The best free graphic design software

05. Photo Pos Pro

Need to fix your photos? Photo Pos Pro can do that and more
  • Platform: PC

If you're on 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 your sweet 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.

06. Krita

Krita has been in development since 1999
  • Platform: Mac, Windows, 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.

07. Pixlr

Free graphic design software Pixlr

Free graphic design software Pixlr comes with more than 600 effects
  • Platform: iOS, Android

Free graphic design software Pixlr claims to be 'the most popular online photo editor in the world'. It boasts more than 600 effects, 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.

8. Paint.NET

Free graphic design software Paint net

For photo editing, free graphic design software Paint.NET is an excellent alternative to Photoshop
  • 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 and free 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.

09. Sumo Paint

Free graphic design software Sumopaint

Free graphic design software Sumo Paint works in the browser
  • Platform: Web browser (requires Adobe Flash Player)

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 reediting.

10. GIMP

Free graphic design software GIMP

GIMP is a popular, free graphic design software alternative to Photoshop
  • Platform: Linux, Windows, Mac

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.

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