Adobe Illustrator vs CorelDRAW: Side-by-Side Comparison [2022]

Adobe Illustrator vs CorelDRAW

CorelDRAW and Adobe Illustrator are two of the most popular vector design apps for creating drawings, vector graphics, and other artworks. Both programs are very powerful, making them great for both amateurs and professionals alike.

But is one of the programs better than the other? What are the main differences between the two of them and which one is more valuable for you in the long term?

In this article, we will compare Adobe Illustrator vs CorelDRAW in detail and will review some of the reasons that make each program suitable for your next design assignment.

Article overview:
1. Adobe Illustrator Overview
2. CorelDRAW Overview
3. Head to Head Comparison Table
4. Tool and Features
5. Ease of use
6. Price
7. Hardware requirements
8. Why choose Adobe Illustrator over CorelDRAW?
9. Why choose CorelDRAW over Adobe Illustrator?
10. Adobe Illustrator vs CorelDRAW – UI and Getting Started [Videos]

1. Adobe Illustrator Overview

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is a brilliant program for designers to use. It’s brilliant because it lets you do pretty much everything which is vector-related – from designing original logos, templates, and infographics to creating book covers or cartoons. As one of the most versatile tools out there in the design world, it can help you achieve a broad spectrum of features. It’s Adobe’s specific software for working with vector files, and it does so with ease.


✔️ Popularity – Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard in the vector design world. It is used by professional designers, agencies, and their clients.

✔️ Lots of features – Illustrator is very feature-rich which means that you can use a variety of tools to create original artwork. And if you feel lacking, you can easily “borrow” something from Adobe’s other programs in Creative Cloud – like Photoshop, XD, or InDesign, for example.

✔️ Tons of learning material – Adobe Illustrator is studied in design schools. On top of that, many organizations (including Adobe) are frequently making webinars and online tutorials on how to work with Illustrator – from basic to advanced guides.


Steep price – you cannot purchase Illustrator. You have to subscribe and the best offer is $20.99/month (annual plan, billed monthly).

Very large files – one of the understated problems of Illustrator is that it creates huge files. After you add a certain amount of objects, these files become very heavy and open very slowly, often causing crashes. On top of that, working with large files demands bigger hardware resources.

Hard to learn – the biggest advantage for professional designers is the biggest disadvantage for new ones. Multiple tools and features implicate the UI and make the learning curve bigger than single-purpose vector software (like Sketch).


2. CorelDRAW Overview

CorelDRAW Software

CorelDRAW is the first alternative to Adobe Illustrator. It is a very powerful program that is arguably the most mature competitor of Illustrator among all vector apps on the market. CorelDRAW has been on the market for over 30 years and the latest version of Graphics Suite is quite capable for professional work. While CorelDRAW and Illustrator have similar prices, we have to admit that you get more tools for your money with Corel’s product – like Aftershot HDR, Photo-Paint, Font Manager, etc.


✔️ One-off purchase available – while it still holds its ground against Illustrator, it can be purchased with a lifetime license for $549. A one-year subscription is $269, so you can save a lot of money if you plan for the future.

✔️ Easy to learn – the UI is simple to use and the workflow is very intuitive. The features are easily accessible and newbies can quickly learn how to work with vector graphics.

✔️ Raster Images Editing – with Graphics Suite, you can edit raster files which makes the tool very useful in a variety of situations.


An expensive alternative – Graphics Suite appears to be the most expensive one out of the many Adobe Illustrator alternatives. If budget is an issue, there are much better options on the market right now.

Output format – to get the best of CorelDRAW, you need to work with its native format CDR but it is not that widely supported and you can have problems with it.

Unpopular today – most companies are Adobe advocates now which means you don’t get the same level of integration with other programs.


3. Head to Head Comparison Table

Let’s see how Adobe Illustrator vs. CorelDRAW go against each other in our basic comparison.

Adobe Illustrator CorelDRAW
Graphics Type Vector Vector
Platforms supported Windows, macOS Windows, macOS
Pricing $20.99/month $22.42/month(or $549 one-off)
User Interface Complicated Simple
Skill level required Advanced Intermediate
Main uses Graphic, Print, and Web Design Print and Graphic Design


4. Tools and Features

Feature-wise, both Corel and Adobe have invested a lot into their products. For professionals, you won’t really see many drawbacks. If you are experienced with either of those, you can create gorgeous designs. Let’s see some of the top features that each one offers.

