A disarmed Harry Potter is still a great wizard. But arm him with his holly wand, and you have the G.O.A.T!
Similarly, no matter how much of a design wizard you are, your potential is being largely compromised, if you aren’t on the right graphic design tools.
It’s 2020, and graphic designing tools have evolved, alongside your audience’s tastes. But what hasn’t changed through the years is the number of responses to any design piece. The count still stands at three — no, yes, and WOW!
It’s fairly easy to get the first two responses (well, easier to get the first one, but we’re not going there) — but to get people to drool over your design work, you need to have a steady hand on the right tools. And while there is no best software out there, you still need to know what fits your needs.
You should arm yourself with tools help you get the right things done while speeding up your workflow. Wondering where to begin?
We’re here to help you with that!
In this article, we’ll be talking about various tools, divided into the following categories:
- Vector designing
- Image editing
- 3D designing
- Data representation
- Other important tools
So, without further ado, let’s help you pick the right wand for your battles, shall we?!
1. Gravit Designer
Gravit Designer is a free vector design tool that works seamlessly on Windows, MacOS, Linux, and ChromeOS.
With Gravit Designer, you can do any and all kinds of vector designing tasks — from creating app and icon designs to creating attractive presentations, animations, and much more.
Having a clean and intuitive interface, this tool adjusts itself according to your needs. It comes equipped with a host of features for creating detailed and beautiful vector imagery, including path graphs, a knife tool, multiple fills and blending modes, and a powerful text engine.
Gravit Designer allows you to export your design as a PDF, SVG, or bitmap. And if you need to access your files on-the-go, there’s Gravit cloud service to your rescue!
Vectr is one of the go-to tools if you work in a team and are in a need for collaborating. This free editing tool is excellent for creating 2D vector graphics.
Like Gravit Designer, Vectr too works on any operating system you might have, and it also has a browser-based web app option. Which reminds us, if you want to use Vectr for web design, you might want to check out some mockup tools to help you get started!
Vectr is jam-packed with all the features a graphic design tool would need and more — a wide range of unique filters, fonts, and shadows. But what makes Vectr stand out is its collaboration and synchronization features that allow you to connect with anyone in your team, from anywhere!
If you are someone who’s on the lookout for a kickass vector graphic design editor for creating SVG files for websites, SVG-Edit is just the tool for you!
And don’t be fooled by its standard and basic functionalities, for SVG-Edit is capable of surprising you. Try it for yourself and you’ll know!
Inkspace is a free, open-source graphic design software with excellent SVG integration. It is available both as a stand-alone desktop app as well as a web application.
Focusing on SVG file format, it comes loaded with many advanced features including markers, alpha blending, multiple filters, and cloned objects, to name a few. Also, as the tool offers excellent support for a variety of color modes, it is a viable alternative to Adobe Illustrator both for print and web design options.
That said, if the interface seems way simpler than Illustrator, trust us when we say that it is possible to achieve extremely sophisticated design work using this nifty tool.
5. On1 Photo RAW
On1 Photo RAW is a free image editing software that comes with tons of cool features such as stackable filters, custom presets, live adjustments and previews, textures and borders, and much more!
This image editing and graphic design tool has over 170 super cool effects along with an add-on option for Photoshop, Lightroom, and Aperture. Talk about an all-round image editing experience!
Canva is one of the simplest, yet most sophisticated image-editors you can get your hands on. Packed with multiple photo editing tools, icons, templates, and other products, Canva allows you to edit images, create color palettes, and do so much more.
Canva is available as both a web app and a mobile app (for iOs and Android). It has over 8,000 templates, a ton of stickers and badges, and other unique features like speech bubble maker, image transparency tool, among others.
However, it’ll be unfair to pass off Canva as merely an image editing tool for it certainly does much more than just “edit images”. It features a dedicated infographic maker with dozens of free designs and fonts at your fingertips. if you’re looking to make infographics that make a professional graphic design job look simple, then Canva is where it’s at.
GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. Debuted on Unix-based systems, GIMP is an open-source, free graphic design software. It is fully equipped to run on Linux, Mac, and Windows.
While GIMP is capable of handling any and every kind of image file there is, the most commendable feature of GIMP is that it is constantly evolving to keep up with the changing times.
It comes with such a wide range of tools like customizable brushes, layers, filters, etc., that you will feel as if you’re using Adobe Photoshop. Yes, it is that good and the best part — it is completely free!
