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What Is Graphics Design Software?

A graphic designer working.
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  • Written By: Dana Hinders
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 March 2014
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While basic documents can easily be prepared using a simple word processing program such as Microsoft® Word, more sophisticated effects require the use of specialized graphics design software. These software programs let you choose the color, font, size, and style of your text and add images or clip art. Graphics software programs can be used to turn simple documents into artistic creations, even if you don't normally consider yourself a very creative person.

Not all graphics design software programs are intended to accomplish the same goal, however. While Adobe® Photoshop® is used to edit digital images, for example, QuarkXPress® is used for desktop publishing tasks such as laying out a newsletter or designing a holiday greeting card. There are also various illustrating software and 3D graphics programs that can be used to design original computer-generated artwork. Before you spend your hard-earned money, it's recommended that you spend some time thinking about what types of projects you want to complete.

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When purchasing graphics design software, there are a number of different factors to consider. First, you will need to remember that not all programs will run on both PCs and Macs. In fact, Macs are generally considered to be the standard for professional level graphic design. Additionally, graphics design programs can require a great deal of computing power to run properly. If you have an older computer and plan to do graphic design work on a regular basis, you may need to upgrade to a newer desktop or laptop before investing heavily in software.

Learning how to use graphics design software can be a challenging task. For example, Adobe® Photoshop® has many different filters, brushes, and special effects that can take years to truly master. Fortunately, there are numerous Web sites offering online tutorials as well as books and DVDs to teach you how to use nearly every major computer program in existence. If you prefer to learn directly from an experienced teacher, many community colleges also offer short workshops or continuing education courses that can give you a solid foundation for learning a particular software program.

If your design needs are minimal, you may want to keep in mind that there are many free graphics design software programs available. While these programs lack the sophisticated features of their paid counterparts, freeware alternatives can be a cost-effective choice for basic image editing or desktop publishing tasks. One example of a popular free graphics design software program is GIMP, a GNU Image Manipulation Program that is often considered the closest free counterpart to Adobe® Photoshop®.

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