Adobe Illustrator is a popular design software, mainly used for designing logos, graphics, posters, cartoons, charts, advertisement creatives, diagrams, graphs, illustrations, and more.
Illustrator tools are widely used for creating graphics, and because of the enormous popularity of Adobe Illustrator, this software has an immense impact on the graphic designing industry.
Illustrator is mainly vector-based, so any object you create will not be pixelated at any magnification level.
To explain this better, suppose a newly-launched brand wants a logo for their company, and they are currently unsure whether the logo will be placed on their business cards, social media creatives, products, billboards, or other merchandise. Thus, it is difficult for pixel-based and raster-based software to maintain the quality when the size varies so much, and this is where Adobe Illustrator comes into play.
As well, it provides a staggering range of additional features that help designers digitize their handmade art.
However, the professional software is only available via subscription. It costs $239.88 per year ($20.99 per month paid annually or $31.49 on a monthly basis). There is no perpetual license version of Adobe Illustrator, so you cannot pay for it once and then own it forever; you can only get it with a subscription.
However, if you are a small business trying to build your social media presence or a graphic designer with a small budget, it might be difficult for you to spare $31.49 each month.
Luckily, there are several free Illustrator alternatives available, some of which offer unparalleled features.
In this article, we will be presenting you with 12 free Illustrator alternatives so as a web or graphic designer, you can create logos, creatives, billboards, icons, and any other design you can think of; or as a brand, build your visual identity and recognition through effective visual communication without spending anything.
12 Free Adobe Illustrator Alternatives
If you want a program with all the essential Illustrator tools without the hefty price tag, then Inkscape is a great option.
Inkscape is a compelling open-source vector image creation software that has everything needed to create professional-grade graphics for both artistic and technical purposes, including logos, memes, illustrations, web designs, infographics, icons, flowcharts, UI design, book cover designs, and more.
Inkscape is also well-suited for drawing with precision, designing graphics for sites, and making crisp art.
One of the main features of this free Illustrator alternative is that it enables freedom of scale – it allows you to zoom in or out without losing intricate details or creating bad jagged creatives.
Users can also perform other small tasks on Inkscape, such as PDF compression, layout editing, pattern designing, .jpg to .svg, etc.
The most significant advantage of this Illustrator alternative is that it allows you to create excellent vector illustrations and designs for free.
Inkscape vs. Illustrator – Which is Better?
When it comes to the comparison between Inkscape vs. Illustrator, it depends upon the needs of the illustrators and web designers.
If you value open-source software, then it can be said that Inkscape is better since Illustrator has no open-source. However, if the availability of professional training courses is essential for you, then Illustrator is better.
If it is crucial for you to submit bug reports directly and learn from the community, then, in that case, Inkscape is better.
However, If you would like to professionally learn vector drawing programs in the future from educational institutions or if Illustrator tools are commonly used in the industry you are in, then it will be more suitable for you to use Adobe Illustrator.
You can produce similar kinds of artwork with both of these programs, and each is better at some things than others, but I think we can all agree that even though Illustrator tools are vastly more comprehensive, Inkscape is free.
It is an open-source, ethical, and quality Adobe competitor that sits shoulder to shoulder with the bigger boys in the design program market.
GNU/Linux, macOS, Windows.
No list of top free Illustrator alternatives would be complete without mentioning GIMP.
GIMP, also known as GNU Image Manipulation Program, is an open-source photo editing and image manipulation program used mainly by photographers and designers who require a custom tool to create graphics and illustrations.
It is a free Adobe competitor that comes with fantastic tools that will extend your capabilities to new dimensions, such as color correction, customizable brushes, image enhancement, gradients, noise reduction, cropping, and other features that individuals can use to edit, crop, merge, and retouch images and turn their art into masterpieces.
GIMP illustrator also supports pre-installed plugins and allows you to access all its features without spending a penny.
Can GIMP Open AI Files?
If you want to know, “Can GIMP open AI files?” then you have come to the right place!
Yes, GIMP can open AI files. When you open the AI file in GIMP illustrator, it will be imported as a PDF. You will be able to see an import dialog box, and in normal scenarios, you can accept the default suggestions.
After you are done editing, you would have to save it in a different format afterward.
GNU/Linux, macOS, Windows, and other operating systems.
Click here to get started with GIMP.
Pixlr is a cloud-based photo editing and sharing software program. It was featured on Time’s 2013’s “50 Best Websites” list.
It has an extensive library of templates, filters, and effects to enhance your pictures. It also offers other tools, such as cropping, a photo collage maker, a background remover, the ability to animate designs, adjusting contrasts, or adding text – the possibilities are endless!
However, unlike Adobe Illustrator, it is free and straightforward to use and learn.
Another great thing about the free Illustrator alternative is that you do not have to download and install it on your device. You can easily access it through your browser (Google Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, etc.). Pixlr also has a mobile application that can be used on smartphones and tablets.
If we assess Pixlr and Illustrator, it can be said that Pixlr is easier to set up and use. However, Adobe Illustrator wins by a mile when it comes to image quality.
GNU/Linux, macOS, Windows, mobile, web.
Canva is a graphic design platform that can be utilized to make social media posts, business cards, posters, logos, banners, infographics, presentations, GIFs, videos, and so on. With this free Illustrator alternative, you can do a lot – the only limit is your imagination.
As well, you can directly share social media posts or videos on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and WhatsApp.
The layout of Canva is straightforward to navigate, and it is free. Canva also has a paid version called Canva Premium with premium stock images, elements, templates, videos, and audio content.
According to Canva, it is currently being used by more than 30 million individuals every month, with 80 creatives being designed per second. Additionally, 500,000+ companies, from small businesses to huge enterprises such as American Airlines, Warner Music, and Eaton, currently use Canva.
If you’re new to graphic designing and want to learn more about using Canva, there are free video tutorials available on their website.
Canva vs. Illustrator – Which One is Better?
If we compare Canva and Illustrator, one of the most critical distinctions between the two is that Adobe Illustrator creates vector images while Canva only creates raster images.
With that being said, both Canva and Adobe Illustrator are exceptional design programs depending on the type of work being done.
If you’re a blogger, influencer, or a small business owner with basic design needs (e.g., social media creatives, infographics, presentations, etc.) and limited resources, then Canva is 100% the way to go.
However, if you’re a professional or aspiring designer and have advanced designing needs and require more customization and design versatility, then Illustrator is definitely going to be your best friend.
GNU/Linux, macOS, Windows, mobile, web.
Boxy SVG is a vector-based editing program explicitly created for SVG graphics and includes essential features in its toolkit, including text tools, basic drawing, and shapes. It is mainly aimed at professional designers and web developers.
However, despite the simple toolkit, it can be used to implement several graphic design ideas even if you do not have advanced graphic designing skills. That is one of the reasons it is so popular among beginners and amateurs that do not possess many technical skills.
It is also available for different devices. You can use Boxy SVG on a phone, laptop, browser, or tablet.
Linux, Windows, macOS apps, Chrome apps, and web apps.
Drawtify is a full-featured vector editor and graphic design software with several features, such as a photo editor, fast page layout, a built-in vector editor, transparency flip tools, a motion graphics editor, and creative typography tools along with various effects, filters, templates, design resources, and design plugins.
It is the perfect software to create logos, icons, illustrations, fonts, motion graphics, videos, business cards, certificates, newsletters, infographics, menus, resumes, brochures, catalogs, posters, banners, social media graphics, and more.
The powerful free Illustrator alternative is easy to use and can be used on all platforms, and is absolutely free. However, users can choose to upgrade to their PRO version as well.
It supports PNG, JPG, SVG, and PDF formats for pictures, while animations can be downloaded in GIF, Video (mp4 or WebM), SVG, and APNG.
GNU/Linux, macOS, Windows, mobile, web.
First impressions matter! Therefore, if you are a business owner, you need to ensure that your target market perceives you well when they first come across your brand.
A great way to secure a spot in the minds of your target audience and to stand out among them is by showing important elements of your brand. A logo is one of those elements.
Thus, a logo is an essential part of any brand. According to Renderforest, logos are the most recognizable brand identifiers. A logo can also differentiate your brand from your competitors and grab the attention of potential customers. If your brand has an attractive and intricate logo that tells your story or catches an eye, you can win a lot of customers.
So, if you want to stand out in the crowd, you need to design a logo for your brand. DesignEvo can help you create a unique and compelling logo.
DesignEvo is a powerful and professional tool used mainly for designing logos. This Adobe competitor requires zero logo designing skills as it has 10,000+ templates and 100+ artistic fonts and icons. It also allows users to build their own logos from scratch.
Another fantastic thing about DesignEvo is that it works online, and you do not have to download any software. However, for the ease of users, DesignEvo has an application for both mobile and desktop devices.
DesignEvo provides these logos for free; however, users have to purchase the premium version for high-quality pictures, copyright ownership, and other advanced features.
macOS, mobile, web.
Another great contender in the vector designing field is Gravit Designer. This Adobe competitor offers several vector-editing tools for designing sophisticated and intricate vector imagery, logos, presentations, illustrations, and animations.
You will find several vector-editing features, such as pen, line, knife, slice tools, path graphs, gradient editor, and more advanced features such as non-destructive booleans, multiple blending modes, and a mighty text engine.
You can either download Gravit Designer on your device or use it online. Remember that once you sign up, you automatically start your free trial of Gravit Designer Pro with advanced features. Once your free trial is over, you can then use the free version; however, you will lose the advanced features unless you decide to pay the subscription fee.
Linux, macOS, Windows, web.
Affinity Designer is mainly used for creating web graphics, logos, print projects, UI designs, mockups, and much more.
Affinity Designer is quite similar to Adobe Illustrator. It offers various advanced features, such as infinite zooming, rasterizing controls, unlimited artboards, pen tools, customizable shortcuts, a wide range of colors, detailed history, and several other built-in vector editing tools.
Another crucial feature of this free Illustrator alternative is that it supports both vector and raster workspaces. You can switch between the two and save your artwork in both popular raster and vector formats with just one click.
Mac, Windows, iPad.
Vectr is a simple to use graphic design and editor program. When compared to Adobe Illustrator, it doesn’t possess many advanced tools, but the free Illustrator alternative still has several features to offer.
Vectr allows you to carry out several vector-editing operations, such as creating and editing geometric lines, shapes, curves, and more. It also allows users to change the scale of graphics without losing the design quality.
If you are collaborating with other people on a project, then this program’s URL sharing feature will make it easy for users to collaborate and bring the project to life. It also allows users to import their previous artwork files in AI, EPS, SVG, and JPG and edit them. Vectr also saves users’ work automatically every five minutes.
Another considerable advantage of this program is that it is lightweight and doesn’t take up a lot of space. It also offers more than 500MB of free cloud storage. However, it can only be used when the WiFi is connected, so you cannot work on your creatives if you do not have a functioning internet connection.
This Adobe competitor is perfect for beginners; however, if you want to work with more advanced and technical Illustrator tools, it is better for you to use other free alternatives on the list.
Linux, macOS, Windows, and web.
Lunacy is a highly underrated and high-powered software that offers a number of features, such as vector images, icons, and illustrations, amongst others.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a graphic designer, a social media manager looking to design graphics for a brand, or a content creator looking to create artistic content for different purposes; this Adobe competitor can make all the tasks less daunting.
Lunacy allows you to take pictures; edit existing creatives; draw, merge and align vector objects; design smart shapes; and build obscure typography. It also provides users with AI-generated faces and free access to certain stock pictures, music, and dark mode.
Users can also collaborate with multiple people on a project. It supports many formats, including PDF, SVG, WEBP, PNG, JPEG, GIF, TIFF, and ICO.
Linux, macOS, Windows.
Vectonator is a fantastic vector graphics program and enables you to design simple logos, detailed illustrations, intricate typography, and much more.
It provides several powerful features for artists and designers, such as vector masks, a high-resolution digital canvas, a pen tool, boolean operations, and the auto-trace tool, which allows you to trace graphics instantly.
It also allows users to customize and edit brushes or create their own to fit their needs. Users can also switch back and forth between different devices and continue their designs on the go by utilizing Vectornator’s creative cloud library.
If you are new to graphic designing or are confused about certain features of this program, Vectornator provides several video tutorials that explain every element of how this Adobe competitor functions.
It supports several formats, including PDF, AI, JPEG, PNG, JPG, SVG, Figma, SVG, AI, PNG, and EPS.
iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
There you have it, the top 12 free Illustrator tools that prove that creating professional graphics doesn’t have to be expensive.
When you are deciding on which of these free Illustrator alternatives is suitable for you, don’t forget to take your particular needs into consideration.
If you’re a professional designer and web developer, then select advanced software. If you’re new to graphic designing, then choose a program that is easy to use and offers all the essential features.
Other than that, also consider the formats and platforms that the program supports and whether you will be the only one working on the creatives or you will be collaborating with multiple members.
In the end, all the tools mentioned in the list above are free, so you can easily test them all out before making the final decision.