- The Best Windows Graphic Design Software of 2018 We've been testing graphic design software for the past eight years. This year we spent over 50 hours comparing programs to find the best of the best.
- Discover which specific design software works best for each use. Most of these materials can be easily created in almost any design software. For logo design. Best Free Desktop Publishing Software for Mac. Design Tips and Software for Iron-On Transfers.
- The Complete Guide To The Best Free & Premium Web Design Software & Tools To Help You Create / Edit Your Website. For most people, the thought of designing your own website or doing anything web development related is a daunting and scary task, especially if you’re new to all this internet stuff.
Edit Video on Your PC
So, if you want free logo design in minutes then check out the list of top 10 best free logo maker software for Windows PC: (1) Adobe Illustrator The first free logo maker software is Adobe Illustrator. If you are into vector drawing applications then you should try Adobe Illustrator as the software is one of the best vector graphics editors.
Nothing makes an impression like moving pictures with sound. That's why digital video continues to grow in importance online. Couple that trend with the ever-increasing availability of devices capable of high-resolution video recording—phones, GoPros, DSLRs—and the case for ever-more powerful video editing software becomes clear. Further, the software must be usable by nonprofessionals, and it has to keep up with newer formats such as HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) and 360-degree VR video, and it has to be able to handle 4K and higher resolution.
Increasingly, new capabilities trickle down from professional-level software to the consumer category. That's a good thing for nonprofessional movie editors, since the more consumer-oriented software tends to make easier procedures that can sometimes be pretty tricky in the pro-level software. Read on for a survey of the latest trends in video editing software along with our top picks in the field.
Multicam, Motion Tracking, and Yet More Motion
Advanced abilities continue to make their way into accessible, affordable, and consumer-friendly video editing software as each new generation of software is released. For example, multicam editing, which lets you switch among camera angles of the same scene shot with multiple video cameras, used to be a feature relegated to pro-level software. Now this and many other advanced effects are available in programs designed for use by nonprofessional enthusiasts.
Another impressive effect that has made its way into consumer-level video editing software is motion tracking, which lets you attach an object or effect to something moving in your video. You might use it to put a blur over the face of someone you don't want to show up in your video. You specify the target face, and the app takes care of the rest, tracking the face and moving the effect to follow it. This used to be the sole province of special effects software such as Adobe After Effects. Corel VideoStudio was the first of the consumer products to include motion tracking, and it still leads the pack in the depth and usability of its motion-tracking tool, though several others now include the capability.
The 4K Video Factor
Support for 4K video source content has become pretty standard in video editing software, but the support varies among the products. For example, some but not all of the applications can import Sony XAVC and XAVC-S formats, which are used by Sony's popular DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, camcorders, and professional video cameras. The same holds true for the H.265 High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard. Most of the applications here now can import and export HEVC, though there are still a few holdouts.
360-Degree VR Support
Several of the products here (Adobe Premiere Elements is a notable exception) still support 3D video editing if that's your thing, though the this has been replaced by 360-degree VR footage like that shot by the Samsung Gear 360 as the current home-theater fad. As is often the case, our Editors' Choice, CyberLink PowerDirector was the first product in this group to offer support for this new kind of video media.
Other programs have jumped on board with 360 VR support, including Adobe Premiere, Apple Final Cut Pro X, and Magix Movie Edit Pro. Support varies, with some apps including 360-compatible titles, stabilization, and motion tracking. PowerDirector is notable for including those last two. Final Cut offers a useful tool that removes the camera and tripod from the image, often an issue with 360-degree footage.
Video Editing 101
Of course, none of the extras matter if an app can't do the most basic editing tasks. At this point, however, all of the products included here do a good job of letting you join, trim, and split video clips. They also let you make use of special effects such as animated transitions, picture-in-picture (PiP), chroma-key (the technique that lets you place a subject against any background, often known as green screening), and filters that enhance colors or apply creative effects and distortions. With most of them you can add a multitude of timeline tracks that can accommodate video clips, effects, audio, and text overlays.
A tool coming to the latest versions of video editing applications is support for seamless transitions. Picture a scene showing people at a beach, and suddenly the sky zooms in and your in Rome or Paris, but it looks like you're in the same place because the transition glued the two scenes together using the sky. There are plenty of other examples of seamless transition; this magnificent video shows a good selection of them, and is partly responsible for starting the trend.
