Best Design Software

Design software allows users to create a variety of visual files. Some functions include page layout, image manipulation, and digital illustration.

What You Should Know About Design Software

Design software is used to create, edit, and view different types of graphics and images—including, but not limited to, photography, 3D design, and the front end of websites. Those in creative professions now tend to use digital tools to create art and designs instead of the more traditional multimedia, as software solutions tend to create graphics quicker. Despite removing the ability to create imagery by hand, design software offers various tools and functions intended to enhance the user’s artistic skills and techniques.

Why Use Design Software?

By digitizing the creation process, design tools offer a number of benefits to its users. This software is leveraged to generate a variety of multimedia, with various advantages catering to each type of art.

Precision editing – Drafting up a design or work of art with software will grant users far more precise results than working by hand would. These solutions often include tools such as objects, dimensions, and grids to ensure the work is as accurate as possible. These precise images can be quicker than working by hand. These files are easy to modify and typically do not take up much space after every change.

Flexibility – If a user makes a mistake or decides to change part of a manually drafted design, they may have to start work completely from scratch. This is not the case with design software. These tools enable users to simply undo an action or erase part of a design without losing the project.

Easily scalable – Design software often uses vector files to power the artwork and designs created within the platforms. Vector files can easily scale to different sizes without losing the image quality. This allows the work to be easily duplicated and used in different mediums.

Who Uses Design Software?

Design software is typically used by those in creative professions. These tools are often utilized to create art or help organizations visually represent their brand.

Graphic designers — A graphic design firm utilizes design software to create client-facing images that capture a company’s vision and brand. A graphic designer’s work may include signage, logos, art installations, and more. Design software helps these users create, edit, and publish their work.

Photographers — After completing a photoshoot, photographers can use design software to modify, enhance, and edit uploaded photo files. Design solutions may also organize and maintain these image files.

Web designers — Web designers are responsible for the front end of the website. They create the page’s layout and content through various editing platforms. The visual aspects of design software help web designers ensure their audiences have the best user experience.

Animators – Design software can be used to create, color, and detail 3D objects. These solutions often include tools such as a paintbrush that give depth and texture to these images. The 3D objects created within these platforms can serve as the model for video games and movies.

CAD designers – A CAD designer takes an architect’s or engineer’s design plans and brings them to life. The 3D rendering aspects of some design software allows them to easily do so. Rendering a 3D object enables a designer to scale, navigate, and interact with a 3D object in a virtual setting. This ensures that a designer can see any potential product or building flaws before that object or structure is brought to life.

Design Software Features

As design software encompasses a variety of software categories, each of the following features will not be available in every tool. However, they should be fairly common across many solutions.

Extensive tool kit – Design solutions offer a variety of tools that mimic designing with physical supplies. Designers utilize a stylus and a screen or tablet to create within these platforms. The stylus can act as a number of different tools. When a stylus acts as a paintbrush, users can adjust the opacity and stroke width of the brush. Using the stylus as a pen tool allows users to perform actions such as anchor lines to push and pull them in various directions. These tool kits should be found in design software such as photo editing and drawing tools.

Vast storage space – Working in design solutions involves quite a bit of file uploading, creating, editing, and potentially publishing. Sometimes users create from scratch within these platforms. Design tools should be able to save all edited versions of the image files that the user creates. If a user prefers to create an image or application from a preexisting template, many design tools have a library of templates already saved.

3D objects – Many design tools only allow users to work in 2D. However, some are specifically intended for working in 3D. These products may offer space to create a 3D model, along with adding various depths and details to the objects, such as color and texture.

Additional Features

Design software offers a variety of products with robust capabilities. The features below should be fairly common, but will not be offered in every product across this category.

Surface modeling – Surface modeling is a feature that should be found in 3D design products. It allows a user to look at a 3D object at multiple angles with solid surfaces.

3D rendering – This feature is a vital portion of the overall 3D design process. One of the last steps in designing a 3D object is rendering it. This allows the user to see the product in a fully realized environment, meaning product flaws may be caught before it goes to market.

Layering – Design tools focused on sketching typically allow users to work with layers. This enables the use of different colors and various tools, such as a paintbrush or pencil, to be used in one single image. Design products should allow users to edit and blend each layer separately, so they come together as one cohesive final product.

Rulers and guides – Creating within a design product allows users to develop precise work. Using design software means that artists and designers may rely on features such as rulers and guides to create a more accurate design than would be possible by hand.

Trends Related to Design Software

3D graphic design — Designers have begun to utilize 3D graphics to provide more depth and detail to their designs. Adding this extra level of depth to designs can communicate a concept better. Some web designers have applied this concept to the typography on their site as well. 3D modeling and 3D painting software helps designers accomplish this.

Animation — When it comes to web design, catching and keeping an audience’s attention is of the utmost importance. Including animations on a website will entertain an audience, along with potentially making an idea or process easier for website visitors to understand. 3D design and web design software can help to bring animations to life on a website.

Realistic illustrations — Lifelike drawings offer designers more flexibility in how the subject of their design is depicted. This trend presents new possibilities for how images can be included in designs and on a website layout. Integrating certain drawing and photo editing tools helps achieve this style of illustration.

Wireframing for the user — In the past, wireframing was intended as a way to communicate the architecture of a software. Now, it’s being done with the users in mind. Many software design teams now use the wireframing stage of a website or application to determine what will be best for the user.

Potential Issues with Design Software

Visible errors – Many design solutions are vector graphics-based. This provides a benefit to designers, as vector graphics-based images are easily scalable. However, that means if the tiniest error is made in a drawing or design, it may turn into a glaring mistake when scaled to a larger size. This can compromise image integrity.

Post-wireframing changes are difficult – Wireframing creates the blueprints for a web page or an application that a development team is intended to follow throughout the process of building it. That means that once the wireframe is finalized, there will be little room for further changes by the design team.

Ethics – Photo editing tools are intended to improve the quality of a photo to ensure the final product is more than satisfactory. However, using photo editing software in certain fields, such as journalism, can sometimes land the user in an ethically grey area. If a photo has been overedited, it may completely change the subject and message of the image and thereby compromise a business’ integrity.

Hardware quality may impact image quality – The colors, texture, and other details seen on an image created with design software depends on the quality of the screen the user is working with. A low-grade screen may lead to an inferior design. A user needs to ensure they are working on a top-of-the-line screen to produce the best image possible.

Software and Services Related to Design Software

User experience (UX) design services — Business hire user experience (UX) design services providers to ensure a product or website is functional and designed with the user’s best interest in mind. These firms utilize a number of web design platforms to efficiently get the job done.

General-Purpose CAD — Many 3D design software solutions should integrate with general-purpose CAD solutions. Engineers, architects, and users in many different fields utilize CAD tools to create 3D objects. A number of CAD tools have the functionality to detail and render objects. But for those that do not offer those capabilities, 3D painting and 3D rendering solutions should integrate with CAD tools and perform those functions.

Graphic design services — Organizations outsource the creation of outward-facing client materials to graphic design services providers. Design solutions help these firms to create digital art and physical work that can be published from one of these platforms.

Popular Design Software Categories