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10 Graphic Design Software Alternatives to Photoshop

Written by Sara McGuire
Content Editor
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There are more reasons than ever for you to gain some graphic design skills in 2017.

Many postings for jobs in fields like marketing, publishing, business administration, and more are listing Photoshop design skills as an asset or even a requirement. Not only that, but anyone interested in starting up their own site will probably want to make some of their own graphics.

The problem? Big name software can be expensive. There can also be quite a learning curve for high-end software.

Sometimes, you want an easy to use graphic design software that will help you make a banner or an infographic in a pinch. And you don’t want it to break your bank.

Here is a list of ten easy-to-use, affordable graphic design software alternatives to Photoshop.

1. Pablo

Pablo is a social media image editor. The amount that you can do on Pablo is limited, but what it does do, it does well. Pablo is primarily for creating social media images with text. You’re offered a library of beautiful stock images to use, or you can upload your own images.

Use Pablo when you want to create a quick visual text graphic.

2. Venngage

Venngage is a drag-and-drop graphic design software. The tools boast an extensive library of templates for a number of different types of graphics like infographics, blog banners, email graphics, and social media graphics. The tool also has a library of over 10,000 icons to spruce up your designs. A free account on Venngage will give you access to a limited set of tools, and upgrading to a paid account will give you access to more.

Use Venngage when you want to create complex graphics.

3. Snappa

The self-proclaimed “easiest graphic design tool you’ll ever use,” Snappa provides a toolbelt of easy-to-use features. It has a library of high quality photos and curated templates, as well as automatic image resizing which is tailored to specific social media platforms. You can also upload and edit your own images on Snappa, so there’s a lot you can do with this tool.

Like Venngage, Snappa should also be used when you want to create complex graphics.

4. Recite

Recite is another tool with one limited feature, but it offers nice results in a matter of seconds. Similar to Pablo, Recite is a visual quotes editor that enables you to simply input your quote, select a pre-made template, and create your visual quote. You can then share the image directly to social media. Graphic design doesn’t get much easier than that.

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Recite is another one of those programs you’ll want to use to create a quick visual text graphic.

5. Google Charts

Did you know that Google has a tool to create charts and graphs? It’s true, and it’s pretty cool! This tool might not be as intuitive to use as others, especially if the sight of a block of code stresses you out, but the page has clear instructions for how to input the information. The benefit of using the Google Developers tool is that you can either paste the code directly onto your web page or download the image.

Use Google Developers when you want to create a quick graph or chart.

6. Paint.NET

Paint.NET is a photo and image editing software. This intuitive tool allows for layers, special effects, unlimited “undos,” and a handful of other helpful features that make it a nice, affordable pick for frugal graphic design. You do have to download Paint.NET to use it, but it’s free to use.

Use Paint.NET when you want to do touch-ups on an image.

7. Active Pixels

Active Pixels is a photo editing software that is presented as an alternative to Photoshop which gives you “the same–or at least similar–functionality.” This functionality includes the magic wand, the gradient, the polygonal lasso, and more. Unlike Photoshop, Active Pixels is free to download.

Like many of the other programs mentioned here, Active Pixels should be used when you want to create complex graphics.


GIMP is an open-source graphic editing tool that allows you to do a handful of essential editing tasks like photo enhancements and digital retouching. The major benefits of GIMP are its option to save the image as over ten different file types and its customizable interface that allows you to change widget spacing, colors, and icon sizes.

You’ll want to use GIMP as you would Paint.Net. That is to say, use it when you want to do touch-ups on an image.

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9. Beam

Beam is web-hosted chart and graph maker. While the simple four-template interface doesn’t offer much wiggle room for customization, it’s the perfect go-to for creating a quick chart that looks good. You can copy and paste your data directly into the tool and send the finished graph straight to your email. Beam basically makes your graphic design efforts the work of a few seconds.

BEAM should be used when you want to create a quick graph or chart.

10. SVG-Edit

SVG-Edit has been around for a while, but it’s still a nifty web-based graphic design tool. The main purpose of the tool is to create Scalable Vector Graphics, completely free of charge. Similar to Microsoft Paint, you can draw pictures free-hand or import and edit your own images.

Use SVG-Edit as you would most of the software listed here: to create complex graphics.

There you have it, designers: Graphic design made cheaper and simpler. Now go forth and design your hearts out. Why wouldn’t you? It’s totally free.

Happy designing!

Featured photo credit: www.unsplash.com via unsplash.com

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