25 Software that Every Graphic Designer Should Know About

Every graphic designer has their own preference when it comes to the software that they want to use to create their projects. Some may not even be contented with one software only and may need to use others for specific purposes. A good example for this are color palette generators or font builders to add to projects done using a photo editing software. Check out the 7 best graphic design portfolios, those images were not done using only one software.

Below are 25 of the best software that every graphic designer should have an idea about.

 

Adobe Photoshop

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Adobe Photoshop is the widely recognized photo editing software used both for personal and commercial purposes. It is a raster graphics editing tool which was developed by Adobe Systems and was first released 27 years ago on February 19, 1990.

Photoshop is capable of creating and editing multi-layered raster images, and is able to support masks, alpha compositing, and color models such as RGB and CMYK. Even though Photoshop has its own file formats (PSD, PSB), it also supports other graphic file formats, including JPG, BMP, and GIF. With Photoshop, you can also create artistic text effects.

 

Best New Features in Adobe Photoshop

  • New blur effects. The recent versions of Adobe Photoshop have added some new blur filters that include the spin, path, and field blur. When spin blur is applied to a picture containing a spinning object, it gives the impression of the object moving at a speed usually faster than how it actually is.The path blur creates an effect as if the subject which the filter is applied to is being blown away by strong winds. Lastly, field blur gives an out-of-focus effect to your images, but unlike Gaussian or radial blur, the outcome of the effect is much closer to what you can actually achieve from a real camera.
  • Smart focusing. Photoshop can now detect the area or subject on the image that you were focusing. If you want to select a specific part of the image for cropping, simply apply focus area. This feature may not be accurate all the time, but you can always fine tune the selection to fix it.
  • Wide angle fix. One common problem encountered when taking pictures using wide angle lenses is that the edges tend to distort or curve. But with Adobe Photoshop’s new wide angle fix feature, this problem can be corrected and the distortions can be eliminated, or at least, reduced.

Adobe Illustrator

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Adobe Illustrator is a software used to create vector graphic images, which will then be used for logos, marketing tools, and other personal or business purposes. Common uses of this software include making charts, diagrams, posters, flyers, and vector illustrations.

Adobe Illustrator is a companion software of Adobe Photoshop, with the latter leaning more towards manipulation of photos and creation of photorealistic computer illustrations, and the former providing enhancements through typesetting and other types of graphics. Another difference between the two is that Photoshop is for raster graphics, while Illustrator is for vectors.

 

What are Vector Images?

Vectors are graphic images made up of codes of pathways, as opposed to rasters that consist of pixel particles. These paths have their own specific starting points and ending points, with some lines, curves, and shapes in-between. Because of these numeric paths, vectors have the capability to be shrunken and enlarged infinitely without compromising its quality.

 

Adobe Animate

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Adobe Animate, formerly known as Macromedia Flash then Adobe Flash, is a software by Adobe Systems used to create vectors and computer animation, which can be published on the television or on the internet. Aside from vectors, Animate can also support raster graphics, audio, and video embedding.

Its very first incarnation was released to the public in 1996 under Futurewave Software, and it was then called FutureSplash Animator. A year later, it was acquired by Macromedia which gave it the Flash title we know of today. Several versions of Flash were released by Macromedia before the rights were finally bought by Adobe Systems in 2007.

Since then, Adobe was able to release 11 versions of the software and they even renamed it to Adobe Animate in 2016, 9 years after they acquired its rights.

 

Adobe Typekit

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Adobe Typekit is an online service that allows you to synchronize fonts to your computer for use on either your desktop or on a website. You will need to subscribe to any of the plans offered to enjoy these services.

The fonts on Typekit are of the best quality, and it ease of use regardless of where you want to apply them. You can use these fonts when developing web pages, marketing tools, or any publishing materials. Once subscribed to their services, simply synchronize your devices to bring your fonts anywhere.

 

Adobe InDesign

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Developed by Adobe Systems, Adobe InDesign is a publishing software intended for creating information materials such as flyers, brochures, banners, posters, books, and newspapers. Its main consumers are graphic and productions artists who constantly create and publish printable media for the public.

Before it became InDesign, it was formerly known as Adobe PageMaker, which was originally introduced by Aldus. It was only until 1994 that Adobe purchased its rights and in 2000, was renamed InDesign. You may check out some InDesigns templates for samples.

Features in the Recent Version of InDesign

  • The new InDesign has improvements in both speed and stability, and it now supports 64-bit devices.
  • Just like the new versions of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, InDesign has also updated its user interface for a fresh new look.
  • You can now browse through a huge selection of fonts in the new version of InDesign. To make the browsing experience less of a hassle, you can now use the new font filter and font search to easily find the font that you need.
  • You can now create QR (quick response) codes easily with InDesign. For your QR code, you have the choice to make it as a web hyperlink, email, or a business card.