Color, LUTs and CLUTs
One of the capabilities that has been making its way into consumer-level video editing software is more-detailed color grading. Color wheels, curves, and histograms give editors control over the intensity of every shade. Related to this is support for LUTs (lookup tables), also known as CLUTs (color lookup tables). This staple of pro-level software lets you quickly change the look of a video to give it a specific mood. For example, think of the dark blue look of thriller movies like The Revenant. You can download LUTs for free from several sites or use those included with some video software to give your video a specific look. One well-known LUT type is the kind that can make a daytime scene look like it was shot at night.
Where the Action Is
Many video editing apps now include tools that cater to users of action cameras such as the GoPro Hero7 Black. For example, several offer automated freeze-frame along with speedup, slowdown, and reverse time effects. CyberLink PowerDirector's Action Camera Center pulls together freeze frame with stabilization, slo-mo, and fish-eye correction, and color correction for underwater footage. Magix Movie Edit Pro Premium includes the third-party NewBlue ActionCam Package of effects. And Wondershare Filmora lets you subscribe to new effect packs on an ongoing basis.
Titles That Zing
I've been seeing a lot of attention paid to creating title effects in the applications over the past year. Apple Final Cut Pro X has added 3D title creation, which is pretty spiffy, letting you extrude 2D titles and rotate them on three axes. Corel VideoStudio in its latest version also adds 3D Titling, though not as powerful as Apple's. PowerDirector's Title Designer offers transparency, gradient color, border, blur level, and reflection in titles; Magix has impressive title templates, complete with animations. Premiere Elements offers a nifty title effect in which your video fills the text characters, and Corel recently followed suit in VideoStudio 2019. Look for an application that lets you edit titles in WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) mode, so that you can type, format, and time it right over the video preview.
Video editing is one of the most computing-intensive activities around, so you'll want the best laptop or desktop you can afford if you're serious about cutting your own movies. Most applications help speed up the editing process by creating a proxy file of lower resolution, so that normal editing and previewing aren't slowed down by the huge full-resolution files.
Particularly intensive is the process of rendering your finished product into a standard video file that will by playable on the target device of choice, be that an HDTV, a laptop, or a smartphone. Most of the software can take advantage of your computer's graphics processor to speed this up. Be sure to check the performance section in each review linked here to see how speedy or slow the application is. In rendering speed testing, CyberLink and Pinnacle have been my perennial champs.
Other measures of performance include startup time and simple stability. Again, video editing is a taxing activity for any computer, involving many components. In the past, video editing programs took longer than most other apps to start up, and unexpected shutdowns were unfortunately common, even in top apps from top developers such as Adobe and Apple. The stability situation has greatly improved, but the complexity of the process, which increases as more powerful effects are added, means crashes will likely never be fully eliminated, and they often raise their ugly heads after a program update, as I found with the latest version of Pinnacle Studio.
Free Video Editing Software
If you don't want to invest a lot of money and effort into your video editing exploits, there are a few free options. Of course, if you use a Mac, the excellent iMovie comes with it. For PC users, Windows 10's Photos app (as of the Fall Creators Update) lets you join, trim, and even add background music, 3D animated effects, and titles to video.
There are also some free video apps on the Windows Store, including Movie Moments, PowerDirector Mobile, Movie Maker, and Magix Movie Edit Touch. Some of these are quite basic, but the Magix app is fairly capable, with clip joining, transitions, and effects, in a very touch-friendly interface.
Free video editing software often comes with legal and technical limitations, however. Some widely used codecs require licensing fees on the part of the software maker, meaning they can't offer free software that can handle these standard file formats. That said, the impressive open-source Shotcut does a lot of the same things that the paid applications in this roundup do, including things like chroma-keying and picture-in-picture. Shotcut is completely open-source and free, while another free option, Lightworks has paid options that remove a 720p output resolution limit. Note also that both Shotcut and Lightworks run on Linux as well as Windows and Mac.
What About Apple?
