This is a rundown of the best graphic design tools and graphic design apps for designers, agencies, digital creatives, entrepreneurs and anyone doing graphic design in 2021.
TheNextWeb said “it’s no longer enough to have a couple of graphic designers to shoulder the burden of this responsibility.” That means that even non-designers are required to know how to use graphic design tools & apps for their jobs.
These design tools will continually reward you over time if you use them. Anything listed here is easy to get started with today for creating visual art or marketing materials for any online business.
Check back as time goes on, for updates to this list of
best graphic design apps in 2021.
fontfabric is such a great type foundry, their fonts are clean, good looking and in good taste. They're definitely a level above most of the garbage-like free fonts sites, with unique and well crafted fonts. This is definitely one of the graphic design tools that will reward you with its use.
Most of their site is free to use, the UX is simple and straightforward, and it's easy to browse through the fonts.
You can use these fonts for free in commercial projects. There are specific rules around their use (known as a EULA, or End User License Agreement). The designer is responsible for this and not the client. Still, it's free for use in most commercial projects.
Fontjoy is not only a great tool to suggest font pairings, it's actually fun to use. It pairs a header font and a body copy font that are aesthetically pleasing. It's ridiculously easy to use and always comes up with some really good pairings along the way.
This is great for both designers and people who aren't designers. For designers, you can work Fontjoy into the early part of your design process when you're generating concepts.
For the non-designer, Fontjoy is one of the tools you've been looking for that will help you build an aesthetically pleasing layout for your website, social media and content.
Burst has relevant, modern photos that portray modern life as we see it around us. They avoid the cliche trappings that we think of when someone says the words “stock photography.”
It's created by Shopify, and you're free to download, use, resize and remix the images even in commercial situations. They're all royalty-free under the Creative Commons Zero license. It's hard to beat quality AND free when it comes to graphic design tools! They catalog their sections into groups of “Collections” that have creative names that are also outside of normal stock photo sites. They're useful for targeting what kind of photo you want to use.
These are great for social media, websites, marketing tools, online media and whatever you can think of. The images are high quality and you can browse, download and start using them today.
Colormind is a color scheme generator that uses a type of artificial intelligence known as deep learning to create combinations of colors that work well together.
It learns color styles from a lot of different things -- images, video, and common art.
Also, if you have a few colors that you already want to use, you can load those in and Colormind will suggest ideal color schemes to use with your colors.
If you already have an image that you want to pull some colors from, you can upload it to Colormind and generate various color palettes based on those colors.
Like Fontjoy, Colormind is a great tool for both graphic designers and non-designers. It's free to use and has some premium features if you want to be a power user.
Photoshop is by far the best all-in-one graphic design app for designing any online business experience, whether it’s for an app, website, images for videos, social media content, photography or anything else. It’s the one tool you need to do all of these.
It's the best imaging and graphic design software to layout your ideas with quality.
You can use it on your laptop or desktop computer or as an iPad app, and combined subscriptions start at just $21 per month.
There’s a learning curve, but you can also get started with some basic features right away and work your way up and learn as you go. You’ll be continually rewarded over time as your Photoshop knowledge grows with your business and you achieve mastery with the app.
If you're looking for a free version of Photoshop-like abilities, GIMP might be what you're looking for. GIMP is a free, open source image editing software.
This means that you can use the standard version of GIMP, or, if you know how to code in C, C++, Perl, Python, Scheme, and other languages you can use the open source abilities to create your customized version of the software.
Either way, GIMP provides a free graphic design app with a wide range of tools. No coding required.
Adobe InDesign is a great layout & page design tool. That means you can take any kind of artwork & graphics and use InDesign to combine them together in a layout that's optimized for print, the web or any kind of digital media.
Books, digital magazines, eBooks, posters, interactive PDFs, and more can all be done with Indesign.
InDesign is better suited for professionals, like freelancers, agencies and anyone doing page layout with a need for a high level experience in terms of options.
If you do social media, video, are a beginner or just want to try new tools InDesign might be something that you can use in the future, it’s just too complex for use at a beginner level. People coming in at this level will do better for themselves by trying Photoshop or Illustrator first, or even tools like Canva.
Canva is the choice for people who see the learning curve on Photoshop as too steep and just want to get up and running today with a layout tool that's easy to use. That's Canva!
The Canva app will let you copy and paste images, text, icons and anything else graphic-based into a layout. You can then move them around adjust everything to your liking.
Canva templates are where it really shines for the beginner - you can get tons of free ready-made templates to use that let you customize them for your design, while giving you great layouts. These are great for social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as well as flyers, business cards, presentations and more. You can use them for whatever you want to create.
You can choose to use the Canva app with your devices or Canva online with your computer, but they'll be accessing the same account that you set up.
It has both a Canva Free version and a Canva Pro version that costs money. I haven't tried Canva Pro, but Canva Free will let you do all sorts of great things starting today. There's also a Canva Enterprise version for anyone interested in getting setting up to use it across everyone in your business.
Illustrator is an outstanding vector-based graphic design app. Vector is a geometric system that uses points and lines to allow you to draw anything you can think of.
The advantage of the Illustrator app in being vector-based is you can push and pull on the lines to make them curve to whatever shape you want. Add to that the fact that you can also move the points around and you have a full range of options as a graphic design app to digitally draw whatever you want.
You can get started with some really basic features in the Illustrator app from day one, and it's a deep enough tool to reward you again & again over time as you grow in your mastery of the app.
Infogram is a great tool for designing high quality infographics with little or no design knowledge. They have great editable templates that you can plug information into (like text and data) and get a fast infographic that's super-professional and looks incredible.
They have a free tier as well as paid tiers for meta users, but the free version rocks and you can design good images.
Check back for updates, as this list is growing over time with more of the best graphic design tools & apps! Graphic designers, agencies, digital creatives and entrepreneurs can all get started today and create the things that you need to make your online presence sleek and sharp in 2021 and beyond.