Improve your workflow and boost your creativity as a graphic designer with the help of digital applications. We’ve compiled the top seven free and paid apps to keep in your toolbox with this roundup.

Gone are the days of sketching and designing with only a pencil and paper. Graphic design continues to evolve, with new software, applications, and tools. The constant updates and additions can be tough to keep up with, but to be a successful graphic designer, it’s imperative to be up-to-date with the newest technologies. Digital applications are a great way to improve your workflow, boost your creativity, and challenge you to try new methods and techniques.

From drawing softwares to graphics tablets to color palette creators, this list has every app you need to transform your creative process.


1. Procreate

The Procreate app is a powerful application designed for sketching, illustrating, and prototyping artwork. It features an endless brush library, various layer modes and effects, powerful animation abilities, and much more. With its innumerable tools, brushes, effects, and color modes, this digital illustration app is definitely in a league of its own.

Top 7 Must-Have Apps for Graphic Designers in 2020 — Procreate
Mockups via Fleur_de_papier.

Available on Apple iPads for $9.99 (and now with a $4.99 lite version called Procreate Pocket for iPhones), Procreate’s simple interface is also highly customizable, down to the gesture controls and brush settings. The app provides numerous high quality brushes with wet and dry applications. When combined with the Apple Pencil, the app tracks the angle and pressure you apply to the pencil, creating a realistic depiction of how a brush or pen translates on paper.

If you love working digitally and are looking for an application to install on your iPad or iPhone, this powerful interface is a great way to boost your creativity and improve your designs.

2. Pinterest

Creating new designs doesn’t typically come out of thin air; most designers look for ideas online to inspire them for their next project. Free on the App Store and Google Play, Pinterest is a great way to create boards of inspiration for any aspect of your life, from graphic design to crafts to interior design ideas.

Top 7 Must-Have Apps for Graphic Designers in 2020 — Pinterest
Mockups via Fleur_de_papier.

I routinely use Pinterest to create sections for new projects, trends, and ideas. You can use the search bar to find illustrations and designs, or follow others to fine-tune your dashboard.

3. Astropad

Many creative professionals resort to using a graphics tablet, such as Wacom, to improve their workflow and create stunning designs. These tablets can often be difficult to transport and carry around. Available on the App Store, Astropad turns your iPad into a customizable drawing tablet, eliminating the need to fork over money for a high-end tablet.

Top 7 Must-Have Apps for Graphic Designers in 2020 — Astropad
Mockup via Fleur_de_papier.

This revolutionary application is available for a one-time purchase of $29.99 on the App Store for its Standard option, with regular updates and shortcuts. Astropad’s Studio option features even more tools and shortcuts, but is available for $79.99 per year.

4. Vectornator

Hailed as one of the best free vector editing softwares, Vectornator is a must-have for any designer interested in working with vector graphics without the hefty price tag. With this versatile and user-friendly application, you can create your own vector designs, logos, and illustrations on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Top 7 Must-Have Apps for Graphic Designers in 2020 — Vectornator X
Mockup via Fleur_de_papier.

While this application is free, it closely mimics the capabilities of Adobe Illustrator and can work with AI, SVG, and PDF files. This application is perfect for any designer that is starting out in the world of vectors.

5. Shutterstock

Do you ever need to find images on the go? Or, does inspiration strike when you’re without a laptop? Shutterstock’s free mobile app makes it easy to search for and download images and designs straight to your phone. The user-friendly app also lets you create collections to share with others so that you can collaborate on projects from anywhere.

Top 7 Must-Have Apps for Graphic Designers in 2020 — Shutterstock
Image via Shutterstock.

Available for Apple and Android, this free application is an absolute must for those who frequently work with stock images in their projects.

If you’re a Shutterstock Contributor (it’s free to sign up!), then you can take your submissions on the go with the Shutterstock Contributor App (for iOS and Android).

6. Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor

With the help of current camera technology, taking photos from your phone has never been easier. The Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor application makes it stress-free to edit, compile, and share photos on the go. If you have access to Adobe Creative Cloud, you can sync photos from your desktop to your phone and vice versa, making the post-production process a breeze.

Top 7 Must-Have Apps for Graphic Designers in 2020 — Adobe Lightroom Editor
Mockup via Fleur_de_papier.

This free and versatile application is available on the iPad, iPhone, and on all Android devices. While you don’t need access to Adobe Creative Cloud to use the presets and features, it helps when working access multiple devices.

7. Pocket Palette

Working with color is an absolute essential part of being a graphic designer. It evokes tone, mood, and emotion through color psychology and more. No matter what you’re designing, color choice is imperative to how the overall composition is perceived.

Top 7 Must-Have Apps for Graphic Designers in 2020 — Pocket Palette
Mockup via Fleur_de_papier.

The free Pocket Palette app makes creating harmonious color palettes an absolute breeze. You can create your own palettes on the iPhone or iPad by editing sample palettes, selecting your own hues, or sampling from an image.


Cover image via Cressida studio.

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