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5 Great Alternatives to Adobe Illustrator

Posted by Jamie on September 28, 2017

There is no doubt that Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard for vector graphic editing. Unlike raster graphics and images that you would utilize Photoshop for, vectors are pure math so require a specialized program to work with. Here are five great alternatives to Adobe Illustrator that allow you to do just that.

There is no avoiding the fact that Adobe Illustrator is the default standard for vector graphics but you really do pay for the privilege. Like all Adobe products, the price is prohibitive for anyone who isn’t serious about graphics or who doesn’t make a living out of them. Fortunately for the rest of us, there are free or much cheaper alternatives. Here are five of the best.

Inkscape

Inkscape is a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator that is almost as good. It has the same quality interface, similar tools, methods of use and features. For free. Inkscape is compatible with SVG format, EPS, PostScript, JPG, PNG, BMP or TIP images. It can export PNG to vector formats too.

Inkscape is open source and regularly updated by its large community. Recent updates have introduced new tools and compatibility with CSS3 and SVG2 as well as specific tools for mesh gradients and spirals. Of all of these alternatives to Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape seems the most fully featured and competitive. It does run a little slower than Illustrator but has none of the restrictions or account tie-ins either. It’s free too. Did I mention that?

Gravit

Gravit is another free alternative to Adobe Illustrator. This time it is web-based and runs out of your browser. It is not as deep as Inkscape and is more suitable for light or casual projects but as a free vector tool is very useful indeed. You need to sign up for a free account but in return you can work on your vector designs from any device with a browser and internet access. It works well in Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Opera and is compatible with other browsers too.

Many of the basic and most common tools are available in Gravit, pen, line, knife, slice and so on. You have a range of shape tools, filters, path editing tools, layer tools and multiple formats to use. If you value simplicity and ease of use and don’t think you will need some of the advanced features of Inkscape, this is a very viable alternative.

Vectr

Vectr is also a browser-based vector graphics app that is also a viable alternative to Adobe Illustrator. Like Gravit, it isn’t as in-depth or as feature-rich but has all of the basic tools you need to create good looking vectors. Unlike Gravit, Vectr also has a desktop app you can download and use locally should you prefer.

The UI is similar to Gravit and includes a central canvas surrounded by tools. You have the same suite of tools as Gravit, pens, slice, knife and so on and layers, shapes and the like. It is very much like Gravit and has gone to great effort to simplify the creation process as much as possible to leave you open to begin creating.

Affinity Designer

Affinity Designer is a premium graphics editor that competes very favorably with Adobe Illustrator. At only $49, it is much more affordable too. The UI and features are much more on par with Illustrator with many advanced tools available. It isn’t restricted to vectors either as it has been designed to be both a graphics and vector editing program and does both credibly well.

The UI is simple and uncluttered but contains lots of tools. You work with personas which streamline certain activities such as creation, editing, exporting and asset management. It has a Windows and Mac app, works well on both systems and supports VG, EPS, PDF, PDF/X and FH files. It can also import PSD and other file formats too.

Sketch

Sketch is Mac only but is so highly regarded that I would be remiss not to mention it here. It is a premium program that costs $99 and competes very well with Adobe Illustrator. The upside to Sketch is that it contains many tools that Illustrator has and has incredible ease of use. The downside is that it is mainly for the web and not for print.

The UI is slick and easy to get to grips with. The learning curve is higher than Gravit or Vectr but there is also more on offer. While not open source, there is an open API so there are also lots of plugins available to widen its scope. The program works fast, manages multiple art boards and handles text incredibly well. It is definitely one to consider if you’re serious about your graphics.

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