Adobe Color CC

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Adobe Color CC, formerly Adobe Kuler, is a desktop app by Adobe Systems that allows you to create color palettes you can share to other graphic artists as well as synchronize to other Adobe apps, such as Photoshop and Illustrator.

This is a convenient way for graphic designers to create and edit color themes from existing images or presets, sync them to the color service for easy access on other devices that have Adobe apps installed, or share them directly to the internet.

 

CorelDRAW

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CorelDRAW is a graphics editor developed by Corel Corporation and was first released to consumers on January 16, 1989. The most recent version of CorelDRAW, released on March 2016, marks the 18th version of the software since it first came out. This software is specifically used to edit vector graphics, much like Adobe’s Illustrator, and was designed to edit 2D images such as logos and posters. If you are unsure what to create, check out some minimalist graphic designs to provide you with ideas.

 

Why Use CorelDRAW?

  • CorelDRAW supports a wide range of graphics file formats, from rasters to vectors, specifically AI, PSD, JPG, PNG, and EPS, to name a few.
  • The recent version of CorelDRAW has new and enhanced photo editing tools you can use to modify and fix images in many possible ways.
  • The work space UI can be easily and fully customized to suit the preferences of any graphic artist.

Autodesk SketchBook Pro

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Sketchbook Pro is a graphics creating and editing software by Autodesk, Inc. It allows expressive drawing and concept sketching with the use of its radial interface design. The first ever version of Sketchbook Pro was released by Alias Systems Corporation in July of 2005, but was discontinued when Autodesk acquired Alias in October of the same year. However, in April 2008, Sketchbook saw the light of day again after Autodesk Sketchbook Pro 2009 was released to the public. Its most recent version was released on May 17, 2015. If you want, you may check out a few sketchbook mockups.

 

Autodesk Mudbox

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Mudbox is a computer-based 3D editing tool presently developed by Autodesk, but was originally developed by Skymatter. The main purpose of this software is to create high resolution digital sculptures and texture paintings, although it can also be used as a design tool for graphic artists.

New Features of Mudbox

  • Mudbox allows you paint 3D models in multiple format. You can get fast results as accurately as possible with its professional digital sculpting and painting tool set.
  • Mudbox added a new caliper tool that enables you to determine the measurement between two points on a model. This feature is great for ensuring that the meshes match the scale in the real world.

Autodesk Maya

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Autodesk Maya, or just Maya, is a multi-platform 3D graphics software originally developed by Alias Systems Corporation, and now owned and developed by Autodesk, Inc. The purpose of this software is to create 3D applications for video games, movies, and television shows.

 

Features of Autodesk Maya

  • Shape authoring. This feature allows you to deform shapes using various tools. With this tool, you may be able to create facial animations, or even corrections on deformations.
  • Time editor. A clip-based, non-linear editor that allows you to edit animations at high levels. This time editor also allows you to edit audio in a clip-based manner similar to standard audio mixing apps.
  • Animation layers. This feature from Maya can make trials-and-errors productive, in a sense. With animation layers, you can easily modify existing animations without creating changes to the original work.

Pixlr Editor

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Pixlr is a free online and cloud-based photo editing software that offers almost the same features and tools as most photo editors. The software was first developed by Swedish programmer Ola Sevandersson in 2008, and was later acquired by Autodesk in 2011, with Sevandersson joining the company. Aside from the desktop version, Pixlr apps such as Express and O-Matic are downloadable on Android. You may even refer to our list of the best photo editors on Android for more.

 

PicMarkr Pro

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PicMarkr Pro is a free downloadable software that lets you add a digital watermark to your images to indicate that they are copyrighted or protected. Aside from just placing watermarks, PicMarkr Pro also allows you to rotate and rename a group of pictures, as well as add text and a logo to them.

Mari

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Mari is a 3D painting software developed by The Foundry Visionmongers and released in July 2010. It is intended to create and modify digital 3D paintings and textures. This software is commonly used to design large texture sets for movies and shows that make use of a lot of special effects. Check out these vector texture designs for samples.

 

Tableau Public

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Tableau Public is a free online service by Tableau Software that allows designers or any user to publish data visualizations on the internet. The visualizations that have been published can then be embedded into web pages, wherein they can be shared by email or by social media, which can then be downloaded by other users.

Tableau Public is capable of creating data visualizations consisting of multiple linked dashboards, which provides the user with different views of the data and lets them select subsets of that data that they are interested in. Indeed, this software has powerful tools for filtering and selecting specific data, and is a lot more easier to manage without the need for programming.

 

Gliffy

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Gliffy is a multi-platform software used to create diagrams, flow charts, or floor plans. These are made possible with the use of an HTML5 cloud-based app, and can be shared online in real-time. Gliffy,  lets you design the diagrams and charts you need in the easiest process possible, and it even contains a huge collection of templates to help you get the process started easily.

