Top Web Graphics Programs for Windows

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When it comes to selecting a web graphics program, there are so many choices it can often be difficult to determine which program is right for you. While the tendency is to want to go with the most popular program available, that's not always the most appropriate option for every person's needs. We hope to help you make the best choice for your needs by summarizing the most likely candidates. Those indicated as companion tools would not be appropriate as your only web graphics tool.

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Adobe Photoshop

What We Like

  • Provides capabilities to make icons, navigation elements, web graphics, and mockups.

  • HTML slices generated automatically or with the Slice tool or Layers panel.

  • Online step-by-step tutorials.

What We Don't Like

  • Steep learning curve for anyone new to Photoshop.

  • Expensive subscription.

  • Isn't focused solely on web design.

Photoshop is one of the most advanced and versatile programs available, and most professional Web developers want to have Photoshop in their arsenal of tools. Although Photoshop no longer comes bundled with ImageReady, over the years, many web graphics features have been included in Photoshop. Photoshop now provides tools and features for creating GIF animations, image slicing and optimization, batch processing, and automation. It integrates tightly with Adobe's other products such as Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash, and InDesign.

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Corel PaintShop Pro

What We Like

  • Basic and professional image-editing tools.

  • Informative video tutorials online.

  • User friendly interface.

  • Easy to learn.

What We Don't Like

  • No web-specific features.

  • Slow start-up time.

  • Effects are basic and limited.

For users who want a great deal of flexibility and features that rival some of the much pricier photo editors, PaintShop is an excellent choice. Affordably priced for a boxed version, it's within reach of the average user and maintains ease of use without being overly simplistic or too limiting. If you're looking for ready-to-use templates and one-click effects, however, you won't get that with PaintShop.

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Xara Xtreme

What We Like

  • Useful for creating image maps, navigation bars, and rollovers.

  • Affordable alternative for vector graphic design.

  • Exports graphics in all web formats.

What We Don't Like

  • Requires an internet connection.

  • No pixel-editing capability.

  • No longer in development.

Xara Xtreme is a top-notch graphics tool, no matter what your level of graphics experience. With its amazing speed, small size, reasonable system requirements, moderate price, and powerful feature set, it's hard to go wrong with Xara Xtreme. For web designers, Xara combines the power and ease of vector drawing tools with export capabilities for all major web formats. Xtreme also includes specialized tools to help you create animations, navbars, rollovers, image maps, and other optimized Web graphics.

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Corel PhotoImpact

What We Like

  • Designed for professionals and casual users.

  • Includes web design and photo editing features.

  • Affordable.

What We Don't Like

  • Lacks vector illustration tools.

  • Limited sharing capability.

  • No training available for advanced features.

  • Development is halted.

PhotoImpact is ideal for those looking for professional results without a steep learning curve. It comes with hundreds of one-click presets, so it's easy for the complete novice to quickly achieve polished-looking results, yet it still has enough advanced features that users won't feel limited as they gain experience. PhotoImpact has painting and editing tools for those that need to perform other editing tasks and you also get GIF Animator and integrated tools for creating Web components.

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Xara 3D Maker

What We Like

  • Creates 3D text headings and animations.

  • Online video tutorials.

  • Optimizes images for the web.

What We Don't Like

  • Interface shows its age.

  • Doesn't generate state-of-the-art 3D images.

Xara 3D Maker lets you create 3D still headings and animations from text or imported vector objects. The interface is simple and easy to understand. You start by entering your text and then you can experiment with the various effects which include extrusion, bevel, shadow, texture, animation, and lighting. When you're happy with the results, simply adjust the display window to the desired size, and export the finished image as a JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, animated GIF, or AVI movie. Companion tool.

Last Updated: Dec. 2010