Graphic designers play a vital role in creating a successful brand, coming up with the design concepts, logos, and other visual content that draw consumers in. And behind every great graphic designer? A suite of digital graphic design tools that bring their ideas to life. Tools that enable digital drawing, photo editing, graphics creation, and more have become indispensable to professional graphic designers. Fortunately, there are many free tools for graphic design (and several open source) that are available. Here are some of the most popular graphic design tools that don’t cost a cent:
Krita is a free, open source application for digital painting that has been around since 2005. Developed by the digital artist community that uses it, Krita is a particularly good tool for developing illustrations, concept art, textures, animations, and comics. Moreover, it’s great for graphic designers and digital artists starting a project from scratch and is known for its wide selection of brushes. Another big selling point for the free design tool? It offers users a customizable user interface. Krita is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android.
GIMP—or GNU Image Manipulation Program—is a free and immensely popular image editing tool that was first launched over two decades ago. The user-friendly platform, which can be downloaded on GNU/Linux, Mac, and Windows, has a wealth of tools for digital painting, photo retouching, image composition, and more. GIMP is also modular: users can easily install plugins and extensions to expand and customize the platform’s potential. In fact, GIMP is often compared to the significantly pricier Photoshop in terms of its capabilities, which makes it one of the best free tools for graphic design.
Inkscape describes itself as a “free and open source vector graphics editor” suitable for creating all kinds of artistic or technical designs. The broadly compatible platform gives you the tools to translate design concepts into high-quality illustrations whether it’s a logo, clip art, typeface or diagram, among other things. Inkscape is particularly popular for these types of projects because of the highly scalable nature of vector illustrations.
Available as a mobile app, Snapseed is a well-rounded image editing tool that is popular amongst graphic designers looking for free tools for graphic design. One of the free app’s main strengths is that the quality of the original image is not reduced when changes are applied to it. This ensures that the user’s final product is the same resolution as the original image. Snapseed is equipped with a range of 29 different photo editing tools, including in-depth colour enhancing settings, healing, selective editing, and various filters. The Snapseed App is available for both iOS and Android.
Less of a tool and more of a resource, Unsplash is a prominent online repository for free stock images. The online database has over 200,000 contributors and hosts millions of high-quality stock images. Unsplash is also entirely free to use, enabling graphic designers to access and use a huge array of photos, wallpapers, textures, and even 3D renderings in their work. You do have the option of crediting the original photographer, but all the content is licensed for personal, commercial, and editorial projects.
Visme is a browser-based design platform with a user-friendly interface and drag-and-drop functions. Whether you are new to graphic design or a veteran digital artist, Visme is a great option for creating content for your business or brand, including graphics, presentations, infographics, charts, animations, and videos. Visme does have a pricing scheme, but its free subscription offers lots of capabilities, including access to most templates and up to 100mb of storage.
Blender is another free, open source design platform that has made a big impact in the graphic design and animation communities. Blender is built primarily for the creation of 3D content, including animations, visual effects, 3D models, motion graphics, 3D applications, and more. Slightly more advanced, compared to other free programs on this list, Blender has tools for every step of the 3D creation process, including modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, motion tracking, and more.
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While these are among some of the most popular free graphic design tools currently available, there are also many others out there. It’s also worth mentioning that many paid graphic design software programs offer a free trial or limited free version, which could be worth checking out. Ultimately, every graphic designer finds their preferred array of digital tools, which enables them to create the digital content we see every day. For more free freelancer tool suggestions, head to our SkillPack blog.