Adobe’s Illustrator is widely recognized as one of the most powerful and best-rounded vector graphic designers on the market.
And rightly so - because it sports many exceptional features and functions that can create timeless vector art. Its suitability for non-commercial and professional use while being available at a relatively approachable monthly/yearly fee makes Illustrator’s value tremendous.
Illustrator has inspired dozens of software makers to match it. A handful of programs that came close to Illustrator’s versatility, feature strength, use cases, and value have made it on our list. Without further ado, let’s begin the review.
Corel’s DRAW is often placed on the same pedestal as Illustrator in terms of feature versatility, strength, and utility.
It’s a highly advanced program that offers a much shallower learning curve; one of the main reasons so many power users start with CorelDRAW is its ease of use that does not come at the expense of its remarkably powerful features.
One of the main differences between Illustrator and CorelDRAW is in their pricing model. Namely, Illustrator is a hybrid of SaaS and DaaS, while CorelDRAW offers both subscription plans and one-off on-demand purchase pricing models. The annual subscription to Corel DRAW costs $249.99, while it can be purchased for $499.
The main major features of Corel DRAW include the LiveSketch tool, interactive sliders, custom node shapes, a highly intuitive interface, a range of available stylus models, and Corel’s proprietary Font Manager.
Power users can use Corel DRAW the same way they would use Illustrator – designing brilliant vector art or creating innovative logos, banners, and branded artwork, or editing, customizing, and personalizing existing images and projects.
CorelDRAW is, however, much easier to use and offers graphic designers with minimal experience with this type of software the advantage of superior accessibility. A free trial is available on Corel’s official website, so you can preview its features and decide whether you like it enough to buy it.
Equipped with advanced features and remarkable drawing tools, Adobe Photoshop allows editing geometric shapes and photographs, creating outstanding animations, composing complex digital artwork, and more.
It’s a premium graphic design software with a shallow learning curve that makes it approachable to beginners.
Additionally, it features a highly intuitive user interface that lends itself perfectly to photo editing and designing shapes. Its limited vector functions can’t be used to edit SVG files directly, although pasting vector files will provide you with a shortlist of settings that can be used to achieve the same results.
Exporting files in Photoshop offers a variety of options. You can set custom export preferences (e.g., destination, quality, file formats) and even export preferences.
The highest resolution digital canvas in Photoshop is 300 PPI (pixels per inch), which is widely regarded as an industry-standard quality. Its advanced features and remarkably versatile yet essential tools will enable you to create SVG images, vector elements, and gorgeous animations with ease.
Photoshop’s professional tools and features include the Pen tool, Eraser tool, Liquify tools, Automate function, Selection tool, Blur tool, Eyedropper tool, Clone Stamp, Patch tool, Pencil, Line, Color replacement, Background Eraser, deep integrations with Creative Cloud Library, and more.
Photoshop offers all the tools and features that are pretty easy to use and are suitable alternatives to Adobe Illustrator features. Its streamlined Boolean operations are as straightforward as powerful, allowing any graphic designer to seamlessly create custom shapes and design vector graphics. Photoshop supports PSD, PSDC, PNG, JPEG, TIFF, HEIC, and PSB file formats.
Photoshop offers customizable keyboard shortcuts; existing shortcuts and keys can be modified via Application Menus, Panel Menus, and Tools. The easiest way to change keys is to find the Keyboard Shortcuts tab in the Window -> Workspace panel.
Photoshop works with Windows 10 operating system and later regarding operating system compatibility.
You need to install Photoshop on your computer, a validated subscription, user registration, and a stable internet connection. After installation, your Photoshop Document Cloud files will be stored in your Cloud.
Photoshop is highly regarded among web designers, web graphics professionals, and expert designers specializing in vector edits. Photoshop’s free version trial is available on Adobe’s official website, allowing you to test its features before deciding whether you want to buy it.
