Adobe Illustrator has made a name for itself as the industry-standard software when it comes to vector graphics and design.
Since it came onto the scene in 1987, Adobe Illustrator has provided groundbreaking features that allow users to develop, edit, and resize all kinds of designs without worrying about quality or scalability.
However, getting an Adobe Illustrator license can hurt your budget if you don’t have a lot of money to throw around. For this reason, it might be imperative for you to consider less-costly and equally powerful solutions that can help you get the job done just as well.
On that note, I present to you some of the very best free Adobe Illustrator alternatives that you can use to create icons, logos, charts, billboards, website graphics, and any other design you can think of.
Compatible platforms/devices: Linux, macOS, Windows, and Web.
Vectr is a simple graphics editor and design program. It’s one of the newest kids on the block, so it doesn’t have as many advanced features as its competitors, but it still has a lot to offer.
The program is intuitive and has little to no learning curve, which makes it perfect for anyone who’s just getting started with design and wants to progress quickly. However, if you’re looking to do more advanced technical design work, Vectr might not be the program for you.
This free Adobe alternative allows you to carry out standard vector operations like creating and editing geometric shapes, lines, curves, and more. You can make changes to the scale of your designs without experiencing quality loss.
Vectr’s URL sharing feature makes it a great design collaboration tool for times when you have multiple people working to bring a project to life. You can easily import your old design files in JPG, AI, EPS, and SVG format and edit them in Vectr.
The software is lightweight so it doesn’t take up a lot of space on your device. It offers up to 500MB of cloud storage and automatically saves your work every five minutes.
One of the few downsides of this tool is that exporting files takes time because you can only export one page at a time. Also, Vectr can only be used with an internet connection, so you can’t work on your projects offline.
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Compatible platforms/devices: Web, Chrome OS, Linux, Windows, macOS
Gravit is a lightweight vector graphics design platform that packs just as much power as Adobe Illustrator. Whether you’re a beginning, semi-pro, or a full-on professional designer, this program has plenty to offer you.
Like Illustrator, Gravit comes with standard vector tools like Pen, Slice, Line, Bezigon, and Knife. It can create all kinds of shapes and it also offers handy features like live filters, layers, custom shapes, path editing modes, and auto shapes.
It boasts a comprehensive design library containing a wide variety of predesigned templates, illustrations, icons, shapes, and more. The platform’s cloud support enables you to save your projects online and recover them later.
There are plenty of keyboard shortcuts available in Gravit—some of which are similar to those in Illustrator—that can help you save time and produce designs more efficiently.
Depending on your preference, you can use Gravit right on your preferred browser or download the program on your desktop. The software’s interface is sleek, fast, and easy to navigate.
Gravit is compatible with a host of file formats including SVG, AI, PNG, PDF, JPG, and EPS. Although Gravit’s free version is packed with a lot of wonderful features, you can unlock even more powerful and useful tools by copping the premium plan for $49.99 per year.
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Compatible platforms/devices: All major browsers
Janvas is one of the first online vector graphics apps to come into existence. It comes with nifty features like drawing tools, layers, shapes, outlines, text, and vector masks that allow you to create or edit both basic and complex designs.
Thanks to its prebuilt photobook, letters, UI elements, icons, and templates, creating designs for your projects doesn’t have to be a complicated affair. The multi-page features let you create documents with multiple pages or different-sized pages of any scale for photobooks, catalogs, businesses, calendars, and so on.
You can also enjoy access to other pre-made features such as fonts, filters, gradients, textures, widgets, patterns, and other graphical elements. Janvas lets you search Pixabay for images and incorporate them into your design right within the program.
Janvas supports PNG, SVG, and JPEG file formats. You can easily customize the program’s layout to suit your preferences and needs. Unfortunately, the tool doesn’t offer any keyboard shortcuts.
The software’s simple and clear interface and ease of use make Janvas ideal for both professionals, design newbies, and people working on small-scale design projects.
