The 10 Best Paid and Free 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.
In this post, we’ll explore 10 best alternatives to Adobe Illustrator.
Top Adobe Illustrator Alternatives
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.
If you’re looking for a vector editor to create digital graphics, logos, illustrations, and animations for print, web, and interfaces, you’re in the right place.
1. 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.
Compatible format: EPS, JPEG, PDF, SVG, PSD, PNG, TIFF, and GIF
Operating system/device: MacOS, Windows, and iPad
Pricing: Affinity Designer lets you try free for 90 days. After that, it costs a one-time payment of $49.99 (for both Mac or Windows) and $19.99 for iPad.
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.
Compatible format: AI, PSD, PDF, JPG, PNG, SVG, DWG, DXF, EPS, TIFF, and more
Operating system/device: MacOS and Windows
Pricing: CorelDRAW offers a 15-day free trial. You can get its annual subscription for $198 per year or a full license for $669.
Create scroll-stopping graphics with a full-featured design suite that’s easy for anyone to use.
Many people who use Illustrator rely on tools like Canva when they need to create graphics quickly. And one of the top Canva alternative in the market is Pixelied. 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.
You can upload your vector files from Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to Pixelied to use in your designs.
Operating system/device: Cloud-based web application
Pricing: Pixelied starts free and with Pro plan at $7.95 per month. But for a limited time, you can get Pixelied Pro starting at $59 for life at AppSumo.
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.
Compatible format: PNG, JPG, TIFF, WebP, SVG, EPS and PDF. AI and PSD with limited support
Operating system/device: MacOS
Pricing: You can try Sketch for 30 days. After that, it’s $99 one-time payment for individual or $9 per contributor per month (or $99 billed annually) for their team plan.
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.
Compatible format:PDF, PNG, JPG, SVG, and more
Operating system/device: MacOS with cloud-based web application (no downloads required)
Pricing: Figma is free for up to 2 editors and 3 projects. Paid plans start at $12 per editor per month, billed annually.
6. 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.
Compatible format: PNG, JPEG, GIF, WebP, PDF, AI, and more
Operating system/device: MacOS and Linux, but also comes with a cloud-based web application (no downloads required)
Pricing: Boxy SVG comes with a 15-day free trial. Paid plans start at $9.99 per both web or Mac version. It’s free on Linux.
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.
Compatible format: SVG, PDF, and PSD
Operating system/device: MacOS and iOS (iPad and iPhone)
Pricing: You can get Graphic from Apple App Store at $29.99 for Mac, $8.99 for iPad, and $2.99 for iPhone.
8. 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.
Compatible format: PNG, JPG, PDF, SVG, EPS, AI, and more
Operating system/device: MacOS, Windows, Linux, and Chrome OS
Pricing: Gravit Designer offers a free version of its app with limited features. The PRO plan costs $49.99 per year.
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.
Compatible format: SVG, PNG, OpenDocument Drawing, DXF, sk1, PDF, EPS, and more
Operating system/device: MacOS, Windows, and GNU/Linux
Pricing: Inkspace is free
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.
Compatible format: AI, SVG, and PDF
Operating system/device: MacOS and iOS (iPad and iPhone)
Pricing: Vectornator is free
How to pick the right Adobe Illustrator alternative
Here you go with the best paid and free Illustrator alternative. Picking a new design tool isn’t an easy feat, here are a few tips:
- Understand your needs and workflow before you decide to commit to any paid tools
- Sign up for the free trial to test a software out. You can use this time to find if the tool has a well-established tutorials to guide you through the learning process
- While you’re testing out a new tool, don’t forget to keep browsing to find the best software for yourself
Good luck! We hope you find an Adobe Illustrator alternative that you love — a tool that can scale with you!
If you’re looking for alternatives to Adobe Photoshop, we’ve also got a handy list here, along with our picks for the best graphic design resources and web design software tools.