10 Software Every Designer Should Know

person lettering on tracing paper using mechanical pencil

If you want to create a career in design, there are a few things that are essential to have in your toolkit. With these programs, you can manage all of your design workflows and render beautiful images. If you want to get a portfolio together, take some time to get to know the functions of these 10 tools.

Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is an essential tool for any designer to have in their back pocket. This professional-level program allows you to manipulate images and create breathtaking effects. Even those starting out should take the time to have an understanding of this program. 

Whether you’re a web designer or a graphic designer, you can use this tool that is full of intuitive features and templates. Enhance standard images to meet their highest quality for your clients.

GIMP GNU Image Manipulation

A lot of these programs that we will mention in this article are paid, but if you’re looking for a foot-in for free, consider GIMP GNU Image Manipulation. The multi-platform tool is an open-source and safe tool. 

It’s more than an image editor, though, and you actually will have access to similar features of Photoshop, Publisher, CorelDraw, and Maker Graphic Design Software. The best part is, you don’t even have to pay a dime. 

Adobe Illustrator

This graphics software is used for creating high-quality vector images. You can scale these without losing quality, so it’s perfect for designing logos, presentations, and newsletters. With this program, you can develop chats, typography, logos, illustrations, diagrams, and graphs.

Adobe Illustrator does require knowledge of concepts like layers, paths, and grouping before you can get started using this program, but it’s essential to know. 

Graphic Design Studio

This easy-to-learn program allows you to create vector images and size them for any media. The interface is user-friendly. Create, design, and draw professional graphics, transform text and fonts. You can also edit dip arts and graphics. 

You can save your work in various programs, including JPG, TIF, GIF, PNG, PDF, WPD, EMF, BMP, or PNG. Add special effects and find inspiration from designs. This is great for creating business cards, food menus, and bulletins. 

Adobe Indesign

This program is a powerful desktop publishing and typesetting software that’s used by designers to create professional online and print media. It is an advanced editor that provides you with features to enhance your creative freedom and precision. 


Inkscape is another free and open-source program for designing professional vector graphics. The software operates on Windows, Linux, and Mac OSX. This is packed with intuitive drawing tools and includes broad file format compatibility. 


Many non-designers and professionals alike use this program that was launched in 2012. It’s a simplified tool that is based on your browser. The drag-and-drop format provides users with access to various photos, graphics, fonts, and vector images. Designing is fun with Canva. 

Daz 3D

This free 3D content creation tool allows you to pose, animate, morph, and render models for whatever purposes. This is one of the more natural rendering tools to use, and it is available for both Mac and Windows. 

If you’re looking to get into game development, you can integrate the graphics you’ve created with platforms such as construct.net

Microsoft Publisher

Publisher is a basic desktop publishing application that is more advanced than Microsoft Word. The focus is placed on page design and layout, rather than typing and proofreading. You can create simple headers, slideshows, greeting cards, brochures, and newsletters. 

This program is easier to use than many of the other programs that we’ve mentioned, and it gives you the option to create publications from a template. 


This comprehensive tool is powerful, quicker than many others, and simple to use. You can get creative whether you’re making logos, designing signage, gaming graphics, or print options. You’ll be in charge of how you work, and there are many sample projects and educational resources included. 

The program incorporates a layer-based editor that allows you to enhance your images. You can get awesome vector images with a simple right-click. 

MacBook Pro on table beside white iMac and Magic Mouse

The Bottom Line

If you’re a newbie in the industry, you’ll want to get started testing out these programs and getting to know their functions well. With a solid knowledge base of all of this software, you’ll be able to create beautiful and aesthetically appealing web and print graphics programs.