Photoshop is arguably the best Adobe Illustrator alternative available on the current market due to its outstanding versatility and robust features.
If you’re enamored by Adobe Illustrator’s drawing tools but aren’t a particular fan of its learning curve, you may want to check out Affinity’s Designer. Its vector editing features and a clean user interface design combined with many professional tools make it one of the most competitive alternatives to Adobe Illustrator.
One of the most prominent benefits Affinity Designer offers is compatibility with SVG files (scalable vector graphics), PDF (portable document format), EPS (encapsulated PostScript), PSD (Photoshop), and AI (Adobe Illustrator).
Like most Adobe Illustrator Alternatives, this graphic design software can tackle complex vector graphics tasks.
The Affinity Designer is the proud recipient of the Apple Design Award and the App of the Year winner from the PC Pro and Windows Developer Awards in 2018. Among dozens of qualified Adobe Illustrator alternatives, this is one of the most exemplary vector editor programs on the market.
Affinity’s Designer also features Boolean operations for basic vector editing tasks, which will provide you with the tools you need to intersect, subtract, divide, or add overlapping shapes on your vector images.
Creating icons, utilizing Google fonts, and drawing unique shapes are some of the most straightforward operations Affinity Designer users can accomplish within the first days of use. Editing vector graphics and playing with mesh gradients is also easy due to its forgiving learning curve.
Its Pen tool is regarded as some of the most accurate functions in its class, but the same can be said about the Node tool, which allows users to adjust curves on vector images quickly.
Affinity Designer is compatible with Windows 7 (SP 1), Windows 8.1, Windows 10, and Windows 11 operating systems.
Affinity Designer is an exemplary vector graphics editor with a remarkably intuitive interface, a set of excellent drawing tools, and easy-to-use functions.
Although most alternatives to Adobe Illustrator are well-rounded, Affinity Designer’s versatility is difficult to match. It’s undoubtedly one of the best Adobe Illustrator alternatives for the Windows operating system, considering how inexpensive it is too.
GNU Image Manipulation Program, better known as GIMP for short, is one of the most competent free Adobe Illustrator alternatives.
GIMP is a completely free tool for raster and vector editor tasks. True to its name, it was designed to allow advanced image manipulation, offering editable text layers, best-in-class transformation tools, eclectic selection tools, as well as expert-level scripting capabilities.
Out of all the features the Image Manipulation Program comes with, its full-suite painting functions are most widely used by professionals. It’s supplied with a plethora of advanced tools, such as Brush, Pencil, Clone, and Airbrush tools, as well as sub-pixel sampling, and it is compatible with custom patterns or brushes.
While its creators are constantly implementing new upgrades and adding more features, over a hundred plug-ins are already available for professionals who want to expand GIMP’s already-great versatility. Video tutorials are available for all users to learn more about GIMP’s functions and tools.
The original Image Manipulation Program did not support the SVG format. However, as of GIMP 5.7 version, the software received the capability to export bitmaps to SVG files. The program isn’t a vector graphics editing tool by design; however, like Photoshop, comprehensive patches and updates made it a competent vector graphics tool.
GNU is one of the best free alternatives to Adobe Illustrator, although its functions and basic tools are closer to Photoshop. Regardless, the versatility of this program can be utilized on Illustrator’s level with experienced hands.
If you are a professional searching for a competent vector graphics editor with an intuitive interface and powerful features, GIMP is definitely worth considering. It’s a free Adobe Illustrator alternative packed with a myriad of top-tier features, and more importantly, all the tools it’s supplied with are effortless to use.
This Adobe Illustrator alternative is available for Windows. This free vector software can be downloaded on GIMP’s official website.
Gravit Designer Pro is a professional program for vector design outfitted with versatile, highly advanced tools and features. In terms of paid software, it’s one of the best Adobe Illustrator Alternatives that offer a shallower learning curve and a similar level of performance.
