The 18 best free graphic design tools

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July 28, 2021
5 minute read

From vector design to image editing and 3D graphics, graphic design tools can get pretty expensive. For beginners and other designers on a budget, many of the tools out there are more than you need and simply out of reach when it comes to price.

Luckily, there are tons of free graphic design tools available and most are impressively capable. Below, we highlight the 18 best free graphic design tools for different use cases.

Best free graphic design tools for beginners

The tools below are streamlined, simplified, and stripped down versions of graphic design software. Between templates and user-friendly design, they’re perfect for beginner graphic designers and non-designers alike.

Canva

Canva is one of the simplest, most streamlined options for graphic design. It’s particularly great for beginners because Canva offers tons of fully-designed templates for every project from social media graphics and slide decks to logos and print marketing materials.

You can tackle nearly any project in Canva completely free, though some templates and graphic elements do require a Pro account to download.

Just create a free account, click ‘Create a design’ and choose the type of project you want to design. From there, you can browse all the different templates available and customize the color scheme, text, and more.

Adobe Spark

Adobe Spark is a pared down, free version of the more robust graphic design tools Adobe offers. While you won’t get all the granular, professional features, you can design images from scratch, build a web page design, and even do some light video editing with Spark.

Plus, we love the option to upload universal “brand ingredients” like your logo, color, and font which makes it super quick and easy to create branded designs.

Once you create a free account, it takes just a click to start working on common designs like social media posts and stories, web pages, and even your own templated custom designs. Most of the templates in Spark are free to use, but some do require a paid subscription.

Coolers

While you won’t be doing any actual graphic design work in Coolers, the website makes it super easy for beginners to find color schemes and palettes that coordinate well together.

Choose from a wide array of trending, preset palettes or start with your own designated color and fill out a palette that works seamlessly with it.

That means you can ensure your website, brand colors, and other design assets look great with colors that work well together—even if you have zero design experience.

Best free vector graphic design tools

For more advanced graphic design and editing, there are several free vector design tools you can use in place of more expensive software like Adobe Illustrator and InDesign. The tools below offer comparable features and editing experiences without the hefty price tag.

Gravit Designer

Gravit Designer is a full-featured vector graphic design app that works across a ton of different platforms. A web app, you can also opt to download Gravit Designer for macOS, Windows, Linux, and Chrome OS.

The app includes many of the more granular features you expect from a pricier tool like Photoshop, including layer-based editing, opacity control, and image effects. Plus, you can also pull shapes, icons, emojis, and more from the app’s libraries.

For many designers, the free version of Gravit Designer is more than capable. However, features like version history, higher resolution PDFs, and more advanced export options require the paid version.

Vectr

Vectr is billed as a bona fide free alternative to Illustrator, with a web version and desktop apps for Windows, Linux, and Chrome OS.

On top of all the basic vector features you expect, Vectr also makes it easy to collaborate on designs, with features for live collab and syncing with a simple URL share.

While the limitations of Vectr fall mainly on the more advanced side, the app is completely free—meaning there aren’t any features or templates hidden behind a paywall.

Vecteezy

Vecteezy Editor: A Free SVG Editor Online | Martech Zone

Source: Vecteezy

Vecteezy offers free vector art, stock photos, and videos, which means you can combine their library of creative resources with the editor to get graphic design work done really quickly. And you can also create designs from scratch—all within your browser (for Chrome, Chromium, and Opera).

The UI is simple and intuitive—much like beginner-focused such as like Canva. While Vecteezy Editor includes more advanced features than Canva, free users do miss out on features like booleans, knife tools, and blending modes.

Best free image and photo editing software for graphic designers

When you need to make professional-level edits to images, without the cost of Photoshop, the tools below are your go-to. Both offer advanced image editing capabilities and a UI similar to Photoshop’s—meaning it’s familiar and won’t throw you a steep learning curve.

Sumopaint

Source: Sumo

Sumopaint’s image editing software is completely web-based—so there are no downloads required. Still, the Photoshop-esque UI includes all the capabilities you expect from a full-featured drawing tool and image editor.

Graphic designers can choose from various shapes, text, brushes, gradients, layers and effects. Plus, Sumo has also built a whole suite of tools, including Sumo3D, Sumopixel, and Sumophoto, for all your design work.

And the only real trade-off with the free version is that you can’t download any apps.

Pixlr

Source: Pixlr

Pixlr is a photo editing app that enables designers to make quick work or professional photo editing, including overlays, background cut-outs, and artistic effects. Offering both Pixlr X—designed for one-click editing—and the more advanced Pixlr E, the app is a great option for both beginners and experienced graphic designers.

With that said, Pixlr is one of the more limited free versions on our list. You’ll need to buy a paid subscription to access the full suite including more advanced editing features, AI features, and a larger library of assets, overlays, and templates.

