Graphic design is becoming a much more common skill among content creators, marketers, social media influencers and more. Even if you’re just making a small graphic to post online, a few simple edits could help make it stand out.
In this article, I’ll take a close look at 10 of the best free graphic design software programs and apps that you can use to make your graphics stand out. I’ve checked out the resources listed below to verify that they’re completely free and to see what features each includes.
This article was updated in May 2023 and I review it every 12 months. Detailed notes on all updates can be found here.
Where To Find Free Graphic Design Software
Whether you’re looking to create or edit an image for personal or professional use, you may not need to pay for a full editing program. As of May 2023, Adobe Photoshop’s best value costs $239.88 a year, so if you can find a free graphic design software that will meet your needs, that’s a huge savings!
I tested out more than a dozen free graphic design websites and programs to see what you can expect from each one. Here are a few of the best free resources to check out, who or what they’re best for and a list of the platforms that will support them:
|Canva||Social media graphics||Windows, macOS, Android, iOS|
|Vectr||Collaborative projects||Windows, Linux, Chrome OS, Web Browser|
|Inkscape||Professional quality vector graphics||Linux, Windows, macOS|
|GIMP||Free Photoshop alternative||GNU/Linux, OS X, Windows|
|Blender||3D creation||Windows, Linux, macOS|
|Krita||Drawing||Windows, Linux, macOS|
|PIxlr||Mobile editing||Web browser, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android|
|Daz 3D||3D animation, illustration and designing||Windows, macOS|
|Photopea||Professional online editing||Web browser|
Below, you’ll find detailed information on each free graphic design software product including how to download it, how to get started and what features you’ll find with each program.
Best for: Social media graphics
Platforms: Mac, Windows, Android, iOS
Canva launched in 2013 and has since become a very popular online design and publishing tool. In fact, this is the software that Team Clark uses to create a lot of the graphics we post on social media!
Canva offers a free version that includes everything you’ll need to start designing. With it, you’ll get access to more than 250,000 free templates and more than 100 design types including social media posts, presentations, letters and more. You’ll also be able to use hundreds of thousands of free photos and graphics, collaborate on projects with members of your team and save your work with 5GB of free cloud storage.
You can create a free account to begin using Canva online directly in your web browser. You can also download the desktop app for your Mac or Windows device. Canva also offers highly-rated apps on The App Store and Google Play for your iOS or Android device.
|Apps are available for iOS and Android devices which means you’ll get a better mobile experience.||Not all features are available for free.|
|There are 250,000+ templates available for free, and you can search for them by social media platform.||The Pro version of the software costs $119.99/year.|
Best for: Collaborative projects
Platforms: Windows, Linux, Chrome OS, Web Browser
Vectr is a free graphics software that lets you create vector graphics using a simple platform. Vectr is available as a downloadable program, or you can use the software online in your web browser.
The website includes a variety of helpful tutorials ranging from how to get started to creating beautiful professional presentations. You can also use the software to create business cards, typographic logos, social media headers, memes, resumes and more. In addition to the tutorials, you can also check out Vectr’s user guide for a more comprehensive description of how to use the software.
Perhaps one of the best features that Vectr provides is real-time URL sharing. You can send anyone a Vectr document for real-time collaboration online. You can create and edit designs live from both the web app or the desktop version. This makes it a great tool for collaborating with others on projects.
|Real-time sharing makes collaboration easy.||Firefox isn’t supported yet, but it’s coming soon according to the website.|
|The software is available online or as downloadable software.||There are no apps, which limits the mobile experience.|
|The interface is intuitive and easy to pick up on, plus the user guide and tutorials are helpful.||You’ll have to create an account to save and share your work.|
Best for: Professional quality vector graphics
Platforms: Linux, Windows, macOS
According to Inkscape’s website, the software was created for designers of all kinds including those in marketing and branding, engineering/CAD, web graphics, cartooning and for individual uses. You can get started by downloading the software to your Linux, Windows or macOS device.
When I first downloaded Inkscape, the interface reminded me of Microsoft Paint. This made it really intuitive to use, and all of the features are available for free. According to the website, those features include object creation, object manipulation, fill and stroke features, operations on paths, text support, rendering and a variety of file formats.
There are tons of resources available on Inkscape’s website under the “Learn” tab including an FAQ section, tutorials, books/manuals and a guide to how to use Inkscape for animation. Users also have access to Inkscape’s community which includes user support and discussions in the form of chat, forums and more.
|The interface is really simple to use.||There is no web browser version of the software, which means you’ll have to download Inkscape to your device.|
|There’s an active community on Inkscape’s website for support as well as resources including tutorials and manuals online.||There are no apps, which limits the mobile experience.|
Best for: Free Photoshop alternative
Platforms: GNU/Linux, OS X, Windows
If you’re looking for a free alternative to Photoshop, GIMP is a graphic design software worth checking out. While you can’t use the software online, it can be downloaded to Linux, OS X or Windows computers.
GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It’s a free software that was designed for photo retouching, image composition and image authoring, according to the website. The interface is really similar to Adobe’s Photoshop, so if you’re already familiar with the tools and shortcuts, using GIMP will be easy.
You can get started by checking out the tutorials online which include beginner basics, photo editing tips, painting guides and more. If you’re ready to try out the software yourself, you can download it here.
|All features are available for free.||You can’t use the software online; you’ll have to download it to your computer.|
|The interface is similar to Adobe Photoshop, which makes it easy to use if you’re already familiar with the tools and shortcuts.||You may experience bugs, glitches or slow speeds with bigger projects.|
|There are great tutorials and docs online to help you get started.||The interface may be a little overwhelming for beginners.|
Best for: 3D creation
Platforms: Windows, Linux, macOS
Blender is unlike many of the free graphic design software listed here because it’s focused on open-source 3D creation. It can be used for rendering, modeling, sculpting, animation, 2D concept design, visual effects, simulation and more.
If you’re interested in making 3D graphics or clips, this is the free graphic design software for you. To check out a full list of the features available for free with Blender, visit the company’s website.
Blender is completely open-source, which means it’s free to use for any purpose. You can learn more about the software’s license online. If you’re ready to download Blender and try it out for yourself, visit the download page here. Unfortunately, the program isn’t available in your web browser, which means you will have to download the software in order to try it out.
|The software is open-source, which means it’s completely free to use for any purpose.||The interface isn’t as easy to use as some other free options.|
|In addition to graphic design tools, Blender allows you to create and edit 3D animation and video.||If you’re just looking to make basic image edits, the features on this software may be more than you need.|
|The online manual makes it easy to get started and learn the software.||There isn’t a web browser version or app version of the software, which really limits mobile experience.|
Best for: Drawing
Platforms: Windows, Linux, macOS
According to the Krita user manual, Krita is a sketching and painting program designed for digital artists. If you’re an illustrator looking for a free digital tool, Krita is one to check out.
You will have to download the software to try it out because there is no browser version available. To download Krita, visit this page. Be sure to check the system requirements before downloading because you will need the right version for your operating system as well as a good amount of storage on your device.
Once you download Krita, you’ll find that the interface is intuitive and customizable. You’ll also find a variety of free tools available including a selection of brushes and brush stabilizers, vector and text tools, a wrap-around mode for seamless textures and a simple 2D animation tool. For a full list of Krita’s features, check out the company’s website.
|Krita includes a great selection of free tools for digital illustrators.||There is no web browser version or app version available which limits the mobile experience.|
|The interface is clean and flexible, which makes it easy to navigate and customize.||You’ll have to have a fair amount of memory available on your device to download the software.|
|In addition to graphics, you can also create 2D animations with the free software.||If you’re just looking to make basic edits, Krita may not be worth your time or the space on your computer.|
Best for: Mobile editing
Platforms: Web browser, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Pixlr is another great free graphic design software worth checking out. There are different editors available including Pixlr X for quick and easy graphic design and Pixlr E for advanced photo editing. When I tried out Pixlr, I used Pixlr X. It included all of the basic features you’d need for graphic design including layouts, templates, text, effects, filters, additional elements and more.
One feature that stood out to me about PIxlr was the “Remove Background” tool. If you need to remove the background of an image, you can visit this page to use the tool. PIxlr’s templates are definitely another one of the editor’s highlights, and you’ll find plenty available for free. Pixlr’s templates include YouTube thumbnails, Instagram stories and other social media elements. You’ll also find PowerPoints, resumes, business cards, newsletters, invitations, photo collage templates and more.
You can use Pixlr to create or edit images in your web browser or you can download the desktop version of the software. If you’re more interested in using your mobile device for creating and editing graphics, you can also check out Pixlr Mobile. The app has a 3.6-star rating out of 1.3K reviews on The App Store and a 4.1-star rating out of 1.21M reviews on Google Play.
|Highly-rated apps on both The App Store and Google Play mean you’ll have a better editing experience on your phone.||Not all features are available for free- some are only offered to paying subscribers.|
|You won’t have to download any software to edit photos with Pixlr.||You’ll see ads in the free editor and be prompted to try a free trial of the premium version.|
|There’s a huge selection of templates and stock photos to help you build graphics from scratch.||To remove the background of an image, you’ll need to use this separate tool available on Pixlr.|
Best for: 3D animation, illustration and designing
Platforms: Windows, macOS
Daz 3D is an excellent free graphic design software especially for animators, illustrators and designers. The program focuses on 3D design and allows you to build scenes and characters from scratch or by using its extensive content library. In addition to images, you can also use Daz 3D to produce animations.
