Like any other profession, graphic design requires trade-specific tools, the most modern being specific software that enables image editing and processing. Professional designers have their favorite tools, the most popular being the ones offered by Adobe and known as Creative Suite. This package includes Adobe Photoshop, which is by far the most used by professional in this industry, but also applications such as Illustrator, Fireworks and InDesign. Each of these programs has its specific applications, but most graphic designers know how to use all these tools. This enables them to create everything from banner ads to leaflets, brochures and even books and catalogs.
Beginners can use free tools in order to gain some experience and do some client work to allow them to upgrade to paid tools. Gimp is one of the most used free photo editors available today. It offers a wide array of features, thus being the best in its category. Although there are professionals who endorse and recommend it, Gimp is, nonetheless, less complex than paid software. It is good for basic jobs and photo editing, but when it comes to designing complex advertising materials, books and catalogs, it can be quite limited in what it has to offer.
Each of these graphic design software alternatives has its own learning curve. Nonetheless, some commands are the same for all apps, especially for those belonging to the same company. If you know how to use one of the programs in the Adobe Creative Suite, for instance, you have great chances to be able to use all others almost with the same ease. You may still need to learn some specific actions and commands, but generally speaking, you can do much better than an absolute beginner who has to learn everything from zero.
These are only a few of the alternatives a young graphic designer has. Any of these programs can help anybody to improve the quality of their photos, to crop them and to adjust their brightness and contrast. However, when it comes to creative departments of advertising agencies, art directors aren’t too happy about using free software, as it may prevent them from unleashing their true creativity. Great ideas need great tools to become real, so these professionals are always going to use the best possible tools in their industry. This rule applies in graphic design, as well as in other industries and areas of activity.