Best free 3D graphic design software

3D design software can get really expensive, really quickly. But you don’t need Creo or Autodesk to build 3D designs. The tools below offer everything you need to create in 3D without expensive CAD software.

Daz 3D

Daz 3D is one of the best tools for building 3D designs quickly. With an extensive library of people, animals, objects, and animations, anyone can start creating 3D models in no time.

The free software is available to download for Mac and Windows users and handles everything from rigging and morphing to animation, rendering, and physics.

The biggest thing to note when comparing Daz to paid software is the lack of texturing and modeling capabilities—plus, some of the assets in Daz’s library do require a purchase to use.

Blender

Blender is a great option for designers, illustrators, animators, and more. It includes features for rendering, modeling/sculpting/UV, VFX, animation and rigging, and both 2D and 3D story art.

The app is completely open source and 100 percent free to create, share, and even sell your graphic designs.

With a huge number of options and an emphasis on building from scratch, Blender is best suited for experienced 3D designers. That learning curve and the potential for bugs are the biggest trade-offs versus pricier 3D modeling software.

Free graphic design storage solutions

Storage is an easily overlooked—but often substantial—cost for graphic designers. If you already pay for a graphic design software like Adobe, storage may be built into your subscription, so be sure to check on that.

Otherwise, the solutions below offer generous storage capacities for free, with reasonable costs to upgrade your space when the need arises.

Google Drive

Google Drive’s free tier offers the largest storage capacity by far, with 15 gigabytes available for free. It’s important to note, though, if you also use Gmail, your email storage will eat into that 15 GB. But, if you outgrow the free tier, Google’s paid storage is super reasonable at just $1.99/month for 100 GB.

With simple uploads and plenty of organization options, and tons of software integrations, Google Drive is a great option for back-end storage. But some designers note it isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing or customizable way to share work with clients.

pCloud

pCloud offers up to 10 gigabytes of cloud storage for free, which includes access from any device and link and folder sharing.

Some graphic designers note that pCloud is a better option for client sharing—because the app includes more options when it comes to file previews.

And for designers needing a lot of space, the paid plans start at only $4.99/month for 500 GB. Plus, pCloud’s desktop apps make it easy to work across devices without worrying about backups or syncing.

Dropbox

Dropbox is one of the most popular file storage solutions on the market, and the graphic design industry is no exception. While Dropbox is known for its ease of use and fast upload speed, the free version (Dropbox Basic) is pretty limited, offering only 2 GB of storage before you need to upgrade to a paid subscription.

While paid tiers include a ton of space—as in 2 terabytes—even the lowest plan runs $9.99/month.

Best websites for free fonts and typography

No matter what style of font you’re looking for, there are tons of free options available online. The websites below will help you find what you need quickly and easily.

MyFonts and WhatTheFont! by Monotype

Monotype’s MyFonts tool is basically a search engine for fonts and type collections. Filtering options make it easy to find what you’re looking for and narrow results down to only the free fonts.

The unique WhatTheFont! tool allows designers to upload any PNG or JPG image into the search bar and the tool will match the font(s) used from Monotype’s extensive library. It’s one click from there to download the font.

Google Fonts

With Google Fonts, you can search for specific font families or browse and filter by category, language, and font properties. Opening a font family shows you available styles, glyphs, and suggested font pairings. Plus, you can type in your own custom text to preview.

The library of over a thousand fonts includes open source licenses exclusively, so they’re all completely free to download and use. Once you find yours, it’s one click to download the whole family or you can select only the styles you need.

Best websites for free stock photos

Free stock photos don’t have to be stiff, posed, or low quality. With the websites below, you can search through thousands of beautiful, high-quality stock photos and graphics to find exactly what your project needs.

Unsplash

With Unsplash, you can search through a library of over 2 million high-quality, high-resolution photos and images, all of which are completely free to use. Browse through categories like nature, people, current events, fashion, and more—or search for exactly what you need.

Plus, Unsplash always includes the creator’s information, so you can easily give credit to the photographers who power your work.

Pexels

Pexels also offers a huge library of quality, free-to-use stock photos. Unlike Unsplash, Pexels also includes stock videos you can download and use, too.

Explore popular collections from “covid” to “Pride Month” to “cute cats” or search for the specific photo or video you need. Download your chosen file in one click and easily give credit to the artist behind the image or video.

Pixabay

Pixabay also offers a huge collection of more than 2.3 million high-quality images, videos, and even music that are completely free to download and use.

Stock images on Pixabay include photos, vector graphics, and illustrations, making it one of the most flexible libraries of free imagery. Browse through each category or search for whatever you’re looking for.

Free graphic design tools to power your creativity

Stunning design work doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to produce or store. With the free graphic design tools above, you have everything you need to bring the designs in your head into the world. If you're looking for more tools to help you take your next design steps, there are additional design resources available across the web, from podcasts to YouTube channels to font libraries. Don't leave any stone unturned!

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