Gravit boasts unlimited flexibility, which means that it can fit both professional and beginner designers, illustrators, design mockup artists, and work in branding, logo design, or printed artwork niches.
A considerable advantage Gravit offers compared to many vector-based designer apps is the ability to function offline. You can download Gravit’s store version and use the PWA version to decide which feels better too.
As of late, Gravit is powered by ARE (accelerated-rendering engine), which allows users to utilize a more significant portion of their GPU memory. Newer Gravit Designer versions are more stable, much quicker, and generally perform better while being available at the same price as before.
It’s an advanced vector-editing software equipped with various Smart Shapes, Boolean operations, well-rounded object styling utilities, a range of anchor point joint categories, superior path manipulation capabilities, and almost unparalleled freehand drawing & shaping functions.
This Adobe Illustrator alternative also offers best-in-class object transformation tools, allowing you to accurately place objects of any size in two-dimensional space, work with real-life units for a more immersive experience, auto-snap to distance while creating duplicates, and customize shortcuts quickly and easily.
In comparison to Illustrator, Gravit’s features aren’t as well-rounded, but they’re compelling and more than worth the price. Its UI is relatively easy to use and highly intuitive, but Illustrator’s interface practically guides users to the next task. The field where Gravit beats Illustrator is price. Namely, the Designer can be purchased (for good), while Illustrator’s SaaS payment model will gradually milk your wallet.
The original Designer features a free version. All you need is a free Gravit Designer account and an internet connection. Alternatively, you can log in to designer.gravit.io with your Facebook or Google account.
Both Gravit Designer and Gravit Designer Pro are outstanding vector art programs that are powerful and versatile enough to contest the positions of the best Adobe Illustrator alternatives. This software is compatible with Windows 10 and newer versions.
Inkscape is a strong, feature-packed free Adobe Illustrator alternative. Its creators have committed themselves to creating a simple tool with powerful functions and excellent utility, which Inkscape exemplifies to the letter.
It’s an excellent power tool for power users. It offers flexible drawing functions, compatibility with an extensive range of file formats, Bezier & spiro handles, and an eclectic set of object manipulation features.
Being one of the best free alternatives to Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape offers many powerful features for both professionals and beginner designers, animation artists, and cartoonists.
Some of the most prominent tools this software is supplied with include pencil, pen, and calligraphy drawing tools; versatile shaping tools for users to draw rectangles, ellipses, polygons, and spirals; a range of object manipulation functions; built-in gradient editor; node editing capabilities, and much more.
Unlike Inkscape, most free Adobe Illustrator alternatives don’t possess the bitmap tracing feature. Additionally, this software presents users with accessible path simplification functions, basic Boolean operations, path markers, and the much-needed color-picker tool.
Its text-based functionalities are outstanding as well. You can text in shapes and add multi-line texts with Inkscape. Furthermore, kerning, line spacing, and letter spacing adjustments can be made on the fly. Inkscape uses whichever outline fonts you have installed, making it a solid Adobe Illustrator alternative.
One of the main reasons that Inkscape is one of the best free Adobe Illustrator alternatives is that its object creation tools are on par with most paid vector design programs. Streamlined freehand drawing coupled with several presets has made this software ideal for beginners in the graphic design industry.
In a nutshell, Inkscape isn’t Adobe Illustrator, but it’s certainly close enough to be considered a viable alternative for power users on a tighter budget. Inkscape is compatible with Windows XP and newer.
Boxy SVG Editor is a convenient free Illustrator alternative. It’s among the handful of programs that can compare to Adobe Illustrator that runs as a web app. That alone brings the much-needed convenience and opens up countless collaborative possibilities while eradicating the issue of storage space.
Boxy SVG comes in Standard and Premium variants. If you want to use Boxy SVG for free, you’ll be able to do so during the 15-day free trial. When the trial expires, you can continue with the Standard edition at a rock-bottom yearly fee of $9.99 or upgrade to Premium for $99.99 per year. The range of available features, functionalities, and benefits is different for each package.
