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5 Best Free Graphic Design Software in 2022 [Windows, Mac]

Last Updated on Jun. 24, 2022 – by David Morgan
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5 Best Free Graphic Design Software

Does the idea of branching out into a graphic design career excite you? Do you have a talent for marketing and logo creation? Are you a person who simply loves to create? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you're in the right place.

This article reviews the five best free graphic design software and photo editors for 2022, including ratings, a comparison chart, pros and cons, and key features. We also give you step-by-step directions on how to use our best overall choice, PhotoDirector, to create and edit digital media.

Let's get started with a snapshot of the top three photo editors that offer free graphic design tools.

Top 3 Free Graphic Design Software Snapshots

PowerDirector Logo

1. PhotoDirector – Best Overall

PhotoDirector is our best overall choice for graphic design software. This excellent program offers thousands of advanced tools and design features for aspiring artists and designers. Detailed Review >


2. GIMP – Best for Professional Designers

GIMP is another free photo editor with plenty of advanced tools and the ability to draw and create images from scratch. Detailed Review >

Inkscape Logo

3. Inkscape – Best for Intermediate Designers

Hone your graphic design skills with Inkscape, a professional vector graphics software ideal for image creation. Detailed Review >

What Is Graphic Design?

Graphic design is a genre of visual art and content that communicates a message to its audience. You ou can see graphic design examples daily in advertisements, company logos, book covers, and more. As a massive aspect of modern life, graphic design is critical for brands and companies to connect with a target audience.

Nine of the most common forms of graphic design are

  1. Advertising and marketing design
  2. Brand identity design
  3. Product design
  4. Packaging design
  5. User interface design
  6. Illustrative design
  7. Typeface and typography design
  8. Publication design
  9. Animation design

No matter what kind of graphic design you are interested in, our five picks for free graphic design software have the tools you need to start creating.

Our Picks for the 5 Best Free Graphic Design Software

1. PhotoDirector – Best Overall

PhotoDirector Interface

Compatibility: Windows, Mac

Overall Rating: 10 / 10

Graphic Design Tools Rating: 10 / 10

Key Features

  • Excellent selection of tools, design packs, and stock photos
  • Over 1,900 effects and templates
  • New features that get added every month

PhotoDirector has the tools to accomplish your creative vision regardless of your skill level with graphic design. It's our best overall pick for free graphic design software and perfect for artists of all skill levels, from the novice to the seasoned.

With PhotoDirector, you have a world of tools at your disposal, from the fundamentals of graphic design to AI-powered features like sky removal, color gradients, color correction, masking, and layer editing. As a result, it becomes simple to create logos, branding materials, illustrations, and simple animations.

Another great feature of PhotoDirector is its ease of use and rapid speed in advanced editing tools like layering and masking. In addition, its popular photo workflow and image editing tools make it an ideal alternative to the prohibitively expensive Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

Whether you focus on typography, branding, marketing, animation, or any other graphic design genre, PhotoDirector has you covered. Its user interface is smooth and offers intuitive editing with guided tools and express mode editing.

You can choose from thousands of features, templates, design packs, and tools for editing images. So if you want a free tool for graphic design, try PhotoDirector.

Reasons to Recommend

  • Intuitive user interface
  • Advanced graphic design tools
  • Sophisticated layer editing

Download PhotoDirector for free and get started with all the tools you need for advanced graphic design.

2. GIMP – Best for Professional Designers

RawTherapee Interface

Image from Davies Media Design on Youtube.

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux

Overall Rating: 8 / 10

Graphic Design Tools Rating: 8 / 10

Key Features

  • Free and open-source graphic design software
  • Customizable user interface
  • Impressive range of hardware support

GIMP is excellent for professional designers who need a free, open-source photo editor with advanced design tools. This software is one of the oldest open-source photo editors, with a dedicated community of developers who keep it bug-free.

GIMP has excellent brush-based tools for free-hand illustration and an entire library of plugins for customizing your interface. GIMP also offers RAW support and CMYK colors for printing, both valuable features for graphic designers.

For experienced or professional graphic designers, GIMP can elevate your designs and help you express your artistic vision. It supports various file formats, including JPEG, PNG, PSD, TGA, XWD, PIX, MNG, PCX, and more. In addition, users love the diverse hardware support, including MIDI and USB controllers that allow you to speed up your workflow.

