High-quality graphic design tools are expensive – there’s no question about that. If you’re a business on a budget, but need great design to help with your marketing efforts, you might be wondering where to find the best free graphic design tools. There are a ton out there, but these stand out from the rest due to their high-quality and lack of subscription fees.
Here are five programs, along with some of the pros and cons of each:
Pros: Gimp, also known as GNU Image Manipulation Program, “is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring,” according to their website. Gimp can be used for many different things, including image rendering, format converting, and more. There are also many plug-ins and extensions that can be used with Gimp to increase its capabilities.
“If you want to edit photos or create digital artwork without having to pay a large up-front cost or monthly subscription fee, give GIMP a try,” Pulse’s Creative Director Mike Jandreau said.
Cons: Gimp seriously lacks the rich photo editing features that Adobe Photoshop offers. It also wasn’t created for print design work. Although you can print from Gimp, it doesn’t allow the user to work in an optimal CMYK color space, such as one you would receive working in a professional editing suite.
Pros: “Blender is the free and open source 3D creation suite. It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline—modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, even video editing and game creation,” according to its website. Blender is a public project made by a bunch of different people, and it’s free for use.
Cons: Although Blender is a free-to-use program, most dedicated users would agree that the user interface is clunky at times and can sometimes use a bit of finagling. Blender’s viewport can sometimes struggle with rendering high-poly scenes — making it more of a hassle than anything.
Pros: Snapseed is an Android app that functions as a professional photo editor. “Snapseed is a quick and easy way to edit and add text/effects to images,” Pulse’s Graphic Designer, Branin Blodgett said. “If you are familiar with editing photos on Instagram, you will have no trouble editing in Snapseed. It’s a powerful app designed by Google, so it is constantly evolving and becoming more powerful as development continues. I recommend it for professional photographers on the go, or the beginner photographer looking to get a bit more “pop” out of their photos.”
Cons: Snapseed’s user interface does have a small learning curve, and it can be confusing to someone who is unfamiliar with other photo editing software. This app will not hold your hand through the image editing process. Snapseed mostly treats its users like professionals and sometimes the options can be a bit overwhelming. Also, power users aren’t able to edit a large batch of photos efficiently.
Pros: Canva can help you design beautiful graphics for just about everything. Do you need an image to accompany a boosted Facebook post or a new header for your Twitter account? What about a business card, presentation, or photo collage? Canva can do it all, and it has a bunch of professional layouts and a drag-and-drop feature that makes it easy to use.
Cons: Even though Canva comes with a bunch of prepackaged themes, layouts, icons, and more, creating your own unique design style is difficult, simply because everyone else who uses it has access to the same tools. Plus, if you’re lacking in the creativity department, it can sometimes be difficult to create something unique and graphically pleasing.
Pros: Adobe Spark is available in a free version that lets you create graphics by picking from photos, icons, fonts, themes, and more. You can create beautiful invitations, flyers, cards, and even make videos. This is a great tool for someone who wants something simple to use.
Cons: If you use the free version of Adobe Spark, a lot of the graphics and videos you create must have its branding at the end, which distracts from the message you’re trying to convey. Also, the video editing options are rather limited, and though they work well for someone with minimal video experience, an expert will create something more visually appealing.
These free graphic design tools can help you save money while creating beautiful things for your marketing efforts, but each has pros and cons. Consulting a professional graphic designer and having them create something unique for your business is usually the best route.