12 of the Best Adobe Illustrator Alternatives [Free & Paid]

12 of the Best Adobe Illustrator Alternatives

Adobe Illustrator has become an industry standard. Used by many professional designers, it’s a robust program with plenty of tools and features that could help you create amazing vector designs. It’s very flexible and there are plenty of tutorials online.

But to say it’s the perfect vector program will be exaggerated. Illustrator has its own flaws: its steep price (one license starts at $20.99 per month with an annual subscription) and a big learning curve. The app is also slow at times – that’s the price you pay when you get so many features which make the application heavy.

Recently, users have discovered that Adobe Illustrator alternatives are not one or two. But which are they and can they really rival the most used vector editing program in the world? Let’s find out.

Article overview:

1. CorelDRAW

Subscription: $269/year Platform: macOS, Windows Skill level: Intermediate

CorelDRAW is one of the “legacy” competitors of Adobe Illustrator. The program is very feature-rich and has most of the tools that you will ever need as a professional designer. According to CorelDRAW users, it can successfully replace both Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. But from our experience, we know that you cannot find an all-in-one solution in a design that will tick all the boxes.

Advantages

✔️ Intuitive UI – one of the biggest advantages of CorelDRAW is the user interface. Designers will find it extremely easy to navigate the program.

✔️ Quick loading time – working with huge files is always a problem. But even if you work on a budget computer will not be that big of a problem.

✔️ Easy to use – learning how to work with vector graphics might not be an easy task for some apps. Not for CorelDRAW. Everything is made with the user in mind.

Disadvantages

Very expensive – we mentioned earlier that Illustrator starts at $20.99 per month. Its main competitor starts at $269/year($22.42/month)

It’s an underdog today – CorelDRAW is very powerful but many companies prefer Illustrator which makes collaborations harder.

Bad market positioning – most Adobe Illustrator alternatives are trying to beat it with more attractive prices. Graphics Suite is great but expensive, even though it is not the market leader.

Target audience: Industrial designers, Print designers, and Marketing professionals.

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We’ve also made a full comparison between CorelDraw and Illustrator including their features, pricing, learning curve, and best uses, which you can read here. We hope it can help you choose the better option for you.

 

2. Gravit Designer

Subscription: Free/$99 per year Platform: macOS, Windows, Linux Skill level: Easy/Intermediate

It’s time to announce the first free Adobe Illustrator alternative. It is an excellent tool that is now owned by Corel. What makes a product great is a value you get from it. It supports Windows, Mac OS, and even Linux. The best of all is you can work online and it can be easily integrated with Google Drive to allow collaboration. You can subscribe for $99/year but there are deals every now and then.

Advantages

✔️ Free version – having a free version is always considered a significant advantage, as you can test the software extensively without being limited in time with free trials.

✔️ Cross-platform capability – Gravit is cross-platform which means you can edit your designs on any type of device – both offline and online.

✔️ Very user-friendly – Gravit Designer is made simple so that you can learn how to use the software in no time. The user interface is friendly and you will learn the app easily.

Disadvantages

Free version limitations – Gravit’s free version is practically unusable for good designers – limited export options, no offline mode, and many other limitations.

No real-time collaboration – one of the biggest advantages of making designs in the cloud is real-time collaboration but you will be unable to get it here.

A bit “short” in options – if you are stepping down from Illustrator, you’ll find this software lacking. And Corel won’t sacrifice their golden chicken to highlight their cheaper option.

Target audience: Freelance designers, Small design agencies.

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3. Sketch

Subscription: $99 per year Platform: macOS Skill level: Intermediate

Sketch has been launched in 2010 and has been all around the place ever since. Unlike most of the programs here, it is not created as a multi-purpose app. Instead, it focuses on creating superb web and mobile designs. The software is restricted to Mac OS and the price starts at $99 per year which has become a standard for many Adobe Illustrator alternatives. It’s very lightweight which makes it great for creating prototypes.

