7 Top-Rated Affordable Graphic Design Software

By: Saumya Srivastava on February 8, 2024

Eye-catchy product packaging, interactive store posters, and engaging website icons are just a few spots small-and-midsize-businesses (SMBs) leverage graphics to stay ahead of their competition. With graphic design software, you can simplify image creation and build attractive marketing campaigns for your target audience. 

Whether you’re a skilled graphic designer juggling blank canvases or a marketing professional dealing with overwhelming campaign content, using a graphic design tool can make your ideas stand out.

This article highlights seven top-rated affordable graphic design software based on their pricing as found on vendor websites and verified software reviews. Based on our research, we've considered products priced less than $21.49 per month as affordable software and have arranged them in ascending order. Read more about our methodology at the bottom of the article.

The software tools listed in this article focus on creating graphic designs using generative AI features or manual editing.

We selected products for this article based on their average ratings between December 2021 - December 2023, which may differ from their current overall average ratings.

1. Pixlr

Pixlr graphic design and photo editing software offers a generative AI assistant to convert text-based prompts into artwork. It facilitates image generation, background removal, and object removal, focusing on detailed photo and design editing. The tool helps users automatically generate new designs and edit existing ones to add filters and backgrounds. It offers two versions: Pixlr X AI-enabled tool for cropping, resizing, and adjusting colors, and Pixlr E manual tool for layer editing, filters, and other advanced designing capabilities.

Product features of interest:*

  • Automatic grid creator: Upload batch images and convert them into grids. The feature offers a range of grid layouts to select and customize your graphic designs and themes. 

  • Product shot creator: Use the AI image generator to create product shots. The feature uses text prompts to understand your requirements and generate images. You can customize the outcome for advanced designing, including background, objects, colors, fonts, and size.

  • AI fill and expand: Automatically change the size or color and add or remove effects in graphic designs. The feature allows instructing the generative AI assistant using prompts to explain the requirements. 

Starting price: $0.99 per month

Billing cycle: Annual

Customer support options: FAQs, video tutorials, social media community, blogs, webinars, and online courses

Who should consider Pixlr?

Marketing and creative design managers in SMBs can benefit from Pixlr’s AI features. The tool can help managers better utilize the talents of team members with a wide range of experience, from beginners to experienced professionals. Graphic designers can choose between Pixlr E and Pixlr X depending on their skill set, needs, and development goals. Pixlr’s advanced AI capabilities can save time by eliminating intervention in redundant tasks, such as cropping and redesigning, allowing them to focus on creating intricate graphics.

Pixlr

Pixlr

4.48 out of 5 stars

111 reviews

2. Pixelied

Pixelied lets you create personalized icons, product mockups, YouTube thumbnails, book covers, and social media graphics. With its pre-designed templates, you can customize graphics, such as posts, banners, ads, and presentations, for your specific needs. It also has a library of illustrations, elements, and icons to include in your designs. The tool’s brand watermark feature lets you add branding to your designs using short text or logo. The feature allows you to upload an existing branding design element or create one using the watermark editor.

Product features of interest:*

  • Icon maker: Create logos and stickers for your design projects or select an appropriate element from the icon library. The icons can cover different categories and styles, such as business, technology, and nature. The feature allows you to drag-and-drop icons onto your canvas or design project. 

  • Cartoon selfie: Use style effects, including cartoon filters that turn your images into animated avatars or cartoon characters. The feature allows customizing the generated images for facial expressions and hand gestures. 

  • Hand-drawn illustrations: Browse from a pre-installed library of icons and characters in various styles to include on your landing pages, photos, and applications. The feature allows customizing these illustrations for colors to match the brand visuals. 

Starting price: $3.91 per month

Billing cycle: Annual

Customer support options: FAQs, chat, blogs, knowledge base, emails, and YouTube

Who should consider Pixelied?

