Illustrator is great for graphic design but it's not for everyone. Here's a list of several powerful vector design tools you don't want to miss.
In this post, we’ll explore 14+ paid and free graphic design tools that you can use as vector editor Adobe Illustrator alternatives.
While Adobe Creative Cloud — Illustrator, Photoshop, Adobe XD, InDesign, and more — may be known as the industry standard for graphic design, its expensive monthly subscription model ($20.99 per month or $52.99 per month for the entire Creative Cloud) can bruise a budget.
This post delves into some surprising alternative vector design tools to uncover:
- Files supported
- Compatible systems (Windows, Mac, iPad, etc.)
- Potential downsides
For a list of some FREE Adobe Illustrator alternatives, scroll to the bottom.
Vectors vs. rasters: quick lesson for the uninitiated
For context, graphic designers work on two types of static image formats: vectors and rasters. Vectors are made from lines, curves, and shapes (plus some machine learning magic). Rasters are comprised of pixels.
Have you ever noticed an image get super grainy when you try to blow it up? That’s raster image pixelation at work (and why you don’t want your logo to be a raster).
Vectors: Scale ’em up, scale ’em down. Vectors are easily editable and resizable — perfect for logos, icons, illustrations, print/signage graphics, and even some animations.
Rasters: Preferred for digital photography, enormously wider range of color palette options (16 million), better for nuanced detail
If you’re looking for Adobe Illustrator alternatives to create digital graphics, logos, illustrations, and animations for print, web, and interfaces — you’re in the right place.
Our list of top Adobe Illustrator alternatives:
- Affinity Designer
- Vector Creator
- Boxy SVG
- Gravit Designer
- + more free Adobe Illustrator alternatives at the end
Sure, Adobe Illustrator may be king. But if you’re into coups, here’s where you should start:
RelayThat flips the whole idea of a professional marketing graphics design tool on its head by allowing you to import your brand assets (or magically upload from a URL). This cloud-based graphics design superstar let’s you immediately get to work with thousands of premade, social-friendly layouts based on specific branding.
- Files: Import PNG, JPEG, and SVG. Export PNG and JPEG
- Trial version: No
- OS: Web app, optimized for Chrome
- Pricing model: AppSumo Lifetime Deal: $49 forever [limited time]
Potential downsides: Focus on digital social media graphic creation, limited layout sizes
2. Affinity Designer
Built and continuously improved as Serif’s pièce de résistance, Affinity Designer is designed to be intuitive for the experienced Adobe user. With one of the most comprehensive vector design toolsets on this list, plus raster finishing, Affinity Designer might be the alternative you’re looking for.
With full compatibility with Adobe’s Suite, Affinity Designer supports standards: 10-bit, CMYK, CIELAB, and Pantone. Affinity Designer has some capabilities similar to Photoshop, like bitmap functions. Users like that the program is not too heavy and doesn’t take up too much RAM.
- Files: PSD, AI, PDF, SVG, JPG, TIFF, EXR
- Free trial: Yes (for Mac and Windows)
- OS: Mac, PC, iPad
- Pricing: One-time price of $49.99, free and frequent updates (only $19.99 on iPad)
Potential downsides: Relatively newer product, awaiting more advanced editing features that Illustrator has, lack of educational and how-to resources
Compatible with other tools in the Corel graphic suite including Photo-Paint, a Photoshop competitor, CorelDRAW gives you a robust set of vector illustration tools. Get vectors ready for print fast and easy, edit multi-page documents, convert bitmap to vector non-destructively, and generate QR codes.
Check out the LiveSketch feature on touch-enabled devices to turn sketching into precise vector graphics. CorelDRAW is the go-to software for many printing industries in certain parts of the world.
- Files: Download to AI, PSD, PDF, JPG, PNG, SVG, DWG, DXF, EPS, TIFF + more
- Free trial: Yes
- OS: Windows and Mac (and tablet-compatible app)
- Pricing: Buy a full license for $669 or get an annual subscription for $198
Potential downsides: Very large application size, fairly expensive, fewer updates
Built for UI design, prototyping, and wireframing, Sketch also gives users powerful vector graphics editing abilities. Users report that it is fairly easy to use and has strong organizational/breadcrumb features. Plus, Sketch has a diverse suite of educational resources.
- Files: PNG, JPG, TIFF, WebP, SVG, EPS, SVG code, PDF. AI and PSD files are upload-only, giving you a flattened layer.
- Free trial: Yes
- OS: Mac
- Pricing: $100 per year to renew license
Potential downsides: Reliance on third-party plugins and integrations (may be good or bad), focus on UX/UI and prototyping
(For a free Sketch alternative for Windows, check out Lunacy from icons8.)
As a collaborative wireframing and UI design tool, Figma isn’t a direct Adobe competitor, but its collaborative, web app-based approach might be worth your consideration. Share files with links, instead of exporting each time you need another pair of eyes on your work.
Speaking of collaboration, Figma might be most well-known for offering real-time teamwork-friendly possibilities. This Adobe Illustrator alternative is focused in on design made for the web, so its tools for pure vector graphic creation are more basic. But you’ve still got your pen tool, vector networks, and smart components.
- Files: Export to PNG, JPG, SVG, or PDF. Import .sketch, PNG, JPG, GIF or Figma Files (.fig)
- Free trial: Sort of? It is free up to 2 editors and 3 projects
- OS: Windows, Linux, Mac, and Chrome
- Pricing: Free up to 2 editors and 3 projects, $12-45 per editor per month after that
Potential downsides: Not a pure vector graphics editor, not touchscreen compatible, reliance on plugins, focus on UX/UI and prototyping
Snappa is great for creating professional marketing designs in that made-for-social-media style. Its UI is a lot simpler and more lightweight compared to Adobe – of course, that comes with many relative limitations as well. Users seem to like its easy graphic resizing feature and library of visual assets. As part of the Stocksnap.io family, you also get access to tons of pre-licensed, free stock images.