Advantages

✔️ Easy to use – Sketch is very easy to use, as it has all the necessary features for a good prototype but it doesn’t have distracting features.

✔️ Lots of plugins available – plugins allow you to customize features and add more functionality to your designs.

✔️ Real-time collaboration – Sketch allows you to work simultaneously with colleagues on designs for faster deployment.

Disadvantages

Limited to Mac users only – it’s bad news that Windows users cannot have access to Sketch. We consider that a big minus.

Collaboration issues – even if you are a Mac user, having a cross-platform team becomes a problem.

Very trimmed in functions – being a niche software means you can’t really use it for complex illustrations and print design.

Target audience: Web and App designers.

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4. Canva

Subscription: Free/$99 per year Platform: Web Skill level: Easy

Canva wins many hearts because it is one of the easiest, yet very decent web apps to work with vector graphics. It enables literally everyone to create any type of design – social media posts, posters, A4 letters, and much more. The subscription is for up to 5 accounts, so you can go down to as low as $1.99 per person a month.

Advantages

✔️ Extremely easy to use – among all programs on the list, Canva is the easiest one. With just a few modifications, you can create stunning designs.

✔️ Lots of templates – what makes this online app unique is the variety of ready-made templates that require just a bit of editing, and lots of stock photos that can be used.

✔️ Free plans and low prices – Canva has a free plan but even if you opt for the Pro version, the price is still amazing for small teams.

Disadvantages

Limiting for print – Canva is very limiting for designers. You cannot export elements and PDF export is done in RGB only.

PRO functions – Canva is made to serve the everyday user which sacrifices pro performance. For example, designers might find Canva’s alignment inaccurate.

Intellectual property – since the designs are made by Canva’s designers, you won’t have IP rights over your designs. You only have usage rights.

Target audience: SMBs (up to 5) people, Marketing teams with no designers.

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5. Inkscape

Subscription: Free Platform: macOS, Windows, Linux Skill level: Advanced

Inkscape is the go-to tool for anyone who wants to create their own designs and graphics for free. Among Adobe Illustrator alternatives, this open-source solution doesn’t seem to be the easiest, though. Still, if you are creating vector graphics for your own business or trying to learn a new skill, Inkscape is a versatile solution.

Advantages

✔️ Free forever – being free for commercial use means you can save a lot of money from software subscriptions.

✔️ Open-source – one of the added benefits of open-source software is that you can customize it. The community is very helpful, and there are plenty of templates.

✔️ Software is not demanding – graphic design software usually takes its toll on hardware. Inkscape is well optimized, thus it doesn’t drain your computer resources and works well even on older computers.

Disadvantages

User interface is outdated – there are many complaints that Inkscape’s UI looks dated and not intuitive.

Doesn’t support CMYK – CMYK palette is crucial for printing. While you can find a way to utilize it for printing, it is certainly not your first choice of a program for print design.

Not easy to learn – the cost of having so many functionalities is the learning curve. It’s on par with Adobe Illustrator and definitely harder to learn than many apps from our list.

Target audience: Freelance designers, Graphic designers.

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6. Vectr

Subscription: Free Platform: macOS, Windows, Web Skill level: Easy

Vectr was launched in 2014 as an attempt to tackle harder-to-learn programs like Illustrator. As a cross-platform app, it comes in very handy for users who are frequently changing their devices or for teams. There are a lot of functions that are not available but you can add plugins to customize the software, or even create something of your own with HTML5.

Advantages

✔️ Easy to use – unlike other programs from our list, you will only get the core features that you would use for your designs. This way, you will have a cleaner user interface.

✔️ Customizable with plugins – if you feel lacking options, you can add extensions that could help you with your designs. There are tons of things you can add. You can also embed your own code.

✔️ Cross-platform – being cross-platform means it is very easy to work on different devices and share it with other people.

Disadvantages

Limited functionality – while you can add some plugins, if you’re coming from Illustrator or another feature-stacked app, you will immediately feel the lack of tools.

