Best Graphic Design Software 2023
A Comprehensive Guide to Graphic Design Programs: Adobe InDesign, Affinity Publisher, QuarkXPress, and Scribus
In the realm of graphic design, the software you use can significantly impact the quality of your work. This article provides an in-depth comparison of four popular graphic design programs: Adobe InDesign, Affinity Publisher, QuarkXPress, and Scribus. We’ll delve into their features, pros and cons, unique selling points (USPs), user experience (UX), and user interface (UI). We’ll also discuss their pricing and make recommendations for different user profiles, including complete novices, art students aspiring to become great designers, and those preparing high-quality, print-ready PDF files.
Adobe InDesign: The Industry Standard
Adobe InDesign is a professional desktop publishing application that allows you to create stunning page layouts, logo design, creative print media, e-books, and other digital publications. It supports integration with Adobe Creative Cloud, which means you can access your projects from any device. It also offers features like alternate layouts, liquid layout, content collector tools, and more.
InDesign is a powerful tool with a wide range of features. It supports a variety of file formats, has excellent typography tools, and integrates well with other Adobe products, for example Illustrator and Photoshop. It’s also widely used, which means there are many resources and tutorials available. However, InDesign can be eye opening for beginners but is quick to learn and the best graphic design software once you get to grips with the basics.
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Affinity Publisher: User-Friendly and Affordable
Affinity Publisher is a desktop publishing application that offers a range of professional layout and design tools. It supports double-page spreads, image frames with scalable vectors, layer management, and more. Affinity Publisher is relatively affordable with a one-time purchase. It’s also user-friendly, making it a good choice for beginners and professionals alike. It offers a good range of features and integrates well with Affinity’s other products.
QuarkXPress: Robust Features for Print Design
QuarkXPress is a desktop publishing software for creating and editing complex page layouts. It offers features like non-destructive image editing, responsive HTML5 publications, and more. QuarkXPress is a powerful tool with a wide range of features. It’s particularly strong in print design and offers good typography tools. It also allows for a one-time purchase, which some users prefer.
Scribus: Free and Open-Source
Scribus is a free, open-source desktop publishing application. It offers features like color separations, CMYK and spot colors, ICC color management, and versatile PDF creation. Scribus is completely free and open-source, which makes it accessible to everyone. It has a decent range of features for a free tool and supports a variety of file formats.
Pros and Cons of Popular Graphic Design Software
|Adobe InDesign||Integration with Adobe Suite, advanced features, reliable performance, support for print and digital publishing, regular updates. File Set-UP guides on Ex Why Zed website and YouTube. One week free trial while you get up-to speed.||Complex for beginners, subscription-based pricing can be expensive|
|Affinity Publisher||User-friendly interface, affordable one-time purchase, good range of features, integration with other Affinity products||Not as widely used as InDesign, fewer resources and tutorials|
|QuarkXPress||Robust features for print design, good typography tools, one-time purchase||Less intuitive interface compared to InDesign and Publisher. The go-to design software of the 2000s|
|Scribus||Free and open-source, decent range of features for a free tool, supports a variety of file formats||Lacks advanced features and sleek interface of paid counterparts, fewer resources and tutorials|
Adobe InDesign is available through Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription service. The cost for InDesign alone is £19.97 per month, and for all Adobe Creative Cloud apps, the cost would be £51.98 per month. Remember within that Creative Cloud cost you also get the world’s best creative apps including Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, Acrobat Pro and more.. They also serve regular updates too which you can download i seconds so the software is always up-to-date. For InDesign there is initially a one week free trial so you can trial before you buy.
Students and teachers can buy ALL the Creative Cloud apps for a hugely discounted £16.24 per month. This includes the full versions of all the programs.
Affinity Publisher is available for a one-time purchase of £67.99 allowing you to create stunning page layouts for brochures, posters, reports and other projects and never pay again. Alternatively you can pay a one off fee of £159.99 and secure Designer 2, Photo 2 and Publisher 2 within one pack.
The cost for a new, full license of QuarkXPress is £259 pre year on an Annual Subscription.
Scribus is free to download and use. So if you are looking for free graphic design software then jump in with Scribus or use the one week free trial of Adobe InDesign.
For a free graphic design app on your phone or tablet, you could try Canva but our experience has been that is is fiddly and not very conducive to designing for print.
*Prices correct at 21st June 2023.
Recommendations for Different User Profiles
For a complete novice, Affinity Publisher is likely the best choice due to its intuitive and user-friendly interface, affordability, and a good range of features that can meet the needs of most design projects.
For art students aiming to become great designers, Adobe InDesign is considered the industry standard and is widely used in professional settings. Learning it now will be extra content and a powerful USP you can add to your C.V when you come to apply for a job after Uni or college. InDesign offers a wide range of advanced features that can help you create high-quality, professional designs. For those preparing high-quality, print-ready PDF files, Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress are often considered the industry standards for professional print design, largely due to their advanced features and precise control over layout and typography.
All of the file set-up guides on the Ex Why Zed website are aimed at InDesign users as are the downloadable cover templates.
Designing for Print with this Software
All these software packages can be used to design for print and create page layouts for books. Once you’ve created your design, you can then go ahead and print at Ex Why Zed, a professional printing service known for its quality and reliability. Whether you’re creating a magazine, a brochure, or a book, these software can help you create a professional-looking design that’s ready for print.
Perfect Binding and Wire Stitching
If you’re designing a book or a magazine, you might want to consider perfect binding or wire stitching. Perfect binding is a method of bookbinding where the pages and cover are glued together at the spine with a strong yet flexible adhesive. To learn more about how to set up your design for perfect binding, check out this perfect binding set-up guide.
Wire stitching, on the other hand, is a method of binding where the pages are secured with staples down the spine of the book or magazine. For more information on how to set up your design for wire stitching, check out this wire stitching set-up guide.
File Set-Up Guide
Before you send your design for print, make sure to check out this file set-up guide from Ex Why Zed. This guide will help you ensure that your design meets all the technical requirements for printing.
Understanding Perfect Bound Zines
If you’re interested in creating a zine, you might want to consider perfect binding. Perfect bound zines have a professional look and feel, and they’re great for showcasing your artwork or writing. Learn more about perfect bound zines here.
Essential Tools for Zine Publishing
Creating a zine can be a fun and rewarding project. If you’re an illustrator looking to publish your own zine, check out these essential tools for zine publishing.
Which do you think is the best software of 2023?
Choosing the right graphic design software is a crucial step in your journey as a designer. Whether you’re a complete novice, an art student, or a professional preparing high-quality, print-ready PDF files, there’s a tool out there that’s perfect for you. Remember, the best app for graphic design is the one that fits your needs, budget, and workflow. So go ahead, explore these tools, and unleash your creativity.
In the realm of design, the possibilities are as boundless as your imagination. So, whether you’re crafting a compelling narrative in a zine, capturing a moment in a brochure, or bringing a story to life in a book, remember that every page you design is a new opportunity to inspire, to challenge, and to create something truly unforgettable.