What Is Graphics Software?

Make your images shine with the right graphics program

Man in light red shirt working on a desktop computer at a desk

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Graphics software creates, edits, and manages two-dimensional images. These computer graphics may be clip art, web graphics, logos, headings, backgrounds, digital photos, or other kinds of digital images.

Common Applications

Common graphics editors include Photoshop, Illustrator, Paint Shop Pro, CorelDRAW, The Apple Photos plugins from Macphun, Adobe Lightroom, Digital Image Suite, Canva, and related programs.

What Isn't Graphics Software?

Software that people think of as graphics software, but isn't, include programs that don't directly manipulate individual images. Page layout software such as InDesign, QuarkXpress, and Publisher fall into that category. Likewise, presentation software such as PowerPoint or Apple Keynote isn't graphics programs. In general, home publishing or creative printing software doesn't rise to the occasion, either.

What Are the Types of Graphics Software?

The two main categories of graphics programs are pixel-based image editors and vector-based image editors. In a nutshell, an image is either comprised of a series of small dots (pixels) or a series of commands about how to draw an image (vectors). You'll know the difference between pixel- and vector-based images by zooming on them. If they zoom very close without appearing fuzzy and blotchy, you're working with a vector image.

Some of the categories of specialized tools for managing graphics include:

  • Image Management Software
  • Image Viewers
  • Batch Processing Tools
  • Web and Animation Software
  • Diagramming Software

What Is Graphics Software Used For?

Some of the common things people use graphics software for include editing and sharing digital photos, creating logos, drawing and modifying clip art, creating digital fine art, creating web graphics, designing advertisements and product packaging, touching up scanned photos, and drawing maps or other diagrams.

There are the unconventional uses as well, such as editing video in Photoshop or 3D drawing in Illustrator.