Many people use Adobe Illustrator to create vector graphics and there is no doubt that it’s an excellent tool for this. But the problem is that Illustrator is expensive and out of the reach of a lot of people. If you want to buy Illustrator it is going to cost you upwards of $200 as it is available on subscription for $19.99 a month.
A lot of people will tell you that there is nothing better out there than Adobe Illustrator. I am not convinced that’s true so I went on the lookout for some good alternatives. I found some and I am proud to bring you the top X Illustrator alternatives.
You will have to pay for some of the alternatives but there are some free ones in my list as well. Some of the applications are for Windows or Mac only and others are web-based meaning that you can use them with any computer. OK let’s get right into it, shall we?
Best Illustrator Alternatives
1. Corel Draw – $130 – $669
Yes, this is an expensive Illustrator alternative but it probably comes the closest in terms of features and tools. It is a bit cheaper than Illustrator with a monthly subscription cost of $16.50 and you have the opportunity to make a one-time purchase. If you are a professional designer then you will need the full graphic suite which costs $669.
One of the major advantages of Corel Draw is its user-friendliness. If you are somewhat of a beginner like I am then you can get started a lot faster than you can with Illustrator. You get 4K multi-monitor support, support for a real-time stylus, scalable workspaces, and user interfaces and a great deal more.
Corel has been competing with Adobe for years in the graphic software space. I found Corel Draw really nice to use and with my limited talents I could create some reasonable graphics.
2. Sketch – $99
This is a Mac-only Illustrator alternative and it has a host of features that make it very popular. A lot of professional designers use Sketch and they consider it to be a good alternative to Photoshop as well as Illustrator. A lot of big companies like Sketch too including Facebook, Dropbox, Apple and Google.
If you want all the tools to design websites, user interfaces for mobile apps, logos, icons and more then Sketch is a very good option. I was surprised at just how user-friendly it is. It took me a little while to get going but not too long. I learned to do some great things such as native text rendering and rounding shapes up to the nearest pixel edge.
If you don’t own a Mac then it is worth setting up a virtual Mac environment on your Windows computer just so that you can use Sketch. It is an amazing product for such a low price.
3. Affinity Designer – $49.99
The company behind Affinity Designer, Serif, keeps scoring goals with their graphics software. This is an excellent Illustrator alternative and you can use it for graphic design as well as drawing. There is a version of Affinity Designer for both Windows and Mac computers and at $49.99 it offers incredible value.
The features of Affinity Designer are very similar to those of Sketch which I talked about above. You can use an advanced pen tool to create the most precise drawings and for graphic designers, there are some great features such as the ability to undo more than 8,000 history steps, a real-time pixel preview and a powerful zoom of greater than a million percent!
I just loved using Affinity Designer. It is hard to believe that they packed so many features for such a small price. If you are on a budget then Affinity Designer is a really good option for all your drawing and graphic design needs.
4. Inkscape – Free
The first of the free open source Illustrator alternatives is Inkscape. There are versions available for Windows, Mac and Linux users and it is very popular not just because it is free. As a newbie to graphics drawing I found Inkscape pretty easy to use for simple design projects.
It is a vector editor and it doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of Illustrator or Corel Draw but it is free. In fact it is the best free Illustrator alternative I have tried. You get a lot of features with Inkscape such as embedded bitmaps, drawing tools, Z-order operation, objects, node editing and transformations.
At the end of the day, you may as well try Inkscape to see if it meets your drawing and graphic design needs before you spend any money on another program. I think you will be impressed.
5. Autodesk Graphic – $29.99
This is a Mac-only Illustrator alternative from a great company that has a real pedigree. They have also created great software like Maya, AutoCAD and 3DS Max. Autodesk Graphic provides you with illustration and vector drawing capabilities for your Mac or iOS mobile device.
This is a low-cost program that does not have the same capabilities as Illustrator and it is not as versatile as the Sketch program but I found it great for basic illustrating and design. You can create schematics and floor plans with this application
as well and there are a lot of vector drawing tools.
If you want to design app layouts and user interfaces then you need something a bit more powerful than Autodesk Graphic. But it is good for lower-level illustration and design work and it comes at a good price.
6. Gravit – Free
This is the first of my Web-based Illustrator alternatives. If you are happy to perform your graphic work and create your illustrations using a browser then Gravit is worth thinking about. You can use any computer or mobile device to use Gravit and it is pretty lightweight so everything is easy.
If you are an advanced designer you may not find Gravit to your liking. It doesn’t have great support for drawing pads and styluses for example. But for social media graphics, logo design, print design and brand design it is pretty good.
I like the fact that Gravit has a marketplace where you can look around for icons, illustrations, and templates to include in your own designs. This is just what a novice designer like me needs.
7. SVG Edit – Free
This is another Web-based Illustrator Alternative that is used by a lot of designers. Web designers really like SVG Edit and I must admit I liked it as well. You can draw and edit SVG files using your browser and I found it really good at the basic drawing tasks.
The drawing tools in SVG Edit are fairly basic for drawing and editing. You have access to a library of shapes and you can also access the IAN Symbol Library as well as OpenClipart for the importation of public domain vectors which you can freely use in your designs.
It is not the fanciest Illustrator alternative but what it does it does well. I was able to use most of the features straight away and I loved how lightweight it was. There was no waiting for things to happen which is often the case with other Web-based applications.
8. Xara – $69.99
If you are looking for an application to create vector designs and perform other graphic design tasks as well as photo editing for your Windows computer then Xara is a good Illustrator alternative. Xara does not have all of the vector design features of Illustrator but it covers the basics pretty well.
There are some powerful tools in Xara for vector design including shape drawing and editing and vector line tools. There are also advanced tools for contours, shadows, bevels and blending and you can even use Xara to create Flash animations.
I found Xara to be an interesting application. It is useful if you want one app for your basic vector design work as well as photo editing. One of my designer friends tried it and didn’t find it to offer enough.
9. Vectr – Free
Here is another Web-based Illustrator alternative with a difference. If you find that you are not getting the performance that you want using your browser and the Internet you can download and install the desktop version as a Mac, Windows or Linux user.
I liked using Vectr and it is an ideal application for beginners in my opinion. After you complete each design using the Web version you get a URL that you can share with others if you are working as a team.
Vectr is not as sophisticated as some of the Illustrator alternatives I have covered but it can be a good tool to use for web design, user interfaces, social media graphics and logos.
10. Vecteezy Editor – Free
My final Illustrator alternative is the Web-based Vecteezy Editor. Vecteezy has a free database of vector art that you can use to edit and customize. You can also import other SVG files for editing and customization as well.
Vecteezy Editor is ideal for making last-minute customizations and edits to your SVG files. The tool palette is fairly limited but there is no software to download and install and you can make changes quickly and easily.
Which Illustrator Alternative?
If you do not want to spend any money then I recommend that you try Inkscape. It has some very good features and is only lacking the tools that professional designers and illustrators need. The Web-based applications are OK and probably the best of these is Gravit. All of the Web-based solutions are for more basic illustration and design work.
If you want more and are prepared to spend some money then Sketch is a great option and so is Affinity Designer. Corel Draw is probably the closest to all of the features that you get with Adobe Illustrator but there is a hefty price tag.