These are the best Adobe Illustrator alternatives

By now you know enough online alternatives to Adobe Photoshop to embellish your photos, but what if you want to make a nice design based on digital drawings? The standard for the professional designer is Adobe Illustrator, but for home users this package is too expensive and too complex. Fortunately, there is a wealth of online applications to create vector drawings that don't even require you to install anything on your PC. We give you eight programs that you can get started with without too much study.

Tip 01: Gravit Designer

We're still looking for that snag. It seems too good to be true that a fast and powerful vector designer like Gravit Designer is completely free. Yet it is so. Gravit Designer was acquired in June by Corel, a competitor of Adobe. The web app works in all major browsers and there are desktop versions for Mac, Windows, Linux and Chrome OS. You can safely call the program a basic version of Illustrator. In addition, this program uses a number of keyboard shortcuts that are identical to Adobe's software. The library of instructional videos will help you master the program. On top of the extensive set of tools, you get a complete collection of pre-designed shapes, illustrations, icons and lines that you can use in your designs. What's handy is that you can save your design in the Gravit Designer cloud, so that you can continue working on your project at any location imaginable.

You can safely call Gravit Designer a basic version of Illustrator

Tip 02: Convert to vector

Gravit Designer has a smart feature to convert raster or bitmap images into vector image. Use the function Modify / Path / Vectorize image. With this you can easily convert a jpg or png image into a vector drawing that you can then further edit as such. You can save the result of your project as a pdf, as jpg or png or svg (scaleble vector graphics), which is a common vector format.

For your convenience, Gravit Designer has nineteen preset layouts for creating designs on paper, fifteen presets for social media content, eight for web design, seven for tablets, and six for smartphones. Everything is easily accessible, making the platform a great option for beginners. One evening of studying is enough to be able to make beautiful things with this program.

Vector or raster

This article is specifically about applications to create and edit vector graphics. For example, a photo is a raster image and not a vector. But what is the difference between the two? Many users translate this question as: What is the difference between Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator? The first program is more or less the battleship for making photo edits, while illustrators and draftsmen resort to the second program. Where a raster or bitmap image is made up of pixels, dots in a certain color, a vector is a line between two points, based on a mathematical formula. With vectors you can create different shapes, for example by drawing a line from point A to point B at an angle of 42 degrees. The software draws the line using a calculation between the two created points instead of pixels. This technique immediately shows why photos can never be constructed from vectors.

Tip 03: Vectr

If the learning curve of Gravit Designer is too steep, you might like Vectr better. The program is available for Windows PCs, computers running Linux, and Chromebooks. You can download Vectr to your PC for free or use it online. Vectr mainly relies on its simplicity when it comes to creating fast vector designs. This is immediately apparent, because only a mini-tutorial is offered in terms of explanation. Vectr is especially suitable for creating social media cover pages. There are preset document templates and it's easy to import photos or add text. 'Easier' unfortunately also means less functional in this case than with Gravit Designer (see tip 1). What's new in Vectr is that each image has its own unique internet address that you can share with everyone. Also useful is the grid that you can place on the canvas on which you can click the objects. In addition, Vectr is good with layers. With a simple dragging motion you place one object above another. Of course you can export the finished designs to png, jpeg or svg.

Advantages of vector

Vector graphics consist of geometric objects such as lines, circles, or curves that are defined by parameters such as the start point, end point, radius, edge length, line width, color, and fill patterns. Modern vector drawing programs even display gradients and transparency. The big advantage of vector images over raster images is that you can enlarge such a vector as desired without loss of quality, because the saved parameters are simply converted to the new size. The display size of a vector image does not affect the file size, which is determined by the number of parameters saved.

Figma's learning curve is steep, but there's little you can't do with the program

Tip 04: Figma

Figma is aimed at the user who is actually already familiar with Illustrator. This program also comes with both a desktop version (macOS, Windows and Linux) and a web edition. With a free membership you can create three projects and work together in a team with two members. Figma is built to design interfaces and works very closely with files created in Sketch. By the way, there are also mobile apps for iOS and Android so that you can view your designs on location or show them to others. The learning curve of Figma is steep, but there's little you can't do with Figma. The program supports Google Fonts and all your own imported offline fonts. In addition, you can save components for later use in other projects. Once you have completed a design, you can export your work as png, jpg or svg or you can copy the style as css code.


