The 6 Best Adobe Illustrator Free Alternatives

It’s no secret that Adobe Illustrator is a powerful software, but is it worth its price tag? Check out these Adobe Illustrator free alternatives before making the investment.

Whether you're creating work logos or designing a piece of art, Adobe Illustrator can certainly be a tool to help you accomplish your mission and meet your goals -- whether professionally or personally.

Adobe Illustrator helps individuals and companies create an array of things such as business cards, social media graphics, blog post templates, video game formats, Facebook ads, clothing and accessories, and so much more. The software that is Adobe Illustrator is a qualitative and highly recommended software that meets the needs of artists and graphic designers every day.

But with said quality comes a hefty price tag. If you’re not ready to make the investment into Adobe products, there are a variety of free alternatives that may suit your needs. Read on to explore Adobe Illustrator in more detail and see if there is an Adobe Illustrator free alternative is a better route for you and your company to take.

Adobe Illustrator's Best Aspects

In addition to Adobe Illustrator's capability for creating vector graphics, here is a list of some of the other application's best aspects. The application has:

  • A comprehensive vector designing solution
  • Ability to prepare content for major applications
  • Touch control and support for custom brushes
  • Ability to add various effects and filters design experience improvement
  • Quality detailing and workflow with enhanced features
  • A comprehensive range of printing and publishing features

The biggest flaw in Adobe Illustrator is the fact it is not very affordable–if you don’t use it frequently to get your money's worth. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try out any illustrator or graphic design software. While some of these Adobe Illustrator alternatives can’t boast the same robust features and tools, they are comparable in many other ways.

Six Options for an Adobe Illustrator Free Alternative

The first step in finding the right Adobe Illustrator free alternatives is to look at your design and collaboration needs. Hone in what you plan on using the application or platform for and the average learning curve to understand what it can and cannot do.

Once you have your objectives in line, it’s time to deep dive into the different Adobe Illustrator alternatives currently in the market. Take a look at the six options below and see which one fits what you're looking for.

1. Inkscape

As a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape is one of the most popular choices out there.

Best for beginners, Inkscape is SVG-centered, open-source software that comes complete with an arsenal of features that make manipulating images and designing scalable vectors a piece of cake. If you need a free illustrator platform that helps you with advanced editing (e.g. cloning, bitmap tracing, text designing, etc.), then look no further than Inkscape. It has similar (albeit less robust) features to Adobe Illustrator, but Inkscape can certainly help you meet your needs and accomplish your goals.

Inkscape's main purpose is to serve and meet the needs of SVG creators and is compatible with Windows, Macs, and Linux operating systems.

Pros

  • Inkscape files can be exported in PNG, OpenDocument Drawing, PDF, PostScript formats, and more.
  • SVG files can also be edited.

Cons

  • Not compatible with AI and EPS files.
  • Does not have superior vector graphic options.

2. Gravit Designer

Gravit is a fantastic free illustrator alternative as it allows you to play around with thousands of vectors, mockups, wireframes, UI designs, and more while packing as much punch as Adobe Illustrator. This program has something to offer everyone from beginners to professional designers.

Similar to Adobe Illustrator, Gravit Designer has vector tools (i.e. pen, slice, line, knife, etc.), and can create shapes while also serving your needs with live filters, layers, path editing modes, and more. Some noteworthy features include an SVG editing tool, live Boolean operations tool, and cloud integration. Gravit has a user-friendly interface and video tutorials.

Gravit's main purpose is to help illustrators and designers who need a robust design tool and is compatible with the web, Chrome, Linux, Windows, and Mac operating systems.

Pros

  • Supports many formats to export/import files.
  • Offers flawless dashboard navigation.
  • Provides fast and easy-to-use keyboard shortcuts.
  • Color customization.
  • Free library of wireframes and mockups

Cons

  • No real-time collaboration
  • Lags when working on complex designs.

3. Figma

If you're looking for an Adobe Illustrator free alternative that can help you design interfaces, create personalized shapes, design animated prototypes, or collaborate, then Figma may be the right fit.

With Figma, you can import your favorite fonts or even use Google Fonts. You don't have to worry about saving your work as you have Figma's cloud software to give you peace of mind. Figma is capable of flexibly accepting plugins, allowing you to optimize your workflow.

For a stress-free user experience, you'll need a graphics card and good RAM. You can export SVG, PNG, and JPEG files or as CSS code. To master the software, remember you need time, patience, and resources to learn it.

Figma works with Chrome, Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems.

