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What to Look for When Selecting Graphic Design Software


Graphic design softwareIn the artistic world of graphic design any old software just won’t cut it. As a digital artist, the tools of the trade are just as, if not more important than the actual artist themselves.

As the competition for graphic design jobs and industry projects continues to escalate, so does the need to stand out from the pack and define a unique style of your own.

Graphic Design software provides designers with the tools and features to help  make a difficult task much simpler and make good work great. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when selecting graphic design software as each designer has different needs and skill levels and each program has its pros and cons. In this blog we take a look at what is required in selecting the most appropriate software to suit your needs.

Define your needs

With so many products on the market it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  First  of all you will need to know what your criteria is before investing in expensive software. Write down the requirements you need to get the job done. For instance, if you are a professional graphic designer who works with high end clients, it’s probably best for you to use quality software with all the bells and whistles. However, if you’re a part time designer or want software for personal use it may be more beneficial and economic to  start with a more basic version which still has the tools you need.

Types of Programs

Once you have a clear idea of what you need out of the software it’s time to start looking into the different types of programs. Here we have rounded up the top 10 software programs currently on the market:

  • Adobe Photoshop

  • Adobe Illustrator

  • Adobe InDesign

  • Corel Paintshop Photo Pro x3

  • CorelDRAW Graphics Suite x5

  • Adobe Flash

  • Art Rage 3.5

  • Wacom Tablets

  • Adobe Premiere

  • Corel Paint

Shop Around

Once you have identified your criteria and the products on the market, it’s time to start shopping around and begin doing your research. Look into the name, features, price, performance, examples of work and if possible, test out the software. This can be done in store, however a majority of the software companies allow for a trial download. Adobe trial downloads and Corel trial downloads are a great place to begin your research and test out the featured tools.

Online research will help narrow down the options. Check out product reviews and online forums to gauge the quality of products and how appropriate it is for your needs. Amazon or ebay are a good place to start looking along with the software company ‘s website. It’s also a good idea to ask the retailer about their return policy, customer service care, warranties, installation process and if you can run the program on multiple devices.

Ease of use

Editing images, creating packaging, designing market collateral, laying out magazines or bringing typography to life is a time consuming task particularly if you are new to the industry. But it can be made easier with the right software and more specifically the types of tools and features associated with the product from layout and palettes and tools and software updates. Also, make sure you look into the ability of the software to adapt and work with other applications and file types.

File Formats

There’s no point in having the best software unless it can perform two basic functions.

1) Import industry standard file types

2) Enables you to manipulate the files

Each graphic designer will require software to best suit their individual needs however the above two elements are a must no matter which software you purchase.

Editing Features

When assessing the editing features of the software, make sure you they include the basic elements such as:

  • Retouching

  • Filters

  • Colour correction

  • Channel mixing

  • Artistic rendering

  • Layers

  • Batch processing

There are two main graphics types: vector and bitmap. The best graphic design software suites now blend the functional elements of both of these types of graphics. Vector illustration features include vector brushes, pen tool, text effects, tracing, 3D effects, raster effects, graphing, bleed presets and more.

Whether you are a high-end graphic designer or do it for a hobby, the right graphic design software comes down to each individuals needs, budget and project requirements.

Image source: Oberazzi via Compfight

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