Graphic design is becoming a much more common skill among content creators, marketers, social media influencers and more. Even if you’re just making a small graphic to post online, a few simple edits could help make it stand out.
In this article, I’ll take a close look at 12 of the best free graphic design software programs and apps that you can use to make your graphics stand out. I’ve checked out the resources listed below to verify that they’re completely free and to see what features each includes.
Where To Find Free Graphic Design Software
Whether you're looking to create or edit an image for personal or professional use, you may not need to pay for a full editing program. At the time of writing, Adobe Photoshop's best value is $239.88 annually. If you can find a free graphic design software that will meet your needs, that's a huge savings!
I tested out more than a dozen free graphic design websites and programs to see what you can expect from each one. Here are a few of the best free resources to check out, who or what they're best for and the platforms that will support them:
Below, you’ll find detailed information on each free graphic design software product including how to download it, how to get started and what features you’ll find with each program.
Best for: Social media graphics
Platforms: Mac, Windows, Android, iOS
Canva launched in 2013 and has since become a very popular online design and publishing tool. In fact, this is the software that Team Clark uses to create a lot of the graphics we post on social media!
Canva offers a free version that includes everything you’ll need to start designing. With it, you’ll get access to more than 250,000 free templates and more than 100 design types including social media posts, presentations, letters and more. You’ll also be able to use hundreds of thousands of free photos and graphics, collaborate on projects with members of your team and save your work with 5GB of free Cloud storage.
You can create a free account to begin using Canva online directly in your web browser. You can also download the desktop app for your Mac or Windows device. Canva also offers highly-rated apps on The App Store and Google Play for your iOS or Android device.
Best for: Collaborative projects
Platforms: Windows, Linux, Chrome OS, Web Browser
The website includes a variety of helpful tutorials ranging from how to get started to creating beautiful professional presentations. You can also use the software to create business cards, typographic logos, social media headers, memes, resumes and more. In addition to the tutorials, you can also check out Vectr's user guide for a more comprehensive description of how to use the software.
Perhaps one of the best features that Vectr provides is real-time URL sharing. You can send anyone a Vectr document for real-time collaboration online. You can create and edit designs live from both the web app or the desktop version. This makes it a great tool for collaborating with others on projects.
Best for: Corel users
Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS
Gravit Designer is a great free resource for building graphics. It's owned by the same company as Corel Draw, so if you're a fan of Corel digital design products, Gravit Designer is definitely worth checking out. While there's a "PRO" version of the software available for $49 annually, the free version of Gravit Designer should have everything you'll need to create quality graphics. Plus, you can try the PRO version for free when you first sign up. Just select the free trial period for PRO.
Gravit Designer works online, but you can also download a desktop version of the software. You’ll just have to be connected to the internet to use it for free. When you first get started, you’ll be prompted to create a free account using your email address, name and a password. You won’t have to enter any payment information to use the free version of the software or to try out a trial version of the PRO software.
With the free version of Gravit Designer, you'll get 500MB of Cloud storage and the ability to export PDF files. Unfortunately, the free version of the software doesn't allow you to work offline, it doesn't include touchscreen support or advanced export options, and you can't see your projects' version history.
Best for: Professional quality vector graphics
Platforms: Linux, Windows, macOS
According to Inkscape’s website, the software was created for designers of all kinds including those in marketing and branding, engineering/CAD, web graphics, cartooning and for individual uses. You can get started by downloading the software to your Linux, Windows or macOS device.
When I first downloaded Inkscape, the interface reminded me of Microsoft Paint. This made it really intuitive to use, and all of the features are available for free. According to the website, those features include object creation, object manipulation, fill and stroke features, operations on paths, text support, rendering and a variety of file formats.
There are tons of resources available on Inkscape's website under the "Learn" tab including an FAQ section, tutorials, books/manuals and a guide to how to use Inkscape for animation. Users also have access to Inkscape's community which includes user support and discussions in the form of chat, forums and more.
Best for: Free Photoshop alternative
Platforms: GNU/Linux, OS X, Windows
If you're looking for a free alternative to Photoshop, GIMP is a graphic design software worth checking out. While you can't use the software online, it can be downloaded to Linux, OS X or Windows computers.
GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It's a free software that was designed for photo retouching, image composition and image authoring, according to the website. The interface is really similar to Adobe's Photoshop, so if you're already familiar with the tools and shortcuts, using GIMP will be easy.
You can get started by checking out the tutorials online which include beginner basics, photo editing tips, painting guides and more. If you're ready to try out the software yourself, you can download it here.
Best for: Basic online editing
Platforms: Any web browser
SVG-Edit is a web-based drawing editor that works in any modern web browser. The code to the program is completely open-source, which means you can download and edit the program's code itself, embed it into your own website and more. Of course, even if you aren't interested in coding, you can just visit this website to use the basic editor online for free.
As you can tell from the program’s title, the editor specializes in creating and editing scalable vector graphics (SVG) images. This is one of the most popular graphics formats. Still, you can export your finished images as PNG, JPEG, BPM, WEBP or PDF files as well.
SVG-Edit looks a lot like Microsoft Paint, and it’s great for similar simple tasks. You’ll find basic tools that allow you to create and edit images including a digital pencil, shape tools, text tools, a color picker and more. You can use the tools to create a basic graphic from scratch, or if you need to make simple edits to a graphic or image, SVG-Edit may be the best basic online editor. Of course, if you have a more complicated project, this editor may not be enough.
Best for: 3D creation
Platforms: Windows, Linux, macOS
Blender is unlike many of the free graphic design software listed here because it's focused on open source 3D creation. It can be used for rendering, modeling, sculpting, animation, 2D concept design, visual effects, simulation and more.