The free version of Standard Boxy SVG is the default upon which all other versions have been built. It’s a web-based app that can be launched via Chrome. It supports the offline mode, allowing users to continue working during power or internet outages, and it will enable you to save SVG-format files directly to your hard drive.
Boxy’s features that are exclusive to the Premium package include:
Some of the most prominent features of this software include Bitmap tracing, versatile Asset libraries, path-drawing tools, essential object manipulation functions, markup inspection utilities, tons of shapes and filters, and excellent rendering capabilities.
You can also download and keep using Boxy for free via Snap store, although the range of available features will be severely limited. You won’t be able to use it as an online app, save or host your SVG files on Cloud Storage, or sync your app preferences, but you can keep your files to the hard drive and export them to PDF.
Boxy SVG Editor is compatible with Windows 10 (1607) and later versions. It’s a handy vector design app that can be utilized in professional and beginner graphic design cases.
This software is best used by people who frequently need to remain mobile (use different devices) while working.
If Adobe Illustrator were limited to designing logos exclusively, it wouldn’t match DesignEvo. This program was specifically designed for this field of work, although its features are pretty competitive when used by skilled illustrators, graphic designers, animation artists, and cartoonists.
First and foremost, DesignEvo features thousands of usable templates, all of which you can use to build the base of your projects instead of starting from scratch. With millions of outstanding icons and hundreds of available fonts, this program performs excellently in the field of text-based operations and basic image design.
If you choose to pick one of the template logos, you can fully customize them and add your personal touch with minimal practice. A learning curve almost doesn’t exist, as most features and functions were streamlined to near perfection.
DesignEvo works with SVG & PDF files, allowing you to vectorize raster files or scale your vector files. Compared to Illustrator’s vector manipulation performance, DesignEvo offers humble benefits and simple opportunities, which are highly valuable considering the program is free to use.
Cloud saves increase DesignEvo’s practicality, allowing you to store your art on digital storage and make unlimited adjustments and edits whenever you wish.
Although it’s primarily a logo maker software, this Adobe Illustrator alternative can be used for professional vector work, in which case you’ll need some experience and a bit of practice. Nevertheless, as a free program that is virtually unmatched in its niche, DesignEvo is worth considering. You can download this program on Windows 7, 8, or 10.
In a nutshell, Janvas is a simple to use, free, and web-based vector graphic editor meant for rookies and veterans of graphic design. It is compatible with SVG file format, can sync to Google Drive, and has online and offline modes.
Janvas is outfitted with various easy-to-use tools, such as element selection, arrange, transform, align, Boolean operations (Booleans), and more. Its more advanced features, such as Polygons, ellipses, rectangles, freehand, and paths, all on-site feature tutorials that you can watch for free.
When on Janvas’s website, you’ll find a plethora of learning resources that you can use to expand your knowledge of the program and some of the most common tools used in digital art and graphic design.
Compared to Illustrator, Janvas is a straightforward program that even the most immediate beginners could efficiently use, whereas Adobe Illustrator could take months to learn the basics. In terms of tools and versatility, Janvas isn’t too far behind. It has a clean user interface, and its layout is fully customizable, allowing you to clear up tools you don’t want to use and make the ones you do more accessible.
The main drawback of Janvas is that it’s a SaaS, a subscription-based program, just like Illustrator. Fortunately, it’s a lot cheaper than Illustrator, and it offers more flexible paying options (weekly, monthly, three months, and such). A quality Adobe Illustrator alternative in our book.
If you're fed up with Adobe or Illustrator, give one of their competitors a chance. It goes without saying that unless you give them a try, you'll never know which you prefer. Plus, you can start with a free trial and then upgrade, and if a trial is not available, most offer a full refund within 7-14 days. Thus, there is no reason not to try out one or more Adobe Illustrator alternatives.