The best alternatives to Illustrator in 2024

Best alternatives to Illustrator - MacBook screen displaying Adobe logos
(Image credit: Unsplash)
Best Illustrator alternatives: Jump menu

The list in brief
1. Best overall: Affinity Designer
2. Best cloud-based: Canva
3. Best for Macs: Sketch
4. Best for compatibility: Corel Vector
5. Best free option: Linearity Curve
How to choose
How we review

Looking for the best alternatives to Illustrator? We’ve got you covered! Adobe Illustrator CC is a graphic design application for desktops and tablets. Its primary feature is the ability to work with vector graphics—images that don’t lose quality on scaling.

If you’re a graphic designer or digital artist, working with both raster and vector images is pretty much a compulsory part of your day-to-day workflow. While you can use one of the best photo-editing applications like Adobe Photoshop to work with raster images, Illustrator is the most popular graphic design tool and ranks highly among the best drawing apps specifically when it comes to working with vector images.

However, Adobe Illustrator certainly isn’t the only vector design tool in the market, and there are many less expensive and more beginner-friendly options. We've tested the top Adobe Illustrator alternatives based on their features, pricing, and ease of use. In this buying guide, we take a look at five of the best.

Adobe Illustrator CC –industry-standard vector graphics creation

Adobe Illustrator CC – industry-standard vector graphics creation
If you're looking to download Adobe Illustrator, then you can sign up and get it here. These alternatives are all good, but Illustrator has been the world's leading vector graphics tool for over 20 years, and the latest version is the best yet. It's available via a seven-day free trial via Adobe Creative Cloud before you sign up for the paid version, so you can try before you buy.

The quick list

These are our favorite alternatives to Illustrator today. For more information, check our detailed reviews 

The top 3 alternatives to Illustrator right now

Why you can trust Tom's Guide Our writers and editors spend hours analyzing and reviewing products, services, and apps to help find what's best for you. Find out more about how we test, analyze, and rate.

Affinity Designer: The best alternative to Illustrator

Affinity Designer: The best alternative to Illustrator
Affinity Designer is the ultimate Illustrator replacement, with fast performance, stunning visuals, and seamless compatibility with all your devices and platforms. Whether you’re creating logos, icons, illustrations, or web graphics, Affinity Designer will help you unleash your creativity and achieve your goals. 

Canva: The best web-based alternative to Illustrator

Canva: The best web-based alternative to Illustrator
Canva is the best alternative to Illustrator for anyone who wants to create stunning graphics without the hassle of complex software. With Canva, you can easily design anything from logos, flyers, posters, social media posts, and more, using thousands of templates, fonts, icons, and images. Canva is also cloud-based, so you can access your projects from any device and collaborate with others in real-time.

Sketch: The best Illustrator alternative for Mac

Sketch: The best Illustrator alternative for Mac
Sketch is the best alternative to Illustrator for anyone who wants to create beautiful and functional user interfaces, websites, and apps. Sketch is a powerful and intuitive vector-based design tool that lets you work faster and smarter, with features like symbols, overrides, libraries, plugins, and more. Sketch is also fully integrated with the web, so you can export your designs to HTML, CSS, SVG, or React code.

The best alternatives to Illustrator of 2024 in full

Best overall

Affinity Designer 2 logo

(Image credit: Serif)

1. Affinity Designer

The best alternative to Adobe Illustrator

Specifications

Platform: Windows, MacOS, iOS (iPad only)
Developer: Serif
Price: $69.99 (Windows/Mac) / $18.49 (iPad)

Reasons to buy

+
Highly affordable
+
Similar features
+
Streamlined UI

Reasons to avoid

-
Somewhat steep learning curve
-
Limited non-Adobe filetype support

Developed by UK-based software company Serif, Affinity Designer is a powerful alternative to Illustrator, offering similar features at a dramatically lower price. You can own Affinity Designer outright for the cost of a single month's subscription to Adobe's software.

You'll find most of the essential tools you expect in a graphic design program within Affinity Designer. It even includes some extras like unlimited redos, incredible zoom capability, and a dedicated workspace for editing raster images. Thanks to a lack of legacy code, Designer often outperforms Illustrator in terms of speed. Plus, some users find Affinity Designer's streamlined interface easier to navigate and learn.

Affinity Designer in use on a computer

Affinity Designer is the best alternative to Adobe Illustrator (Image credit: Serif)

Affinity Designer is now part of the Canva family, and continues to improve. Recent updates have further refined the interface, making it even faster to get started with your projects. Serif has also focused on streamlining performance, ensuring that even complex designs remain responsive while working.

The addition of new vector shape tools and improved text handling demonstrate Affinity Designer's commitment to evolving alongside the needs of professional designers. For those frustrated by Adobe's subscription model or put off by Illustrator's complexity, Affinity Designer is an increasingly compelling solution.

Affinity Designer costs $69.99 on Windows or Mac. Each license is valid for unlimited use, meaning that you only pay for another subscription if you’re using the software on a different platform. 

