Adobe Illustrator is a popular tool for designing vector graphics, logos, icons, and more.
But when you’re a web or graphic designer with a small budget, you probably can’t afford Adobe Illustrator’s hefty cost. $239.88/year pricing and want a cheap or free alternative.
Fortunately, there are plenty of top-notch free and low-cost alternatives on the market, some of which offer features unique to Illustrator. In this post, we are sharing the top twelve alternatives to Adobe Illustrator so that you can create beautiful designs on a low budget.
If you’re shopping for a program that offers features comparable in quality to Adobe’s product, check out our list of the top free alternatives to Illustrator.
Best Free Adobe Illustrator Alternatives
Pro and Semi-Pro Illustrators and Web Designers
Mac, Windows, Linux
One of the most comparable alternatives to Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape has many of the same sketching, illustration, and editing tools, including keys for editing screen pixels, bitmap tracing, color painting on objects, and gradients with handles.
You can also create complex textures and gradients in Inkscape. Unlike some free tools, this tool allows for layering, grouping, and locking of objects so that you can fully customize the look and feel of the project while maintaining a streamlined workflow.
Inkscape is a quality product for pro- or semi-pro web designers working within the SVG file format. It also offers an open source vector graphics package, so if you have the technical skills, you can incorporate Inkscape into your other software programs.
2. wire-reinforced tape
Advanced designers who need custom tools to create illustrations and graphics
Mac, Windows, Linux
GIMP, which stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, has limited vector functions but tools similar to Photoshop, which makes it an impressive image editor with powerful image manipulation options. Better still, GIMP offers options for customization and third-party plug-ins, so you might want to check out this tool if your image editing needs are somewhat unique.
GIMP is free and open source, so there’s a market for third-party plugins to enhance your productivity and design capabilities. If this sounds too technologically advanced, GIMP offers tutorial for beginners for equipment so that you can get the most out of it.
people whose position requires them to work with different tools to make pictures
Windows, Mac, Web Browser, Mobile
Pixlr offers tons of features to edit, create, and share creative images. While it is less advanced in function than Illustrator, it is cloud-based and supported on mobile, desktop or web.
Pixlr has two options: Pixlr E for photo editing and Pixlr X for graphic design. Pixlr X includes regularly updated templates for social media, presentations, resumes, business cards, newsletters, and event invitations. Pixlr E includes a photo collage maker that combines your favorite photos into a clean, cohesive design.
4. design evo
Business startups that need logos and other assets
Although this design tool is free, it brings a lot of value. With over 10,000 design templates to get you started, this app is ideal for the designer just starting out. DesignEvo helps you hone your style, develop your workflow, and build your portfolio – all without spending a dime on expensive software.
You’ll have access to royalty-free fonts, color schemes, and an easy-to-use logo editor (Plus) dozens of logo categories, When you’ve designed the perfect vector, logo or icon, export it in the most popular high-resolution formats from DesignEvo and into your favorite storage cloud.
Designers who want a user-friendly tool that minimizes work time
iPad App, Mac App, iPhone App
Vectonator has been downloaded over 6 million times from the App Store – and for good reason. Its intuitive and user-friendly features, such as the Auto Trace tool, automate tedious tasks and allow you to do your best work faster.
Vectonator also includes unlimited artboards, a sophisticated text editor with custom font import, a PDF editor, and support for touch, pen, mouse, keyboard, and Wacom pads. Plus, its many integrations and import/export features make it easy to switch between multiple design tools.
Designers need an all-in-one tool
From design features to prototyping, Figma is a free illustration app with all the tools you need in just one platform. It allows you to install plugins and widgets that automate tasks and increase productivity. Plus, it’s easier than ever to resize and move design elements with the Auto Layout tool.
With cloud-based software, you can work on your drawings from anywhere with Internet access and seamlessly share files with other team members.
While Figma’s free Starter plan has all the features an entry-level designer or small team will need to get started, more experienced designers and larger teams can access features like unlimited version history, sharing permissions, team libraries, and more. Consider a professional plan for access. More. Professional plans start at $12 per editor/month, and are free for students and teachers.