Consider Pixelied to enhance the visual appeal of your social media posts, videos, and other marketing materials. It offers various icons, illustrations, and filters to attract your target audience by matching their interest. Users can also watermark visual content to prevent others from stealing their ideas or designs. Its collaborative workspaces are ideal for designers working remotely and looking to up their game by brainstorming ideas and transforming them into eye-catching visuals.

Pixelied

Pixelied

4.68 out of 5 stars

103 reviews

Pro tip

Map out the number and type of future projects you’ll undertake. Also, consider the project’s requirements for branding and illustrations, crafting websites, animating videos, and designing printing materials. Defining the project and design scope saves you from juggling multiple tools and the hassle of converting file formats.

3. Affinity Designer

Affinity Designer 2, formerly called Affinity Designer, helps create live, responsive designs with objects, layers, and color tagging. The tool allows you to select specific areas in your design using a live outline or zoom feature to make intricate edits without affecting other objects in the frame. Its typography options let you customize text by adjusting attributes, including size, tracking, leading, and kerning. This capability enables you to place text along a path or shape using the ‘Text of Path’ tool to create specific arrangements. Affinity Designer supports various formats, including JPEG, PDF, SVG, PSD, PNG, TIFF, GIF, and GWD/DXF.

Product features of interest:*

  • Affinity store: Browse brushes, styles, fonts, and templates and add them to your media library using the tool’s affinity store. The feature allows you to remove these extra elements anytime during the design project. 

  • Keyboard shortcuts: Use keyboard shortcuts to open or save a document, undo or redo an action, fit to screen, add layers, insert text, and perform various other design customization-related activities. 

  • Artboards: Work on different sections of a design project within a single document. The feature allows dragging designs onto the artboard and resizing or repositioning them per your requirements. 

Starting price: $6 per month

Billing cycle: Monthly

Customer support options: FAQs, forum, learning portal, phone calls, and emails

Who should consider Affinity Designer?

Affinity Designer can benefit intermediate to experienced graphic designers in creating live and responsive designs. Adding objects, layers, and color tagging to your graphics can enhance viewers’ responsiveness and engagement. With the Affinity Store feature, you can access additional resources to include in your design tool kit and make precise edits.

Affinity Designer

Affinity Designer

4.73 out of 5 stars

438 reviews

4. PicMonkey

PicMonkey offers a vast library of pre-designed templates, helping you to re-format layouts in multiple sizes, remove backgrounds, or customize them for brand colors, fonts, and logos. You can create new branding elements using the tool’s editor or upload options from those already saved in the computer system. PicMonkey’s collaboration capabilities enhance team communication, allowing members to co-edit projects via email invites. They can leave comments and tag specific team members to provide feedback and suggestions on a shared design or project.

Product features of interest:*

  • Team folders: Organize files into shared team folders within the tool’s cloud storage. These folders can be shared with team members via a link or email invite.

  • Searchable tags: Add tags to images, graphics, or design elements with the shared storage. These are common names used to describe the file and make it searchable via the search bar.

  • User-access management: Share files and folders with team members via role-based access. Team members can only perform the allowed actions (view, edit, or comment) or request the desired action from the shared file or folder owner. 

Starting price: $7.99 per month

Billing cycle: Monthly

Customer support options: Emails, FAQs, tips, text and video tutorials, and help center

Who should consider PicMonkey?

Consider PicMonkey to enhance collaboration among designers, especially when working remotely. Teams can leverage the tool’s collaboration capabilities to co-edit designs, suggest changes, or share them with stakeholders for approval. With the tool’s access management feature, the team can ensure that only authorized members access the shared files and folders, protecting them from accidental deletion or changes.

PicMonkey

PicMonkey

4.49 out of 5 stars

1126 reviews

Pro tip

Opt for beginner-friendly tools that do not restrict experienced designers' creativity. The selected tool should help professionals derive the desired output using advanced editing tools and templates.

5. PhotoADKing

PhotoADKing graphic design tool allows you to create custom graphics, backgrounds, and logos using an online library of fonts, images, three-dimensional (3D) elements, audio and videos, charts, and QR codes. The library offers a search bar for typing in the relevant keywords and getting the desired templates. The tool’s drag-and-drop editor allows selecting and placing the selected templates onto the graphics. The created designs can be directly shared via email or on social media pages, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Telegram, and WhatsApp.

