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  1. What software products can a graphic designer work with?
  2. What do you like about these programs?
  3. Which do you prefer working with?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Lauren Ipsum, Vincent, user568458, benteh, Ryan Jul 21 '14 at 11:07

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This is a rather broad question and I'm sure someone might be able to give a better answer, but I'll give it a shot.

Graphic Design is a fairly broad discipline, there are many different types of tasks and areas where graphics are needed. This effectively means that there are a lot of different types of software depending on what you need to do.

The absolutely most used bundle of software in the graphic design industry is the Adobe Creative Cloud (formerly the Adobe Creative Suite). There are free and/or open source alternatives to most of the programs included but for the most part it's the standard. I'll try and use that suite to explain the different types of software a graphic designer often works with:


1. Photoshop - Image manipulation

Example of Photoshop usage

Photoshop is a very versatile and well-used program in the industry. It's main use is to edit and retouch photographic images but it can also be used in a variety of different ways. This includes creating graphics, mocking up websites, painting digital art and so on. Basically, it's a powerhouse used in a lot of workflows to do a lot of different things.

Alternatives: GIMP, Pixlr


2. Illustrator - Illustrating and vector graphics

Example of Illustrator usage

Illustrator is a very important tool for a lot of designers. With it you can create graphics and illustrations in various vector formats. This is its' main difference to Photoshop, as Photoshop works mainly with raster formats. To put it very simply, vector graphics can be scaled endlessly while raster graphics have a finite number of pixels and eventually will lose some quality as they are scaled. Illustrator is also the app used the most for creating logotypes.

Alternatives: CorelDRAW, Inkscape


3. InDesign - Layouting

Example of InDesign usage

InDesign is where everything is put together. If, for example, we are creating a pamphlet – this is where we'd take the logotype created in Illustrator, the photos and other possible graphics created in Photoshop, and put it all together with the type/text in InDesign. InDesign is a very powerful tool as it is used to create everything from small brochures to entire books as well as e-magazines. In short, it can be used to create material both for print as well as interactive material for the web.

Alternatives: QuarkXPress


These are just a few, but probably the most important, of the software tools a graphic designer uses every day. Some other tools in the Adobe CC that a designer might use regularly include Bridge (quickly organizing and browsing through files), Premiere (video editing), After Effects (VFX, computer animation and motion graphics) and Flash (animation and software development).

I hope you found this helpful. If there's anything else you need to know, consider commenting below or adding it to your question.

  • Also, if anyone feels I've incorrectly described anything, feel free to edit and/or tell me. This is a source of collective knowledge after all. – gburning Jul 21 '14 at 10:51
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    For image manipulation and raster design -- Krita. It might be not very well known yet, but it allows editing features on par with the GIMP and native support for different colorspaces (RGBA, CMYKA, Law, YCbCr, XYZ in 8/16 bits integer and 16/32 bits floating point.) – Erbureth Oct 17 '14 at 11:18
  • So, basically, we can use Karita instead of the Adobe Illustrator? – Arefe Sep 10 '17 at 17:10

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