best adobe illustrator alternatives free and paid

8 Best Adobe Illustrator Alternatives (Free & Paid): Which Is Right for You?

XPPen 2023-09-18 18:32:33 6 min read

In the world of graphic design and vector illustration, Adobe Illustrator has long been the reigning champion.Its precision, vast array of tools, and professional-grade features have made it the go-to for many designers.

However,its premium price tag prompts many to seek alternatives. Some excel in vector drawing, while others focus on compatibility for those transitioning from Illustrator. Whether you're a novice designer or a seasoned expert, there's likely an Illustrator alternative that fits your needs and budget.

In this article, we'll explore the 8 best Adobe Illustrator alternatives that will empower you to unleash your creativity.

Adobe Illustrator: Cost and Availability

Adobe Illustrator Free? No, it isn't.

Adobe Illustrator is a high-quality software included in the Adobe Creative Cloud collection. Wondering how to acquire Adobe Illustrator without paying? It provides a complimentary 7-day free trial, allowing users to experience the complete version. To start this trial, you must navigate to the product page of Adobe Illustrator and select the "Try for free" option.

What is the price of Adobe Illustrator?

The cost of Adobe Illustrator as a separate program is generally about $20.99 per month. Nonetheless, if individuals choose to get the entire Creative Cloud package, the price is roughly $52.99 per month.

It's important to note that Adobe occasionally offers discounts and that educators and students may be eligible for lower Adobe product prices. For the most recent pricing details and promotions, it is always advised to visit Adobe's official website.

Pros and Cons of Adobe Illustrator

When comparing Adobe Illustrator to its alternatives or other similar apps, it's important to have a deep understanding of its features and drawbacks.. Here is a list of its major strengths and weaknesses:

Key Features of Adobe Illustrator

Vector graphic capabilities
A wide variety of brushes
Image trace tool
Color synchronization across all Adobe Creative Cloud apps
Seamless integration with other Adobe products
Numerous plugins available
Adobe’s Cloud Integration

Drawbacks of Adobe Illustrator

Subscription plan, expensive
A steep learning curve, especially for beginners
Incompatibility of Adobe Illustrator AI file format with non-Adobe software

These drawbacks don't necessarily make Adobe Illustrator a poor choice; they are aspects to consider when deciding if it's the right tool for specific needs.

Beyond Adobe: 8 Best Alternatives to Adobe Illustrator

The good news? The design software market is bustling with options. Whether you're on a shoestring budget or have some cash to splash, here are free alternatives to Adobe Illustrator.

Freebies to Get You Started

adobe illustrator free alternatives


GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free and open-source raster graphics editor used for tasks such as photo retouching, image composition, and image authoring.

Operating system: GIMP is available for multiple operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux.


Supports a myriad of third-party plugins
Offers a highly customizable interface
Powerful image manipulation options similar to Photoshop
Ability to create GIF files


Lack of some advanced features found in Adobe Illustrator
Being primarily a raster graphics editor, while Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics editor


Inkscape is another open-source vector graphics editor similar to Adobe Illustrator. Unlike Illustrator, it's entirely free. It’s a great place to start your design journey without spending a dime. It’s one of the best Illustrator alternatives.

Operating system: It's available for Windows, macOS, and even Linux.


Supports extensive plugins
Customizable Interface
Support for various file formats, including SVG, PNG, OpenDocument Drawing, DXF, sk1, PDF, EPS, and PostScript export formats, among others
Has a large and active community
Plenty of tutorials and resources online are available


Might have a steeper learning curve for those used to Illustrator
Might find its interface less intuitive
Lack of some advanced features found in Adobe Illustrator


If you're not ready to commit to a software download, Vectr is your online buddy. It's a web-based vector graphics editor that's simple enough for beginners but packed with features that even seasoned designers might appreciate.


No need to download software
Beginners-friendly interface
Offers real-time collaboration features
Less resource-intensive than some other graphic design tools


Less advanced features than Adobe Illustrator
Occasional lags and performance issues
Less precision than Adobe Illustrator


Scribus is an open-source desktop publishing tool that's been around since 2001. It's designed for users to create brochures, newsletters, posters, and more.

Operating system: Scribus is available for Linux, Windows, OS X, and more.


PDF creation and editing
Lots of tutorials online available
Customizable Interface


Limited advanced features
Performance issues when working on large projects
Less frequent updates

Paid Contenders Worth Considering

adobe illustrator paid alternatives

Corel Vector

Corel Vector is a browser-based vector software option from Corel. It was previously known as Gravit Designer. It's considered a cheaper alternative to Adobe Illustrator and offers a range of tools suitable for vector design. The software now requires a subscription, priced at $69.99 a year, making it more affordable than the full professional CorelDRAW Graphics Suite.

Operating system: Corel Vector s is available for Linux, Windows, OS X, and more.


More affordable than Adobe Illustrator
Offers a customizable workspace
Compatible with AI (Adobe Illustrator) and Sketch files and has better compatibility with older file formats
Has a user-friendly interface


Online only, which might limit its use in offline scenarios
Limited plugins allowed
Performance issues are reported by some users


CorelDRAW is a professional graphics software that offers a suite of tools for graphic design, layout, illustration, photo editing, web graphics, and more.

Operating system: It's available for both Windows and MacOS.


Offers a one-time purchase option
Displays a customizable Interface
Available in a browser-based and iPad App
Can easily import Adobe AI and PSD files


Might have a learning curve for those used to Adobe products
Interface less intuitive than Adobe Illustrator

Affinity Designer

Affinity Designer is another vector graphic design software that offers a powerful, professional solution for digital artists and designers. It's known for its precision, speed, and smoothness, making it a popular choice among professionals who require high-quality results.

Operating system: It's available for both macOS, Windows, and iPad.


The affordable one-time purchase price of $49.99
Smooth and responsive
Offers real-time pixel preview to see results in real-time
Intuitive user interface that's easy to pick up for new users


Might lack some advanced features found in Illustrator
Harder to integrate with other software than Adobe products
Smaller user community


Sketch is a powerful Illustrator alternative on macOS that is primarily used for UI and UX design of mobile apps and websites. It offers a clean and intuitive interface that is tailored for web and interface design.

Operating system: It's tailored just for macOS.


The affordable one-time purchase price of $99
Smooth and responsive
Offers a clean and intuitive interface
Sketch files are smaller in size compared to Illustrator


Might lack some advanced features found in Illustrator
Harder to integrate with other software than Adobe products
Smaller user community

Navigating the Sea of Choices: How to Pick the Right Alternative to Adobe Illustrator

In addition to the pros and cons of the alternatives to Illustrator, here are additional tips that help you choose the right tool that aligns with your design needs and objectives.

1. Determine Your Design Goals

Before deciding on an alternative to Adobe Illustrator, it's crucial to understand your exact design objectives. While many software apps offer similar features to Adobe Illustrator, not all of them encompass every feature. Research popular alternatives and determine if they align with your project requirements.

2. Evaluate Your Proficiency

Your choice might also depend on your familiarity with design software. Some design apps cater to beginners, while others might have a steeper learning curve.

3. Collaboration Needs

If you're working in a team, it's beneficial to use a single design tool to avoid confusion. Analyze your collaboration requirements and choose the design software that allows seamless collaboration and file sharing.

4. Price and Value

Don't assume that a higher price tag guarantees better quality. Compare the features and prices of selected tools and choose one that offers the best value for your needs. You can dive into trial versions if available. A hands-on experience can help you gauge if the software vibes with your design style.

5. Community and Support

A strong community can be a goldmine for tutorials, templates, and troubleshooting. Check out forums and online groups dedicated to your chosen software.

Level Up: Advanced Tips for Vector Design Mastery

Mastering vector design goes beyond just knowing how to use the software. It's about understanding the nuances, leveraging the right resources, and continuously evolving your techniques. Here are some advanced tips to elevate your vector design game and create compelling visuals.

1. Understand file formats

If you've previously used Adobe Illustrator and are switching to an alternative, be aware of potential challenges related to file formats. Illustrator's native format is AI, and while it supports other formats like PDF, EPS, and SVG, there might be compatibility issues when importing and exporting AI files with other software.

2. Leverage Online Resources

As mentioned, many Illustrator alternatives have dedicated online communities. Engage with these communities to access tutorials, templates, and other resources that can elevate your design skills.

In wrapping up, while Adobe Illustrator is a powerful tool, several alternatives in the market might better suit your needs and budget. By understanding your requirements, evaluating different software, and continuously honing your skills, you can achieve vector design mastery.

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