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Design Software for Every Designer

The hundreds of design software products out there make it hard to decide which to use. Some are free, some are paid, and some require a monthly subscription with multiple plans. The more software products you know how to use, the better—this expands your skills list and helps attract employers. But you also can stick with software that you know does the job perfectly. Listing examples might be more confusing or overwhelming than helpful, so I will get straight to my point.

Design Software

In this post, I would like to share the four software products that every graphic designer should know how to use, and other software that are good to check out.

1- Adobe Illustrator [Ai] – This software is mandatory for a graphic designer. It’s the tool for many creative designs. This software allows you to draw and illustrate logos, portraits, and flat characters, and design printable material such as posters, cards, business cards, signs, and many more. The software also allows saving files in many different forms (JPGE, PDF, PNG, SVG, PSD, Ai, EPS...). You can customize the size of the artboard for your needs. There are two document color modes (CMYK for print use, RGB for digital use). You can connect your drawing pad (such as Wacom, ISKN) and draw freely with a stylus. You can also buy digital brushes, vectors, and symbols to use with the software. Finally, Ai is easy to navigate and use, and there are many helpful tutorials on YouTube as well as books.

2- Adobe Photoshop [Ps] – Photoshop is for anything related to photo editing and combining visual elements. The software is somewhat easy to use, but you’ll need to learn more about its filters and tools. You can fix and retouch photos and portraits and create GIF files, books and magazine covers, and printable and digital materials. Just as in Ai, you can save your project in many forms (PNG, GIF, JPG, PDF, PSD...). There are multiple color modes (CMYK, RGB, Grayscale, Lab Color...). You can transfer the file you’re working on to and from Illustrator depending on the tools you need for your project. Also, Photoshop easily connects to LightRoom (another Adobe software that specializes in adding filters to photos). Finally, you can buy filters, action scripts, and brushes to use in the software.

3- Adobe InDesign [Id] – InDesign is the perfect software to design layouts for books, book covers, magazines, and other printable materials that need to be in specific sizes. You can set margins, bleed, slug for printing. Finally, you can save your file in PDF, JPG, HTML, and PNG formats.

*** Adobe offers its software through monthly or annual plans after a one-month free trial for individuals, students, and businesses. You can check out their plans and find what’s best for you!

4- Microsoft PowerPoint [PP] – PowerPoint allows you to create a presentation for your clients/employer about the project you’re working on. It might not sound relevant, but as a designer, it’s important to have mutual software to exchange information with other professionals as easily as possible. You can also design PP presentation templates - set for businesses or sell them on your platform.

Once you mastered these software platforms, you can explore new ones as much as you want.

Here is a list of seven other great software products to check out:

1. Adobe Lightroom – For photo filtering

2. Adobe Xd – For UI/UX designers to create websites or app wireframes

3. Adobe Dreamweaver – For web designers to build HTML/CSS websites

4. Adobe Spark – For designing free collages

5. Sketch – For UI/UX designers to create websites, software, and product designs, exclusively for Mac

6. Corel Painter – Great for illustration and digital portrait drawing

7. Inkscape – For creating vectors, illustrations, and complex paintings


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