Best Free Graphic Design Software: How to Choose the Software for You

You might love CorelDRAW or have yet to use it. It provides one of the professional's top choices for vector graphics, but what do you do when you need to do something outside of vector graphics?

Reasons for using freeware

Perhaps you want to build your design skills, but you hesitate to spend money until you get really good at the type of work you want to do — video, raster art, photo editing, etc. You can start your graphics design journey with free software to extend your skills or work your way up to the investment in a professional program, CorelDRAW, in this case.

What makes a freeware high-quality?

The best program for you will differ from the best one for your best buddy or sibling. What you want to learn ultimately decides what you need in a program. Many free graphics programs exist, but free does not equal high quality.

Start with the top-of-the-line freeware. These applications have a few important things in common.

  • Each application lets you save to file formats you can use anywhere.
  • The app does not watermark your creation.
  • Each application provides full functionality.
  • The app is easy to learn and easy to use.
  • The app handles brushes, filters, etc in the same way professional programs do.

Here are our picks for the most fantastic freeware available for graphic design. Try one or all of them. Every program saves files in file types like .jpg or .png that you can open in CorelDRAW, too.

Best for typography: Phonto

You pronounce the name Phonto like font-oh. It gets its name from the marvelous number of fonts that come with it. Phonto offers an array of typography that makes it simple to use for logos, signs, flyers, and Instagram and Pinterest posts. The program defaults to measurements ideal for Instagram posts. Its intuitive design lets you start creating professionally-looking graphics in about five to ten minutes. You can import and resize photos, and layer them onto the background. Typeface automatically becomes another layer. You can add as many types as you like, and each will have its own layer, which makes them easier to handle, and you can delete one without changing any of the other types, or being concerned you will accidentally delete the part you wanted to keep. Best of all, it fits on your Android phone.

Best for video: VideoPad

VideoPad provides the ideal choice for those just getting into video production. It makes it easy to learn to edit, and it provides numerous options for special effects, overlay, color adjustments, texts, transition, and sound effects. You can do 3D editing with this software, and it includes a sound effects library. You don't have to save to your hard drive. You can also export directly to YouTube, Facebook, or save to Google Drive. The program comes in a Mac version and a Windows version. There's no "pro" option; you get the full software for free.

Best for raster graphics: GIMP

Hands down, GIMP provides the most comprehensive raster graphics program for free. It rivals paid software. GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation and the program is open source and Linux-based. Similar to VideoPad, you won't ever pay for this freeware. You get the full software. You can edit or create raster graphics, including image retouching, editing, image file format conversions, drawing, and script repetitive tasks using its built-in scripting language, Script-Fu. You can also script these items using Perl, Python, or Tcl using an external interpreter. Typical file formats include .jpeg/.jpg, .png, .gif, .tiff, and .bmp. You can import .pdf files, as well as many digital camera raw formats. You can create layers and place several channels within each. You get a wide range of brushes, effects, and filters. You can download this freeware for Linux, Mac, or Windows.


Familiarity with these types of programs provides you with a firm foundation in graphic design software. You can get any of these programs and learn the ropes of typography, video, and raster image editing before attempting to master the fine art of vector graphics with CorelDRAW.

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