Adobe Illustrator is one of the best graphic designing and editing tools. For over three decades designers have been using Illustrator to come up with original designs.
Even though many consider Adobe Illustrator as the reigning champion of graphic designing software, we will try to find some Adobe Illustrator alternative that can challenge its capabilities or at least stand head to head against it.
This post would be listing out the 7 best adobe Illustrator alternatives.
We would look at their features and how they are priced and list some free alternatives to Adobe Illustrator.
But before we look into the alternatives, let’s get a brief overview of Adobe Illustrator.
Adobe Illustrator at a glance
Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics software widely used by graphic designers to create logos icons and illustrations.
Here are a few points to give you a snapshot of the capabilities of Adobe Illustrator
Illustrator is used by designers to create logos and icons for companies and businesses.
It is also used for creating custom typography and unique brand design.
Software designers use Adobe Illustrator to design and create mockups and wireframes of web applications.
Adobe cloud backup allows you to use Illustrator on multiple devices without importing.
Comes with advanced features like auto-tracing and automatic color extraction.
Is widely used by social media content creators and digital marketers for creating catchy infographics.
How is Adobe Photoshop different from Adobe Illustrator?
You might be thinking people use Photoshop to edit and re-style images, that too at a pixel level.
Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics software. Any graphic design created using vectors can be scaled to any extent without any loss of information.
On the other hand, Adobe Photoshop primarily works on pixel-based graphics.
The reason graphic designers use vectors is that the same design can be used on a card as well as on the Billboard as no loss due to scaling is involved.
Another way of putting it is, you can zoom in on a vector graphic/design to any extent and will be able to see smooth lines and curves. But if you try to do the same with an image, you can see pixelation as you zoom in.
Adobe Illustrator uses a mathematical formula that enables your design to be scaled so that no information is lost while zooming in on curves or lines. This creates crisp and smooth outlines.
You can even retrace your freehand designs and sketches into Illustrator, and add custom styling and other cool effects to it.
After the trial period ends, you can either opt for a monthly plan or an annual plan. Their subscription varies from $20.99 per month for an annual plan to $239.88 per year.
Here’s how you can avail of discounts over and above their base price.
Student or teacher discount – If you are a student or teacher you can get over 60% discount on Adobe creative cloud subscription. You can get more details of this pricing slab from their website.
Adobe seasonal discounts – Adobe provides attractive seasonal offers and discounts. So keep an open eye on the latest deals on their official website.
Regional discounts – Adobe also provides discounts depending on your geographical location. So you can even change your region and check out if there are any ongoing discounts in some other country.
Other alternatives to Illustrator – If you are not impressed with Adobe’s subscription plans? You can check out some of the free Adobe Illustrator alternatives that we have mentioned in this blog. The following sections will guide you through some of the best Illustrator alternatives.
7 adobe Illustrator alternatives
1. Gravit Designer
Gravit Designer is a powerful vector graphic design application that works on all platforms. You can use this application to create illustrations, design websites & mobile app UI, and also use it for image editing.
It provides a lot of different importing and exporting options along with effortless cloud syncing.
Easy accessibility – Gravit Designer is supported on Mac, Windows, Linux, and Chrome devices. You can access Gravit Designer from a browser or download a native copy for offline editing.
You can even design using iPad or Android tablets. The Gravit Designer is compatible with pen devices like Apple pencils.
Auto cloud syncing – Gravit Designer provides you the option to save your illustrations locally or on the cloud. When cloud syncing is turned on all your changes are automatically saved every 5 minutes. Auto cloud syncing prevents the need to import projects while accessing them from different devices.
Advanced styling options – The application is quite intuitive and has a clutter-free UI. You can access detailed documentation and guides while getting started with Gravit Designer. Professionals and advanced users can make the most of smart shapes and live boolean operations to make sophisticated vector manipulations.
Pricing – Gravit Designer can be used under 2 plans. Gravit Designer Free and Gravit Designer Pro. For the first 15 days, you can get all the benefits of the Pro plan. After that, you would have only the benefits of the free plan.
Currently, the Gravit Designer Pro plan can be availed as an annual subscription of $49 per year. Monthly plan or lifetime license options are not available.
Affinity Designer is a powerful designing and illustration tool. You can use this application on your Mac or Windows machine and also on your iPad.
It is a professional designing application that focuses on performance and comes loaded with amazing features.
You can select from unlimited artboards, import and export your designs in different formats and use advanced grids and snapping tools to align your designs perfectly.
Fast & responsive – Affinity Designer tries to utilize every ounce of your computer’s processing power to give the best performance possible. You can apply your effects and preview them in real-time without any lag. It even allows you to pan and zoom at 60fps. You can add as much detail as you want to your designs without any significant performance degradation.
Switch between vector or raster workspace – With the help of Affinity Designer, you can switch between your vector designs and pixel-based raster workspace at the click of a button. Such flexibility allows you to focus on your vector designs while allowing you to enclose and add pixel layers ensuring greater creative freedom.
Linked Symbols – Do you remember the “Find and Replace All” feature of Microsoft Excel or Word? The link symbols feature is somewhat like that. You can create a design and use it in different ways throughout your illustration. In case if you want to make a minor change to the base design you can simply change the base object and all its instances would embrace the change automatically.
Pricing – Affinity Designer provides a 90-day free trial. After the trial period expires you can buy a license from their website. For Windows and Mac platforms, the license would cost you $24.99 while you can get an iPad license for $9.99.
Inkscape is a free Illustrator alternative. It is a well-known open-source vector graphics editor and designing tool.
You can download and install the latest version of Inkscape on Mac, Windows, or Linux machines. This application features many different object manipulation tools that can help you to create original designs with ease.
Its advanced color filling and color picker tool can help you replicate and transform original designs into something different.
Easy object creation and manipulation – Inkscape allows you to use different pencil and pen tools to create freehand drawings as well as complex Bezier curves. For creating advanced illustrations you can use various shape tools, clone various shapes, and embedded bitmaps to breathe life into your designs faster.
Rich text support – You can install outline fonts or use the calligraphy tool to create your custom text designs. You can create your customized fonts with adjustable line spacing too.
Strong community support – Due to its open-source nature Inkscape allows developers to contribute to their designing framework. This means the user community can decide which feature is the most requested and sought after and add that specific feature to the latest version of their application. Their website also provides detailed tutorials and guides so that users can make the best of Inkscape.
Pricing – Inkscape is a free application. No need to procure a license for Inkscape.
CorelDRAW is a professional designing tool available on Windows, Mac, and smartphones. By using CorelDRAW you can create unique illustrations and designs, and get feedback about them from your clients directly from the application.
The software is a package and contains many different designing and editing tools that can cater to all your designing needs.
Designing in perspective – While creating a design in a certain perspective you must make sure that you do not lose your reference point. CorelDRAW allows you to choose from different perspective points and draw or add existing objects over a shared perspective plan. So when your design is all about looking from an angle, you can rest assured all design elements would adhere to this perspective.
Progressive image editing – CorelDRAW has an inbuilt image editing tool. You can adjust color or enhance it by using the replace colors tool. Its impressive AI-assisted PowerTRACE can help you trace bitmap images into vectors.
In-app collaboration tool – With the next-generation collaboration capabilities you can gather real-time feedback from your clients or contributors. In this way, you can stay connected with your clients from the application itself.
Pricing – You can use CorelDRAW for free during the trial period of 15 days. After that, you can either opt for an annual subscription plan or get a lifetime license. Its annual subscription would cost you $249 per year, while for $499 you can get a perpetual license of CorelDRAW.
The sketchis an amazing design tool for Mac users. It allows you to create beautiful graphic designs quickly. You can choose from different plugins to customize your workflow and use their cloud workspace while working as a part of a team.
Shared Cloud Workspace – With the help of the shared cloud workspace you can collaborate with other designers while working on a project. This feature also helps you to get quick feedback from your clients.
Customizable Workflow – Sketch allows you to create responsive and reusable components for your creative design projects. It also allows you to customize your workflow by integrating different plugins. Such external plugins are extremely helpful and can be used for creating animations or for designing with live data
Pricing – Sketch provides you with a 30-day free trial. Once the trial period ends you can opt for a monthly plan for $9 or go for a $99 yearly plan. All rates are for single usage.
Vectr is a free Adobe Illustrator alternative. Thanks to its intuitive user interface it is extremely easy to use and has advanced features which would grab the attention of professional designers too.
It also provides detailed tutorials to guide you through its various features and functionalities.
Cross-platform compatibility – Vectr is a cross-platform compatible designing tool. You can use your Windows or Mac machines for designing or even use any browser to access your project.
Real-time sharing – Vectr supports real-time sharing by allowing you to share your design URL for real-time collaboration. Anyone with your URL can watch your design creations in real-time on their browsers or from their installed application.
Graphic is a powerful illustration and vector drawing application designed specifically for Mac and iOS devices.
You can create complex vector drawings, create artistic shapes and typography. It provides a lot of iPad-specific actions which can help you boost your creativity.
Pressure-sensitive Tools – Graphic supports Apple pencil. You can utilize the Apple pencil and its pressure-sensitive actions to create brushstrokes of variable width. To take things up even further, you can use Graphic’s brush editor to precisely edit or create a custom brush styling.
Smart path editing – Using a path editor you can subtract, intersect, and even divide parts to create custom shapes and unique vector patterns.
Cloud backup options – Importing projects can be a tedious and boring task. Graphic allows you to backup your project files and also provides cloud syncing options. You can either use iCloud or Dropbox to automatically sync your projects.
Pricing – Graphic price varies from device to device. You can download the Graphic on your iPhone for $2.99. The iPad version would cost you $8.99 while for Mac you have to shell out $29.99
Inkscape and Adobe Illustrator share a lot of commonalities. Both applications are amazing vector graphic editing tools that let you create scalable graphic designs.
However, depending on your expertise and design needs you must try to single out the perfect graphic editor between the two.
We would be comparing both these applications based on a handful of important parameters.
Less demanding hardware requirements
Requires good hardware support to cope up with performance needs
Supported on all OS platforms
Linux support not available
Support and documentation
Very strong community with detailed documentation
Editing gradient is much easier in Inkscape
Envelop and distort features are much more prominent and versatile batch export possible for a variety of different formats
Fresher Graphic designers, Hobbyists, or for one-time usage
Professional graphic designers, art and production studio designers
Inkscape being a free and open-source application would be the preferred tool for graphic designers who are just starting out their careers. It can be a great stepping stone to make you familiar with the basic features of graphic designing software.
But once you are confident with your designs and have started working on some serious projects I think it would be better for you to switch to Adobe Illustrator.
When it comes to graphic designing, many consider Illustrator to be the gold standard. This means you can flaunt your Adobe Illustrator experience on your resume but with Inkscape, not so much.
For professionals working on Adobe Illustrator, in case if they encounter any serious showstopper with the application they can always get in touch with the support team to figure out a solution.
Under similar circumstances with Inkscape, you might have to wait for a stable patch update. Another way of putting it is, “You are on your own buddy”.
Adobe Illustrator is the oldest vector graphic designing software. So no matter your preference you are bound to cross paths with Adobe Illustrator at some point in your graphic designing career.
Hence depending on your expertise and career aspiration here are some of the ways to zero in on the best Adobe Illustrator alternative.
If you are just getting started with graphic designing Inkscape or Vectr would be the right free Illustrator alternative for you.
Once you have gained ample designing experience you can switch to other paid Illustrator alternatives.
While choosing the right application make sure you keep your device preference in mind. If you want to primarily design on your iPad and switch to your Mac workspace then Graphic would do just fine.
No matter which Adobe Illustrator alternative you choose, make sure that you give precedence to a lifetime license over a subscription and emphasize more on device compatibility. Happy designing guys!