New designers who want a powerful tool with a low learning curve
Perfect for beginners, Vectr is a simple Illustrator tool that makes it easy to design and edit graphics with its intuitive technology and user tutorials.
Since Vectr is web-based, it is accessible to anyone with Internet access. Collaboration is also extremely easy with its real-time sharing capabilities and chat features.
Best Paid Adobe Illustrator Alternatives
Designers who produce designs in small quantities but still need a quality tool
Mac App, Windows App, Chrome App, Web App
BoxySVG runs as an extension in Google Chrome, so it’s easy to store vector graphics, including icons, charts and illustrations, on the web. It offers the option for Google Fonts integration and has an open clip art library, as well as Illustrator tools including pens, bezier curves, groups, shapes, text, and more.
Ultimately, BoxySVG is simpler than Illustrator, and while this means less advanced tools, it also means a faster and easier process for creating vector graphic files.
The intuitive user interface gives you a clean workspace so you can complete your workflow without clutter or overlapping toolboxes. Keyboard shortcuts keep tools accessible without having to switch between tabs or search through multiple icons.
These features are included in the 15-day free trial. After that, you will have the option to buy either premium or standard plan,
9. coral vector
Freelance illustrators and designers who need a robust design tool
Mac, Linux, Windows, Chrome, Web Browser
You’ll find a number of basic vector-editing tools in Corel Vector, including the Pen, Line, Knife, Slice, Biagon, and Gradient editors. It also has more advanced features, such as Boolean operations, symbols, internationalized text support, and more.
Also, it is designed in a user-friendly interface and provides video tutorials. Corel Vector works from within any browser, meaning you can edit and export your files anywhere with WiFi. Even if you don’t have access to WiFi, the tool allows users to work offline for up to 15 days at a time. It also supports CMYK rendering, so you can print quality images without downloading anything.
You can also import and export files in a variety of formats, including pdf, png, jpg, svg, and sketch – which makes this option more flexible than Illustrator.
Corel Vector offers a free 15-day trial. After the trial period is over, users will have to purchase a subscription plan.
10. affinity designer
Experienced designers needing advanced vector and raster tools
Mac, Windows, iPad
With rasterizing controls, infinite zooming, a precision-engineered pen tool, automatic snapping points, colors that pop, and a wide range of vector editing tools, this system really compares in design and function to Adobe Illustrator.
Universal licenses cost $99.99, but you can also buy individual licenses for MacOS, Windows, and iPad for much cheaper. The 30-day trial version is free and offers many of the tools of the full version.
What’s unique about this tool is that it supports vector and raster workspaces – with the click of a button you can switch between the two for a versatile design experience.
Your workflow is the foundation of a great design, so Affinity Designer gives you unlimited artboards, detailed version history, customizable keyboard shortcuts, and the ability to save your file in the most popular vector and raster formats.
collaborative design team
Mac App, Web Browser, iPhone App
For a design tool to keep your team organized and in sync, look no further than Sketch. Its workspaces allow you to store and share files, manage your team, collaborate on projects in real time, and delegate designs to developers.
Other features include: vector editing, prototyping tools, artboard templates, customizable toolbars and shortcuts, offline work capabilities, and more.
Standard plans start at $9 per month. You can also try Sketch for free with a 30-day trial.
12. vector styler
Experienced designers who prefer a one-time license over a subscription plan
For an advanced illustration software for a fraction of Adobe’s cost, check out Vector Styler. It has all the drawing tools you need to create stunning illustrations and designs, including vector brushes, shape effects, advanced typography, path sketching, text on paths, open native AI, and more.
Designs can be imported and exported via common file formats: PSD, AI, SVG, PDF, PostScript, EPS, JPEG, BMP, GIF, PCX, PNG, TGA, and TIFF.
The free trial for Vector Styler lasts for 42 days. After that, you’ll need to purchase a license at a flat rate of $95.
Adobe alternatives for any budget
Creating professional vector graphics doesn’t have to be an expensive line item in your budget. If you’re just starting out in the field of graphic design or if you’re a seasoned designer looking for budget-friendly tools, one of these free options will definitely work well for you.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.