Though Mac users don't have the sheer number of software choices available for PCs, Apple fans interested in editing video are well served, by four products in particular. At the entry level, the surprisingly capable and enjoyable-to-use iMovie comes free with every Mac sold since at least 2011. iMovie only offers two video tracks, but does good job with chroma-keying, and its Trailers feature makes it easy to produce slick, Hollywood-style productions.
In the midrange, there's Adobe Premiere Elements, which is cross-platform between Macs and PCs, and offers a lot more features and lots of help with creating effects. Professionals and prosumers have powerful, though pricey options in Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere Pro. Final Cut is a deceptively simple application that resembles iMovie in its interface and ease of use, but it offers massively deep capabilities, and many third-party apps integrate with it for even more power. It also makes excellent use of the Touch Bar on the latest MacBook Pro, as shown in photo above. Premiere Pro uses a more traditional timeline and adds a large ecosystem of companion apps and plug-ins. It also excels in collaboration features.
We still live in the days of talkies, so you want to be able to edit the audio in your digital moves as well as the images. Most of the products included here offer canned background music, and many, such as Pinnacle Studio, can even tailor the soundtrack to the exact length of your movie. All of these programs can separate audio and video tracks, and most can clean up background noise and add environmental audio effects such as concert hall reverb. A couple of the products have an auto-ducking feature, which lowers background music during dialog—a definite pro-level plus.
What's Not Here
There are more video editing software applications than we can fit into this roundup of the best options, which includes only software rated three stars and higher. The best known among them is probably Vegas Movie Studio, which was recently acquired by Magix from Sony. Sony's product used a very cluttered interface that more resembled high-end professional video editing software from the early days of the craft. Magix has made some progress in simplifying it and bringing it up to par with the competition, but more work is needed for it to be included here.
Another program, VSDC Video Editor Pro, simply has too outdated an interface, making common tasks difficult. Longtime pro video editors will note the absence of Avid Media Composer, which is simply too unwieldy for PCMag's primarily consumer audience. There are a couple of more interesting applications—NCH VideoPad and AVS Video Editor among them—that we simply haven't tested yet.
The Finish Line
The video editing application you choose depends on your budget, the equipment you're using, and how serious you are. Fortunately, you're spoiled for choice with the products available. Peruse our in-depth reviews of enthusiast-level video editing software reviews linked below to see which is the right one for you.
One final note about the features table at the top of this story: Check marks represent differentiating, above-the-call-of-duty features, rather than essential ones. So, just because Nero Video and Wondershare Filmora don't have any checks, it doesn't mean they're not good choices. In fact, both offer decent basic editing on a budget.
Best Video Editing Software Featured in This Roundup:
Adobe Premiere Pro CC Review
Pros: Clear, flexible interface. Lots of organizational tools. Responsive speed. Ultimate power in video editing. Rich ecosystem of video production apps. Excellent stabilization. Unlimited multi-cam angles.
Cons: No keyword tagging for media. Some techniques require additional applications such as After Effects or SpeedGrade.
Bottom Line: An expansive professional-level digital video editing program, Premiere Pro CC has everything today's pro video editor needs, particularly when it comes to collaboration.Read Review
CyberLink PowerDirector Review
Pros: Fast rendering. Clear interface. Loads of effects. The most 360-degree video capabilities of any video editor. Multicam editing. 3D and 4K capability. Motion tracking. Screen recording.
Cons: No trimming in source panel. Number of options can make interface overwhelming. Weak color matching.
Bottom Line: PowerDirector is one of the fastest and most capable consumer-level video editing apps for Windows around, and the first to support 360-degree VR footage.Read Review
Corel VideoStudio Ultimate Review
Pros: Wide selection of fun video-creation tools. Clear, simple interface. Fast rendering. Support for 360-degree VR, 4K Ultra HD, and 3D media. Multipoint Motion tracking. Multicam editing. HTML5 video page creation. Stop-motion tool.
Cons: No keyword tagging for media.
Bottom Line: Corel VideoStudio remains one of the most feature-packed consumer video editing packages around. The 2019 update adds powerful color-grading tools, seamless transitions, and text masks.Read Review
Pinnacle Studio Ultimate Review
Pros: Clear interface. Edits 360-degree VR content. Fast rendering performance in testing. Tons of effects. Multicam editing. 4K and H.265 support. Tagging and star ratings for media. Good audio tools.