While GIMP is an impressive free graphic design software with a massive library of free plugins, it's not without its shortcomings. For example, we noticed that some users find the interface a bit cluttered, and in reality, the software is best suited for experienced artists. It also lacks a "Welcome" screen to introduce new users to the basics and tutorials. 

  • Customizable interface
  • Large plugin library
  • No built-in tutorials
  • Cluttered interface

3. Inkscape – Best for Intermediate Designers

Paint.Net Interface

Image from Software Advice.

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux

Overall Rating: 8 / 10

Graphic Design Tools Rating: 7 / 10

Key Features

  • Open-source graphic design software
  • Suitable for intermediate designers
  • Creates scalable vector graphics

Inkscape is another open-source graphic design software, and it's ideal for intermediate-level designers. Inkscape is also a vector graphic editor, which means you can create scalable vector graphics, or SVG, using its streamlined user interface. Many users agree that Inkscape is a decent alternative to Adobe Illustrator. For example, you can use Inkscape to create a business card, website, user interface, poster, flyer, or just to practice your skills.

If you're a novice and want to learn the basic principles of vector design, Inkscape is an excellent place to start. Try experimenting and practicing the fundamentals of digital drawing with the pencil tool, transform tool, ellipses tool, and many more. Inkscape has been around for more than 15 years and has an extensive community of developers and professional users happy to answer questions and help beginners.

Inkscape's perfect for budding graphic designers and intermediate-level artists who want to create SVG images. However, it only offers one-page editing, so multiple-page projects take a lot of time. Also, Inkscape has a complex interface and learning curve, and the docked layer editing menus are clunky and confusing.

  • Open-source software
  • Offers vector graphic editing
  • Cross-platform compatibility
  • One-page editing limit
  • Complex user interface
  • Confusing side menus

4. Krita – Best for Illustrators

Krita Interface

Image from The Web Factor.

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux

Overall Rating: 7 / 10

Graphic Design Tools Rating: 7 / 10

Key Features

  • Open-source graphic design software
  • Ideal for graphic illustrators
  • Tools for concept art, digital painting, and comics

Krita is a free, open-source, cross-platform graphic design software ideal for artists who love to create from scratch. It's perfect if you want to create concept art, illustrations, comics, matte paintings, and 2D animations.

In addition to Krita's numerous tools for digital painting and graphic illustrations, it has a vast range of features, such as a massive selection of different brushes for digital painting and fine detail work. Plus, it provides layer editing and management features—although it may take some time for beginners to learn.

Krita is an excellent choice for graphic illustrators who want to do free-hand digital painting. Understandably, it's not perfect. For example, it has a respectable number of design tools but nowhere near the range of other software. Krita caters to illustrators, comic artists, and digital painting but needs improvement to its photo editing and image manipulation tools. Some users also reported that fast brush movements cause lagging in Krita's performance.

  • Ideal software for digital painting
  • Numerous brush tools
  • Open-source software
  • Lacks photo manipulation tools
  • Needs more design features

5. Vectr – Best for Online

Vectr Interface

Image from Linux addicted.

Compatibility: Web Browser

Overall Rating: 6 / 10

Graphic Design Tools Rating: 6 / 10

Key Features

  • Ideal for designing in-browser
  • Offers vector graphic creation
  • Beginner-friendly

Vectr is another choice on our list for free online graphic design software, and it's ideal for people who want to work directly within their web browser. As the name suggests, it's another software that creates vector graphic designs. However, Vectr also features a live collaboration tool, which lets anyone view a project in real-time through their browser while someone else is designing. It also has AI-powered tools and a user-friendly editing interface.

Beginners will appreciate the welcome tutorial and walkthrough when they first open Vectr and the customizable editing interface. It's also perfect for quick, web-based designing and supports SVG, PNG, and JPEG file formats. In addition, Vectr's layer editing is user-friendly, and the software doesn't take up hard drive space as a download.

The fact that Vectr is an entirely free graphic design software makes up for many of its shortcomings. First, working on Vectr always requires an internet connection, meaning that offline work is out of the question. If you're an experienced graphic designer, Vectr may not offer all the functionalities you want for your creations. Also, you can expect to see a lot of advertisements when working, which may cause performance lags.

