Essential Graphic Design Tools: A Guide
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. Adobe Creative Cloud
  2. Corel Draw
  3. Canva
  4. Sketch
  5. Inkscape
  6. GIMP
  7. Affinity Designer
  8. QuarkXPress
  9. Gravit Designer
  10. Xara Designer Pro

Have you ever been stuck in the middle of a design project, scrambling to find the right tools? Well, you're not alone. Mastering digital tools is a crucial part of being a successful graphic designer. In this guide, we will explore some of the software essentials for graphic designers. These tools won't just make your work easier—they can also unlock new creative heights in your designs.

Adobe Creative Cloud

If there's one toolkit that stands out when it comes to mastering digital tools, it's the Adobe Creative Cloud. This comprehensive suite of applications and services offers a lot of powerful tools for graphic designers.

  • Photoshop: Photoshop is to a graphic designer what a paintbrush is to a painter. This tool allows you to edit and manipulate images to your heart's content. It's great for everything from basic photo editing to creating complex digital art.
  • Illustrator: If you're into creating logos, typography, or illustrations, Adobe Illustrator is your go-to tool. This vector-based software allows for clean, scalable designs.
  • InDesign: When it comes to creating layouts for print or digital publishing, InDesign is the tool of choice. It's perfect for designing magazines, brochures, eBooks, and more.
  • Adobe XD: If you're working on user experience (UX) or user interface (UI) design, Adobe XD is a must-have. From wireframing to interactive prototypes, Adobe XD has you covered.

When mastering digital tools, learning how to navigate the Adobe Creative Cloud is like learning the ABCs—it's a great place to start. The software essentials for graphic designers don't end here, though. Stay tuned as we explore more tools in the upcoming sections!

Corel Draw

Next on our list of software essentials for graphic designers is Corel Draw. This vector graphic editor is a reliable companion for many designers and truly shines when it comes to creating logos, brochures, banners, and other types of marketing communications.

  • Vector Illustration: Corel Draw is most celebrated for its outstanding vector illustration capabilities. The precision and control offered by this tool are simply unparalleled, making it a darling among graphic designers.
  • Page Layout: Need to create a captivating layout for a flyer, poster, or brochure? Corel Draw can help you do just that, with its robust set of page layout features.
  • Typography: Corel Draw also excels in typography. It provides a wide array of type tools that let you create, format, and manipulate text in your designs.
  • Color Management: To give your designs that extra pop, Corel Draw offers advanced color management tools. You can adjust hues, contrasts, and brightness levels to your heart's content.

Mastering digital tools like Corel Draw can truly take your graphic design game to the next level. Indeed, it's one of those software essentials for graphic designers that's worth investing time in. But don't stop here—there are more tools to discover in the world of graphic design!


Let's move on to another tool that's making waves in the graphic design industry—Canva. This cloud-based design tool is a favorite among beginners and professionals alike, thanks to its user-friendly interface and vast library of design elements.

  • Pre-made Templates: Canva offers a plethora of templates for every conceivable design need. Whether you're creating a social media post, a presentation, or an invitation card, Canva's got you covered.
  • Drag-and-Drop Interface: With Canva, you don't need a degree in graphic design to create stunning visuals. Its intuitive drag-and-drop interface makes the design process a breeze, even for novices.
  • Photo Editing: Canva isn't just a design tool—it's also a capable photo editor. You can apply filters, adjust brightness and contrast, and even add text to your photos.
  • Collaboration: Working on a team project? Canva lets you collaborate with your teammates in real-time, making it easier to create and refine your designs together.

As you continue your journey of mastering digital tools, you'll find Canva to be a versatile and powerful addition to your toolkit. Remember, the key to becoming a successful graphic designer lies in understanding and effectively utilizing the software essentials at your disposal.


Speaking of mastering digital tools, let's talk about Sketch, shall we? This vector-based design tool is a favorite among web and interface designers. And for good reason. Let's explore why.

  • Interface Design: Sketch shines when it comes to designing interfaces. Its powerful vector editing capabilities allow you to create complex shapes and designs with ease.
  • Symbol System: Sketch's symbol system lets you reuse elements across your design. Change one symbol, and all instances of it update automatically. This feature is a real time-saver when you're working on large projects.
  • Prototyping: Want to see how your design will look in action? With Sketch, you can create interactive prototypes to get a feel for the user experience before development begins.
  • Collaboration: Just like Canva, Sketch offers real-time collaboration. Your team can work together on a design from anywhere in the world.

Mastering digital tools like Sketch can give you a significant edge in the competitive field of graphic design. So, are you ready to add Sketch to your toolbox of software essentials for graphic designers?


Let's move on to another tool that is a must-have for mastering digital tools in the realm of graphic design - Inkscape. Known for its versatility and robust features, Inkscape is a powerful free and open-source vector graphics editor.

  • Free and Open Source: The best things in life are free, right? Inkscape won't cost you a penny, making it a great choice if you're just starting out with graphic design or on a tight budget.
  • Advanced Tools: Don't be fooled by the price tag. Inkscape is packed with advanced tools that rival those of expensive software. It offers a wide range of drawing tools, path editing, text support, and more.
  • Compatibility: One of Inkscape's major strengths is its compatibility. You can import and export various file formats including SVG, PNG, PDF, among others.
  • Community Support: Being open-source, Inkscape has a vibrant community of users and developers who are always ready to help out with questions or problems.

