For almost two decades, Adobe illustrator has been graphic designers’, artists’ and engineers’ favorite tool to design anything from a basic mobile app icon to a complex digital painting. It’s wide array of features, excellent scalability, and absolute quality are irreplaceable and indispensable. It’s certainly one of the reasons why illustrator is a standard go to application for vector arts graphics and has a high utility in fields like engineering and product design. 

But not everyone needs all these features and options to fulfill their duties. Some people just design something as basic as pamphlets, while others may need to  design structures as complex and vital as multistory buildings. And anyway not everyone is suitable with the rigid pricing plans of Illustrator. That arises a need for us to look for best free and paid alternatives to Illustrator.

Considering that you’re reading this, it’s obvious that you’re also looking for a perfect alternative to Illustrator suitable to your needs and budget. If so, let’s go through this post and we hope your search will end here for a great alternative to Adobe Illustrator.

Here’s a list of top alternatives to Adobe Illustrator with their Key features, Pros & Cons, and our verdict on each.

Key Observations:

1. Best Free Alternative to Adobe Illustrator

  1. Gravit Designer
  2. InkScape
  3. Gimp

2. Best Alternative to Adobe Illustrator- For iPad users

  1. Procreate
  2. Vectornator
  3. Affinity Design

3. Overall Best-in-quality Alternative to Adobe Illustrator

  1. Affinity Designer
  2. Sketch
  3. CorelDraw

Comparison Table: Best Alternative for Adobe Illustrator (Free/ Paid)

Alternative Pricing Operating systems Navigation Efficiency Remark 
Corel Draw €19.95/monthWindows, and Mac3.5One app for everything 
Affinity designer $49 one time Mac, I-PAD, and Windows 4.5Closest to illustrator 
Sketch $99 one time Mac4Great for UI design
InkScape Free Windows, Mac, and Linux3.5Best free SVG creator
Gravit Designer Free/Premium at $49.99Mac, Linux, Windows, and Browsers 4Best free illustrator alternative
Vectornator FreeIOS 4Advanced features/ Portable 
VectrFreeBrowser based4Light featured
Procreate $9.99 one time IOS5Best on I-PAD
Boxy-SVG $9.99/year Windows, Mac, Web application 4.5Great Keyboard Shortcuts 
GIMPFreeWindows, Mac, and Linux4Loads of plugins 
Comparison Table: Alternatives to Illustrator

1. CorelDraw

Corel Draw is one of the old bulls of the creative design domain and a tough competitor to Adobe Illustrator. A large variety of handy tools not just let you edit and modify pictures but also allows you to create scalable vector arts and save them in multiple formats. CorelDraw is also widely used for designing printable illustrations, land layouts, typographies, poster templates, and many more. You can add all sorts of effects manually including mesh and blend. Exporting your designs directly to your websites through WordPress is also a one-click process if you choose CorelDraw as an Illustrator alternative.

  • Advantages:
    • One click export 
    • Multiple formats 
    • Scalable vectors 
    • Frequent updates 
  • Disadvantages:
    • No drag and drop
    • Lack of ready to use elements 
    • No mobile variation
  • Why to pick:

Corel draw doesn’t apply any barrier to your creativity by letting you assemble a bunch of components, instead it lets you access world class designing tools to create utmost original designs for your websites, posters, Advertisements and wall arts.

  • Pricing: Starts at €19.95/month

Learn more: //www.coreldraw.com

2. Affinity Designer:

If your sole motive is to design simple Vector based smooth graphics that don’t pixelate, Affinity designer is what you were looking for. 

Affinity designer is created and owned by Serif Labs. There’s more than one reason for us to love Affinity designer. It’s lighter, faster, smoother and you only have to pay once to buy the entire package. Feature wise Adobe illustrator still wins the race with tools that enable you to manipulate every single detail but considering the constant growth of Affinity designer, it’s just a matter of time before it surpasses illustrator.

  • Advantages:
    • Compatible with Adobe
    • Resources and sample graphics 
    • Great community 
    • All essential features 
  • Disadvantages:
    • Little hard to learn
    • Missing features 
  • Why to pick:

Affinity designer makes it possible for every designer to unleash his/her creativity to the fullest and allow everyone to create stunning Vector designs at a one-time subscription affordable to all.

