility.
- Node editing functionality that allows users to manipulate vector images, graphics and objects. With Inkscape, you can move, edit or delete nodes with ease.
- Maximise creativity with a multi-functional object creation tool. Combine the pencil and pen tools to alternate between freehand drawing and intricate line and Bézier curve designs.
That being said, the program is slow at times as processing slows down editing.
While it’s true that Inkscape doesn’t run as smoothly as its premium competitors, it’s still impressive that it manages to do the things that it does for free.
Definitely give this one a try. You really have nothing to lose.
Canva is an online graphic design tool that allows for extensive customisation, allowing users to create unique and distinctive designs.
You can choose from a range of preset layouts and dimensions to create the perfect design. Canva features:
- A rich collection of layouts, uniform graphics and vectors.
- A plethora of graphics allow users to quickly create unique designs from zero; makes it easy for non-professionals to come up with interesting and professional-looking designs. There are literally hundreds of templates to choose from.
- Intuitive UI that’s user-friendly and extremely easy to use. Canva is an amazing tool can help businesses cut down on budget and design time by creating graphics in-house.
- Cross-platform compatibility makes it easy to come up with designs on the spot. You can create a first draft on your phone using the mobile app and add the finishing touches later using the web version.
However, Canva’s free plan comes with some restrictions that may annoy some. Custom resizing is only available on premium plans and the majority of graphics are not available for free.
Paid plans open up further customisation capabilities that free users don’t have access too.
It’s also impossible to filter image and graphic searches so that the free options appear on top.
This is frustrating and inconvenient, especially if you’re using Canva as a free alternative to other premium graphic design tools!
We can’t talk about free graphic design software and not mention GIMP.
GIMP is an incredible tool for any designer or marketer that works with photos.
It is another open-source image editing application that’s completely free but is fitted with professional-quality features.
You can start with a blank template or import your own photos and images for fine-tuning.
Some of its features include:
- Photo enhancement. After Photoshop, GIMP is probably the best choice for photo editing. It comes packed with tons of customisation options.
- Creation of original artwork. GIMP is known for its retouching and editing capabilities but can also act as a well-rounded creative design tool.
- The software runs smoothly across all platforms. The web version has its issues but has been running better with the new updates.
- It’s community-developed, meaning you have direct input as a user. It can also be manipulated and re-purposed by users who know how to code.
- It’s easily expandable and regularly updated. You can add plugins and scripts to help you perfect your creations and designs the way you envisioned them.
GIMP is one of the best free graphic design software out there but suffers from poor UI design.
The interface can be inconsistent at times, which might slow you down during work.
Photoshop is still the king of editing, but if you’re looking for a free alternative that will get the job done, GIMP may be the best option for you.
Blender is an amazing design tool for animators, designers, scientists and artists who work in 3D graphics.
This computer graphics suite is intuitive and feature-rich.
It can be used to create 3D models and applications for video games, animated films and video ad campaigns.
When you look at its tool set and features, you’ll find it hard to believe that Blender is open-source and completely free:
- Blender does animation flawlessly and is highly customisable. You can replace its base theme to suit your needs.
- Comes with a large number of hotkey commands, meaning you don’t have to navigate through the interface, which can drastically increase your working speed.
- The software is lightweight and runs well on all platforms. Blender boots up in just a few seconds and does not struggle even when multiple assets and graphics are loading and interacting with each other.
- As with other open-source tools, Blender is constantly improved and updated based on immediate user feedback.
- Blender’s community is helpful and always quick to help users solve problems.
Although Blender comes with many features and can do a lot of things well, it’s not often used professionally.
It’s unnecessarily complex and users have to rely on the community to resolve common issues.
Autodesk Maya is still preferred by most major studios.
Blender, like most open-source and free software tools, suffers from poor interface design.
Users are often put off by the amount of information that’s on the screen that often times doesn’t seem to serve a specific purpose.
Artists without a developer background may have a hard time navigating through Blender’s confusing interface.
Free graphic design software can get the job done, and Krita is a testament to that.
Krita is great for both amateur and professional artists looking for a drawing and sketching platform to transform their ideas into art.
Krita is a powerful program that comes with many advanced drawing aids and templates.
It was created by artists for artists, with the idea that top-notch drawing software should be accessible to all graphic designers.
It’s especially useful if you’re interested in illustration or comics.
Here are some of its features:
- A great number of masks, filters and layer styles that help you create the perfect drawing.
- Highly intuitive UI that makes navigation easy and drawing a pleasure.
- Several animation features that can help breathe life into your creations. Krita uses frame-by-frame raster animation.
- The software is highly customisable, meaning users have the ability to change most of the shortcuts to improve workflow.
- Included vector tools. You can also import and edit vectors that you’ve created with the help of other programs (e.g. Inkscape).
- Wrap around and canvas only modes allow for more detailed fine-tuning and versatility.
Krita seems to eat up a lot of memory, which can slow your computer and negatively impact your workflow as a result.
It also has a steep learning curve and takes some time to get used to, which might scare some graphic designers away.
Other known issues include buggy text tools and a hard-to-control smudge brush (blending may be challenging for beginners).
Free graphic design software may not be perfect but can help graphic designers get things done. Because all these programs are free, anyone can download and try them out.
Unless you’re willing to invest in premium graphic design software, you’ll have to combine and utilise different free tools.
Different tools are good for different jobs: Some are better for designing raster images while others specialise in SVG or 3D designs.
Want to know exactly what a graphic designer does? Find out why graphic designers are the backbone of every successful marketing campaign by clicking here!