Cons: Motion tracking issues on one test PC. Occasional crashes in testing. Uneven 360-degree VR implementation.
Bottom Line: Pinnacle Studio is a fast, full-featured, near-professional-level video-editing application with support for 360-degree VR, 3D, and multicam edits. New color grading and four-point editing make it even more appealing, though our testing uncovered some instabilities.Read Review
Magix Movie Edit Pro Premium Review
Pros: Lots of video effects. Multicam. Good titling tools. Trailer-like movie templates. Solid audio editing tools. Strong disc authoring. Fast rendering. Good stability. 360-degree media support.
Cons: Not much help with difficult procedures. Lacks import and organization tools. Extra costs and coded downloads for some video formats.
Bottom Line: Now with faster rendering, Movie Edit Pro offers solid stability, up-to-date support for 4K, 360-degree, and multicam editing, but it trails other video editing software in ease-of-use.Read Review
Adobe Premiere Elements Review
Pros: Clear, simple interface. Guided Edits ease basic and advanced projects. Lots of video effects. Solid text tools. Powerful Audio editing. Good control over stabilization. 4K support.
Cons: No 360-degree VR or 3D editing. No multicam feature or screen recording capability. Slow rendering speeds. No HEVC support in Windows.
Bottom Line: Adobe's consumer video editing app adds a new start page, Auto Creations, a redesigned quick-editing interface, and faster performance.Read Review
Wondershare Filmora Review
Pros: Pleasing interface. Inexpensive. Lots of effects and overlays. Good title tool.
Cons: Action Cam and Cutter modes only allow one clip at a time. No search for effects or transitions. No motion tracking. No DVD menu or chapter authoring. Not a touch-friendly interface.
Bottom Line: Wondershare's Filmora video editing software may not have multicam or the hottest new VR tools, but it does have a pleasing interface and lots of effects.Read Review
Apple Final Cut Pro X Review
Pros: Magnetic, trackless timeline. Superior organization tools, including libraries, ratings, tagging, auto analysis for faces, scenes. Support for 360-degree footage and HDR. Multicam support. Fast performance. MacBook Touch Bar support.
Cons: Nontraditional timeline-editing may turn off longtime editors. Can't import projects from previous versions without a third-party plug-in. No stabilization or motion tracking for 360-degree video.
Bottom Line: Apple's professional-level video editing software, Final Cut Pro X, brings a wealth of power in an interface simple for pros and consumers alike. Recent highlights include rich support for 360-degree content and improved stability.Read Review
Nero Video Review
Pros: Inexpensive. Plenty of video effects. Good audio tools. Solid file format support, including H.265. Compatible with 4K content. Burns DVD, Blu-ray, and AVCHD.
Cons: Light on features. Outdated, unconventional interface. No 360 or 3D support. No motion tracking. No direct output to social networks.
Bottom Line: For less money than the competition, Nero offers a wide array of enthusiast-level video editing capabilities, but the interface is dated and it trails in support for new formats and techniques.Read Review
Apple iMovie Review
Pros: Beautifully simple interface. Color matching for consistent movie looks. Classy themes. Great chroma-keying tool. Lots of audio tools. Theater feature shares movies to all your Apple gear.
Cons: Not as flexible as some PC video editors. In the name of simplicity, some useful controls are missing. Does not support tagging. Lacks multicam or motion tracking capabilities. Limited to two video tracks.
Bottom Line: Apple's excellent entry-level desktop video editing application can turn your footage and photos into impressive productions.Read Review
You need the best free graphic design software around to make it as a graphic designer in this expensive tech-heavy industry. We've found the best of the best options to cover the basics of what you'll need.
Free graphic design software: Quick links
Vector art software
Image editing software
Data visualisation software
Other useful tools
Although you might not necessarily need to study formally to become a designer, you will need to know your way around graphic design software, and that can be expensive. But it doesn't have to be. While free graphic design software won't give you a plethora of fancy features like software such as Adobe's CC (get Adobe Creative Cloud here) or Affinity's software, you may find that with the right combination of the tools below, you can do almost any design job. And choosing what you get for free means you can splash out in other areas, when you fancy it, to combine premium and paid-for tools.