Product features of interest:*

  • Chart maker: Create bar charts, line charts, pie charts, and tables by adding or exporting data directly into the generator. The feature allows customizing the appearance of the charts, including colors, labels, fonts, and other design elements. 

  • QR code maker: Generate QR codes for website URLs, contact details, text, or Wi-Fi network information. The feature allows adjusting the code's colors and size and incorporating logos or images. 

  • Font library: Explore different fonts, including decorative, script, or serif, and customize them for your preferred text, color, and spacing. The feature lets you filter fonts based on categories, styles, or characteristics. 

Starting price: $8 per month

Billing cycle: Annual

Customer support options: Blogs, chat, FAQs, tutorials, online guides, help center, and online support ticket

Who should consider PhotoADKing?

Marketing and design teams can leverage PhotoADKing’s vast customizable templates for fonts, images, 3D designs, audio, videos, charts, and QR codes to save time finding suitable assets for design projects. The drag-and-drop editor simplifies customizing these templates to the right position on the canvas, ensuring precise edits.

PhotoADKing

PhotoADKing

4.64 out of 5 stars

97 reviews

6. Simplified

Simplified AI-enabled graphic design tool leverages AI algorithms to understand your requirements using text prompts. In addition to graphic designs, the tool helps generate presentations, memes, and carousels according to your brand’s colors and fonts. Simplified lets you crop images with pre-determined ratios for social media and video platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and publish them directly from the system. You can connect social media accounts and schedule the publishing of posts according to the tool’s content calendar.

Product features of interest:*

  • AI text to image: Describe the desired graphic design using text prompts and allow the AI tool to generate the output. You can further customize the generated design for your specific topic and theme.

  • AI image enhancer: Improve your designs' clarity, quality, and appearance using the AI tool. The feature allows you to upload an existing design from the system and edit or animate its elements. 

  • Predetermined resizing and cropping: Use presets for common sizes, such as social media posts, banners, or web pages, to resize designs automatically. The presets also include aspect ratios and the canvas's length and breadth. 

Starting price: $9 per month

Billing cycle: Annual

Customer support options: FAQs, video tutorials, online classes, emails, and social media platforms

Who should consider Simplified?

AI capabilities of Simplified graphic design make it suitable for designers with little to no technical skills. They can leverage the tool to get the desired results without codes or manual editing. SMB marketers can also use the tool to create and schedule campaigns when working with multiple projects. The tool’s features can help save the time and effort of manually editing and maintaining project schedules.

Simplified

Simplified

4.71 out of 5 stars

231 reviews

Pro tip

Consider tools with collaboration capabilities to share files, leave comments, or invite team members on projects. You can also look for a dedicated workspace feature that allows access to a group of team members and restricts others to prevent accidental deletion or changes.

7. PosterMyWall

PosterMyWall lets you create marketing emails and digital signage content with text, images, videos, illustrations, and branding instead of plain text. It offers various templates with a basic layout, which you can customize with your message, call to action, buttons, and social media icons. These emails have a responsive design for audiences to view on multiple devices, such as computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The tool creates digital signage content using images, videos, and animations for dynamic presentations, slideshows, scrolling text, and real-time data updates. You can schedule the content to display on connected screens at specific times and dates automatically.

Product features of interest:*

  • Signup forms: Create subscription, lead generation, contact, and feedback forms to embed in the email campaigns. Track the user activity on forms using tracking codes to understand the click and open rate. 

  • Spell checks: Check spelling errors in the marketing message for emails or digital signage content. The feature highlights errors with a red underline; you can hover over them for suggestions.

  • Custom email address: Create unique email addresses with your company name or product USPs to send marketing emails. The feature allows the creation of single or multiple email addresses for targeted campaigns. 

Starting price: $9.95 per month

Billing cycle: Monthly

Customer support options: FAQs, how-to articles, help center, and social media platforms

Who should consider PosterMyWall?