To get started, you’ll have to visit the website and create an account. Then, you’ll be able to download the software to your computer. Daz 3D is available for Windows and macOS devices. Unfortunately, you can’t use the software online and there isn’t a mobile app available, which means you’ll have to download it to your computer to use.
Still, there are tons of resources available for free online that can help you to get the most out of the free software. You can scroll over the “Community” tab at the top of the website to check out the gallery, forums and blog. Under the “Help” tab, you’ll find free video tutorials, Wiki documents and an FAQ section.
|Daz includes the largest free 3D model library that includes characters, features, vehicles, environments and more.||You’ll have to create an account with your name and email address to download the software.|
|Daz supports a variety of popular file formats.||Daz isn’t available in a web browser or as a mobile app, which means it has to be used on a computer.|
|In addition to images, you can also design and render animations with Daz 3D.||If you’re just looking to make simple graphics or basic edits, Daz 3D will be more than you need.|
Best for: Beginners
Platforms: Web browser
DesignWizard is a great free graphic design software to check out, especially for beginners. You’ll have to create an account to get started, but once you’re logged in, you’ll find the entire editor available online with a simple, intuitive interface. It’s easy to start designing right away with one of the company’s templates, or you can start with a blank canvas to begin building your graphic from scratch.
DesignWizard lets you resize an image, add text or shapes, upload and edit images or browse templates and stock photos. You can browse templates by social media site, what’s trending, event invitations, business type, logos and more. You can also check out tutorials and frequently asked questions directly from the editor for help and inspiration.
The basic version of DesignWizard is available for free with pay-as-you-go image and video downloads. There’s also a Pro version of the software available for $9.99/month ($99/year) and a Business version for $49.99/month ($449/year). While some of the more advanced features aren’t available with the free basic version, it should have all you need to get started and make simple edits.
|The editor is available in your web browser, which means you won’t have to download any software.||You will have to create an account in order to use DesignWizard.|
|You can choose from templates to get started or design a graphic from scratch.||Not all features are available for free; you can try the pro version for a week, but you’ll have to either pay or return to the basic editor after that.|
|In addition to images, you can also edit videos for free.||You can’t download DesignWizard to your computer or phone.|
Best for: Professional online editing
Platforms: Web browser
Photopea is a free graphic design software that’s great for both beginners and professionals. The program is completely online, which means you won’t have to download any software to your computer to try it out. Just visit the website and create a new project or open a file from your computer to get started.
The interface itself is really similar to Photoshop. You can customize the layout a little by hiding and extending the toolbars, but if you aren’t already familiar with the available tools, it may not be intuitive to use. But if you’ve ever used Photoshop, you’ll be able to navigate the editor easily.
In addition to creating a project from scratch or uploading a file from your computer, you can also click on “Templates” for inspiration. At the time of writing, there were more than 100 templates available for social media, mockups, mobile designs and more.
|The program is completely online, which means you don’t have to download anything to your computer.||If you aren’t already familiar with the available tools, Photopea won’t be very intuitive to use. For this reason, it’s not the best option for beginners.|
|The interface is similar to Photoshop and includes a lot of the same tools.||You can’t edit images offline. You can download a Photopea app for your browser, but you’ll still have to be online to use it.|
While there may be cases where paying for a professional photo editing software is worth it, you can most likely find all of the features you’re looking for with free graphic design software. Whether you want to remove a photo’s background, add text and elements, build a social media graphic, create digital illustrations or something else entirely, there’s a free resource available.
Beginners should consider checking out DesignWizard first. For collaborative projects, consider asking everyone to create an account on Vectr. If you’re focused on 3D design, Blender and Daz 3D are great free resources. For 2D digital drawing, visit Krita. If you’re looking for software that’s more like Photoshop, be sure to check out GIMP.
For a downloadable professional quality program, be sure to check out Inkscape. If you’ll be editing from your phone, Pixlr and Canva both offer highly-rated apps for iOS and Android devices. Alternatively, Photopea offers a great editing experience in your web browser.
No matter which free graphic design software (or which combination of programs) you decide to use for the perfect edit, you can rest assured that you’re saving big compared to paid alternatives.
Have you tried any of the free software from this list? Let us know your experience in our Clark.com Community!
- May 16, 2023: Removed Gravit (now Corel Vector; not free)
- May 16, 2023: Updating pricing, links and app ratings