 

Fontstruct

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FontStruct is a free, online font-building app that lets you easily make your own fonts in the fastest way possible. These fonts are made up of geometric shapes which are organized in a grid-like pattern. The fonts made with FontStruct are called FontStructions using a tool called the FontStructor.

You can use the font you created in either Windows or in Mac programs, and you also have the choice whether to keep your created fonts to yourself, or to upload them to the website for sharing. If you want, you may even refer to our list of the best urban fonts for ideas.

ColoRotate

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ColoRotate is a 3D tool that graphic artists use to view and edit colors, and they can also play around with the different colors to be able to develop patterns according to your preferences. This software was designed to be the color tool above all else. With ColoRotate, users can compare and share colors, and apply them to either a 2D or 3D image to experiment with the effects.

ColoRotate has a wide range of color palettes to choose from, and you can even sync those palettes or blend them together to get the color that you want for yourself. This software can be used for free. You can also register for free if you want to be a member of the community to get in touch with other artists worldwide. To find out what color patterns are trending for this year, check out our list of the top 10 best color patterns of 2017.

GIMP

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GIMP, which is actually short for GNU Image Manipulation Program, is a powerful free-to-download and open-source raster graphics editor, just like Adobe Photoshop. This software is used for retouching and editing images, free-form illustrations, image format conversion, and other tasks.

GIMP was developed by Spencer Kimball and Peter Mattis, and was first released in 1996. The most recent version, GIMP 2.8.22, was released on May 11, 2017 and is able to run on various operating systems including Linux, MS Windows, MacOS, Solaris, and AmigaOS.

 

GIMP Features

  • The user interface in GIMP can be easily customized according to how you want to interact and control the software, making it easier and more comfortable to use.
  • GIMP provides a lot of enhancement tools to fix imperfections on digital images and making the best out of your photos.
  • GIMP supports various graphics file formats, which include GIF, JPG, and PNG.

Piktochart

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Piktochart is an online infographic application which allows users to create infographics easily using themed templates. Even those without much experience will still be able to make professional-looking inforgraphics.

 

What are Infographics?

Information graphics, or inforgraphics, are information, data, or even knowledge presented through graphic visual images. Since people learn and understand more when they actually see something, these graphics can enhance our visual system’s capability to see patterns, which can also help develop our cognitive skills. Check out some sample infographic designs here.

 

Pixelmator

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Pixelmator is a graphics editor exclusively for the MacOS, which was developed by brothers Saulius and Aidas Dailide of the Pixelmator Team Ltd. This software features layers-based image editing, color management and correction tools, integration with other MacOS apps such as iPhoto, and easy file conversion with the use of Automator actions.

 

Autotracer

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Autotracer is a free-to-use online file conversion tool that allows you to convert raster graphic images to vectors through a process called vectorization or tracing. This is an ideal tool if you are a graphic designer and you want to use your stock raster images for your projects. Since raster images have the tendency to pixelate especially when enlarged, it is best to convert those images to vectors first to preserve its quality.

 

Sketch

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Sketch is a MacOS vector graphics editor developed by the Dutch company Bohemian Coding. It was first released to the public on September 7, 2010. With Sketch, users can edit vector images with precision with its vector shapes that can easily adapt to constant change in styles. Sketch is also fast because it is a lightweight software, and takes advantage on modern hardware to perform at its fullest capacity.

 

PicMonkey

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PicMonkey is a free online photo editing software that was founded in 2012 by former Picnik employees Brian Terry and Justin Huff. Picnik was an online photo editing software owned by Google from 2010 to 2013. When Terry and Huff learned that Google was dissolving Picnik, they started developing a new software, which resulted in PicMonkey.

While PicMonkey can still be used for free, you can also subscribe to its services for a fee to enjoy the software at its fullest. Just like Picnik’s basic features, PicMonkey also has overlays, image rotation, textures, and single-click effects, and it even has more advanced features that include curves, touch up, and collage.

 

Canva

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Canva is a free-to-use online graphic designing tool first launched on January 1, 2012. Its interface is very easy to use with its drag-and-drop feature, and the abundance of photographs, graphics, and fonts to choose from. Canva can be used by both professional graphic designers and average computer users, and can be used for both printable or web media.

 

ArtRage

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ArtRage is a raster graphics editing software used specifically for bitmap images. It was first released in 2004 for Windows and Mac users for free, but the most recent version, which was released in February 2017, requires a fee to be downloaded. Features of ArtRage include realistic painting tools, powerful digital tools and utilities, and user-friendliness.

You don’t really need to use all of these software at once, but it’s best to be familiar with them just in case. For instance, if a software you have been using lacks a certain feature that is present in another software, then you won’t need to spend a lot of time looking for it since you already have an idea where to find it.

This page intends to provide you with a broader knowledge regarding the various software and tools available on the market for graphic designers and other professionals. Also, check out the top 10 best graphic designing websites to obtain ideas for your next projects.

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