You have to realize that there is a lot of information on graphic design software, with new sites and blogs popping up that talk about all the great new apps. That’s how I got started writing about online graphic design apps a few years back. Now I continue to write about the latest graphic design software for newbies who want to get started in the field, as well as those who are interested in refining their skills.
Are you trying to find the best graphic design software? Have you considered free online graphic design software? Free vector editors allow users to create artwork from scratch or by manipulating existing images. Learn about free graphic design app here.
Adobe Illustrator is more than just a graphic design tool that is perfect for illustrative artwork, page layouts, corporate logos, website mockups, and almost anything else as per the requirement. Moreover, it’s an industry benchmark in vector creation tools.
- High-customizability: Adobe Illustrator is highly customizable through multiple preset layouts along with other customizability options. Users can leverage the drag and drop feature to move panels anywhere on the screen.
- In-Panel Editing: Its in-panel editing feature allows designers to edit multiple artboards simultaneously to help designers work with more efficiency.
- Highly Compatible: It is highly compatible with numerous devices that have different configurations from Mac and Windows.
- User Interface: Its user interface is highly accessible and customizable. It offers custom viewing and space-saving features to help you work on any machine.
- Instead of stored pixels, it generates graphics based on mathematical equations to ensure crisp and sharp lines that you can print in any dimension
- It creates graphics files in relatively small sizes so that designers can share them easily through a simple email attachment
- You get access to over 90 million images, graphics, templates, and videos from Adobe Stock
- Use Adobe font integration to select thousands of fonts and implement the most suitable font for the project
- Tight integration with other Adobe products
- It is costlier in comparison to other vector-based graphic design tools
- So many features can look a bit overwhelming for new users. It requires a steep learning curve to use it efficiently
- It could eat up a lot of space on your machine
Adobe Illustrator offers a monthly subscription of US$9.99 for personal use and US$33.99 for enterprise use.
Adobe Animate is a new and improved version of Adobe Flash Professional. The software lets you create interactive vector graphics and 2D animations for videos, ads, games, television and more. You can animate characters, avatars, shapes and other assets using timeline controls.
- Vector brushes with size, smoothness, pressure and velocity settings.
- Intuitive timeline controls with advanced animation settings.
- Virtual camera feature that lets you add pan, zoom and other effects.
- Synchronize audio with your animations and create audio loops.
- Typekit integration gives you access to premium web fonts.
- Export in Flash, HTML5 Canvas, WebGL, SVG and more.
Pricing: Starts from $20.99/month.
Pros: Extensive export and sharing options to publish your animations in virtually any format for any platform.
Cons: Just like any other Adobe software, Animate has a steep learning curve, especially for beginners.
Ideal for: Game designers, YouTubers, cartoon makers.
Adobe Character Animator
Adobe Character Animator is another one of Adobe’s animation software stack. But unlike Adobe Animate, Character Animator lets you use motion capture to create live animations of your 2D characters. For example, you can create a character in Illustrator or Photoshop, import it into Character Animator, set it up with tags and then animate it using your own facial movements using your webcam.
- Real-time motion capture and automatic facial tracking.
- Download characters from Creative Cloud Market.
- Integration with Photoshop and Illustrator.
- Move the character’s limbs with your mouse.
- Timeline panel for recording and editing scenes.
Pricing: Included in the Creative Cloud All-Apps Plan that costs $39.99/month.
Pros: Easy to replicate real-life movements and expressions with facial tracking. Plenty of import and export options.
Cons: This software is available as part of the all apps pack, not as a standalone product. Also, you need to have a webcam and microphone to use the motion capture feature.
Ideal for: Bloggers, marketers, entertainers, educators.
Initially established in 1998, Maya is an Academy Award-winning (2003) 3D computer graphics and animation software. Currently owned by Autodesk, it is especially useful for the creation of interactive 3D applications like motion pictures, video games, TV series, special effects, and more.
It is, without any doubt, one of the best software tools on the market providing 3D animation, and has been acclaimed for its use in notable films like ‘Lord of the Rings,’ ‘Spiderman,’ ‘Star Wars,’ and ‘Ice Age.’
The best part is that it is compatible with all operating systems including Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Maya is one of the best animation software tools for creating animation pictures, video games, and adding 3D effects in motion pictures. If you require high-quality visual effects, then Maya has you covered.
- Clip matching feature
- Bifrost liquid creation feature that creates simulations of photorealistic movies
- Excellent Adobe character animator
- Allows deep adaptive liquid simulations
- In-built accelerated modeling workflows
- Paint effect feature that allows you to make 3D shapes by freehand drawing tools and drawing software
- Enhanced viewport 2.0 and DX11Shader rendering engine (blur refFlections, shader effects, imparting translucency)
- Free-form approach to 3D modeling that allows you to add as many layers as you want
- Arnold integration – this RenderView feature can be used to view scene changes in real-time
- Create your own scripts and plugins for better customization (in Maya-embedded Language or python scripting)
- Voice-o-matic provides lip-syncing technology, motion capture, and walk cycles
- Complex hand-made animation tasks made extremely easy
- Efficient color management (useful Boolean operations on polygon geometry)
- Create realistic effects including explosions and cloth simulations
- Excellent rendering technology even for the most advanced projects
- Comes with a 30-day free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee which are great to take it for a test drive
Maya is easily the best 3D animation software on the market and comes in at a reasonable cost of $1,700/year (or pay $215/month). They also offer a 30-day free trial so you can test the software before making the purchase.
Maya is one of the best on the market and my #2 pick this year.
You can test out Maya for free with a 30-day free trial or purchase a yearly plan and save 34%.
Blender is an open-source video editing software that lets you have total control over your animations. The tool offers advanced command line and programming features for rendering, modeling and creating 3D animations. It works across different operating systems, so you can use it on Linux, Windows and Mac.
- Powerful rendering, modeling and sculpting tools.
- Advanced animation and rigging tools.
- Draw and edit in 3D mode.
- Video editing and VFX, including motion tracking, masking and compositing.
- Powerful and realistic simulation tools.
- Extensive Python API for scripting and customization.
- Customizable user interface, window layout and shortcuts.
Pros: It doesn’t cost anything to use Blender. Also, advanced animation and rendering tools make it fit for both beginners and expert users.
Cons: Blender has a very steep learning curve as it’s packed with so many features. Beginners will be overwhelmed and might need to spend hours on tutorials before getting it right.
Ideal for: Animators, engineers, scientists, artists, students.
You want to build a graphic design portfolio and impress the world with your amazing Photoshop skills, but you realize it can take you forever to make even one simple logo on your own. You don’t have that kind of time, nor do you have the money to spend on graphic design software.