The learning curve of the free, more basic graphic design tools is also often a lot gentler than trying to get to grips with the complex software and menus of the subscription-based or more expensive packages.
Below are our best free graphic design tools – divided into handy sections: software for creating vector art, creating and editing images, creating data visualisations and other useful tools you might like. Just use the menu above to navigate to the section you want.
If you can't find what you're looking for here, our best digital art software and best 3D modelling software posts have lots of great options too, we've also got a roundup of the best places to find free vector art, and you could also check out our list of the best video editing apps.
Free graphic design software: Vector art
01. Gravit Designer
- Platform: Browser, Windows, macOS, Linux, ChromeOS
Gravit Designer is a full-featured vector design app from the company behind Corel Draw. It's suitable for all sorts of design jobs, from screen, app and icon designs to presentations, illustration and animation.
With a clean and intuitive interface that adjusts itself as you need it, this free graphic design software packs a wealth of tools for creating detailed and beautiful vector imagery, including non-destructive booleans, a knife tool and path graphs, plus multiple fills and blending modes, and a powerful text engine.
You can use Gravit Designer online or download a copy to your computer; note that you automatically start out on a (free) trial of Gravit Designer Pro when you sign up, and once your trial is over you transition to the free version, but lose the Pro features – unless you pay for a subscription of course.
However, Gravit Designer's free version is still excellent. You can export as PDF, SVG or bitmap, and you get access to the Gravit Cloud service that enables you to get to your work wherever you are. See the full comparison between the Pro and free versions here.
- Platform: Browser, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS
Available both as a browser-based web app and as a stand-alone desktop app, Vectr is a free editor for creating 2D vector graphics. With all the vector features you'd expect, plus a wealth of options for using filters, shadows and fonts, it's versatile enough for day-to-day design tasks. Its live collaboration and synchronisation options are particularly handy, as they essentially enable anyone to watch you design, live, meaning it's really easy to create in tandem or send feedback. This is a genuine alternative to Adobe Illustrator CC.
- Platform: Browser
If you're looking to quickly output SVG or edit an existing SVG file, there are a few online editors that will do the job just as well as Adobe Illustrator. SVG (scalable vector graphics) is an open format that allows you to reproduce your Vector drawings programmatically, and one of the nicest projects is SVG-Edit.
The standard – albeit basic – toolset of every vector-image editor is here, and although it's limited to the SVG format, it's surprisingly capable. Note that if you're not familiar with code, this option probably isn't for you.
- Platform: Windows, Mac OS, Linux
As with many of the free options available, Inkscape focuses on the SVG format as its primary file format. This highly capable editor has a very good SVG integration, supporting many of the more advanced features that aren't always available in other apps – such as alpha blending, cloned objects and markers.
Full support for different colour modes means this is a viable alternative to Illustrator for both print and web design, and although the interface is somewhat simpler than Illustrator, it's still possible to achieve extremely sophisticated artwork. Of particular note is the ability to trace bitmap images, support for variable width strokes and native import of Illustrator files.
6 must-have tools for creatives
Free graphic design software: Image creating and editing
- Platform: Browser, iOS, Android
It seems harsh to place Canva under the 'Image Editing Software' heading because it does so much more. Canva is a photo editor, colour palette tool, font combination picker, learning resource, and photo collage maker, and it even features a dedicated infographic maker with hundreds of free design elements and fonts at your fingertips.
It's really more of a full graphic design suite than a photo editor, and while it comes some way short of offering the breadth of abilities of Adobe Creative Cloud, its simplicity, variety of useful tools, and inspirational learning assets make Canva a hit. You can use Canva in the browser for the full experience, but most tools are available for both Android and iOS.
- Platform: Mac, Windows, Linux
RawTherapee enables users to correct distortion, boost colours, recover details and much more, meaning users can make tweaks to their photos until they're looking exactly how they want.
This free, open-source software also speeds up your workflow by allowing you to batch process images. You can also send images to other software, such as GIMP, if you wish to.
07. Photo Pos Pro
- Platform: Windows
If you're on a Windows PC and need a decent set of image editing tools without Photoshop's price tag or GIMP's immense toolset, Photo Pos Pro should hit the spot. Built with image enhancement and editing in mind, it's perfect for typical photo editing tasks such as fixing contrast, lighting and saturation, but it'll also stretch to more advanced techniques.
