vector drawing apps

alternatives to Adobe Illustrator for various platforms

We will be teaching Adobe Illustrator in this class since Adobe has a market-share dominance in the creative industry. Lansing Community College purchases and provides Illustrator for our use. It is a solid program for creating vector art. You can subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud to get your own copy of Illustrator.

There have always been other software options for creating vectors. In recent years there has been a push for the creative industry to break free of Adobe's dominance. Several new alternatives to Illustrator have appeared in the past few years.

There are plenty of other vector drawing apps and sites out there in addition to the list I've compiled. Some are good for specific niche things and some are just old. It is worth a google search for vector drawing apps if you are interested, however here are some of the best options that are worth considering:

  • Inkscape is a free, open source vector drawing program that does the basics quite well. Inkscape is to Illustrator what GIMP is to Photoshop. Actually, GIMP has some decent vector tools in addition to all the raster drawing options.

  • Affinity Designer is my current favorite illustration program. The vector tools are sometimes even better than Illustrator, plus it has a raster drawing engine similar to Photoshop. You can draw your shapes in vector and then paint colors and textures with pixel brushes. It is much more affordable with a one-time purchase of $50.

  • Gravit Designer is a surprisingly good vector drawing program. It has all the foundation vector tools you could hope to have. The free version runs in your web browser and has limited storage space. The pro version can run offline (much quicker) and has less storage issues. A pro subscription will cost you about $50 a year.

  • Vectr is a completely free alternative to Gravit that also runs in your browser. The toolset is more limited but it still decent for basic stuff. Again, it is free!

  • Corel Draw is the one of the oldest and most refined vector programs out there. It was the industry standard back in the 80s & 90s before Illustrator took over. It is the program I learned to draw vectors on. Many creatives still use Corel Draw, but it is quite expensive to purchase.


WEB DESIGN FOCUSED SOFTWARE

We live on our devices and on the internet these days. The web is the where most of your creative work lives as well. A new category of programs has grown up around being able to design for the web. There is a very good chance your creative career will involve creating in one of the following programs instead of the Adobe Suite. Most of these programs are focused on designing mockups and prototypes for websites and mobile apps, however they usually have fairly robust vector drawing tools.

  • Adobe XD is a free prototyping app for designing User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI). It is from Adobe and so it works quite well for integrating graphics created in Illustrator and Photoshop. There are some decent functional vector tools built-in. If you are subscribed to the Creative Cloud then you already have access to Adobe XD.

  • Sketch has become the default standard when it comes to mobile app design. An entire industry has evolved focused on creating purchasable assets for Sketch. It is only available for Mac and the subscription runs $50 a year for students.

  • Figma is a competitor to Sketch that also focuses on prototyping. It too has pretty good vector tools. It is available for more operating systems and has a free option for trying it out. It runs for $12 a month once you've exceeded the free tier.

  • InVision App is another alternative for screen-based designs. It has decent vector tools, although the focus is more on layout and animation. You can get one free project for life, but expect to pay for more projects.


DRAWING TABLET TOOLS

Now that tablet computers have become mainstream, it is possible to get some really good drawing apps for your iPad or Android devices. Many of the programs allow you to draw on your device and then migrate to your computer to finish up and refine.

ios/iPad

  • Adobe Illustrator Draw - sketch in vector and migrate to desktop to finish. FREE!

  • Affinity Designer - the mobile version for Affinity. works surprisingly well to bounce between iPad and desktop

  • Vectornator X - all the tools you would need. the files integrate with Illustrator. FREE!

  • Graphic - most of the tools you would find in Illustrator can be found here

  • Inkpad - simple, functional vector drawing

  • Concepts - sketching app that creates everything as editable vectors

not yet, but soon: an official port of Adobe Illustrator will be coming to the iPad sooner than later.

android

There aren't as many options for vector drawing on android, but there are a few.

  • Adobe Illustrator Draw - sketch in vector and migrate to desktop to finish. FREE!

  • Inker - simple vector tools. There is an online version if you want to check out the tools first

mister chad
mister chad
teacher . artist . human

I make stuff and show people how to make their own stuff.

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