Best Free Graphics Design Software 2016-2017

In this post I am going to be looking mainly at graphics editing software. These apps can also be used for photo editing of course, but they are geared toward all-around graphics editing rather than being specialized for retouching and enhancing photographs.

However, later on I am also going to make a list on photo editing software which might include some general graphics editing software as well, but mainly software geared toward photo retouching and enhancement. So stay tuned for that!

# Name Platforms Layers Vector Plugins Scripting Rating
1 GIMP Windows, Mac & Linux Yes Full Yes Yes 9/10
2 Krita Windows, Mac & Linux Yes Full No Soon 8/10
3 Paint Shop Pro 8.1 Windows Yes Limited Limited Yes 7.5/10
4 Paint.NET Windows Yes Limited Yes No 7/10
5 Pixlr Editor Web Based Adobe Flash Yes No No 6.5/10

 

#1 GIMP

logo_gimp

GIMP is a free and open source graphics editor that has been around since 1995. It is developed by volunteers from the GNU and GNOME projects and the software is available for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems.

GIMP is an excellent graphics editor that also has the tools and filters for photo retouching and editing. GIMP supports multiple layers, vector layers, plugins and scripting in multiple languages. The interface is a bit more complex and confusing than the other free graphics editors in this review, but it becomes much easier to use after some practice. GIMP does also have a point-to-point selection tool and clone brush, as well as filters for photo retouching.

GIMP Homepage | Download GIMP | GIMP Basic Tutorial

 

#2 Krita

logo_krita

Krita is a free and open source graphics editor based on Qt 5 and the KDE Frameworks 5. Krita is developed by KDE and most of its funding comes from Kickstarter, where supporters can actually vote on features that should be developed.

The software is designed for digital painting, drawing and sketching but it also has most of the features required to make it usable for photo and general graphics editing as well. Krita supports multiple layers, vector layers, macro recording and replay and Python script support is coming soon. It has point-to-point selection and clone brush, as well as filters to adjust brightness, contrast and colors on photographs.

Krita Homepage | Download Krita | Krita Basic Tutorial

 

#3 Paint Shop Pro 8.1

logo_psp8

Paint Shop Pro 8.1 (PSP8) is an old graphics editor from 2003, developed by Jasc, a company which no longer exists. The software is only available for Windows.

PSP8 supports multiple layers, vector layers for text and objects, scripting through macro recording and replay, point-to-point selection, clone brush and it has plugin support, although it may be difficult to find any workable plugins for such an old program. It also has filters that enable it to adjust brightness, contrast, colors and more for images, making it usable for photo retouching. PSP8 is also fairly lightweight and easy to learn, it should work well on older computers.

One downside with PSP8 is of course that this version of the software is no longer updated, but it has held up fairly well considering its age.

PSP8 Homepage | Download PSP8 (archived: 1, 2, 3) | PSP8 Basic Tutorial

 

#4 Paint.NET

logo_paintnet

Paint.NET is a freeware raster graphics editor developed by Rick Brewster from dotPDN LLC. Paint.NET was initially released in 2004 as a simple replacement for Microsoft Paint which back then did not support transparency or layers, it is only available for Windows.

Paint.NET is a very lightweight program and the interface is simple and easy to use. It does support multiple layers and plugins, but it has no point-to-point selection tool and vector support is limited. Paint.NET does have a clone stamp tool and it has filters to adjust brightness, contrast and colors, making it somewhat usable for photo retouching.

Paint.NET Homepage | Download Paint.NET | Paint.NET Basic Tutorial

 

#5 Pixlr Editor

logo_pixlr

Pixlr Editor is a free web based graphics editor that can be used on any operating system with a web browser that supports Adobe Flash.

The web app supports multiple layers but not any third party plugins or scripts, and it does not have vector support or a point-to-point selection tool (only a laso tool). However Pixlr Editor does have numerous filters to adjust brightness, contrast and colors as well as a clone stamp tool, which makes it usable for photo retouching and editing.

Pixlr can be used for graphics editing, but it is better at photo editing.

Pixlr Editor Homepage | Use Pixlr Editor Online

 

 

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