The typical vector formats are svg, eps, ai, cdr and wmf. By default, almost all online vector editors go for the svg format. The nice thing about this is that you can easily copy the code of the created illustration(s) and paste it on any website. Svg is an XML markup language that is used to describe two-dimensional vector graphics, so such a file consists only of text. The image is therefore constructed on the basis of textual data, no pixel is involved.

Tip 05: Boxy SVG

Speaking of svg, Boxy SVG is an online svg editor that works on Chromium-based browsers. So that's primarily Chrome, but also Opera, Vivaldi, and some lesser-known browsers like Yandex and Brave. The advantage is that you never have to export the images to svg, because this is the standard format of Boxy SVG. This immediately means that you can copy the html code from the images and paste it directly into a web page. Boxy SVG has all the basic tools for drawing shapes. Very nice is the integration with Google Fonts, which gives you access to an almost endless collection of free fonts. There is also a desktop version for Windows, Mac and Chrome OS, but they are not free. For example, the macOS version costs 10.99 euros.

Tip 06: Generators

Boxy SVG looks simple, even playful, but this online tool still contains many functions and interesting possibilities. For example, we found a direct connection to the Open Clipart library. The generator set includes a converter to rasterize svg designs and a tool to compose QR codes and barcodes. In addition, it contains a number of special generators, such as a generator to generate backgrounds based on triangles and the Parliamant chart, with which you can quickly visualize the composition of a plenary meeting.

Anyone as creative as a brick can still come up with professional-looking designs with Canva

Tip 07: Canvas

Canva is an outlier in this series. And for three reasons. Canva owes its popularity because the user doesn't actually have to sign anything. In this browser-related design tool you use the 50,000 available templates that you modify and merge a bit. That way you put together logos, e-book covers, posters and advertisements. Second, Canva has a specific revenue model. Many templates are free, but often you end up with elements that you have to pay for. Third, Canva leaves the user little room for creativity. There are no drawing tools, so it is not possible to create something completely new. In short, anyone as creative as a brick can still come up with professional-looking designs through Canva.

Tip 08: Inkscape

Inkscape has long had a reputation as the best free Illustrator alternative. Although it has always been a desktop program, Inkscape does allow you to work online through the RollApp service. RollApp is a cloud platform for applications that you can access via your email address, Facebook or Google account. When you open Inkscape in the browser it seems a bit strange, because the entire work environment is crammed into that one browser window. Everything looks a lot better when you put the browser in full screen mode. Inkscape may be a powerful program, but it is not easy to use and also feels a bit slow. Inkscape is best used when you want to edit a file on the go, but the program's structure makes it uninviting to start a project from scratch.

Tip 09: Janvas

A few years ago, Janvas was a very popular svg editor. The online editor still looks good, but unfortunately development has been on hold for a while. Janvas includes features such as shapes, text, drawing tools, masks, and layers, and has a library of icons, user interface elements, and photo book templates. You can also apply the ready-made textures and filters to your design with one click. We like the dark interface that makes the colors stand out, but you have to search hard to tweak the program's layout a bit. There is one major drawback to Janvas: the online program does not support keyboard shortcuts. Janvas is a decent choice for small, fast projects, but falls short for complex work.

There is one major drawback to Janvas: the online program does not support keyboard shortcuts

Tip 10: Vecteezy

Vecteezy is a good choice if you want to modify an existing svg file. This online tool exists in a free and premium variant. If you opt for the paid version ($9 per month on an annual basis), you get access to the entire library of premium images. Vecteezy works simply. You get pen and writing tools and a set of drawn illustrations that you can import into the project. Vecteezy Vector Editor is loaded with 800 fonts and more than 25,000 design elements, giving you almost infinite customization of vector graphics without using expensive third-party software. Saving the files is also easy. You export the design to svg, jpg or png so that you can download the image immediately.

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