7 Best Screen Printing Software 2024 (50 Programs Ranked)

by Chris Von Wilpert, BBusMan • Last updated November 23, 2023

Expert Verified by Leandro Langeani, BBA

Disclosure: We test and review software products based on an independent, multi-step rating methodology. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Read full disclosure and rating methodology.

Today there are 87 different screen printing software. We spent 106 hours comparing the top 50 to find the seven best you can use to screen print your designs.

What is the Best Screen Printing Software?

  1. Adobe Illustrator — best of the best
  2. Canva — best for ease of use
  3. Xara Designer Pro+ — best performance
  4. CorelDRAW — best for precise patterns
  5. GIMP — best for extensive customization
  6. Krita — best for customizable drawing brushes 
  7. Procreate — best for iOS

Our Verdict — Best Of The Best

Price: Starts at $31.49/month

Adobe Illustrator is a versatile vector graphics editor, ideal for creating screen print designs. We think it’s the best because of its precise color control, seamless integration with other Adobe apps, and advanced design tools.

The Best Part:

  • World-class color control. Adobe Illustrator allows you to fine-tune colors with precision to create vibrant screen prints.

The Worst Part:

  • Steep learning curve. Adobe Illustrator’s advanced features might have you scratching your head for a little while before you get used to them.

Get it if you want a professional-grade screen printing software that is the industry standard for screen printing design work.

I recommend you start with the 7-day free trial, then upgrade to the Yearly plan for $20.99/month.

(7-day free trial)

Best For

Adobe Illustrator is best for professionals who want to create high-quality screen prints, every time.

Top Features

  • Limitless fonts. Pick from thousands of fonts or even upload your own, to always keep the right feel with your screen designs.

  • Pro-level color shading. Add depth and character to your screen print designs with Adobe Illustrator's user-friendly gradient options.

  • Design wherever, whenever. With Adobe Illustrator’s app, you can work on your screen printing designs from any mobile or tablet device.

  • Add a natural touch with vector brushes. Customize vector brushes to give your screen print projects a natural, handmade vibe.

  • Turn raster images into clean vectors. Easily transform pixel-based images into clean, crisp vectors ready for printing.

Pricing

Adobe Illustrator offers three pricing plans:

  • Monthly: $31.49/month for design enthusiasts who want a flexible plan with a month-to-month commitment.
  • Yearly — Billed monthly: $20.99/month for professionals who are in it for the long haul but don’t want to commit to a hefty upfront payment.
  • Yearly — Billed upfront: $239.88/year for dedicated artists who want the best bang for their buck with access to all of Adobe Illustrator's features and cloud storage in a single annual payment.

The annual plan provides a 36% discount.

Try Adobe Illustrator today with a free 7-day trial.

Our Verdict — Best For Ease Of Use

Price: Starts at $12.99/month

Canva is an easy-to-use web-based graphic design platform. We think it’s the best for ease of use because of its extensive library of quick-start templates, drag-and-drop interface, and intuitive layout tools.

The Best Part:

  • You design, they deliver. Canva can print your designs on 100% premium cotton apparel, and you can then just sit back and wait for your package to arrive.

The Worst Part:

  • It may fall a bit short. Canva is great for most users, but it doesn't quite match up to professional design software like Adobe Illustrator in terms of sheer horsepower.

Get it if you want a user-friendly software to quickly create neat screen print designs and have them shipped to your doorstep.

I recommend you start with the free plan to test the waters, then get the Canva Pro plan for $12.99/month.

(free plan)

Best For

Canva is best for design enthusiasts who want to explore screen printing as a hobby and need a simple design platform to kickstart their projects.

Top Features

  • Keep it tidy. Stay on top of your screen printing projects with Canva's handy folder and project management features.

  • Teamwork makes the dream work. Collaborate on your screen printing designs in real-time, thanks to Canva's seamless collaboration features.

  • Robust resource library. Find the perfect pictures, illustrations, and icons for your screen prints within Canva's extensive built-in library.