08. Photo Pos Pro
If your PC runs on Windows and you require an image editing tool that comes with GIMP’s extensive toolset without Photoshop’s price tag and complexity, Photo Pos Pro is what you need in your life!
Photo Pos Pro is a great choice for both beginners and expert photo editors — while the Novice interface includes basic, no fuss editing tools, the Expert interface is loaded with lots of advanced editing features. The interface is extremely user-friendly and comes with an in-depth help system to get you up and running.
Photo Pos Pro has been developed with image editing and enhancement in mind, which is why it is the perfect tool for day-to-day photo editing tasks like fixing brightness, contrast, and saturation.
Another excellent alternative to Photoshop, Paint.NET is a completely free graphic design software for Windows.
Simplicity and ease of use are the two key features of this tool. Thus, this is the perfect image-editing tool for beginners. However, it does have some powerful features like adjustments, layers, special effects, user-created plugins, among other things.
Paint.NET offers an array of special effects (sharpen, blur, emboss, etc.) that allow you to create a fake perspective among other things.
10. SketchUp Free
If you wish to get started in the world of 3D designing, you can’t go wrong with SketchUp, and especially its free version. It is a general-purpose CAD solution packed with powerful 3D modeling features.
SketchUp provides an extremely friendly and forgiving introduction to build 3D models. The best part — it has a free library of pre-existing 3D models that you can choose from.
Using the tool is really simple. All you gotta do is start by simply drawing lines and figures that can be extended and turned into 3D items.
K-3D is a completely free 3D modeling software that integrates flexible plugins with a data visualization pipeline architecture to facilitate data transformation from one form into another.
The great thing about K-3D is that it uses the look-and-feel of your platform, thereby putting you at ease. Also, it has both procedural and parametric workflows. It allows you to adjust the properties interactively while also displaying the results immediately.
If you’re serious about working on 3D graphic design but are struggling to afford the required tools, then you’re just in luck!
Blender is a free, open source 3D content creation suite which is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux OS.
Blender has all the functionalities required to support 3D pipeline, 3D modeling, animation, rendering, texturing, video editing, game creation, and so on. With its developers constantly trying to improve the tool, Blender is ever-evolving.
13. Google Charts
When it comes to data representation and visualization, Google Charts has to be the first one that comes to your mind. This user-friendly and platform/browser compatible tool is the perfect infographic generator for your website.
Available as a web app, Google Charts offers a variety of charts and options to perfectly match the look and feel of your website. It can handle a wide range of data visualization models — from simple line and bar graphs to complex hierarchical treemaps.
Another popular data visualization tool is D3.js. This open-source tool has been designed to work seamlessly with modern browsers.
It harnesses the power of open web technologies like HTML, SVG, and CSS, which is great for those looking for cross-platform support. D3.js is so powerful and versatile that it can create the most complex of charts and graphs such as bubble charts, bullet charts, non-continuos cartograms, dendrograms, force-directed graphs, box plots, and so much more.
Created by the Product Science team at Medium, Charted is a tool designed for automatically visualizing data. All you need to do is feed a CSV file or a Google Sheets link in the box provided and Charted created a rich and neat chart of the data that can be shared with others as well.
Charted has, undoubtedly one of the cleanest user interfaces of all data visualization tools. Also, it refreshes the charts you create every thirty minutes, so your representation remains updated always.
Other useful tools
Developed by the brains behind Gravit Design, Klex is a beginner-friendly tool for anyone who wishes to create impressive graphics in just a few clicks.
It is available on all operating systems and browsers. With a gamut of ready-made templates to choose from, combined with thousands of assets including customization options, fonts, and text assets, Klex helps you to create some uber cool designs in a jiffy.
17. Google Fonts
No list of graphic designing tools is complete without the mention of Google Fonts. Formerly known as the Google Web Fonts project, Google Fonts is an extensive catalogue of free and open-source designer web fonts.
It is extremely easy and intuitive to search for a font. Google Font invites users to explore and test fonts in more than 140 languages, and even create their customized collection of font families.
Of course, you need the right rig to run these tools (or just to show off). Here’s a quick read on hp zbook vs elitebook to help you pick the right system for your design gigs this year.
So, there’s that, you little wizard!
A well laid out collection of wands for all the kinds of graphic design battles you fight in your day-to-day job. Now it’s your time to explore the tools mentioned in the list and pick some for yourself.
If we’ve missed out any of your personal favourites from the list, do let us know either by dropping a comment below or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!