8 Free Illustrator Alternatives You Need to Try

Posted on September 19, 2023 | Updated on September 19, 2023

Finding a free Illustrator alternative similar to the original is surprisingly easy. There are plenty of great options with better features and usability at no cost, making Illustrator obsolete. Here are some of the best tools available.

1. Vectr

If you’re looking for an intuitive, free Illustrator alternative, look no further than Vectr. This vector design tool is web-based, so users can use layers, elements, shapes, brushes, images, snapping, and alignment tools from the comfort of their browsers. 

Here’s what it does best and what it could do better:

  • Strengths: Amazingly, it has generative artificial intelligence tools to streamline the creative process. Its powerful features include a chat function for collaborative work, tutorials for beginners, and dozens of practical templates. 
  • Weaknesses: Vectr is only available with an internet connection. Also, it locks certain features and shows ads to people without a premium subscription. It only costs $10 per year, but most looking for a free Illustrator alternative don’t want to spend anything.

This design and editing software is simple but gets the job done. However, having features locked behind a paywall can frustrate those who want to escape subscription-based services. Users can access Vectr on its website since it’s a web-based tool.

2. SVG-Edit

SVG-edit is a web-based design and editing tool. It’s simple, intuitive, and great for beginners. Users can use the brush, shape, text, image, grid, layers, covert to path, and duplicate tools.

Here’s what it does best and what it could do better:

  • Strengths: It is intuitive, easy to learn, and offers all of the standard tools. 
  • Weaknesses: SVG-edit is bare-bones compared to some of its competitors. While the user interface looks slightly outdated, the icons are recognizable to those who used Illustrator. 

To get ahold of this free Illustrator alternative, simply go to the SVG-edit website and use it. There’s no need to log in or create an account, but the creators encourage users to do so since it lets them save their progress and work.

3. Adobe Express

Surprisingly, Adobe created a rival to its own software. It might seem odd that it offers a free Illustrator alternative, but there’s no need to question a good thing. It has generative AI tools to create images or custom fonts. On top of that, it offers thousands of professional templates, stock images, collaboration capabilities, and customizable brand kits.

Here’s what it does best and what it could do better:

  • Strengths: Its powerful AI, real-time collaboration tool, and ease-of-life features make it a powerhouse software. Since Adobe is behind it, it has a dedicated tech support team.
  • Weaknesses: The UI is overly simple, seemingly because the brand is targeting a younger audience. Also, many features are stuck behind a paywall — a classic Adobe move.

Adobe Express is a great tool for those familiar with the company’s UI, but it lacks many of the more advanced tools they’re likely used to. It has a sign-up page since it requires account creation. Unless users already have an Adobe ID, they can use their Google, Facebook or Apple account to make one.  

4. Inkscape

Inkscape is a free, cross-platform creation and editing tool. Like Illustrator, it utilizes vectors to ensure graphics are scalable and look clean. Its tools include brushes, transformations, alignment, gradients, text, and grouping. Users can easily create logos or illustrations — engineering, marketing, and web design professionals regularly use it.

Here’s what it does best and what it could do better:

  • Strengths: Inkscape gets frequent updates to keep it secure and fresh. Also, it supports uncommon file formats and all color models and has advanced tools like bitmap tracing, node editing, and boolean operations. For beginners, it has in-depth tutorials.
  • Weaknesses: It is open-source software, so no dedicated tech support or customer service team exists. However, there are community-driven help pages on the official website.

It might be the best free Illustrator alternative because it’s so in-depth. Although users have to download Inkscape to use it, sacrificing some storage space is worth having such a powerful tool. As of August 2023, Inkscape 1.3 is the latest version. However, it’s possible to download earlier versions to be compatible with specific plugins.


The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is an open-source, free alternative to Adobe Illustrator. People knowledgeable enough can develop new code to customize their interface. Aside from the personalization features, it has multi-device support and supports many uncommon file formats.

Here’s what it does best and what it could do better:

  • Strengths: It has all the standard tools like layers, painting, text, masking, selection, and brushes. For more advanced professionals, it provides thousands of plugins to add new ones and personalize the experience. For beginners, it has in-depth tutorials.
  • Weaknesses: Volunteers created GIMP, so even though there are dedicated forums, there’s no tech support or customer service team to contact. Also, it’s not very beginner friendly. However, some reviewers claim the single-window mode update makes using it much easier than before. 

Even though GIMP requires a download, users don’t need to enter their personal information to use it. There are separate installation options for Linux, macOS, and Windows, so virtually everyone with a computer can get it.

6. Krita

Krita is a vector-based design tool with a heavy emphasis on illustration and creation. Although people commonly use it to create digital art, its massive array of tools makes it stand out as an alternative to Adobe Illustrator. It’s open-source with a published source code, so users can adapt it to their needs. 

Here’s what it does best and what it could do better:

  • Strengths: Krita has dozens of plugins, themes, brush packs, illustrative assistants, and transformation tools. It also offers many color models, supports uncommon file formats, has tutorials, and supports uncommon file formats. 
  • Weaknesses: The UI is somewhat cluttered and the tools can be fussy — user input can take a second or two to register. 

Users can download Krita on the official website for free — this is important to note, as the Windows, Steam, and Epic stores require payment. It’s set up this way so people who want to support the developers can. Linux, Windows, and macOS versions are available. 

7. Figma

The free version of Figma has mobile support and lets users have unlimited personal files, collaborators, and plugins. The UI is clear and attractive, which is a bonus. Overall, it’s like the Google Docs of the graphic design world.

Here’s what it does best and what it could do better:

  • Strengths: Figma allows unlimited contributors to collaborate on a design. It also provides plugins, reusable assets, templates, and product integrations. It’s an amazing choice for professionals working on a team.
  • Weaknesses: It locks team libraries, prototyping unlimited version history, design analytics, private plugins, dedicated workspaces, and cybersecurity tools behind a paywall. Many fantastic web-design tools are only available with a subscription.

The sign-up page for Figma shows four pricing options for people who want additional features. Those looking for a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator only need to click “Choose Starter” under the “Free Forever” version to get started.

8. DesignEvo

DesignEvo is a free web-based logo maker. Although it lacks many of Illustrator’s features, it is still a powerful graphic design tool. Users can create their designs from scratch or use one of the free templates. 

Here’s what it does best and what it could do better:

  • Strengths: DesignEvo has millions of icons — clicking one of the 42 options on the initial list opens up thousands more. It also has over 10,000 templates to streamline the creative process. The customer support and preview option are useful.
  • Weaknesses: The features are lacking — it’s a self-described logo maker, not a comprehensive Illustrator alternative. In fairness, it does exactly what it says it can.

DesignEvo is great for professionals who design simple graphics or logos. Although it offers a sign-up option, people can use the tool on the website without creating an account. 

Why Use an Illustrator Alternative?

People should consider using an Illustrator alternative because most tools offer the same service for free. It first came out in 1987 and has remained among the most popular computer design programs since. However, the subscription model can feel predatory and confining. 

Many people are joining their fellow graphic designers, marketers, and illustrators and getting a free alternative. Most of the options on this list offer plugins, collaboration, or rich community spaces to elevate the experience — there’s no need to stick with Illustrator when they exist.

Enjoy a Free Illustrator Alternative

Finding an adequate alternative to Adobe Illustrator can seem tricky to people who are so used to its features and UI, but getting the hang of these options is easy. Multiple web-based and downloadable versions exist, so there’s a perfect fit for everyone.

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.

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