  • Pricing: $49 one time

Learn more: //affinity.serif.com/en-gb/

2. Sketch

‘Sketch’ is a designing software that offers much more than just Vector graphics designing. Design UIs and test them on screen, Run wireframes, or craft mesmerising digital arts all at one place under one paid subscription. 

Sketch has a widespread range of Resources, Articles, and Tutorials to teach you how to use it and make the most out of your subscription. 

It’s more or less a tool for collaborative designing, entire teams associated with one project or product prototyping can work together by sharing the access. Its drag and drop interface takes away most of the manual and subtle work and makes using Sketch a piece of cake. 

  • Advantages:
    • Multipurpose software 
    • Collaborative atmosphere 
    • Easy to learn 
    • Plugin integration  
  • Disadvantages: 
    • Gets sluggish sometimes 
    • Unstable prototyping 
    • Only compatible with Mac
  • Why to pick:

Corporations, no matter big or small, require tools to synchronise their teams and the course of designing something new from the scratch. Sketch does it all, cherry on the cake, it lets you test your prototypes right on your screen without you having to finalise the design.

  • Pricing: $99 one time

Learn more: //www.sketch.com/

3. Gravit Designer:

It’s free-to-use software that lets you doodle with thousands of Elements, UI designs, Wireframes, Mockups, and Vectors to design whatever you want from an aesthetic Illustration to a marketable web page to your application’s UI. The Gravit Designer is compatible with all OS and devices. It runs as smoothly on a tablet as it runs on your PC. 

There’s a pro version available in case you need access to some special features like never ending cloud storage, Advance Export, offline mode and many more. I personally found the free version more than enough to craft fabulous Vector designs and UIs.

  • Advantages:
    • Color customization 
    • Free library of wireframes and mockups 
    • Easy export options 
  • Disadvantages:
    • No customer support for free version 
    • Occasional lagging 
  • Best for whom:

For Freelance and solo UI/UX designers, Gravit Designer is nothing less than a goldmine. It’s almost impossible to find another free designing tool with ultimate compatibility and syncing. 

  • Pricing:
    • Free
    • $49.99

Learn more: //www.designer.io/en/features/

5. Vectornator:

Not many free touch-based graphic tools come close to illustrator, Vectornator is one of those few, with an advanced Vector toolkit, Boolean features, and trouble-free masking, Vectornator sits on top of the Best free alternatives to Illustrator. 

Its native compatibility with M1 chip makes it a perfect choice for Mac users. Vectornator leaves you with no need to install a number of applications to design Interfaces, illustrators, and blueprints. You can do all that with Vectornator. It’s also got a resource room where you can educate yourself or pick templates to use in your graphics.

  • Advantages:
    • Rapid designing
    • Amazing community tools
    • Advance features 
  • Disadvantages: 
    • No Desktop version 
    • Not for novices 
  • Why to pick: 

Vectornator works best on an iPad. So if you’re someone who carries his designs everywhere and doesn’t like working on your desk for too long, Vectornator is the perfect solution for you.

  • Pricing: Free

Learn more: 

//www.vectornator.io/

6. InkScape:

Inkscape is a creative SVG-centered Illustrator alternative loaded with a pile of great features that make picture manipulation and scalable vector designing a cup of tea for anyone skilled with Illustrator or any other similar tool. IF what you create requires advanced editing options such as cloning,  Multicurve manipulation, Bitmap tracing, and Text designing but illustrator is out of your budget, it’s best to choose InkScape. Being one of the prominent alternatives to Illustrator, it has almost similar but less powerful features that will certainly fit into individual creator’s needs.

  • Advantages: 
    • Specialized in SVG
    • Features similar to Illustrator 
    • Compatible with Mac & Windows 
  • Disadvantages:
    • No other file formats available 
    • Slow loading with large files
  • Why to pick:

Finding such advanced features in a free application is actually a blue moon for many designers. Although it takes a little while before you actually get used to its interface, it’s still worth a go for low scale projects.

  • Pricing: Free

Learn more: //inkscape.org/release/inkscape-1.0.2/

7. Vectr

If you’re a total beginner and have never used a graphic tool before, Vectr will prove to be an excellent gateway to enter the world of Vector designing. It is available as a web extension and desktop software. Both of these versions are as easy as a pie to learn and use. When compared to features, it doesn’t come anywhere close to Adobe Illustrator but on the positive side, its simplicity and availability catch the eye of every newbie designer getting into Vector arts. It syncs the devices you access it on that results in better accessibility and can export stock files and elements from any major provider like 123RF.