Affinity Designer is even available on the iPad for $18.49, which means that you can also draw using the Apple Pencil. A final option is purchasing an Affinity V2 Universal license that includes all three Affinity products (Designer 2, Photo 2, and Publisher 2) for $164.99.

Best cloud-based

Canva logo

(Image credit: Canva)

2. Canva

The best cloud-based alternative to Adobe Illustrator

Specifications

Platform: Web, iOS, Android
Developer: Canva
Price: $14.99 a month

Reasons to buy

+
Layer-based
+
Easy to use
+
Asset library

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks several advanced features
-
Can’t export to PSD or AI

Canva is a web-based design suite that allows you to create attractive graphics quickly and easily. Unlike Illustrator or Affinity Designer, it doesn't allow you to export files in vector format. However, the main draw is simplicity and ease of use, rather than the advanced graphics manipulation offered by the likes of Illustrator.

With Canva, you can create brochures, posters, invitations, social media content, presentations, logos, infographics, and more. The app is layer-based, allowing you to stack objects on top of each other to create a composite graphic. You can easily add text, upload images, and use preset templates to get the designs you want without a huge fuss. 

If you are a paid subscriber to Canva, you also get access to a huge library of assets to choose from—including photography, videos, backgrounds, and clip art.

Canva's creative panel being demonstrated

Canva is a no-frills graphic design tool for beginners (Image credit: Canva)

Picture this: you're tasked with creating a stunning presentation for your next meeting, but you're not a professional designer. That's where Canva shines. Its user-friendly interface and vast library of templates make it a breeze for you to whip up impressive visuals in no time. 

The drag-and-drop functionality and intuitive layout tools allow you to create designs that look like they were made by a pro, even if you have no prior design experience. And with the ability to collaborate with your team, Canva streamlines your creative workflow.

Canva, the base tool, is available completely free of charge. It includes access to all the tools and a basic asset library. If you want more features, such as more templates, fancy effects, and a larger asset library, you can subscribe to Canva Pro for $14.99 a month. You can also pay annually to get the discounted price of $119.99 a year. A plan for teams costs $14.99 a month per person.

Best for Macs

Sketch logo

(Image credit: Sketch)

3. Sketch

The best alternative to Adobe Illustrator for Mac

Specifications

Platform: macOS
Developer: Sketch
Price: $10 per user a month

Reasons to buy

+
Simple and intuitive
+
Perfect for UX design
+
Excellent collaborative features

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks complex functions
-
Subscription-based pricing

Sketch was launched primarily as a design application for logos and websites. It's immensely popular for website prototyping, but you can also use it to create other forms of vector art. If you're a UI (user interface) or UX (user experience) designer, you might find yourself swearing by this software.

Sketch's intended use is wireframing and prototyping, as well as website and app design. Thus, it doesn't contain the tools required for you to draw complex illustrations from scratch. 

However, the lack of complex features makes Sketch the perfect tool to draw a quick mockup of your website or app, for example. It's even better when used collaboratively, allowing you and your team of designers to make changes to a design mockup simultaneously.

A demonstration of Sketch and its design panel

Sketch is a UX design tool for macOS devices (Image credit: Sketch)

Its focused feature set and intuitive interface make it an invaluable tool for rapid prototyping and iterative design. The ability to preview your designs on various devices, including your iPhone, iPad, and browser, streamlines the process of sharing your work with developers and clients.

While Sketch may not be the best choice for creating complex illustrations, its specialized toolset and user-friendly design make it an essential part of your web and app design toolkit.

Sketch costs $10 per user a month. It's an app primarily for macOS, but you can also preview designs on your iPhone, iPad, and in your browser, making it easier to hand-off designs to developers and clients. 

There's also a business plan at $20 per user per month that adds unlimited cloud storage and invoice-based billing. Finally, there's a perpetual license for a standalone Mac-only version that costs $120.

Best for compatibility

Corel Vector logo

(Image credit: Corel)

4. Corel Vector

The best alternative to Adobe Illustrator for maximum compatibility

Specifications

Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS, Web
Developer: Corel
Price: $69-$99 a year

Reasons to buy

+
Linux compatibility
+
Supports .AI and .Sketch files
+
Unlimited cloud storage

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited free version
-
Steep learning curve

Corel Vector (previously known as Gravit Designer) is a robust, cloud-based vector graphics application designed to cater to design hobbyists and aspiring professionals. Accessible from any device with a web browser, it allows users to create and save their design projects to the cloud, ensuring availability from anywhere. 

The application is easy to learn and use, offering a smooth learning curve without unnecessary complexity. It comes with diverse, curated templates to kick-start your creations.

Corel Vector is flexible and affordable, equipped with fast, intuitive tools that won't break the bank. It offers unlimited cloud storage, keeping your designs safe, synced, and accessible across devices.

The Corel Vector interface

Corel Vector is an Illustrator alternative offering maximum compatibility with the largest number of platforms (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The application features powerful vector editing, text and typography, image editing, compatibility and files, intuitive user interface, effects and adjustments, and color. It is suitable for all skill levels and offers graphic design options for every creator.