Lack of supported formats – the name Vectr indicates it is an app focused on working with vector graphics. But it supports only one vector format – SVG. That’s not enough.

Depending on an Internet connection – if you have an unstable Internet connection, you might find it annoying to work on the app.

Target audience: New designers.

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7. Affinity Designer

Subscription: $54.99/one-off Platform: macOS, Windows, iPad Skill level: Intermediate

Affinity Designer came on the market in 2014 and it has won many hearts ever since. While it doesn’t offer as many features as Illustrator, it has many benefits that certainly outweigh the disadvantages – like a one-off fee with updates, powerful features, and many supported formats. For companies on a budget, this might be the best solution.

Advantages

✔️ Very affordable – for what it provides, Affinity Designer is a bang-for-the-buck. You get top-notch vector software for just under $55 which you pay only once.

✔️ Extremely intuitive – Affinity has invested a lot into its interface. In some areas, it even overshadows Illustrator – like working with anchor points, gradients, and offsetting controls.

✔️ Not hardware-demanding – despite having a more than decent amount of functions, the software is lightweight and can work on a standard PC without any worries.

Disadvantages

No image trace tool – one of the key features many pro designers are looking for is Image Trace. This is one of the fine margins between an upmarket product and an alternative.

Lack of online tutorials – while there are some good tutorials on YouTube, Affinity Designer isn’t as supported as other more popular vector apps like Illustrator and CorelDRAW.

Doesn’t offer a cloud solution – Affinity would really step up their game if they allow their software to run in the cloud, as this will enable more collaborations between teams.

Target audience: Startup agencies, Freelance designers.

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8. Krita

Subscription: Free Platform: macOS, Windows, Linux Skill level: Easy/Intermediate


Krita is a free, open-source art platform. It is great for digital illustrations. You can customize it and create amazing artwork. You can create brushes or import them from different programs (like Adobe Photoshop). Krita has a strong community, as it is a niche software for artists.

Advantages

✔️ Free forever – Krita is free forever which means you won’t have to bother paying subscription fees. You can also customize it as you wish, as it’s open-source.

✔️ Very feature-rich for artists – for those who focus on creating illustrations, Krita will offer tremendous value.

✔️ Relatively easy – although some tougher techniques are to execute, it’s very beginner-friendly and allows newbies to get better easily.

Disadvantages

Limited capabilities – Krita has advanced options for illustrators but lacks critical capabilities for print and web design like the lack of AI and EPS file support.

Niche software – Krita is made to suit drawing enthusiasts, but it’s not popular among other professional designers.

Not enough documentation – if you check Krita’s documentation, you’ll see that it is incomplete, making the app bad for teams.

Target audience: Illustrators.

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9. BoxySVG

Subscription: $9.99/year Platform: Cross-platform Skill level: Easy/Intermediate

Boxy SVG, as the name indicates, is focused on creating scalable vector graphics only. It’s very niche software that utilizes the biggest benefit of SVG – tags. If you are aware of SEO, this software allows for very in-depth customizations of the code and you can modify both HTML and CSS scripts.

Advantages

✔️ Affordable – while it is not free, it is probably the most affordable app with pricing tags – it would cost you just under ten bucks per year to use it.

✔️ Simple to use – the UI is extremely simple to use. It doesn’t have any unnecessary functions that may distract users.

✔️ SEO Powerhouse – you can draw and write code simultaneously. This makes you understand the SVG file format even better.

Disadvantages

Niche software – BoxySVG is not going to be your best choice if you want an all-in-one vector software. It’s very limited in non-essential options.

UI is not the best looking – simplicity has its price. Compared to all other tools, BoxySVG’s user interface looks miles behind.

Zoom function is sluggish – working with a vector app that has a stutter when zooming can become the designer’s nightmare.

Target audience: Web designers, SEO specialists.