Mastering digital tools such as Inkscape can be a game-changer in your graphic design journey. Are you ready to take your design skills to the next level with these software essentials for graphic designers?


Next in the list of software essentials for graphic designers is GIMP. It's a high-quality tool that's serious about helping you create stunning visuals. Are you ready to dive into the amazing features this tool has to offer?

  • Open Source and Free: That's right, you don't have to break the bank to use GIMP. It's another fantastic open-source tool that you can use without spending a dime.
  • Flexible and Customizable: GIMP is all about giving you control. You can customize the interface to suit your workflow. This means you can focus on creating, not navigating through unnecessary options.
  • Layered Editing: GIMP supports layered editing, a key feature for any graphic designer. This allows you to manage complex designs and make changes without affecting the entire image.
  • Powerful Tools: From selection tools to color correction, GIMP provides a comprehensive set of tools to help you create professional-level designs.

Mastering digital tools like GIMP can set you apart in the graphic design world. So, why wait? Start exploring GIMP and see how it can elevate your designs.

Affinity Designer

Moving along our journey of mastering digital tools, let's talk about the Affinity Designer. This software, my friends, is a game-changer. Not convinced? Let's break it down:

  • Vector and Raster in One: The beauty of Affinity Designer lies in its ability to handle both vector and raster graphics. This tool allows you to switch between the two modes with just one click—talk about convenience!
  • Zoom to Perfection: With Affinity Designer, you can zoom up to a million percent. Yes, you read it right, a million! This allows you to work on minute details with absolute precision.
  • Real-time Performance: Affinity Designer is built for speed. It provides real-time feedback, so you can see the changes as you make them, making the design process more efficient.
  • Robust Grid System: Building complex, detailed designs? Affinity Designer's advanced grid system has got you covered.

As you can see, Affinity Designer has a lot to offer in terms of enhancing your graphic designing skills. So, get your hands on it and start mastering this digital tool today!


Next up in our journey of mastering digital tools is QuarkXPress. This tool is like the Swiss army knife for the graphic designer, packing in a punch of features. Let's take a closer look:

  • Intuitive Interface: QuarkXPress is user-friendly with a straightforward interface. It makes the design process easy, even for beginners.
  • Typography: With QuarkXPress, you can play around with typography like never before. It offers a wide range of fonts along with precise control over kerning, tracking, and leading.
  • Vector Illustration: The software provides powerful vector illustration capabilities, allowing you to create complex shapes and illustrations from scratch.
  • Layout Automation: QuarkXPress offers layout automation, which saves time and ensures consistency across your designs.

QuarkXPress is an all-rounder when it comes to graphic design. With its extensive features, it surely fits the bill as one of the software essentials for graphic designers. So, why wait? Start mastering QuarkXPress today!

Gravit Designer

Continuing on our path of mastering digital tools, we meet Gravit Designer. This tool is a hidden gem in the graphic design world, providing a range of features that are surprisingly powerful. So, let's dive in and see what it's all about:

  • Free to Use: Yes, you read that right! Gravit Designer is free to use. It offers a lot of the capabilities of more expensive tools, but without the price tag. Great for designers on a budget, huh?
  • Easy Learning Curve: Gravit Designer has a simple and clean interface that's easy to navigate. This makes it an excellent starting point for budding designers.
  • Web and App Design: Gravit Designer excels in web and app design. It has tools specifically for creating user interfaces and user experience designs.
  • Vector Editing: Another strong suit of Gravit Designer is its advanced vector editing functionality. You can create and edit your own shapes, making your designs truly unique.

Gravit Designer is an excellent tool for those starting their graphic design journey or those looking for a budget-friendly alternative. It's another solid step towards mastering the software essentials for graphic designers. Ready to give it a spin?

Xara Designer Pro

Next up in our quest for mastering digital tools, we have Xara Designer Pro. This is a powerhouse of a tool that can handle a wide range of graphic design tasks. Let's get to know it a bit better:

  • Robust Tool: Xara Designer Pro isn't just a graphic design tool—it's also a web design tool, a page layout tool, and even an image editing tool. This all-in-one approach can be a real time-saver.
  • Fast Performance: Xara Designer Pro is known for its fast performance. Even when handling complex designs, this tool doesn't slow down, which is a big win for those on tight deadlines.
  • Highly Customizable: With Xara Designer Pro, you can customize almost everything. From toolbars to shortcuts, you can set up your workspace exactly how you like it.
  • Professional Quality: Despite its simplicity, Xara Designer Pro doesn't compromise on quality. It produces professional-level designs that are sure to impress.

With Xara Designer Pro, you're not just getting a graphic design tool, but a complete design suite. It's a valuable asset for anyone working towards mastering the software essentials for graphic designers. So, are you ready to explore Xara Designer Pro?

If you're looking to expand your toolkit and explore new techniques in graphic design, don't miss out on the workshop 'An Analog & Digital Mix: Customising Your Tools As An Illustrator' by Florencia Fuertes. This workshop will give you valuable insights into combining analog and digital tools to create unique and eye-catching designs. Dive in and take your graphic design skills to the next level!