  • Image Trace
    It lets you import a raster image and extract its colors to create unique vector artwork.
  • Shape Builder
    This tool is extremely helpful when creating 2D shapes. It lets you merge and subtract shapes that are already built out.
  • Library Tool
    Library Tool is the easiest way to build a custom style guide for your website or product. You can build a strong design system with beautiful color palettes, fonts, and more from one place.
  • Blend Tool
    Blend Tool lets you combine colors and shapes between two or more objects to create a brand new one. It is the perfect tool for gradient designs.
  • Recolor Artwork
    Instead of editing the fill and stroke of each object in your work, the Recolor Artwork feature makes it easy to edit the colors of multiple objects at once.
  • 3D and Materials
    This feature enables you to create magnificent 3D shapes which are so popular today. With it, you can turn a square into a cube in no time.
  • Pen Tool
    One of the most useful Illustrator tools is the Pen tool. It allows you to create and edit anchor points, paths, and even complex curves and shapes.
  • Cloud Docs
    Saving files on the Creative Cloud enables you and your team to collaborate on different designs. CC comes with 100GB by default but you can order up to 2TB.
  • PowerTRACE
    PowerTRACE is the equivalent of Image Trace – it lets you vectorize an image.
  • Multi-monitor
    With multi-monitor, you can better organize your workflow – you can arrange fonts, colors, etc. on the first, and on the other – shapes, for example.
  • Live Sketch Tool
    Live Sketch Tool allows you to create similar to freehand drawing pieces of art. If you have a drawing tablet, you can utilize it perfectly for this purpose.
  • Perspective drawing
    Perspective drawing lets you draw or place existing objects onto the plane to create a 3D-looking object. It’s great for package design.
  • Block Shadow Tool
    With Block Shadow Tool, you will be able to select a text area, and then add shadows to add depth. It’s also very easy to change the colors.
  • Corel Font Manager
    Font Manager is a standalone application that is used to add, organize, preview, or remove fonts from your font library.
  • Bitmap Upsampling
    This feature allows you to scale raster images without losing much image quality which is very hard to achieve with raster images.
  • Corel Cloud
    You can share files with colleagues in order to collaborate better. They can leave comments which you can see in real-time, in order to make adjustments.

5. Ease of use

It doesn’t matter how many features a program has if users cannot get hold of them. That’s why Google is successful – it creates simple, yet efficient products. In graphic design, Canva is arguably the most straightforward solution for non-designers but how easy are Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW to use?


Adobe Illustrator is not for everyday users, as Adobe is targeting professionals and focuses on offering more advanced features that can satisfy the world’s best designers, instead of being beginner-friendly. Being an industry standard has its perks, though. You can find plenty of tutorials, webinars, and courses so that you can learn how to create pro designs with Illustrator.


CorelDRAW has made its software relatively easy. You can find so many features directly, without having to try and find them first. There are so many shortcut keys and if you get proficient, you’ll rarely have to select any tool with the mouse. The user interface is very clean, and with the 2022 Graphics Suite update, Corel has optimized the learning experience to bring more new users on board.

6. Price

No matter if you are a freelance designer, or own an agency, you have to pay a lot for software. Every dollar matters. Let’s see how these two programs compare.


Adobe Illustrator costs $31.49/month if you pay on a monthly basis. The annual fee is $20.99/month charged monthly, and if you decided to pay upfront, you have to pay $239.88($19.99/month).

If you want to get access to Creative Cloud, then you should spend $79.49/month for a month-to-month subscription, $52.99 for an annual subscription billed monthly, or $599.88 upfront($49.99/month). You have a 7-day free trial, too.


With CorelDRAW, you have two options to pay. You can either get the recurring subscription that costs $269 annually (or $22.42/mo) or stick with a one-off purchase of the Graphics Suite 2021 edition for $549.

We wish there was an option for a month-to-month subscription since not everyone wants a long-term commitment with a software provider. However, it comes with a relatively long 15-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

7. Hardware requirements

Working with vector files and multiple objects makes files harder and it requires a lot of computational power, in order for programs to run smoothly and avoid crashes. Let’s see the spec requirements for both Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW.

