Recommended Software for Graphic Design

The Best Software for Graphic Design Square Michelle Kraft

What’s the best software to use for designing graphics?

If you want software that is going to get the job done right, you need to go with the non-surprising industry standard—Adobe Suite. For the last 15 years, I’ve consistently used Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign to create everything I need for both online and print.

Maybe I’m biased because it’s the software that you’re expected to use when you enter the job, but I also know that it works. Not only that, but your local print shop will expect you to use it as well, otherwise the cost of your invoice will magically increase from the print shop designer having to untangle your file and fonts to properly covert your file to CMYK to make it press-ready. 

Let’s talk about Adobe Software Applications

Recently, Adobe has come out with templates, presets, and tutorials to compete with Canva and allow a user to dive in and get started right away.

You can create your own brushes, patterns, and effects to make sure your designs stay unique to you and your brand. The are zero limitations with what you can create in your Adobe designs. Come on, who hasn’t been excited after creating their own cloud brush in Photoshop, or including that subtle drop shadow?

I’ve arm-wrestled with trying to create a simple drop shadow in Canva, and I always go back to Adobe software to create what I need to import into Canva. Not only that, but any SVG shape that I’ve used in Canva has been something I’ve made in Illustrator prior to bring it in to Canva.

Affinity—The Adobe Alternative

Adobe comes with a frustratingly expensive subscription plan. If that’s something you don’t want the hassle of dealing with, there is another great contender out there who is hot on the heals of Adobe.

Come through, Affinity!

Affinity has created a trio of software (Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher) comparable to Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher can be purchased for $50 each, which means the entire Affinity set costs less than 4 months subscribing to the Adobe Suite.

Something unique that Affinity brings to the table, is the seamless integration of their software. You can be working in Affinity Publisher, but open Affinity Photo within that very software. Adobe does not have anything like that and you must switch back and forth between each application.

Why use Adobe or Affinity?

Well, let’s talk about File Ownership

Cost aside, one of the biggest reasons Adobe and Affinity are recommend is the ownership of your own files. Using online design software might be handy, but anything you create does not really belong to you. With Adobe and Affinity, you always have the capability of saving your files and handing them off to someone else, even if you decide to remove the software from your computer.

This is huge news if you want to own your logo and need to email it to someone as part of your media kit. If you are a guest speaker on a Podcast, and you make the host go digging through Canva, there’s a good chance that your logo will not be featured on their site, compared to straight emailing the logo file.

Holy smokes, that brings up a good point on what file type you need for your logo! You can learn all about it in my post The Best File Type for your Logo.


Designing for Print is Still a Thing

While the internet has taken over our lives, designing for print will always be a part of a graphic designer’s life. There will always be a time and place that you will be asked to design printed pieces. Books continue to get printed and flyers continue to be handed out.

Here’s the tea:

Even though VistaPrint (and other companies like it) somehow manage to accept RGB files, there’s still the potential for the files to come back printed incorrect. AAAAAAAND, you need your design software to help account for bleed on printed pieces.

Some of my clients have had the experience of creating in Canva through the use of pre-sized templates, and wondering why their text is so close to the edge of the printed flyer that ends up in their hands. Canva doesn’t account for blend, and they make it damn near impossible to do so.

If you want to make sure you’re setting up files for print that don’t disappoint the client, you need Adobe or Affinity software which have the capability to create CMYK files with bleed. Even files that go to VistaPrint need to be set up correctly if you want to cry tears of joy (instead of tears of sadness) when your project arrives on your doorstep.

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