Free design software is an ideal option in what can be a pricey industry. With careful choice, it is possible to find great free packages that cover a whole range of design fields, from web design to graphic design, from social media to printables. And as they are free, it’s no problem to combine these free design software options to give yourself a vast selection of possibilities. While you might not get the full-on professional features of paid-for packages, you’ll be surprised at just what can be achieved with some imagination and creativity.
So whether you are looking for a cheap option for your specific idea, are a hobbyist looking to experiment, a student getting creative or a beginner trying things out – there is absolutely no need to spend big or even spend at all. We’ve put together a great selection of some of the best free design software packages available in various areas of design in this brief but handy article so you can delve straight in, pick out whatever takes your fancy, and get designing. So let’s not waste time; there’s a lot to see.
In this article:
Vectr is best for: Web and Graphic design, creating logos, cards, brochures
Vectr runs on: Browser, Windows, Linux
If you are looking for free design software to work with 2D vector graphics, we have a fine option for you. Vectr is a superb free editor, available on a browser, or as a downloaded app. Vectr gives real professional quality completely free, with many features, including filters and fonts. Creating top-quality vector graphics with Vectr is remarkably easy, but if you have any issues, there are plenty of tutorials on their site to help you along. Added to the ease of use are live collaboration features for feedback and creation, so Vectr really is a classy all-round flexible vector package that ticks all the boxes. Direct competition for Abode Illustrator, but for free.
- Professional vector graphic possibilities
- Easy to use & on-site tutorials
- Collaboration features
- Autosave & sync across platforms
- English only support
Inkscape is best for: Web graphics, logo creation, branding images, illustrations
Inkscape runs on: Windows, Mac OS, Linux
Another free design software package to give Adobe Illustrator a run for its money is Inkscape. Giving you the capability of creating scalable vector graphics with certain advanced features, including cloning but still with a straightforward, low learning curve system. Inkscape is a flexible and powerful open-source software package, ideal for starters but good enough for more experienced designers.
- Great creation possibilities, some advance features
- Easy to learn, easy to use & tutorials (learning resources on site)
- Great community
- Can be slow
- Simplistic interface
3. Gravit Designer
Gravit Designer is best for: App and icon design, illustration, animation, social media posts
Gravit Designer runs on: Browser, Windows, macOS, Linux
Gravit Designer from the Coral Draw team is a vector design app that is well-reviewed and well thought of. There is a paid-for Pro version, but the free option does an excellent job for most design types, including animation. As far as free design software is concerned, Gravit more than holds its own with features, drag and drop editing, and tools right out of the Pro box, plus there is cloud storage. And if you come to love it, the Pro upgrade is a natural step to the real professional possibilities without having to learn a whole new system.
- Ease of use
- Range of great tools (including text tools)
- Customizable interface
- No real-time collaboration
Canva is best for: Social media posts, infographics, presentations, print design
Canva runs on: Web-based, Browser, iOS, Android
Canva is primarily an image editing software package, but in truth, it allows users to create social media graphics, presentations, posters, and all sorts of other content. It has a simple UI, an extensive range of tools for versatility, and some great learning assets. On top of that, there are loads of templates, drag-and-drop editing, and a huge number of premade vectors, photos, and icons ready to use at once. A great plus is a dedicated infographic maker with free design assets and fonts. It’s free for individuals, but there are pro and enterprise versions adding collaboration tools, customization, and advanced branding. Why not start with the free version and work your way up?
- Photo Editing
- Learning resources
- 8,000 free templates in 100s of design styles
- Premade, icons, vectors, and photos
- Limited with some paid-for features
- No collaboration tools
GIMP is best for: Photo editing, mock-ups, gif
GIMP runs on: Windows, macOS, Linux
Gimp is a raster graphics editor used for image retouching and editing but also can be used for free-form drawing and other specialized tasks. As a free design software it is often, and with some justification, billed as an alternative to Adobe Photoshop, and there are similarities in look as well as functionality. There’s a fantastic set of tools for color correction, enhancement, cloning, and much more. It isn’t exactly Photoshop, but it’s as near as you’ll get for free, and it’s well worth experimenting with its range and versatility.
- Works with all formats
- A wide selection of plugins (free to download)
- Good selection of editing tools
- Can be difficult for absolute beginners
Krita is best for: Painting and illustration
Krita runs on: Windows, macOS, Linux
For illustrators who enjoy working with Paint, this free design software from Krita will take some beating. Krita is a free and open-source painting tool that is superb for illustrations, art, and comic book art, and while it still carries some photo and image editing functions, the advanced drawing features make it a stand-out package. Customizable brushes with stabilizers, a pop-up color palette, and templates, it styles itself as having been created for artists by artists. The Krita tutorials included on their site will help you make the most of this great free design software and make the most of it you should.
