The Best Graphics Software For Your Budget

For manipulating photos and adding different effects, photo editing software is useful. If you are creating animations, illustrations and intricately detailed designs however, you’ll need a quality graphic design software program. Such software can be used for creating newspaper layouts, cartoon illustrations and advertisements as well as posters, logos and animations. We’ve collated a list of the best entry-level graphic design software packages for 2016 as well as some advice on how to choose the right software for your needs.

Top 10 Software Programs

Serif DrawPlus

Pros: easy to use, wide range of tools for creating online and print designs.

Cons: lacking photo effect features such as panorama merging and HDR imaging.

CorelDraw Home & Student Suite

Pros: easy to use, advanced illustration tools and image editing capabilities, compatible with multiple file types.

Cons: some photo effects lacking, including panorama merging, colour correction and HDR imaging.

Corel PaintShop Pro

Pros: choice of 88 photo filters, panorama and HDR image capabilities.

Cons: compatible only with Windows systems.

Corel PaintShop PRo X8 Ultimate
Corel PaintShop PRo X8 Ultimate,

Adobe Photoshop Elements

Pros: user-friendly, advanced features and photo editing capabilities.

Cons: lacking some illustration features, such as vector tools.


Pros: wide range of photo editing and illustration tools for vector and raster images.

Cons: user support via phone and live chat not included.

Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 11
Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 11,

Serif PhotoPlus

Pros: wide selection of illustration tools and photo editing features for vector and raster images.

Cons: Pantone swatches not an included feature which makes it hard to ensure the designs you create print in the same colour as on-screen.

ACDSee Photo Editor

Pros: easy to use, pre-designed templates, wide range of photo filters to choose from.

Cons: lacking illustration tools leaving limited scope for adding originality to designs.

Corel PhotoImpact

Pros: more than 200 templates available to use, photo editing tools with 50 filters.

Cons: lacking illustration tools, limiting the design capabilities.

CyberLink PhotoDirector

Pros: wide variety of photo editing and enhancing opportunities.

Cons: lacking illustration tools so limited when it comes to creating graphics.

CyberLink PhotoDirector,
CyberLink PhotoDirector,


Pros: wide choice of photo effects and editing features.

Cons: limited illustration tools so not much scope for original designs.

Choosing the right software for your needs

So now you’ve seen the pros and cons of our recommended software packages, how do you know which one to choose? We compiled the list in order from best selection of tools and features to the software which offers the least. All of the programs are good, depending on what you need them for.

If you spend most of your time editing photos, choose the software package that offers the best in terms of photo editing tools and filters. For those who require more advanced design and illustration tools, programs such as Serif DrawPlus and CorelDraw Home & Student Suite are ideal.

Beginners will find the likes of Adobe Photoshop Elements and ACDSee Photo Editor easy to use – and with pre-designed templates, these programs give you a great starting base to work from.

Other factors to consider

It’s not all about the illustration tools and editing features though; there are other factors to consider before making your purchase:


Look for software which also includes on-screen colour proofing so you can be sure that your designs will print in the same colour as you chose when you created them. Packages with prepress support will check for errors before you hit the print button, allowing you to fix them and save on unnecessary printing costs.


If you’ll be sharing your designs, it can be useful to purchase software that supports multiple file types – this ensures that other users can open the files you send with ease.

So remember, shop around and consider exactly which features are most important to you. Look for on-screen colour proofing and check the compatibility of the software before you buy.

Browse the wide range of graphic design software available at BT Shop.


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