- Files: Download to JPG or PNG
- Free trial: Free up to 5 saved/downloaded designs per month
- OS: Web app
- Pricing: $10-$15 per month or $120 annually
Potential downsides: Focus on digital social media graphic creation, limited file export options
Many people who use Illustrator or Sketch rely on tools like Canva when they need to create graphics quickly. Canva is extremely versatile, and while it doesn’t have the same deep vector editing features as Illustrator, the tool boasts an impressive range of assets, vector icons, templates, and ready-made design solutions.
- Files: Upload SVG, PNG, or JPEG. Download to JPG, PNG, PDF, Powerpoint, GIF, or MP4.
- Free trial: Yes
- OS: Web app
- Pricing: $12.95 per month or $119.40 annually
Potential downsides: Limited export options, users dislike the feeling of being nickeled and dimed for +$1 additional assets.)
[Looking for Canva alternatives? We’ve written about 9 different options.]
Built by the team at Mapdiva, Artboard is a Mac app with surprisingly smart vector editing capabilities. With tons of drawing tools, timesaving workflows, layers, and boolean tools, Artboard is a simplified Illustrator alternative for quick design turnaround.
- Files: Import JPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG, TIF, PDF, and SVG. Export to PNG, TIF, JPEG, and fully scalable PDFs.
- Free trial: Yes
- OS: Mac
- Pricing: Starts at $39.99 for a single user license
Potential downsides: User complaints about the lack of a pathfinder tool, struggle to edit text
9. Vector Creator
From the team at Icons8: meet Vector Creator. This tool is uniquely focused on creating those soft people illustrations you see all over SaaS websites.
- Files: Import in SVG, PNG, and JPEG. Export to PNG or editable .SVG with Icons8 license (Pro features include SVG export and attribution removal)
- Free trial: Free version
- OS: Web app
- Pricing: Free or $19.90 per month for Vector Creator Pro (plus all of Icons8)
Potential downsides: Newer tool, basic features, lacks file export options
10. Boxy SVG
Using SVG as its native document format, Boxy SVG was made just for scalable vector graphics. This tool is available across operating systems and devices.
- Files: Upload PNG, JPEG, GIF, WebP, PDF and AI files. Download to PNG, JPEG, GIF, WebP and HTML. Plus .pdf for Windows and macOS apps
- Free trial: Not really
- OS: MacOS, Windows, Linux, ChromeOS, web app
- Pricing: $9 or $9.99 per month depending on the version, free for Linux
Potential downsides: Dated UI, super focused on vector editing (SVGs) so missing some broader graphic design features
Graphic started as a vector drawing iPad app, but it’s since moved to iPhone and Mac OS X as well. This vector software also gives you tools like layers, editable brush strokes, and UI creation elements.
- Files: Import and export SVG, PDF, and PSD
- Free trial: No
- OS: iPad, iPhone, MacOS only
- Pricing: Mac App Store for only $29.99
Potential downsides: Originating from iPad, this tool has a different feel from native web or desktop apps (may be a good or bad thing)
Free Adobe Illustrator Alternatives:
12. Gravit Designer
Gravit Designer is a free vector graphic design app geared toward professional designers. Choose from a wide library of shapes, illustrations, etc., and export infinitely scalable vector graphics. The paid PRO version has even more vector graphic features, including cloud file syncing and offline mode, as well as way more file import/export options.
- Files: Export to PNG, JPG, PDF, and SVG. With PRO: Import PDF, EPS, SVG, AI, and .sketch
- Free trial: Full free version. Free trial of PRO.
- OS: Any desktop (Mac OS, Windows, Linux, and Chrome OS)
- Pricing: Free. Get PRO for $49.99 per year
Potential downsides: Doesn’t support graphics tablets, some users complain that it can take up a lot of RAM, missing some key features under the hood like snap to grid functions
Free, open-source, and impressive, Inkscape gives you flexible drawing tools, embedded bitmaps, transformations, gradient editor, node editing, boolean operations. Sure, the UI is a bit dated. But with Inkscape, you can design, edit, draw in 2D, easily convert bitmap images into vectors, and create compliant SVG files.
- Files: Import/export: SVG, PNG, OpenDocument Drawing, DXF, sk1, PDF, EPS, + more
- OS: Windows, Mac OS X and GNU/Linux
- Pricing: It’s free
Potential downsides: Interface can be overwhelming, can lag or crash when working with super high-res files, no preview features for the visualization of filters and effects
Starting as an iPad app, Vectornator is a pretty interesting free choice with some more advanced vector editing tools like boolean operations, grouping, pen tool, anchoring, and masking capabilities. Plus, this will be a tool to watch, since real-time collaboration is coming soon.
- Files: AI, SVG and PDF
- OS: iPad, iOS, MacOS only
- Pricing: It’s free
Potential downsides: It’s really new and it remains to be seen how all the features will develop and mature.
Here are more free alternatives to Adobe Illustrator that you may want to check out:
- Vectr – free vector graphics software
- Method Draw
- GIMP – free, not for Macs
- Sketsa SVG
Free vector-editing adjacent tools:
You can also check out our list of discounted graphic design tools to help you create without breaking the bank.
Good luck! We hope you find an Adobe Illustrator alternative that you love — a tool that can scale with you! Comment below letting us know which tool is your favorite to work with!