Are you interested in design? Looking for a creative outlet to express yourself? Are you looking for a way to deliver your work in a prominent way to grab everyone’s attention? Then you need high quality graphics that stick to your audience. It’s not difficult to start as there are many free design programs you can use today to get started without having to spend a lot of money. Here is a list of top 5 free graphic design programs you can use right now if you’re always wanted to channel your inner creativity.
Platform: Windows, Mac and Linux
Inkscape is a professional quality vector graphics software that is highly focused on SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) file format developed by the W3C, yet provides multiple file formats. It is highly used by designers, illustrators and web designers for creating a wide range of graphics including icons, logos, illustrations, maps and web graphics. Just like Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape provides users with a wide variety of colour modes for web and print design. If you’re a programmer you can even add your own features as it is an open-source and the code is available publicly.
- Full support of colour modes
- Export to a wide range of file types including SVG, PNG, BMP, JPG etc.
- Has drawing and text tools
- Image manipulation with transformations, filters, layers, styling, path effects
- Wide range of drawing tools and options that are clearly presented
- Free open source alternative to Adobe Illustrator
- Low processing power
- Does not support animation
- No Gradient Mesh type tool
- No option for multiple pages
- May get slow the more filters applied
Platform: Mac, Windows, Linux, Web-based
Vectr is an editing program used to create 2D vector graphics. It can be used to create a variety of pieces including business cards, presentations, logos, illustrations, resumes and posters. The great thing about this editor is that it allows anyone to send a Vectr document to others simply by sharing the URL, which allows for live collaboration and convenience. This is a great learning platform for very simple pieces of work but as designs get harder, you’re better off using something else as the program can seem more complicated than helpful at that point.
- Real-time sharing
- Creates clear and clean vector graphics
- Supports importing other images and designs
- Very simple to use as it has a very low learning curve
- Crashes and can get laggy
- Some basic controls are not there (can’t duplicate shapes, can’t group items, selecting items can be hard)
Canva has over 10 million users to date and has team members from more than 12 different countries around the globe. It provides its users with multiple features that you can use as a beginner such as: design layouts, photo editing and graphics. With its simple layout, it’s quite easy to follow along and make changes however, if images and designs get too complex Canva won’t be able to support it. Canva offers an option to share designs on their community platform in which other people can check out other users’ work and leave comments and suggestions.
- Exports to PDF, PNG, JPG, directly to social media
- Huge range of fonts, backgrounds, layouts, images and illustrations
- Photo editing tools
- High control of design and customization
- Very clean layout and easy to follow
- Can share work on a community platform and receive feedback
- Can be slow with multiple design and pages open
- Can’t keep up with more complex images and designs
- Limited free photos ($1 per icon)
- Helpful and common features aren’t included (have to update to premium) such as: resizing designs, setting color palettes, finding your designs with search
Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS, Web-based
Gravit Designer is a full-featured vector design application usable for a variety of jobs, such as screen design, print, app design, illustrations, presentations and icons. With a clean, intuitive interface that adjusts when and how you need it, this software has a wide selection of tools for creating detailed vector imagery, which includes precision, layers, grids, knife- tools, text tools and blending modes. Users of this software consist of small – medium businesses, freelances and beginners.
- Exports to PDF, JPG, PNG and SVG
- Very clean to the eye and adjusts based on the element selected
- Ability to open Sketch files
- Key features: powerful pages, text, multiple styles, powerful grids, auto layouts
- Unpredictable as it’s constantly changing
- Some tools provide unnecessary complexity
Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux
The GIMP which stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program is a free cross-platform image editor which is sometimes even compared with Photoshop. GIMP provides its users with a variety of uses which range from high quality photo manipulation, graphic design, original artwork creation and even programming algorithms. It offers a variety of features such as paint tools, colour correction, layers, filters, selection, photo retouching and image authoring.
- Great color management features
- Constant updates
- Can handle many formats including: BMP, PNG, SVG, PDF
- Multiple customizable tools available
- Most of the features of Adobe Photoshop
- Very flexible
- Can be inconsistent as updates are produced by large number of volunteers around the world (community developed)
Being part of a technology driven society has allowed there to be an abundance of graphic programs available to you. However, a wide majority of them are costly and wouldn’t seem worth it as a beginner just starting out. Now you don’t have to feel limited to your creativity by using Inkscape, Vectr, Canva, Gravit Designer and GIMP to explore and spark your inner creativity.