Marketing managers with basic design knowledge can create interactive and personalized marketing campaigns using the emailer and digital signage content creation of PosterMyWall. They can make and embed signup forms to collect customer details, including name, address, and contact information. They can also use the embedded links to subscribe to the brand newsletter or track updates on social media platforms.

PosterMyWall

PosterMyWall

4.78 out of 5 stars

168 reviews

How much does graphic design software cost?

Graphic design software solutions can cost as low as $0.99 per month or up to $24+ per month, depending on various factors—features, number of users, design templates, AI capabilities, training availability, deployment options, and storage. Most graphic design solutions typically include the following pricing plans:

  • Free trial: No-cost plans ranging from 7 to 30 days give users access to all or limited software features. These are ideal for businesses that wish to try out a tool before purchasing it.

  • Free version: Free software plans offer access to basic features and limited premium features. These are ideal for small business owners with a limited budget.

  • Entry-level: Starts at $0.99 per month and offers essential editing tools and templates. These are ideal for small businesses with basic graphic design needs.

  • Mid-tier: Range from $4.9 to $20 per month and offers features such as social media integration, animation, and AI-enabled editing. These are ideal for businesses that have outgrown basic design solutions and don’t require the full range of functionality offered by enterprise-level tools.

  • High-end: Advanced software plans going up to or over $24 per month offer unlimited entry-level and mid-tier features with cloud storage and priority support. These advanced features are ideal for larger businesses spread across the globe.

Hidden costs associated with affordable graphic design software

Besides the software license, additional costs may be associated with the best graphic design system, including:

  • Implementation and training: Include data migration, customization, and employee training. These can be substantial, especially for complex systems or large organizations.

  • Cloud storage: Beware of the additional digital storage costs that can add up quickly, particularly for larger design projects.

  • Stock templates: Additional costs may be incurred for access to premium stock images, including logos, illustrations, and animated content.

Frequently asked questions when selecting graphic design software

Here are some questions to ask software providers before making a final purchase of the best graphic design software:

  • What are the available design and editing options?

Most affordable graphic design software plans typically include fundamental design tools, such as drawing, shaping, and selecting, along with a template library. In some cases, the entry-level plans may also offer limited access to the premium software. To find the right tool, you should check and match the selected tool’s design capabilities with your team’s requirements. 

  • Does the software allow file import and export?

Your selected software should allow importing and exporting various file formats, including JPEG, PNG, SVG, and PSD. Also, check if there is a limit on the file sizes that can be transferred from one system to another and consider if the tool’s capabilities align with your design team’s requirements. 

  • Does the software support both vector and raster graphics?

Some tools support both vector and raster graphics, while others support either. This versatility in your selected tool will help you work on various design projects, from logos and illustrations (vector) to image editing with filters and transitions (raster).


Methodology

To be considered for this list, products had to:

  • Each product should be a part of Software Advice’s Frontrunners Report 2023 for graphic design software.

  • Include CAD tools, design templates, and image editing as core features.

  • Must meet our market definition for graphic design software: “Graphic design software provides users with the necessary features to design, edit, and publish graphics or images.”

  • We assessed all products that met the first three criteria for their monthly pricing and considered the products with publicly available pricing information. Based on the assessment, the average price was calculated to be $21.49. Products with a monthly subscription price lower than $21.49 were then shortlisted to be included in this list and arranged in ascending order.

*Our research team identified these features from vendor websites (as of Dec. 19, 2023) based on their analysis of what users find valuable in or expect from graphic design software. This list is not exhaustive. For additional features, refer to the vendor's website.  

Products evaluated for the pricing calculation were taken from Software Advice’s graphic design software directory. The pricing ranges exclude freemium versions of the products. The features highlighted were identified based on their relevance and the percentage of products in the Software Advice directory that offer them.

Editorial independence: We select and rank products based on an objective methodology developed by our research team. While some vendors may pay us when they receive web traffic or leads, this has no influence on our methodology.