Shop Talk

Top 5 Alternatives to Adobe Illustrator

Know of any other alternatives? Link to them in the comments below.

Vector graphic editors are perfect for those artists that like to follow their own paths… or create them, as the case may be. As opposed to raster based images, vector graphics can be any size you like. Instead of pixels, vectors are made up of points, lines, and curves all brought to life by mathematics. This allows the designs to be changed to any size without losing quality. You could create a design to be printed on a shirt small enough for a mouse, or a cape fit for a superhero elephant!

Adobe Illustrator is the most popular vector graphic app available. However, there are many reasons why you might want to check out an alternative. It could be the cost of a monthly subscription, or maybe you just want something a bit easier to use. As we did with Adobe Photoshop, here is a list of Illustrator alternatives we think are worth checking out.


"Vector Love" by Marco Recuero

1. Inkscape (win, osx, linux)

One of the most recommended alternatives to Illustrator is Inkscape, a free and open source program. Users are able to contribute to the development of this program in a variety of ways, such as offering their graphic or web design skills. Inkscape is more streamlined than Illustrator, and it’s not short on features. All of the standard tools are there along with shape tools, transformations, grouping, cloning, various color modes, and even the ability to open Illustrator (ai) files.

Notes: Compliant SVG format file generation and editing, bitmap tracing, extensions and add-ons. 

2. Serif Affinity Designer (osx)

Winner of the Apple Design Award at WWDC in June 2015 and named one of the best new apps in 2014, Affinity Designer comes from the same team that brought us Affinity Photo. Not only is this app fast and smooth, it also has non-destructive effects and adjustments, and a full suite of raster tools available. One of the most exciting features is the natural brushes, which gives you full control using force touch and your stylus, and even allows you to import Photoshop brushes (abr).

Notes: PSD/SVG/PDF/EPS compatibility, various color modes such as LAB, RGB, and CMYK, and Pantone support. 

3. Corel Draw X8 (osx)

One of the longest standing alternatives to Illustrator, CorelDRAW has been going strong for roughly 20 years. All of the standard vector tools are here, along with much more. They prefer to sell the app in a bundle, however the suite does come with Photo-Paint, font management, bitmap tracing, and even screen capture tools. There’s support for Pantone and CMYK color palettes so you have full control over the colors of your design, and there’s also training and a whole host of content to get you started.

Notes: Has Live trace functionality,  AI/SVG/PSD/EPS compatibility, Home/Student version available

4. Autodesk Graphic (osx, iOS)

Formerly known as iDraw, Graphic comes from the same developers that created the very popular Sketchbook Pro app. This slim vector drawing app allows custom scripting, CMYK color profiles, retina support, layers, and is even available on your iOS devices as well.

Notes: PSD import, Sync designs with iCloud, iPhone and iPad versions available. 

5. Vectr (win, osx, linux, Chromebook, browser)

A newcomer to the scene, Vectr is fresh out of Beta and looks to be very promising. The great thing about this app is that it’s available on a wide variety of platforms, including Chromebook. Whether you are a seasoned pro or just starting your journey into vector art, this app does not have a steep learning curve, it loads fast, and has some great features on their roadmap. One example of this is a marketplace that’ll allow you to sell and purchase assets from directly within Vectr. Nice!

Notes: Saves SVG, has layer and page functionality, and a share function that allows you to share your works with others in real-time. 

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Art historian, burrito enthusiast, and Email Marketing Specialist here at Redbubble.