System Requirements Adobe Illustrator CorelDRAW
CPU Multicore Intel processor (with 64-bit support) with SSE 4.2 or later or AMD Athlon 64 processor with SSE 4.2 or later., ARM-based Apple silicon processor Intel Core i3/5/7/9 or AMD Ryzen 3/5/7/9/Threadripper, EPYC
GPU 1GB VRAM (4GB Recommended for Win, 2GB for Mac) 3GB (4GB Recommended)
RAM 8GB (16GB Recommended) 8GB
Disc space At least 2GB (3-4GB Recommended) 5.5 GB
Monitor Resolution 1024 x 768 (1920 x 1080 Recommended) 1280 x 720 (1920 x 1080 Recommended)
Supported OS Windows 10 (64-bit) versions V21H1, V20H2, V1909, and V2004. MacOS – v10.15, 11 & 12.0 (Catalina, Big Sur, Monterey) Windows 11 or Windows 10 (Version 21H1 or later), 64-bit, with latest Updates, Mac OS – v10.12 onward (Sierra)




8. Why choose Adobe Illustrator over CorelDRAW?

For those who select Adobe Illustrator every day, it’s a no-brainer. But for those wondering which one is better, let’s see some areas where Illustrator will be your top choice.

It is an industry-standard – companies and educational institutions work intensively with Adobe Illustrator. It will be easier to share files and keep the same formats, as any change could corrupt data. Also, being the market leader means Adobe will invest a lot, so their program is always a step ahead of the competition.

The most complete vector software – the reason Illustrator is hard to learn is that you can do everything with it. Whether you want to create a logo, poster, or illustration, or you simply want to make some cool design to show off your skills. Working with Illustrator gives you much-needed leverage and the program can easily keep up with your skills and clients’ demands.

It is part of the Adobe family – for most professional designers and especially agencies, having a single program for their needs is not enough. However, if you subscribe to Creative Cloud, you can edit photos and create amazing visual elements with the best software for photography – Photoshop. You can also edit videos with another industry leader – Adobe Premiere Pro. You can open and edit legal documents with Acrobat, and if you’re into UX/UI design – there’s Adobe XD.

It is future-proof – when you choose software, you must consider its long-term future on the market. No one wants to invest hundreds of hours and end up realizing the program they’ve dedicated much of their time to is no longer considered viable by clients and managers. Adobe Illustrator has plenty of alternatives, many of which are niche. But no vector program has offered such value for designers yet.

Superb for illustrations – since it allows for creating complex graphics, the area where it shines are illustrations where artists have the freedom to create.


9. Why choose CorelDRAW over Adobe Illustrator?

How can CorelDRAW justify its price tag for those who aren’t willing to jump the bandwagon? Let’s find out.

Great for print and package design – if you need graphic design software for printing purposes, CorelDRAW wins. It’s supported by all types of printers, and there are shortcuts for pretty much everything.

Better value for money than Illustrator – for $549, you are getting software that is feature-stacked. Graphics Suite includes not only CorelDRAW but also other useful apps – like Corel Photo-Paint(an alternative to Adobe Photoshop), which lets you edit raster files. Working with both vector and raster files is crucial for the success of any designer.

It’s better for newbies – it has a straightforward design and a lot of shortcut keys. There isn’t a steep learning curve a newbie can improve their skills within weeks.

Smaller file size – there is an option to compress file size but let’s be honest – Adobe Illustrator tends to make files bigger which causes slower loading times and more crashes.


10. Adobe Illustrator vs CorelDRAW – User Interfaces [Videos]

You cannot really compare Adobe Illustrator vs CorelDraw without adding some videos and seeing them perform in real life. So let’s see how these two great graphic design tools go toe-to-toe. For our test, we will see how to create a poster from each program.


Adobe Illustrator Poster Video

Adobe Illustrator has a very familiar interface. It reminds us of Photoshop, InDesign, and the other products from Adobe. If you’re an Adobe user, you’d probably get used to it in no time.


CorelDRAW Poster Video

CorelDRAW has a fairly simple user interface and what makes an impression here is the pretty straightforward way to create the poster.


Our verdict

It’s time for the verdict – which software between Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW is the winner?

If you have been using CorelDRAW for years and you haven’t felt any limitations when using the program, there’s no need to switch to Illustrator. You will be confused with the variety of options and it will take you time to get used to the platform, as the UI is not that intuitive – and it can’t be, with so many features “under the hood”. If you’re on a budget, you can find buying CorelDRAW a better alternative than paying $20+ each month which will only increase with time.

If you are looking for the best vector graphics program available, there’s no contest – Adobe Illustrator. While it’s not perfect, there are very few flaws in this tried-and-true vector graphics application. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a seasoned user or a newbie: as long as you don’t mind the steep initial learning curve, this program will serve your needs for years to come.

If you have found our comparison article useful, you can also read some of our other comparisons:

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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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