The cloud-based nature of the application ensures that your projects are always accessible, allowing you to seamlessly switch between devices without the hassle of transferring files. 

The curated templates serve as an excellent starting point, sparking your creativity and saving you time on initial setup. And the intuitive interface and comprehensive toolset empower you to bring your ideas to life, whether you're working on simple graphics or complex illustrations.

There's a 15-day free trial, then Corel Vector costs $69.99 for the first year. Following years, it costs $99.99 a year.

Best free option

Linearity Curve logo

(Image credit: Linearity)

5. Linearity Curve

The best free alternative to Adobe Illustrator

Specifications

Platform: macOS, iOS
Developer: Linearity
Price: From $9.99 per month

Reasons to buy

+
Native UI
+
Layer-based
+
Touch-friendly

Reasons to avoid

-
Apple-only
-
No animation feature

Developed by Linearity GmbH, a company founded only in 2017, Linearity Curve (previously Vectornator) has already positioned itself as one of the most versatile drawing and illustration applications for the iPad, iPhone, and Mac. It allows you to design interfaces, create layouts, and draw entire illustrations from scratch. 

Linearity Curve’s UI is designed specifically for the macOS interface. Everything feels familiar to the operating system, to the point where you might even mistake it for a native application. 

Since the launch of version 4.0, you get a layer-based vector design tool with features like artboards, auto trace, a color picker, a free icon library, and much more. That’s all in addition to detailed documentation to help you get started with the software.

Linearity Curve interface

Linearity Curve is a free drawing application and design tool for Apple devices (Image credit: Linearity)

Using Linearity Curve on a day-to-day basis, you'll find the interface to be highly intuitive and responsive. The vector-based tools make it easy to create crisp, scalable illustrations, while the layer management system allows you to stay organized even on complex projects. 

The inclusion of a free icon library is a nice touch, saving you time when adding visual elements to your designs. The auto trace functionality is also surprisingly accurate, allowing you to quickly convert raster images into editable vector graphics.

Linearity Curve is available completely free of charge for iOS and macOS. It can be downloaded and used without paying any one-time or monthly subscription fee. However, a Pro plan is available from $9.99 per month that allows you to store an unlimited number of files, export video in up to 8k resolution, and get priority support, besides other features.

The best alternatives to Illustrator, compared

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Alternative to IllustratorPlatformDeveloperPrice
Affinity DesignerWindows, MacOS, iOS (iPad only)Serif$69.99 (Windows/Mac) / $18.49 (iPad)
CanvaWeb, iOS, AndroidCanva$14.99 per user per month
SketchmacOSSketch$10 per user per month
Corel VectorWindows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS, WebCorel$69.99 per year
Linearity CurvemacOS, iOSLinearity$9.99 per month

How to choose the best alternative to Illustrator for you

Adobe Illustrator is the classic choice for vector design, but the best alternative for you depends on your specific needs and goals. Consider what features matter most to you: ease of use, touchscreen support, compatibility with your devices, and budget.

If you need to create simple designs quickly, Canva might be the perfect fit. However, if you need more advanced features, you'll likely find Canva too limiting. Affinity Designer offers powerful tools for experienced users but might be overwhelming for beginners. If you love freehand drawing, Vectornator is your best option. On the other hand, Sketch will be more useful if your focus is on designing user interfaces (UI) and user experiences (UX).

How we review the best alternatives to Illustrator

We take our product evaluation process seriously. With Illustrator's reputation as a high-power tool for vector graphics, we understand why some users may be looking for similar alternatives that are more affordable, easier to navigate or more versatile.

We begin by installing and assessing each software on multiple devices and operating systems. We examine the software's layout and features, testing how easily users can navigate through the platform.

Since vector editing tools are critical for graphic design and other industries, we compare the features of each alternative with those of Adobe Illustrator, checking for layering, text handling, and shape tools, among others. We also assess each software's ability to handle multiple file types to ensure continuity of work.

Pricing is a major consideration, and we take it seriously in our evaluation process, comparing the features of different alternatives at different price points.

Support is a critical aspect of our recommendations, as we prioritize software providers who invest in providing helpful documentation and technical assistance services.

At the end of our testing process, we systematically weigh each software product's performance, ease of use, compatibility, functionality, price and support to offer an informed opinion to our readers. We hope that our review process will help you make an educated decision and find the most suitable alternative to Adobe Illustrator.

For more information on our testing process, see our methodology page.

Next steps with vector art software

We've recently discussed how to try Illustrator for free, and how ChatGPT can now work with vector graphics.

We also recommend checking out our guide to the best drawing apps, and ways that you can get free website content legally and without fuss.

Ritoban Mukherjee

Ritoban Mukherjee is a freelance journalist from West Bengal, India whose work on cloud storage, web hosting, and a range of other topics has been published on Tom's Guide, TechRadar, Creative Bloq, IT Pro, Gizmodo, Medium, and Mental Floss.

With contributions from