It boasts an extremely user-friendly interface as well as an in-depth help system to get you started, and if you want to expand its tools to fit your needs, there are plenty of expansions and plugins available.
- Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux
Designed with the VFX industry and concept artists, illustrators, matte and texture artists in mind, Krita is a free and open source painting tool that's been in development since 1999. It comes with a full set of brushes suitable for all manner of work, and there's a whole host of plugins available, from advanced filters to painting assistants for perspective work.
Notable features include brush stabilisers to smooth out any shaky lines, a wrap-around mode for creating seamless textures and patterns, and a pop-up palette for quick colour-picking.
- Platform: iOS, Android
Free graphic design software Pixlr claims to be 'the most popular online photo editor in the world'. It boasts over two million combinations of free filters, overlays and borders, and lets you do all the main things you'd expect from a photo editor, from cropping and resizing to removing red-eye and whitening teeth.
If you're used to using Photoshop, then you'll find Pixlr's user interface easy to pick up, as it's very similar. This free app is available in both iOS and Android varieties. Note that the app does offer in-app purchases – you can pay $2.99/£2.99 to remove the ads, for example, and you also pay extra for things such as borders and stickers.
- Platform: Windows
Paint.NET is a Windows-based alternative to the Paint editor that Microsoft shipped with versions of Windows. Don't let that put you off, though, as it's surprisingly capable, useful graphic design software.
The focus is on ease of use, and there's a definite tendency towards photo editing rather than artistic creation. That said, there are a range of special effects available, allowing you to easily create fake perspective, blend and push pixels around the canvas, tile and repeat selections, and so on.
A good range of selection tools, support for layers, and adjustments such as curves and brightness/contrast mean that Paint.NET is a great alternative to Photoshop for photo editing, especially if you can do without some of the more recent additions to Photoshop's toolset.
11. Sumo Paint
- Platform: Browser (requires Adobe Flash Player)
Free Logo Software
Sumo Paint is a highly capable browser-based image editor. All the standard features you'd expect from a desktop tool are present and correct (and by buying the Pro version you can install a desktop version of the app if you prefer).
You need the Adobe Flash Player to use this tool, so you're not going be using Sumo Paint on your iPad. That said, it's lightweight and quick to load, and the free version is very usable.
The standard range of tools and adjustments you'd expect are all included. Brushes, pencils, shapes, text, cloning, gradients and so on are all quickly accessed from the Photoshop-esque floating toolbar. It can also open saved documents from your hard drive, making Sumo Paint a perfectly viable option for editing and re-editing.
- Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux
Open-source free graphic design software that debuted on Unix-based platforms, GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. Today it's available in versions for Linux, Windows and Mac.
GIMP's interface differs somewhat from Photoshop, but a version of GIMP is available that mimics Adobe's look and feel, making it easier to migrate over if you're ditching Photoshop. The full suite of tools is available here – everything you're accustomed to is within easy reach, including painting tools, colour correction, cloning, selection and enhancement.
The team that oversees development has worked hard to ensure compatibility too, so you'll be able to work with all the popular file formats without any trouble at all. You'll also find a very capable file manager built in, along similar lines to Adobe's Bridge.
Free graphic design software: 3D
13. SketchUp Free
- Platform: Browser
For getting your first foothold in the world of 3D, it's hard to go wrong with SketchUp, and its free version, Sketchup Free, is an ideal starting point. It provides a friendly and forgiving introduction to building stuff in 3D, starting you off by simply drawing lines and shapes that you can then push and pull around to turn them into 3D forms.
If you need a bit of inspiration, you can search the SketchUp 3D Warehouse's immense library of models and download them for free.
14. Daz Studio
- Platform: Windows, macOS
Daz Studio is a 3D figure customisation, posing and animation tool that enables artists of all skill levels to creating digital art using virtual people, animals, props, vehicles, accessories and environments.
With Daz Studio, you can create custom 3D characters and avatars, design virtual environments, produce graphic design elements and much more. There's also a handy table that shows you what this free tool offers in comparison to its paid alternatives (scroll down to the comparison table here).
