5 Great Software Programs for Graphic Designers

Five Software Programs Every Successful Graphic Designer Knows

  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • GIMP
  • Inkscape
  • CorelDraw
  • Gravit Designer

Graphic design is a creative endeavor that today uses just as much technology as it does imagination. The rise of the internet has indeed made the idea of being a designer easier for professional. Forbes has commented on this several times, even including the website Canva as a gateway to accessible design. But professionals don’t succeed on just template-heavy websites; they need software programs that challenge them to learn about their industry. Below are five of the best software programs that are available to every graphic designer.

Adobe Creative Suite

The most well-known tool for a graphic designer is the Adobe Creative Suite. This is a set of tools that includes Photoshop, Lightroom CC, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, XD, Stock, and more. For graphic designers, the creative suite is perfect for projects that require more than just graphic designs; the suite works intuitively with each program, making it simple for professionals to move one project from program to program, allowing them to create a smooth workflow that doesn’t require reformatting projects between tools. Although this is a professional standard tool, the price tag is steep; professionals will pay more $52.99 a month for access to the entire suite program, which might be too expensive for graphic designers who are in the beginning stages of their career.


Gimp is a free alternative to Adobe’s Photoshop. It is a free and open source cross-platform image editor that provides all visual professionals, including scientists, with the chance to create their own unique illustrations and graphics within a single program. Everyone from photographers to illustrators to designers will find that the program will tailor to their unique needs over a short amount of time. This is a desktop tool that is fully customizable and can run third-party plugins that create a single workflow for every graphic designer. The program can run on Linux, OS X, Windows, and Chrome OS.


Inkscape is another free and open source vector graphics editor that is available as a cross-platform tool. The program, which can run as an alternative to Adobe’s Illustrator, was created to build a community-sourced tool that adapts to the changing needs of graphic designers. With flexible drawing tools, a broad range of file format capabilities, and a continuously updated platform, this is the program of choice for beginner to intermediate graphic designers who cannot afford the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite price point.


CorelDraw is a suite of graphic design tools that are available for a one-time price of $699. The full suite comes with CorelDraw, Corel PhotoImpact, and CorelPaintShop; it is considered as the most popular rival to Adobe’s suite of tools. CorelDraw is easy for beginners to understand but is most often used by professional graphic designers who are used to vector graphics editors. The program makes third-party plug-ins available and can be used in conjunction with the other programs in the suite to create a smooth workflow inside of an industry-standard graphics editor.

Gravit Designer

Gravit Designer is an intuitive, cross-platform free vector design tool that is available for professionals working in any type of operating system. It can even be used as an online-only tool. The program is most often used by beginning graphic designers and is known to be a mandatory tool in online graphic design courses.

The free price point may lead some graphic designers to believe that the program is not useful in the industry; this is a common misconception. In reality, the program can run vector illustrations, aide designers in branding imagery and logo creation, craft excellent presentations and illustrations, and even run as an animation tool. The program also exports in various formats, including Bitmap and PDF, as well as being available in Cloud format so that professionals can access their work while out of the office.

Related Resource: The Top 20 Graphic Design Degree Online Programs 2018

The above programs come at varying price points and are geared towards graphic designers that use different visual mediums in their work. What they all have in common, however, is that they are tools to be used by professionals in order to achieve a look for both personal and client-related work. Graphic designers, regardless if they are beginners or seasoned pros, will benefit by picking at least one of these programs to aid them in their work.

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