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10. Figma

Subscription: Free/$12 per month Platform: Web Skill level: Intermediate

Figma is one of the most recognizable names when it comes to UX/UI design. Figma supports SVG and is a perfect solution for creating prototypes. But let that not distract you that you can create stunning designs, share them with the team or clients, and you can use the free plan for small projects.

Advantages

✔️ It has a free plan – Figma has a free plan, although it’s one of the biggest players on the market. On top of that, the free plan allows collaborations and is fully functional.

✔️ Team collaborations – Figma has become a market leader, as it allows huge design teams to collaborate and work in real-time, optimizing the workflow over time.

✔️ Unlimited bandwidth in the cloud – that’s a massive boost for big-time agencies which have hundreds of projects.

Disadvantages

Doesn’t support AI extension – Figma doesn’t support EPS and AI which limits its functionalities for printing, as well as syncing with clients who work with Adobe Illustrator.

Requires advanced hardware – Figma is heavy and requires resources. You should also have a fast and stable network connection to ensure smooth work.

Internet-reliant – working in the cloud can turn into a nightmare if you have an inconsistent Internet connection.

Target audience: Website design agencies.

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11. Design Evo

Subscription: Free/$49.99 one-off Platform: Web Skill level: Easy

Design Evo has more than 10,000 ready-made templates that you can use to create a logo. It is a direct competitor to Canva in terms of how easy it is. Even newbies can make a logo in about 10 minutes. It also supports SVG and PDF file formats.

Advantages

✔️ Very easy to create a logo – with Design Evo, you can create a company logo in a matter of minutes. This is quite handy.

✔️ Free logo design – if you want to create a logo design, you can do it free of charge. All you need to do is attribution.

✔️ There are many pro designs – you can use some of the great templates on the platform and adjust them, instead of starting from scratch (this is also available).

Disadvantages

Templates look generic – unless you show some imagination, your logo design will look like millions of others out there.

Free version has limited functions – you have to purchase the Plus version to get access to SVG and PDF formats.

Intellectual property – none of your designs will be yours. Just like Canva, you will be granted user permission only, rather than owner permission.

Target audience: Freelance logo designers.

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12. Vectornator

Subscription: Free Platform: macOS/iOS Skill level: Advanced

Vectornator was launched in 2017. Currently backed by investors, the app is totally free to use. It is very feature stacked and the UI is simply stunning. At the moment, it is restricted to Apple devices only but we will soon see many exciting updates.

Advantages

✔️ It’s free – one of the areas where this program really shines is that it offers many features for free.

✔️ Many supported formats – it supports SVG, AI, and PDF which makes it good for all types of design.

✔️ Documentation is rich – there are plenty of useful tutorials – both guides and video tutorials, where the program features are explained.

Disadvantages

Limited to Apple devices – it is kind of sad that such a great tool is restricted to Apple devices only.

Learning curve is big – you cannot expect to learn such sophisticated software in no time.

UX is somewhat strange – if you are stepping down from a more mature platform, you will find Vectornator a bit different.

Target audience: Freelance graphic designers, Small agencies.

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Our verdict

Adobe Illustrator is software that is hard to compete against. It has everything a professional designer might think of. However, can you name one designer who is regularly using all of Illustrator’s tools? In some situations, you’d have to select what you need and go for a solution that could offer that to you.

🏆 Best for print: CorelDRAW

🏆 Easiest alternative: Canva

🏆 Best free alternative: Inkscape

🏆 Best team alternative: Figma

🏆 Best alternative for drawing and illustrations: Krita

🏆 Best alternative for macOS: Sketch

🏆 Best alternative for Web Design: Figma/Sketch

🏆 Best value for money: Affinity Designer

If you found this post useful, you can check also some of our other comparison reviews:

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Nikolay Kaloyanov

Nikolay is a copywriter with vast experience in Technology, Marketing, and Design. When he isn't playing with words and crafting texts, he watches sports and asks questions. He is a funny person...until you put him on a diet.

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