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Compatible platforms/devices: Linux, macOS, Windows
If you’re looking for a feature-rich vector graphics editor that can give Adobe Illustrator a run for its’ money, you can count on Inkscape.
Inkscape is open-source software that provides professional-quality tools to help you create logos, web graphics, illustrations, maps, icons, diagrams, and more. In addition to basic drawing tools, it boasts advanced manipulation functions, clone arrangement, templates, pattern creation, mesh gradients, clever fill settings, and various filters.
The software is built to be extendible so you can increase its functionality with plugins and addons. It also allows you to import and export files in multiple formats including PDF, SVG, EPS, AI, and EPS.
It has an interface that’s easy to get a hang of and tons of helpful learning materials that can help you fire up and improve your design operations.
As with most things, the program is not without flaws. Depending on the operating system and device you’re using, you might experience slow performance when running Inkscape.
5. SVG Edit
Compatible platforms/devices: Linux, macOS, Windows, Web
For those who need a vector graphics editor for the main purpose of creating and editing SVG files for web pages, SVG Edit might be the best Adobe Illustrator alternative for you.
This open-source software is super easy to use. You don’t have to register an account to use SVG Edit. It runs in your browser and is stuffed with enough features to keep you busy and satisfied. SVG Edit offers vector graphics editing features like path tools, hand-drawing tools, and text tools.
Although SVG Edit doesn’t have the most stylish user interface, it’s still straightforward enough to be easily understood if you have some prior design knowledge.
One major downside of SVG Edit is the lack of pre-built graphic elements like templates, images, icons, and symbols. This makes it best suited for people who want to create and edit their own designs from scratch.
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Compatible platforms/devices: Windows, OS X, Linux
The GNU Image Manipulation Program or GIMP is an advanced image editor that lets you manipulate images, create designs, and edit creative composites using its impressive range of tools.
The software can be used for creating icons, symbols, illustrations, and a wide array of user interface elements. Gimp allows you to bring your imagination to life and turn ordinary images into stunning creations.
Many graphic designers and illustrators from all across the globe love Gimp because it offers lots of editing functions for SVG file format. It allows you to produce icons, symbols, logos, and other designs just as quickly and easily as you can with Illustrator.
The program’s color management feature guarantees high-quality color reproduction in all your designs regardless of whether it’s intended for use in print or digital media. With the blur tool, you can rectify image noise to make your designs more compelling.
Gimp is designed to be extensible so it can be easily integrated with other technical platforms, plug-ins, and languages such as Perl, Scgema.org, Python, and more.
The software’s interface takes some getting used to, so you’ll have to spend a little time learning to navigate it before you can fully dive into your executing design and image editing projects.
Compatible platforms/devices: Windows
No list of the best free Adobe Illustrator alternatives would be complete without mentioning Lunacy. It’s a high-powered graphic design software that offers a staggering range of pre-made assets such as vector illustrations, images, and icons, amongst others.
Whether you’re a content developer, graphic designer, or programmer looking to create unique content for all kinds of purposes, Lunacy can help make the task less daunting. It can draw, take photos, align and merge vector objects, or even create complex typography.
Lunacy can help you design smart shapes and edit existing designs. It’s compatible with Sketch and it allows cloud sharing so you can easily collaborate with other people on a project.
It gives you access to stock photos, AI-generated faces, and royalty-free music. Lunacy’s interface is extremely intuitive and it has a thriving community of designers and team members willing to swoop in and offer assistance when you need it.
There’s multi-language support for up to 16 languages, the option to change the program’s theme to dark mode, and file compatibility for a variety of formats including SVG, PDF, TIFF, ICO, PNG, JPEG, GIF, and WEBP.
Compatible platforms/devices: iOS13, iPadOS13, MacOS
If you want an Adobe Illustrator-like tool that has all the essential design features and more without the hefty price tag, Vectornator is a great option.
Launched in 2017, Vectonator has grown into one of the best vector graphics programs on the market. It provides many powerful functions like a pen tool, vector masks, boolean operations, anchoring, grouping, and the Auto-trace feature which allows you to trace images instantly and save up to 30% of your time at the push of a button.
Vectornator enables you to design all kinds of objects from complex illustrations, detailed paths, and expressive typography to simple logos. It offers the highest resolution digital canvas for designers and artists.
You can create your own brushes or edit and customize existing ones to fit your needs. Explore Vectornator’s design libraries to get access to thousands of prebuilt assets. With the creative cloud library, you can switch back and forth between devices and continue your designs on the go, wherever you are.
In addition to all these, Vectornator serves as a great social media management tool, so you don’t have to spend money getting another program to help you with that.
If you ever get stuck while using Vectornator, the program has plenty of video tutorials that explain how every part and feature of the tool works.
The one thing that Vectornator struggles with is the importing and exporting of files. It only provides support for Sketch, JPEG, Figma, SVG, AI, PNG, and EPS import file types as well as PDF, JPG, SVG, and PNG export formats.
However, the company is working on changing this, so you can expect a stronger update with wider file format support sometime soon.
Compatible platforms/devices: Windows, Linux, macOS
This open-source application provides a comprehensive solution for building digital art elements and files from scratch or editing existing ones. Krita empowers you to paint, sketch, illustrate, or create visual effects.
The platform is built by artists and designed with texture painting, concept art, comic, and animations in mind and it provides a lot of sensational and creative features that both beginners and pros can benefit from.
Krita comes with a brush stabilizer tool that smoothens your lines which is something people with shaky hands will really appreciate. It offers layer masks, effects, drawing assistants, pop-up palette, color management, canvas rotation, mirroring tools, filters, and other handy features that can transform your design in minutes.
The wrap-around mode helps you add textures to your projects and the brush engines enable you to customize your own brush to give you the exact level of precision that you need.
Unlike Illustrator, Krita supports the editing of HDR files and scene-referred images. It’s the only dedicated painting and sketching platform that offers this function.
Krita’s user interface is straightforward so you can get your work done without any difficulty. Its panels and layout can be customized to match your preferred design workflow.
Since Krita is an open-source tool, new updates are always being added and it integrates seamlessly with other applications.
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Compatible platforms/devices: Windows
Another free Adobe Illustrator alternative that’s worth considering is DrawPlus. It’s brought to you by Serif, the software company behind premium creative apps like Affinity Designer and Affinity Photos.
DrawPlus is a 2D vector graphics and animation editor that gives you access to standard and advanced design tools which you can use to create logos, sketches, animations, posters, layouts, artwork, and shapes.
Customize shapes, create text, draw curves with precision, explore layer effects, mix colors, edit photos, combine textures, and paint with DrawPlus’ pressure-sensitive brushes to create unique, professional, and natural-looking work.
DrawPlus’ interface is a little antiquated, but it’s still easy to learn. With the “How To” guides, you can get on-screen support and learn how a function works instantly.
Compatible platforms/devices: Mobile, Tablets, Windows, macOS
As an alternative to Adobe Illustrator, SketchBook is better suited for creative professionals who are more interested in painting, drawing, and illustrations, rather than the traditional vector graphics design.
Quickly transform your simple sketches into glorious illustrations with SketchBook’s markers, pens, inks, and customizable brushes. You can add rich textures and shapes with precision.
SketchBook also comes with a variety of blending modes, selection tools, and brushes. You can easily distort your illustrations to correct proportions, line work, and perspectives, and apply fill or gradient fill.
The program has a guide tool to help you understand its various features and functions, and nail your designs down to the smallest details. It offers support for multiple languages. SketchBook also has diverse ruler tools that allow you to create all sorts of sweeps, curves, and shapes.
SketchBook has a minimal and gorgeous interface that makes creating illustrations, performing customizations, and rendering your creative ideas a breeze.
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Compatible platforms/devices: Linux, Windows, macOS (in browser)
Create amazing design projects from scratch or import and edit SVG files with Vecteezy. This powerful, cross-platform web application is similar to Adobe Illustrator in that it lets you change the components in an image, layer colors, add new elements, and resize your designs without quality loss.
The program has an impressive collection of pre-made assets including texts, icons, shapes, images, clipart, and illustrations. It gives you the basic type and pen tools, but it doesn’t provide the advanced features that you might need to make complex designs.
You have to register an account to start using Vecteezy. Although you can stick to the free version of the software for as long as you like, you’ll have to put up with ads. To get rid of them, you can migrate to the paid plan for $14 per month.
The simplicity of Vecteezy’s interface makes it easy for people with no design experience to get a hang of the tool. Keep in mind that the program can only export files in PNG or SVG formats. If you’re going to be needing a more diverse file range, Vecteezy might not be the tool for you.
Compatible platforms/devices: Android, macOS, Windows, ChromeOS
Inker is a simple vector graphics designer and editor that’s perfect for creating logos, tribal painting, typography, sketch inking, digital drawings, comics, and more.
With the program’s range of features, you can create precise shapes, draw smooth lines, adjust colors, manage your color palette, arrange layers, perform other design tasks quickly.
Inker boasts of a straightforward interface with no learning curve, meaning you can launch the app and get down to business right away.
You can export your completed designs on Inker as an EPS or SVG file or import them into another graphics editor and convert them into your desired file format.
This makes it a great free Adobe Illustrator alternative for amateurs and professional graphic designers.
Compatible platforms/devices: ChromeOS, Windows, macOS, Linux
Figma is an all-in-one Illustrator-style tool that lets you design interfaces, create custom shapes, build animated prototypes, and collaborate with other team members on a project.
Other handy features that Figma has to offer include Vector Networks, Mask support, and the Arc tool. You can import your favorite fonts or make use of Google Fonts within Figma.
With Figma’s cloud software, you don’t have to worry about constantly saving your work. It’s going to be automatically stored on the cloud where you can access it anytime.
There are a host of plugins that can be added to Figma, which makes it a very flexible tool capable of optimizing your workflow.
Figma works online, so it doesn’t need to be downloaded, but it’ll require a graphics card and decent RAM for a problem-free user experience. Your finished project can be exported in SVG, PNG, and JPEG file formats or as CSS code.
Like its competitor, Adobe Illustrator, Figma is packed full of features and it can take time, patience, and learning resources to fully master the software. Another challenge of using Figma is the difficulty zooming in and out of files.
Compatible platforms/devices: Mobile, Windows, macOS, Web
When it comes to creating, editing, and sharing images or designs, Pixlr has got your back. You can download the program on your desktop device, get the mobile app, or access it directly from your browser.
Pixlr supports practically every image file type. You can start working on a project from scratch or use Pixlr’s awesome templates. The software has many useful features that equip you to do things like remove backgrounds, add filters and effects, and build creative designs.
The mobile and web versions of the software are totally free to use, while the Mac and Windows editions come with a limited range of features for free with the option of upgrading to the unrestricted version for $15/year.
Pixlr runs on the cloud so you can easily work on your projects on any device you have on hand at any time. It also supports multiple languages.
Although Pixlr doesn’t boast of as many advanced features as its counterparts, it’s still one of the best free alternatives to Adobe Illustrator available today.
When deciding on which of these free Adobe Illustrator alternatives is right for you, don’t forget to take your specific needs into consideration.
If you’re a pro, go with an advanced tool. If you’re new to the design game, choose a standard program that’s easy to use. Consider the file formats you’ll be working with and whether you’ll be the sole brain behind your projects or you’ll be collaborating with team members.
The programs listed above are all free, so don’t hesitate to test them out before making a final decision.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.