WE ARE OPEN! Some lead times may be extended slightly. More info.

Suggested Artwork Software

If you're unfamiliar with artwork software, our recommendations will help you get started. We've picked out the best options for preparing your printing files - with a range of paid and free options available for both desktop and tablet software.

Not all artwork software is created equal, nor free. If you’re unfamiliar with where to start, below are some suggestions. Be aware that we only use the Adobe software in-house – so it’s important that whatever software you use, the file you export must be supported (see accepted file formats).

Our Recommendation

Ultimately we’d recommend working with either the desktop versions of Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop, as they are widely supported and also what we use here at Blackwater Studios. Adobe Photoshop can be subscribed to for as little as £10 a month (if you select the ‘Photography Plan’, which also includes Lightroom). We can also offer a degree of support with this software, if you need some guidance navigating the artwork software when preparing your files.

Adobe Illustrator Icon

Adobe Illustrator (Vector Art)

The main recommendation for creating vector artwork. As well as creation, Illustrator has reasonably good tools for turning imported raster files into vectors. This can be useful if your images need to be upscaled and generally makes your artwork files more versatile.

Desktop: adobe.com/uk/products/illustrator/
iOS: Coming Soon
£19.97 per month / Windows, Mac
Last checked: 22/01/2020

Adobe Photoshop Icon

Adobe Photoshop (Raster Art)

The long time standard for image editing and creation of raster files on desktop, with a large community supporting it. It is now also available to use on iOS (if you have a Photoshop subscription), which is perfect for creation if you also have an Apple Pencil and compatible iPad.

Desktop: adobe.com/uk/products/photoshop/
iOS: apps.apple.com/us/app/adobe-photoshop/id1457771281
£9.98 per month / Windows, Mac, iOS
Last checked: 22/01/2020

Free Desktop Alternatives

Below are the main desktop alternatives for artwork software that we suggest looking at. However we do not use these ourselves in-house, therefore we cannot offer much in the way of support. It’s important that the files exported from these should still be inline with our file type / format requirements that are outlined on this page.

Inkscape Icon

Inkscape (Vector Art)

A free alternative to Adobe Illustrator. If you're unfamiliar with working with vectors, this may be an ideal way to try out working with them at no cost. There are also plenty of free tutorials available online to help you get started.

https://inkscape.org/
Free / Windows, Mac, Linux
Last checked: 22/01/202

Gimp Icon

GIMP (Raster Art)

A free alternative to Adobe Photoshop. Has many of the same tools as Photoshop. The interface can be considered user-unfriendly by some, but if you only need to do some minor work or edits, GIMP could be ideal.

https://www.gimp.org/
Free / Windows, Mac, Linux
Last checked: 22/01/2020

iOS / iPad

At the time of writing, aside from the iOS version of full Adobe Photoshop (mentioned above), the other Adobe apps available do not support a combined canvas / resolution size that would be big enough for artwork with large print areas (limited to 4K x 4K pixels). So for Adobe’s currently available apps, we’d only recommend the Photoshop app.

However, if you do not have an Adobe Creative Cloud Plan and would prefer to pay a smaller one-off fee (rather than subscription), these iOS options may be worth a look first.

Graphic Icon

Graphic (Vector Art)

The best reviewed vector artwork app. It allows you to import images for tracing over, to set correct dimensions and export the vector as widely supported vector document types such as .pdf.

https://www.graphic.com/
itunes.apple.com/gb/app/graphic-for-ipad/id363317633
£8.99 / iOS only
Last checked: 22/01/2020

Procreate Icon

Procreate (Raster Art)

The best reviewed raster artwork app. It allows a large canvas size at 300dpi (tested 34cm x 53cm at 300dpi, which allowed a max of 4 layers). Art can also be exported as a .psd file with layers still intact.

https://procreate.art/
itunes.apple.com/gb/app/procreate/id425073498
£9.99 / iOS only
Last checked: 22/01/2020

What about Android apps? We are still looking for alternatives. Let us know if you have a suggestion!

If you aren’t sure that you have other suitable artwork or have questions about preparing it, you can email artwork@blackwaterstudios.co.uk or use our contact form to get in touch.

Talk to us.

We can give you a free, no obligation quote.

Read More: