Nowadays, many people turn to digital illustration for all kinds of purposes. You can find a job in the field of content creation, or you can commission a digital artist to make an artwork for you. Digital artists and illustrators use programs that allow them to sketch and draw their ideas to life. If you are into graphic designing and digital illustrations, you’ve probably heard about Adobe Illustrator. But Adobe Illustrator can be expensive. Thus, here are 15 of the best Adobe Illustrator alternatives that you can use today.
What Makes Adobe Illustrator Special?
Aside from editing your pictures, there are many features that you can enjoy using Adobe Illustrator. There is a wide range of applications on this vector-based program that you can use even if you are still a beginner.
Originally designed for the products of Apple Macintosh, Adobe Illustrator was developed in 1985 along with other programs such as Illustrator CC and Creative Cloud. Until this day, it is still used by many graphic designers and is now made accessible to all users who purchase the program.
Allows for Vector Creation
For those who are unfamiliar with vector creation, these are computer graphics made by using lines and curves to create different shapes. It is great for those making signature logos for their brands or for people who have a hard time with freehand drawing.
Adobe Illustrator is popular for its free vector images and features, which allow you to choose the line color, thickness, shape, and how you want to fill your design. Using this program, you can make high-quality works of art with clean lines that can be scaled to any size you want. You can even choose many options on how you want to export your file to your computer.
Great for Print and Web Outputs
Another great feature of Adobe Illustrator is that your work can be exported to any file type that you want. This means that you can have the freedom to choose whether you want to print your file or publish it on the web.
Adobe Illustrator supports these kinds of files:
- JPEG (jpg, jpe, jpeg)
- Microsoft Word DOCX (docx)
- Photoshop (psd, pdd)
- Enhanced Metafile (emf)
- Adobe PDF (pdf)
- AutoCAD Interchange File (dxf)
- Computer Graphics Metafile (cgm)
- SVG Compressed (svgz)
- Portable network graphics (png)
- Text Format (txt)
- Macintosh Pict (pct)
Access to Adobe Creative Cloud Libraries
If you are a fan of the various Adobe apps, you will benefit from using the Adobe Creative Cloud. It has a collection of over 20 mobile and desktop apps for Adobe services like design, video, photography, and more.
Using the Creative Cloud, you can save, collaborate, and share creative ideas from your Adobe library to other Creative Cloud apps. You can also organize and create your portfolio using the storage space that comes along with this feature.
Here are some of the licensed bundled apps that come with the Adobe Creative Cloud:
- Adobe XD
- Adobe Illustrator
- Acrobat Pro
- Premiere Rush
- After Effects
- Lightroom Classic
- Acrobat Pro DC
15 Best Adobe Illustrator Alternative Software You Can Use
Now, after looking at the perks of using Adobe Illustrator and you’re still looking for alternatives, keep reading. These programs are perfect if you find the monthly and yearly subscription of Adobe Illustrator too costly especially if you’re still a beginner.
If you are wondering what the best Adobe Illustrator alternatives are, check out these free and paid programs we have listed below:
1. Affinity Designer
The first one on our list is the Affinity Designer, which is part of the Affinity services like Affinity Photo and Affinity Publisher. This software is ideal for professionals who like to do their job quickly and efficiently since it has lots of advanced features. The best features include customizable keyboard shortcuts; unlimited artboards; CMYK, 16 & 32bit RGB, Pantone, ICC profiles; full-featured vector workspace; advanced grids, snapping, and alignment; and saveable history with alternate futures.
The Affinity Designer software is available for macOS, iPad, and Microsoft Windows devices. You can also export your files into PSD, AI, PDF, SVG, JPG, TIFF, EXR so you can upload and share them anywhere without any trouble. The only downside of Affinity Designer is that it does not have a free trial. However, you can still save more with their one-time payment for only $24.99 on Windows and Mac, or $9.99 on your iPad.
If you are looking for a free Adobe Illustrator alternative, you can try this web-based and open-sourced vector designing program. SVG-Edit allows you to create and edit vector graphics images within your web browser.
Since SVG-Edit is a web-based service, you won’t need to install an app so you can use this program. This is perfect for those who are saving storage space on their computer but still want to make high-quality graphic designs. You can even download your files as SVG, JPG, PDF, or PNG.
Another great Adobe Illustrator free alternative is Inkscape. It is an open-source vector graphics editor that is primarily used by people who are looking to create a scalable vector graphics (SVG) format. This software is versatile like Adobe Illustrator and can be used to design logos, webpages, and more.
What makes Inkscape unique is that you can join their growing community of designers and coders who are constantly trying to make their services better for the clients. They have broad format compatibility and flexible drawing tools for a more pleasant experience while using their app.
You can use Inkscape for free, and it is available on GNU/Linux, Windows, and macOS X devices. They also have a library of tutorial videos on how to create vector graphics and other designs if you are unsure how to use all their tools.
For professional web designers and content creators who are willing to invest a little amount of money for good services, Sketch might be perfect for you. They offer lots of features you can also find in Adobe Illustrator, but for a more affordable price. You can also have the option to choose between their Standard and Business subscription.
The Standard plan ($9/month) allows you to create unlimited projects and documents, share libraries with other collaborators on your team, download assets, and inspect designs. It also features advanced layouts and customizable designs. Meanwhile, the Business plan gives organizations priority support, single sign-on, and custom terms, among others.
You can also get a one-month free trial for Sketch if you want to try out its features first before paying for a membership.
Vectr is a cross-platform graphics app that is free and easy to use even for beginners. Just like the other vector graphics apps, you can use this software to make scalable vector graphics and add shapes, text, and multiple layers to your design. Its design is simple and easy to navigate, making it a stripped-down version of Adobe Illustrator.
The interface for Vectr is specially designed for beginners so they won’t feel overwhelmed with all the tools on screen. It can get the job done for all vector graphics and has all the basic needs for imaging software.
This app is free to use and can be accessed using Windows, Mac, Chrome OS, and Linux systems. You can also visit their website if you want a website-based program.
CorelDRAW is developed and marketed by Corel Corporation under the Corel graphics suite programs. This creative software is designed for professionals and features pro tools for vector illustration. They recently launched a program called CorelDRAW® Graphics Suite 2021, which streamlines your design journey for more convenience.
Since this app is advanced and has features of professional graphics illustrations, it is a bit costly compared to Adobe Illustrator. It will cost you more than $200 to access their premium features, but your investment will be worth it since it also operates faster, making it a great Adobe Illustrator alternative.
CorelDRAW also offers other services such as Technical Graphics, Licensing, and Education. If you are a hobbyist who just wants to spend time and invest your money on a decent digital illustration app, they also offer value-rich vector illustration software for beginners.
7. Paint Tool SAI
If you are not comfortable with using web-based editing programs, but you also need to save some memory space on your desktop, you can use the Paint Tool SAI. This easy-to-use paint tool is lightweight and stable enough for all types of users and editors. You can make digital art and create simple designs using this software.
The Paint Tool SAI is an older version compared to other graphics editing apps on this list so its interface design is also a little bit outdated. Aside from that, it functions decently and can perform basic editing well. You can download the app for free and get a 1-month trial. After that, it will be disabled if you don’t pay for a premium membership.
8. Gravit Designer
One of the most popular vector graphic editing programs is the Gravit Designer. If you are wondering what is the best alternative to Adobe Illustrator for free, this is the app for you. It has a full-featured and free vector design that is similar to Adobe but without having to spend your money to avail of its services.
The Gravit Designer works on all platforms allowing you to use its flexible tools that are used by many professional designers on any computer or laptop. The design and interface of Gravit are simple, organized, and sleek, so you won’t have any trouble navigating the app even if you are still a beginner in editing.
GIMP, which is short for GNU Image Manipulation Program, is a free and open-source editing and photo manipulation program. It is capable of transcoding different image file formats, which allows you to perform more specialized tasks.
There are a lot of tools you can use in GIMP to do basic to complicated tasks such as simple digital painting, photo retouching, image rendering, and image format conversion. This program features all the basics you can find in Adobe Illustrator while allowing you to script complex tasks and augment plug-ins to make it more efficient.
10. OpenOffice Draw
OpenOffice Draw is a free program that you can install on your computer to create quick sketches and complex images. The user interface compared to other programs may seem outdated, but it is still a powerful tool that can handle technical and general tasks.
If you are keen on making rough drafts and sketches, this app is for you. It features single-click access for your most used tools, making it more organized and convenient for you. You can also adjust images to 2D or 3D, render photorealistic images, and import graphics from all common formats.
11. Serif DrawPlus
Similar to OpenOffice Draw, the Serif DrawPlus is a free vector editing software that is perfect if you are just starting to learn about vector graphics. The tools they have are easy to learn, and its interface is simple enough for beginners to navigate.
DrawPlus also has templates you can use to create cards, banners, and posters. You can customize each template to create unique designs, and modify the transparency, brightness, position, and distortion. There is nothing much special about this software but it is perfect for beginners and hobbyists because of its simplicity.
If you are someone who prefers a clean interface over complicated-looking tools, you will love the Boxy SVG Editor. The creators of SVG designed the app to avoid overcrowded workspaces with dozens of overlapping toolbars, which can be overwhelming for some artists.
Whether you are editing images or creating vector graphics, the SVG’s intuitive user interface will make the task less stressful for you. You also have the option to create a shortcut for the tools that you use the most. This software allows you to choose between their standard (9.99 USD/year) and premium subscription (99.99 USD/year).
13. Xara Design Pro X
If you are wondering what is the best alternative to Adobe Illustrator for the tech pack, the Xara Design Pro X is a great choice. It is a professional image editing software that brings your creative ideas to life. It is also one of the fastest and smoothest graphics software in the market today.
With powerful illustration tools, flexible page layout, and innovative photo editing features, the Xara Design Pro X is easily one of the best free Adobe Illustrator alternatives out there. The Xara editing software package costs $299 for unlimited access to all its premium features.
The Inkpad graphic design program is for artists on the go. It can be tiring bringing your laptop around for quick edits, that’s why this app is specially designed so you can edit using only your iPad. It allows you to draw and create images with accuracy and speed with ease. Some of the features you can enjoy on Inkpad are flexible typography effects, light & dark modes, powerful editing tools, and unlimited layering.
You can also choose to avail of their in-purchases or leave a tip for the creators of Inkpad so they can continue improving the app for its users.
15. Corel Paintshop Pro X9
The Corel Paintshop Pro X9 is a smart photo editing tool that is powered by A.I. to help you create and edit your work efficiently. It has the full features for graphic designing, photo editing, and Smart Solutions to assist you while doing your tasks.
For only $79.99, you can get the full premium features of Corel Paintshop Pro and customize your workspace. Their AI editing tool can do many tasks such as unsampling, artifact removal, denoising, and style transfer. It also features all the essential tools you can find in Adobe Illustrator and more, but for a lower subscription price.
Choosing the Best Adobe Illustrator Alternative
Adobe Illustrator is a great vector graphics and photo editing software. However, it can be expensive or hard for some people to use. If you are having a hard time finding the perfect Adobe Illustrator free alternative, here are a few of the things you should consider:
The first thing you need to keep in mind is your skill in graphics and editing. There are software and programs that are great for professional editing but can be overwhelming for beginners, so make sure you are comfortable with the app you are using.
When choosing the best alternative to Adobe Illustrator, you also need to consider the features and whether it will be worthy of a subscription. It doesn’t matter if you are a hobbyist or if you work as a professional. Make sure that all the features and tools you need are offered in the app, and then spend accordingly.