  • Advantages:
    • Simple UI 
    • Multiple formats 
    • Direct import
    • Inbuilt tutorials 
  • Disadvantages: 
    • Only basic features 
    • No customer support 
  • Why to pick:

Honestly, Vectr is not a rich in feature software but it’s growth chart says it’s only gonna be better while maintaining its simplicity & stability. If you’re someone who doesn’t like much complications and require an application for basic vector graphics, Vectr is for you.

  • Pricing: Free

Learn more: //vectr.com/vectr.com/

8. Procreate: 

If you do most of your doodling on your I-pad or I-phone and prefer to take it with you wherever you go, Procreate is the illustrator alternative that you need. 

Although Procreate doesn’t offer a desktop variant, it’s as powerful as a full scale Vector designing software abundant with the tools and features that put absolute control of the vectors you design in your hand. 

It comes with over 200 pre-loaded brushes ready to be used with options to customize the brushes or download new ones from a library of thousands of brushes. I found Procreate to be a handy & portable digital canvas created specially for digital artists and painters. 

  • Advantages: 
    • Easy to carry pocket version 
    • Explicit color manipulation 
    • Control gestures 
    • Customizable brushes 
  • Disadvantages:
    • No Desktop version 
    • Only available in IOS
  • Why to pick:

Procreate is one of the most powerful and feature rich alternatives to Illustrator available on I-pad and I-phone. Despite being a mobile application it carries an entire studio within which is a tough competition to any other application on this list.

  • Pricing: $9.99

Learn more: //procreate.art/ipad

9. Boxy-SVG:

Boxy-SVG is one of the top alternatives to Illustrator that only deals with scalable vector graphics or to put it simply; SVG.

It’s key plus point is it’s simple design and user centric approach aimed to provide a sleek and straightforward experience. Its toolbar, unlike many other illustrator alternatives, only consists of the essential tools to create beautiful vector designs or to edit and save images as SVG. To minimise the user time and effort, the whole bunch of keyboard shortcuts are integrated within the softwares that lets you perform both simple and complex tasks at the press of a button. 

  • Advantages:
    • Dedicated to SVG
    • Keyboard shortcuts 
    • Very affordable 
  • Disadvantages:
    • Doesn’t support legacy browsers
    • Average image quality 
  • Why to pick:

SVG’s are here to stay due to their huge demand in the advertising and publishing world. Using Boxy-SVG lets you create scalable vectors quicker than most applications to get your way straight to the designing arena. 

  • Pricing: 
    • Basic: $9.99/year
    • Premium: $9.99/month

Learn more: //boxy-svg.com/#tour-ui

10. GIMP:

GIMP is a tool that comes close to photoshop in terms of Vector editing and Design features. It’s biggest forte is its compatibility with multiple Plugins that allow you to add whatever feature or module you need for better graphics and efficiency. It may not be as good as Illustrator when the quality is in question but it’s not a bad show starter.

  • Advantages:
    • Multi-plugin compatibility 
    • Lots of good features 
  • Disadvantages:
    • Rarely updated 
    • Slow processing speed
  • Why to pick:

If you don’t like barriers and like experimenting with new plugins, GIMP wouldn’t let you down.

  • Pricing: Free

Learn more: //Gimp.org/

Wrapping up…

Like any other good or bad thing in this world, our list of “Best free and paid alternatives to Illustrator” also has to end here. Vector arts in today’s world are not just aesthetic mediums to express our deep thought (Of course they also do this), but they’re also one of the primary pillars of marketing, UI designing, advertising, research, and engineering. Having said that, it is more than obvious that you should know your needs before you pick any of these free & paid illustrator alternatives. 

For those of you who carry their art studio with them, Vectornator and Procreate might end your search but if like working tranquilly at your desk with powered Vector designers, you would be better of with Affinity designer or Coreldraw ( My vote goes to Affinity in case you want to know ). In the free illustrator alternatives category, I had the most pleasant experience with InkScape and Boxy-SVG was the easiest to use.

Hope my verdict and the above mentioned detailed descriptions help you choose the right alternative to Adobe Illustrator for you.

Happy designing! 

Thank you! 


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