  • Free software
  • User-friendly interface
  • Live collaboration feature
  • Has too many advertisements
  • Requires a Wi-Fi connection
  • Needs more advanced tools

Best Free Graphic Design Software Comparison Chart

Software PhotoDirector GIMP Krita Inkscape Vectr
OS (Operating System) Windows, Mac, Android, iOS Windows, Mac, Linux Windows, Mac, Linux, Android Windows, Mac, Linux Windows, Mac, Web Browser
Beginner-friendly Yes No No Yes Yes
Layer Editing Masking, clipping paths, blend modes, graphic images, express templates, guided editing, etc. Plugins, masking, layering, blend modes, deep learning, colorization, etc. Filters, customizable layers, plugins, blending, cloning, etc. Customizable layer editing, transformation, simplified tools, clipping mask, etc. Layers, elements, grouping, path editing, backgrounds, etc.
AI Tools Sky replacment, de-blur, intelligent correction, masking, etc. None None None None
Animation Tools Yes Yes Yes No No
Free Download
Free Download
Secure Download
Download Download Download Download

PhotoDirector vs

OS (Operating System)

Windows, Mac, Android, iOS





Layer Editing

Masking, clipping paths, blend modes, graphic images, express templates, guided editing, etc.


AI Tools

Sky replacment, de-blur, intelligent correction, masking, etc.


Animation Tools



How to Use a Free Graphic Design Software

Would you like to learn how to use free graphic design software? Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Download and Install PhotoDirector.
  2. Import a new image or blank background. For this example, we'll use an image of pink clouds to create a basic logo for a cotton candy company.
  3. Under the Adjustments tab, click on Presets and select any number of filters and transformations. We chose the Dreamland preset.
  4. PhotoDirector - Filter
  5. Click on the Guided tab and choose any effect you want to transform your image. We selected Frame Template#15.
  6. PhotoDirector - Frame
  7. Select the Text Tool on the right under the Edit tab. Click on the image to type. Under Text Effects, choose a visual design effect to transform your type.
  8. PhotoDirector - Add Text
  9. Go back and forth between the Guided, Adjustment, and Edit tabs to give your design the desired look and effect. Here's our final design:
  10. Select Save/Share to save your work. Now, start all over again and practice your skills!

Download the Best Graphic Design Software for Free

Now that we've given you all the information you need about the best free graphic design software, it's time to put your knowledge to use.

Our top pick for graphic design software is PhotoDirector, which offers streamlined editing and designing. With thousands of effects, tools, design packs, and millions of stock photos, PhotoDirector makes it easy to learn the fundamentals of graphic design. We also love its intuitive user interface and powerful AI-driven editing tools.

Whether you have no experience or you're a seasoned graphic designer, PhotoDirector is the software you need to accomplish all your artistic dreams. It's not just ideal for graphic designing, either. It's also a professional photo editor with the latest RAW format support and endless options for creating and editing content.

If you want an affordable alternative to Adobe or any other expensive graphic design software that offers comparable features, PhotoDirector is the best. Try it for yourself today!

Download PhotoDirector right now and learn how to create visually stunning graphic designs with just a few clicks.

Free Graphic Design Software FAQ

1. What Software Do Most Graphic Designers Use?

The type of software that graphic designers use varies based on personal preference, the type of project, and so on. For example, the most popular graphic design software includes Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and PhotoDirector.

2. What Is the Best Software for Graphic Design Beginners?

If you're new at graphic design, we recommend trying beginner-friendly software. Some of the best choices for beginner graphic designers include PhotoDirector, Inkscape, and Vectr.

3. How Can I Get Started in Graphic Design?

If you want to get started in graphic design, the first step is always learning the basics and principles. Download software like PhotoDirector and start working on projects, which is how you'll gain experience. Practice, practice, practice! Find your best talent and market it.

4. What Graphic Design Features Should I Look For?

The top ten features you should look for are

  1. Express templates
  2. Image libraries
  3. Stock photos
  4. Intuitive interface
  5. AI-powered design tools
  6. Digital painting
  7. Brush tools
  8. Text tools
  9. Beginner-friendly
  10. Fast performance

If you're looking for free graphic design software that checks all of these boxes, we recommend PhotoDirector. Download it today.

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