If you're interested in making 3D graphics or clips, this is the free graphic design software for you. To check out a full list of the features available for free with Blender, visit the company's website.
Blender is completely open-source, which means it's free to use for any purpose. You can learn more about the software's license online. If you're ready to download Blender and try it out for yourself, visit the download page here. Unfortunately, the program isn't available in your web browser, which means you will have to download the software in order to try it out.
Best for: Drawing
Platforms: Windows, Linux, macOS
According to the Krita user manual, Krita is a sketching and painting program designed for digital artists. If you're an illustrator looking for a free digital tool, Krita is one to check out.
You will have to download the software to try it out because there is no browser version available. To download Krita, visit this page. Be sure to check the system requirements before downloading because you will need the right version for your operating system as well as a good amount of storage on your device.
Once you download Krita, you'll find that the interface is intuitive and customizable. You'll also find a variety of free tools available including a selection of brushes and brush stabilizers, vector and text tools, a wrap-around mode for seamless textures and a simple 2D animation tool. For a full list of Krita's features, check out the company's website.
Best for: Mobile editing
Platforms: Web browser, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Pixlr is another great free graphic design software worth checking out. There are different editors available including Pixlr X for quick and easy graphic design and Pixlr E for advanced photo editing. When I tried out Pixlr, I used Pixlr X. It included all of the basic features you'd need for graphic design including layouts, templates, text, effects, filters, additional elements and more.
One feature that stood out to me about PIxlr was the "Remove Background" tool. If you need to remove the background of an image, you can visit this page to use the tool. PIxlr's templates are definitely another one of the editor's highlights, and you'll find plenty available for free. Pixlr's templates include YouTube thumbnails, Instagram stories and other social media elements. You'll also find PowerPoints, resumes, business cards, newsletters, invitations, photo collage templates and more.
You can use Pixlr to create or edit images in your web browser or you can download the desktop version of the software. If you're more interested in using your mobile device for creating and editing graphics, you can also check out Pixlr Mobile. The app has a 3.7-star rating out of 1.1K reviews on The App Store and a 4.3-star rating out of 1.2M reviews on Google Play.
Best for: 3D animation, illustration and designing
Platforms: Windows, macOS
Daz 3D is an excellent free graphic design software especially for animators, illustrators and designers. The program focuses on 3D design and allows you to build scenes and characters from scratch or by using its extensive content library. In addition to images, you can also use Daz 3D to produce animations.
To get started, you’ll have to visit the website and create an account. Then, you’ll be able to download the software to your computer. Daz 3D is available for Windows and macOS devices. Unfortunately, you can’t use the software online and there isn’t a mobile app available, which means you’ll have to download it to your computer to use.
Still, there are tons of resources available for free online that can help you to get the most out of the free software. You can scroll over the “Community” tab at the top of the website to check out the gallery, forums and blog. Under the “Help” tab, you’ll find free video tutorials, Wiki documents and an FAQ section.
Best for: Beginners
Platforms: Web browser
DesignWizard is a great free graphic design software to check out, especially for beginners. You'll have to create an account to get started, but once you're logged in, you'll find the entire editor available online with a simple, intuitive interface. It's easy to start designing right away with one of the company's templates, or you can start with a blank canvas to begin building your graphic from scratch.
DesignWizard lets you resize an image, add text or shapes, upload and edit images or browse templates and stock photos. You can browse templates by social media site, what’s trending, event invitations, business type, logos and more. You can also check out tutorials and frequently asked questions directly from the editor for help and inspiration.
The basic version of DesignWizard is available for free with pay-as-you-go image and video downloads. There’s also a Pro version of the software available for $9.99/month ($99/year) and a Business version for $49.99/month ($449/year). While some of the more advanced features aren’t available with the free basic version, it should have all you need to get started and make simple edits.
Best for: Professional online editing
Platforms: Web browser
Photopea is a free graphic design software that's great for both beginners and professionals. The program is completely online, which means you won't have to download any software to your computer to try it out. Just visit the website and create a new project or open a file from your computer to get started.
The interface itself is really similar to Photoshop. You can customize the layout a little by hiding and extending the toolbars, but if you aren’t already familiar with the available tools, it may not be intuitive to use. But if you’ve ever used Photoshop, you’ll be able to navigate the editor easily.
In addition to creating a project from scratch or uploading a file from your computer, you can also click on “PSD templates” for inspiration. At the time of writing, there were more than 100 templates available for social media, mockups, mobile designs and more.
While there may be cases where paying for a professional photo editing software is worth it, you can most likely find all of the features you're looking for with free graphic design software. Whether you want to remove a photo's background, add text and elements, build a social media graphic, create digital illustrations or something else entirely, there's a free resource available.
Beginners should consider checking out DesignWizard or Gravit Designer first. For collaborative projects, consider asking everyone to create an account on Vectr. If you're focused on 3D design, Blender and Daz 3D are great free resources. For 2D digital drawing, visit Krita. If you're looking for a more Photoshop style software, be sure to check out GIMP.
For a downloadable professional quality program, be sure to check out Inkscape. If you'll be editing from your phone, Pixlr and Canva both offer highly-rated apps for iOS and Android devices. Alternatively, SVG-Edit and Photopea both offer great editing experiences in your web browser.
No matter which free graphic design software (or which combination of programs) you decide to use for the perfect edit, you can rest assured that you’re saving big compared to paid alternatives.
Have you used a free graphic design software that isn’t on our list? Let us know in the comments below!
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