  • Ready-made mockups. Whip up realistic t-shirt mockups within seconds thanks to Canva's library of over 2,000+ screen print mockups.

  • Fonts, fonts, and more fonts. Mix and match from Canva's extensive font selection to add unique personality and style to your designs.

Pricing

Canva offers three pricing plans:

  • Canva Free: Free forever, for design enthusiasts who want basic tools to create and collaborate on various screen printing projects.
  • Canva Pro: $12.99/month for design enthusiasts and solopreneurs who want unlimited access to premium content and advanced features for screen printing.
  • Canva for Teams: $14.99/month for groups that need powerful collaboration tools, extensive brand management features, and a more streamlined design process.

Annual plans provide a 16% discount.

Try Canva today with the free plan.

Our Verdict — Best Performance

Price: Starts at $19.99/month

Xara Designer Pro+ is a powerful and versatile graphic design software with exceptional speed. We think it offers the best performance because of its real-time collaboration capabilities, time-saving automation features, and quickness.

The Best Part:

  • Real-time design collaboration. Xara Designer Pro+ makes it a breeze for you and your team to join forces on designs.

The Worst Part:

  • Steep learning curve. Xara Designer Pro+ packs a ton of design features, which might make it tough for newbies to find their way around the interface.

Get it if you want a feature-rich design program that helps you design professional-grade screen prints quickly without sacrificing quality.

I recommend you start with the 14-day free trial, then get the Designer Pro+ plan for $19.99/month.

(14-day free trial)

Best For

Xara Designer Pro+ is best for creative professionals and small businesses that want to create stunning screen print designs on older computers.

Top Features

  • Ready, set, print. Get flawless screen prints with features like orientation, image fit, and layer management.

  • Nail those colors. Trust Xara Designer Pro+'s PANTONE® color profile enables you to get those colors on point, ensuring your screen prints come out just as you envisioned them.

  • Speed it up with automation. Xara Designer Pro+ offers automation features like auto-align, auto-fit, seamless text-image integration, and smart text flow.

  • Work smarter, not harder. Take advantage of the many shortcuts in Xara Designer Pro+ to boost your workflow and make the most of your time.

  • Make it your own. Personalize your workspace in Xara Designer Pro+ to create a comfortable and efficient environment tailored to your design needs.

Pricing

Xara Designer Pro+ offers two pricing plans:

  • Designer Pro+: $19.99/month for creative professionals and small businesses that want an all-in-one solution for screen printing software on a flexible month-to-month basis.
  • Cloud PRO+: $203.40/year for creative professionals and small businesses that want additional features such as additional design templates, vector drawing, and advanced photo retouching.

The annual plan provides a 25% discount.

Try Xara Designer Pro+ today with a free 14-day trial.

Our Top Three Picks

Here’s a quick summary of our top three picks:

  1. Adobe Illustrator — best of the best
  2. Canva — best for ease of use
  3. Xara Designer Pro+ — best performance

Here’s a quick comparison of our top seven picks:

Tool

Entry Offer

Pricing

Adobe Illustrator

7-day free trial

Starts at $31.49/mo

Canva

Free plan

Starts at $12.99/mo

Xara Designer Pro+

14-day free trial

Starts at $19.99/mo

CorelDRAW

15-day free trial

Starts at $39/mo

GIMP

None

Free forever

Krita

None

Free forever

Procreate

None

$12.99

Here are the top 50 best screen printing software we considered in this review:

  1. Adobe Illustrator
  2. Canva
  3. Xara Designer Pro+
  4. CorelDRAW
  5. GIMP
  6. Krita
  7. Procreate
  8. Affinity Designer
  9. Sketch
  10. Adobe Photoshop
  11. Inkscape
  12. Gravit Designer
  13. PrintFactory
  14. ColorGATE
  15. Separo
  16. EasyArt 2
  17. Spot Process Separation Studio
  18. QuikSeps
  19. InkSeps
  20. AccuRIP Black Pearl
  21. T-RIP 2.0
  22. FilmMaker
  23. RIP Pro C6
  24. PowerRIP
  25. Wasatch SoftRIP
  26. ErgoSoft RIP
  27. EFI Fiery XF
  28. Microsoft Expression Design
  29. ACDSee Photo Editor
  30. Paint.NET
  31. DrawPad Graphic Design
  32. Lunacy
  33. MyPaint
  34. Pixelmator
  35. PicMonkey
  36. ArtRage
  37. Fatpaint
  38. Seriff DrawPlus
  39. Vectr
  40. Easel.ly
  41. Ghostscript
  42. ONYX RIPCenter
  43. Caldera RIP
  44. Shiraz RIP
  45. Navigator RIP
  46. Photoprint RIP
  47. UltraSeps
  48. Genesis RIP
  49. FastRIP
  50. SimpleSeps SmartRIP

What are the best screen printing programs?

The best screen printing programs offer a combination of features, ease of use, and affordability for different types of users. Some of the top choices include Adobe Illustrator, Canva, Xara Designer Pro+, CorelDRAW, GIMP, Krita, and Procreate. Each of these software options offers unique features and capabilities to cater to different users' needs and preferences. For example, Adobe Illustrator is an ideal choice for professionals who want high-quality screen prints, while Canva offers ease of use for hobbyists and design enthusiasts.

What is the best graphic design for screen printing?

The best graphic design for screen printing involves the use of vector images instead of raster images. Vector images are created using mathematical formulas, which allows them to be scaled without losing resolution, making them perfect for screen printing. Adobe Illustrator is an excellent choice for creating vector designs for screen printing because it offers precise color control, seamless integration with other Adobe apps, and advanced design tools.

What is needed for DIY screen printing?

For DIY screen printing, you will need the following items and tools:

  1. A design: Create a design using a graphic design software, such as Adobe Illustrator, Canva, or Xara Designer Pro+.
  2. Screens: Purchase or create screens with the appropriate mesh counts for your design and ink colors.
  3. Emulsion: Apply a photo-sensitive emulsion to the screens and let them dry.
  4. Film positives: Print your design onto transparent film positives using an inkjet printer.
  5. Exposure unit: Expose your screens to light using an exposure unit to harden the emulsion around your design.
  6. Ink: Choose the appropriate ink colors for your design.
  7. Squeegee: Use a squeegee to apply ink through the screen onto your chosen substrate.
  8. Heat press or dryer: Cure the ink on the printed item using a heat press or dryer to ensure it is durable and washable.

Can I use Photoshop for screen printing?

While Adobe Photoshop can be used for screen printing, it is not the most ideal choice for creating screen print designs. 

Since Photoshop primarily deals with raster images, which are made up of pixels, these images can lose resolution and quality when scaled up. This can result in poor quality screen prints, especially when working with intricate designs and fine details.

In contrast, vector-based software like Adobe Illustrator offers a more suitable platform for creating screen printing designs. Vector images, unlike raster images, are created using mathematical formulas, which allows them to be scaled infinitely without losing resolution or quality. This is particularly important in screen printing, as the design's clarity and sharpness directly impact the print's final appearance.

What is the best image size for screen printing?

The best image size for screen printing depends on the size of the substrate you are printing on and the desired print quality. Generally, the image should be at least 150 to 300 dpi (dots per inch) at the actual print size. For example, if you are printing a design that is 12 inches by 12 inches, your image should be at least 1800x1800 pixels at 150 dpi or 3600x3600 pixels at 300 dpi. Using higher resolution images will result in higher quality prints. It is essential to use vector images whenever possible for screen printing, as they can be scaled without losing resolution or quality.

The Bottom Line

To recap, here are the best screen printing software to try this year:

  1. Adobe Illustrator — best of the best
  2. Canva — best for ease of use
  3. Xara Designer Pro+ — best performance
  4. CorelDRAW — best for precise screen printing patterns
  5. GIMP — best for extensive customization options 
  6. Krita — best for customizable drawing brushes
  7. Procreate — best for iOS

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