Pros

  • Has all the website design tools you'll need.
  • Simultaneous work by a team can be done on the same project.
  • Has all prototype design creation tools.
  • Cloud-based.

Cons

  • Lags on heavy prototypes without a graphics card and effective RAM.
  • Doesn't work offline, and must have a connection to the internet.
  • Figma's module does not have global colors.

4. Vectr

When it comes to a free illustrator for beginners, Vectr is the answer. Vectr is available as a web extension or desktop software, and both of these options are simple, and easy to understand and use. Vectr is a great gateway to vector arts because it doesn't have all the features Adobe Illustrator does, and has little to no learning curve. However, it does have just enough to introduce beginners to the field.

Vectr has a URL sharing feature for collaboration purposes, and it's lightweight, so it does not take up a lot of room on your system. Vectr's main purpose is to create a simple, easy-to-use, and quick to learn Adobe Illustrator free alternative. It works best with the web, Chromebooks, Windows, and Linux operating systems.

Pros

  • Simple user interface
  • Multiple formats
  • Direct import
  • Inbuilt tutorials

Cons

  • Only has basic features
  • No customer support

5. GIMP

Similar to Photoshop for vector edition and features for design, GIMP – GNU Image Manipulation Program – is compatible with multiple plugins, allowing you to add features or modules required for efficient advanced graphics. It's great for beginners and provides a good introduction to the world of vector creation and design.

GIMP is an open-source platform that offers tutorials for newcomers. While it does have limited back-end vector capabilities, it has other sophisticated features making it a great Adobe Illustrator free alternative. GIMP's purpose is to help advanced designers who require a custom tool to design illustrations and graphics. GIMP can be downloaded on Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems.

Pros

  • Short and simple learning curve.
  • Able to create GIF files with the use of multiple layers.
  • Supports various file formats.

Cons

  • Difficult to use tools.
  • No customer support.
  • Fewer features than its cost-required competitors.

6. Vectornator

With an advanced vector toolkit, boolean features, and stress-free masking, Vectornator is a staple as a free illustrator alternative. It's great for Mac users due to its compatibility with the M1 chip, and does not require you to install applications to design interfaces or illustrators as you can accomplish all that and more with this tool.

Vectornator's main purpose is to serve iPad, Mac, and iPhone users with a great tool to meet their artistic and graphic design needs and goals. Vectornator works with iPad operating systems, iOS 13 and newer and macOS Big Sur or later.

Pros

  • Quick and easy design capability.
  • Able to accept imported Figma designs.
  • Exporting file capabilities in multiple formats and individual layers.

Cons

  • Quick action buttons do not have tooltips.
  • Lag time compared to its counterparts.

Three Options for an Adobe Illustrator Paid Alternative

If you need an Adobe Illustrator alternative that is more advanced or offers more than a free illustrator alternative does, you have options. Here's a look at three options for an Adobe Illustrator paid alternative.

1. Sketch

For a one time fee of $99, Sketch is great for UI design and works on a Mac. It is a multipurpose software with collaborative capabilities. It's easy to learn and has plugin integration.

While it does lag at times and has unstable prototyping, it's great for Mac users to have if they have teams working on one project at one time.

2. Affinity Designer

Affinity Designer costs $49, and works on Macs, iPads, and Windows operating systems. It is as close to Adobe Illustrator as you can get, and is compatible with Adobe's software. Affinity Designer has ample resources and an array of graphics. It has all the essential features that you can think of.

While it is complex to learn, and lacks some features you may need, you would want to choose Affinity Designer as a result of its ability to help you create outstanding vector designs at an affordable price.

3. Boxy-SVG

At $9.99 a year, Boxy-SVG has efficient keyboard shortcuts and works on Windows and Mac operating systems as well as the web. As a top alternative to Adobe Illustrator, it only works with scalable vector graphics -- SVG. It is user-friendly, and simple to use, offering a clear-cut experience.

Which one is right for you?

When it comes to artistic creation or graphic design, Adobe Illustrator is not the only place you can turn to meet your needs and achieve your goals. There are options out there.

Before making a decision on which software to use, make sure you understand you and your company’s needs. Adobe Illustrator is a great tool, but is an investment that should not be taken lightly. If you’re not familiar with these types of tools, a free alternative might be the best option–until you get the hang of it or your needs outgrow the software.

From Inkscape to Gravit and from GIMP to Vectr and more, Adobe Illustrator free alternatives have a lot to offer and can save you money in the long run.

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