The 10 Top Open Source Graphic Design Software

Posted on August 15, 2022 | Updated on August 28, 2023

Sometimes graphic designers feel restricted by the current software they use to create new projects. Others want to delve deeper into a new skill or would like the ability to customize their options as they see fit. An open source graphic design software gives you the freedom to do this. You can manipulate certain features and be in control of the perfect graphic design tool you desire. Below are the top picks for open source software. Consider getting a closer look at everything they have to offer.

1. Inkscape

Much like Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape is a free, open source vector graphics tool available to everyone. 

Designers can use it for creating artistic or technical illustrations like typography, flowcharts, diagrams, logo design and cartoons. Additionally, it comes with various object tools you can use to make freehand drawings, calligraphy or play with different shapes and patterns.

Inkscape has a flexible interface and allows you to manipulate objects by rotating, scaling and moving them around. You can add layers and group various entities to form a hierarchy.

2. GIMP

GIMP is a popular graphic design software and photo editing tool. Many graphic designers use it as an alternative to Photoshop since it has many of the same features. Therefore, it’s a useful tool for designers, whether they’re beginners or advanced.

GIMP has various features you can use to adjust photos, digitally paint and more. While it doesn’t have all the features that Photoshop possesses, it still makes quality software to work with in design.

3. Figma

Figma is an open source software you can use to conceptualize, prototype and present designs. In addition, it’s rich with advanced pen tools that allow you to draw freely without connecting and merging points. You can even use it to create pie charts and other circular objects.

One of the most appealing features is the auto-layout which helps you create responsive designs for website projects.

Another great feature this software provides is that you can turn static designs into interactive content by incorporating UI elements.

This open source graphic design software is full of resources to offer technical support. Plus, you can customize the software to suit your needs.

4. Krita

Krita is a useful vector graphics software that heavily focuses on digital illustration and painting. While its main use is for designing a comic book, it’s free software that provides advanced templates and various features. 

Such features include:

  • Smoothing shapes
  • Layer masks
  • Vanishing points
  • And more.

If you’re a beginner designer and want to dive into illustration, Krita is one of the top choices in open source.

5. Blender

Blender is a great open source option you can use to create 3D drawings. Even some of the most famous animators use Blender to make feature films, TV shows and short films. 

While this interface can take some time to get used to because of its complexity, it becomes easier to use as you move forward. 

It also has several customizable options where you can tailor your extensions and features the way you want. 

Blender is powerful in handling photorealistic rendering, game creation, sculpting and fast rigging. Consider this design tool for making all your 3D creations. 

6. Lunacy

Lunacy is a free program for Windows, Mac and Linux users. It’s easy to use and has lots of features for you to explore. 

For instance, Lunacy has a large collection of drawings, pictures and symbols to use. Instead of Googling for images or graphics, you save more time having everything in one place. 

This graphic design software is also great for designers because it makes work easier. This tool has built-in AI to automate repetitive tasks. These processes may include:

  • Removing backgrounds
  • Upscaling images
  • Generating text

Another great feature automates your layout. Rather than staring at your creation for hours, Lunacy helps you create responsive designs with rules for elements to follow. 

You can also work offline. Or, if you prefer to be online, this software lets you work on designs with other designers in real-time.

7. Synfig Studio

Synfig is an open-source 2D animation tool. It’s known for helping artists create smooth animations without needing to draw each frame by hand. Either way, Synfig is excellent whether you want to create a simple cartoon or dive deep into details.

Synfig Studio has numerous features that give you control over your artwork. For example, vector tweening lets you turn any shape into what you want. You have tools that allow you to transform them into smooth animations. You can even duplicate them as many times over as needed.

This graphic design software also features a bone system. Create real-looking characters by using bones to make your characters move. 

Synfig is flexible and makes a great choice for those on a tight budget.

8. Dia

Dia is a free drawing program built on an SDI (single document interface). It’s similar to Inkscape and GIMP, where designers can make diagrams and flowcharts. It’s a go-to tool for people who need to organize information visually. 

Yet, the good thing about Dia is that it has ready-made templates for different charts. However, if you’d rather start with a blank slate, you can customize your shapes in any way you need. 

Dia lets you export your creation in various formats, like PNG, SVG, JPEG and PDF. Additionally, if you’re tech-savvy, you can add more features to Dia as needed.

9. FontForge

FontForge is an open-source tool that lets graphic designers make and edit fonts. If you’re into designing letters and symbols, this tool is for you.

One reason is because it lets you design your own creations. You can start from scratch and create unique letters no one else has. 

You can even edit existing fonts. Have you ever found a cool font but found it needs tweaking? FontForge lets you do this. Once you finalize your design, take it for a test drive. See how your new font looks in sentences before saving. 

Moreover, it lets you work with different formats. FontForge supports various font formats like TrueType and OpenType, making it ideal for creating personalized font designs. To make the design process smoother, you also have guidelines to help you line your letters perfectly.

10. Vectr

Vectr is an excellent open-source software that lets users make vector graphics. The tool is available online, or you can download it on your computer. What makes Vectr a popular choice is its ease of use. Even if you’re new to design, it’s easy to get started with it.

This design software also has a chat feature. If you and another designer are working on a project together, you can notify each other of changes made within the editor. You can also share a link and work on designs in real-time. 

Additionally, the software has customizable grids. You can line things up to your liking if the original settings aren’t giving you what you need. 

The tool even has AI-powered technology. Graphic design becomes a faster, more efficient process when using these features. If you’re ready to make crisp graphics without a big price tag, Vectr is a fantastic option. 

Choose the Right Open Source Graphic Design Software

Open source graphic design software is perfect for designers who want to use their time practicing new skills and developing them even further. Test out each one to find which of them suits your needs and will give you the best results. 

There are numerous design tools you can use online. However, the above resources are the most beloved by all artists worldwide. 

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.

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