- Customizable User Interface
- Drawing Aid for Your Assistance
- Great drawing and painting tools
- Difficult for true starters to pick up without the available help
Lucidpress is best for: Desktop publications, newsletters, presentations, brochures, and social media graphics.
Lucidpress runs on: Browser
Lucidpress is a web-based desktop publishing software application that allows nonprofessional designers to create a whole host of digital and print designs. There is a good range of customizable templates for flyers, newsletters, business cards, brochures, posters, etc. It has a simple interface and easy-to-use tools and is a perfect introduction to the art of desktop publishing without getting too heavy or detailed. The free version is limited to 3 documents and 3 pages per document so unless you upgrade this isn’t a long-term solution but it is certainly a way to feel your way in.
- Allows artwork management
- Good for ad management
- Simple to Use
- The free version is limited to 3 pages per document & 3 documents
8. Pixlr E
Pixlr E is best for: Photo and image editing
Pixlr E runs on: Browser, iOS, Android
Аs a free graphic design software alternative to PhotoShop, Pixlr E claims to offer over two million combinations of free filters, overlays, and borders. The quality photo editing tools, such as cloning, brushes as well as cropping, and resizing cover all the basics and more, allowing you to create a professional look. There is also great format support for images. The free version does have some advertising but it could well be worth putting up with such a minor inconvenience for this top-class photo editing software.
- Supports many image formats
- Easy to use
- Limited retouching features
- Limited support
- Requires flash
Snappa is best for: Social media graphics, ads, blogs
Snappa runs on: Windows, Mac Os
Snappa’s infographic design software package has a limited free version for 3 downloads per month but nevertheless, it comes with over 6,000 high-quality templates and 3 million stock HD photos and graphics that make creating social media posts or blogs incredibly quick and easy. You can add text and vector graphics to create something rather special. Once you’ve got the hang of its features and range, you can upgrade for unlimited downloads and instant social media sharing.
- Quick and easy creation
- 6,000 + templates
- Stock images, fonts, and shapes
- The free version is limited to 3 downloads per month
BeFunky is best for: Photo editing, infographics
BeFunky runs on: Browser
BeFunky helps non-pros create great-looking designs and edit photos and there are some super video tutorials to guide you through. Its easy-to-use editing capabilities and extensive graphics and image libraries give great versatility, even the free library has 125 digital effects. The paid-for version has more advanced features but it’s worth playing around with this free option first.
- Great selection of tools
- Excellent video tutorials
- Stocks images and graphics
- The free version is limited to one infographic template
VistaCreate is best for: Marketing, social media ads, blogs, logos, posters, animation
VistaCreate runs on: Browsers
A free VistaCreate version is an online tool for creating graphic designs and videos. You can add text, images, backgrounds, and clipart to pre-designed templates. It’s an easy way into graphic design for digital or print media. Ideal for starting creating animated posts on social media and many other forms of design. The paid-for versions offer premium images and collaboration but the tools and flexibility in the free version are more than good enough to get the ball rolling.
- Over 75 thousand templates
- 1M+ Stock images
- Collaboration is only on the paid-for version
12. Adobe Spark
Spark is best for: Social media graphics, short videos, web stories, memes
Spark runs on: Browser, Windows, Mac
Whilst the full version is paid-for, this starter plan is completely free. It doesn’t require much experience or learning and is a quick easy way of creating graphics and basic videos. Although the free version doesn’t have a full extensive range of tools or options for customization, it does a good job of setting out the real possibilities, especially with an upgrade.
- Free images and icons
- The free version lacks customization options
13. Design Wizard
Design Wizard is best for: Social media posts, emails, marketing
Design Wizard runs on: Browser
A totally free and easy graphic design software that allows you to access over 15,000 templates and over 1 million free images and create something in a matter of minutes. There’s scope for video too and lots of customization tool options. The free version gives a taste of what’s to come, but there are limits such as not being able to add text to videos or upload your own images and some images still require payment. The paid-for version adds energy and flexibility.
- Free templates
- Free stock images
- The free version is limited
From this article, it is clear to see you have options to create all sorts of visuals, from infographics to video animations, from memes to editing photos, and all of that is completely free. If you’re just testing the waters, these packages are ideal, and you’ll be surprised at the amount of power you have without needing payment. You may decide that these are all you need, and who would blame you? But there’s a chance that once you’ve broken the ice, you’ll want more and more, in which case many free design software packages allow direct upgrades. Good luck and be creative.