Also from Daz 3D is Hexagon, a free 3D modelling tool. Hexagon includes everything you need to create detailed 3D models ready for final render. Features include Daz Studio 3D Bridge, sculpted primitives, freehand modelling brushes, micro-displacement modelling tools, comprehensive UV-mapping modules, advanced 3D paint, and instant ambient occlusion.
Use it alongside Daz Studio for a complete 3D suite, for free – ideal for those just getting started with 3D.
- Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux
If you're serious about 3D but struggling to afford software, then you're in luck. Blender is a free, open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems.
Started by Blender Foundation founder Ton Roosendaal back in 2002, Blender is now largest open source tool for 3D creation. Its makers are constantly working on its development, but you can pretty much do anything 3D related with this software, including modelling, texturing, animation, rendering and compositing.
- Platform: Windows, macOS
If you're interested in the art of digital sculpting, check out 3D software Sculptris from Pixologic. Perfect for all skill levels, the software is a great starting point for users new to the discipline, while more experienced CG artists will find the it a quick and easy way to realise concepts.
Sculptris is based on Pixologic's ZBrush, the most widely-used digital sculpting application in today's market. So, when you're ready to move on to the next level of detailing, skills learned in Sculptris can be directly translated into ZBrush.
18. Houdini Apprentice
- Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux
Houdini is a 3D animation and visual effects tool, used widely throughout the media industry for film, broadcast, entertainment and visualisation. And its cheapest version costs just a little under $2,000.
But the makers of the programme – SideFX – are a good bunch and, knowing that cost can be an issue, offer an Apprentice version for free. With this you can access all the features of the full version in order to develop your skills and work on personal projects. The programme is purely for use non-commercial and learning purposes.
Free graphic design software: data visualisation
19. Google Charts
- Platform: Browser
Google Charts tools are powerful, simple to use, and free. You can choose from a variety of charts and configure an extensive set of options to perfectly match the look and feel of your website. By connecting your data in real time, Google Charts is the perfect infographic generator for your website (see our best infographics here).
- Platform: Browser
It was only a matter of time before an infographic resume generator turned up. With this you can visualise your resume in one click and also take a look at previous examples and resume templates. Enabling people to express their professional accomplishments in a simple yet compelling personal visualisation, we think this is an option worth exploring.
- Platform: Browser
Infogram is a great free tool that offers access to a wide variety of graphs, charts and maps as well as the ability to upload pictures and videos to create cool infographics.
The data upon which the infographics are based can be found in an Excel-style spreadsheet, which the user can easily edit and see the results change in real time. When you're happy with your infographic you can publish it to the Infogram website for all to enjoy, embed it in to your own website or share it via social media.
Free graphic design software: Other useful free tools
- Platform: Browser, Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS
Made by the people behind Gravit Design, and sharing the same engine, Klex is an easy-to-learn and accessible tool for anyone who wants to create impressive graphics in just a few clicks. While obviously not aimed at pro designers, it's the perfect tool for anyone who wants to quickly bang out memorable designs.
There's a plethora of ready made templates to choose from, plus thousands of assets and a great selection of effects and filters, as well as customisation options and a load of fonts and text assets.
23. Google Fonts
- Platform: N/A
The Google Web Fonts project – renamed Google Fonts – is an extensive catalogue of free and open source designer web fonts, presented in an intuitive directory. The initiative invites users to explore and test fonts in more than 135 languages, and create their own customised collections of font families.
- Platform: Browser, iOS, Android
With millions of views each month, online creative community Behance is a key resource for artists of all disciplines. It's a fantastic way to see what your peers are up to, as well as finding new work and creative inspiration from top web and graphic designers, agencies and illustrators.
- Platform: Browser, iOS, Android
There are a whole lot of designers who don't have their own blog, but Wordpress is a great way to showcase your fantastic work, get recognition in your industry, earn extra income and get new clients. Don't believe us? See our examples of WordPress websites. WordPress is the most popular platform for blogging, and while it can be a little fiddly to set up, there's lots of helpful information online to get you going, including these 40 brilliant WordPress tutorials.
- Platform: Browser, iOS, Android
Dribbble enables designers to share their creations easily, and is a good source of inspiration as well as a great way to promote your own work.