Paying $500+ for a new CorelDRAW Suite may not be the best investment for a graphic designer, especially a beginner. The same goes for Adobe’s stingy subscriptions. Give or take, most graphic design tools are built on the same principles. And more often than not, we need to create something simple and effective – an icon for our website, a logo, or just have some fun with vector art. Even for serious vector art, we probably never use all the fancy features big companies throw at us.
Thankfully, there is a free vector software that allows us to do what we want. In this article, we will cover the most popular and effective of ones.
Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux
Download link: inkscape.org
Inkscape is often called the GIMP of vector apps. It’s an open-source program with plenty of features that make you wonder why people aren’t selling it. And yet, it’s completely free. The app was released in 2003, and since then has become one of the most popular vector graphics software programs in the world. It’s available in 90 languages and across many platforms, including OS X and Linux.
The node workflow in Inkscape is similar to that of Adobe Illustrator and allows adding new nodes, as well as moving and editing them.
Helpful features like node aligning and symmetry are also available to use. Bezier curves and pencil tools work smoothly with graphic tablets, allowing users to create hand-drawn vector images of any complexity.
Inkscape also has image bitmap tracing, which is for converting rasterized images into vector paths. However, the feature is not as advanced as the one in Adobe Illustrator, and you may need some extra manipulations to make it work, or you’ll have to trace it manually.
Inkscape supports all popular formats, including SVG, EPS, JPG, PNG, PostScript and others.
The list of features the app has is beyond listing, and chances are it can do pretty much everything paid programs like Adobe Illustrator can do.
At the very least Inkscape is nearly as good as Adobe Illustrator. Both programs share a very similar workflow and if you’re used to one of them, it makes it easier to make the switch. For logo designs and creating vector graphics, there won’t be much difference in whichever one of you use, apart from having an extra buck to spend on something else.
Tutorials: Inkscape’s website offers a wide variety of tutorials from beginner to advanced here. We also recommend Logos by Nick’s Youtube channel – it offers many excellent tips and workflows from a practicing designer.
- Many features, solid AI alternative
- Works smoothly with tablets
- Multiple platforms (Linux included)
- Rare performance issues with big files
- Some features are not intuitive – tutorials are needed
Platform: Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Chrome OS, Web
Download link: vectr.com
Unlike Inkscape, Vectr is fresh blood in the yard. Which is good, because it means the development is shifted by industry demands, and not by the curse of bloatware.
This free vector art program was released just two years ago, but the pace of its development is truly magnificent. With all the features added recently, it’s hard to imagine what this product could be capable of in the future. However, developers are pressing that one thing stays unchanged – it will be forever free.
To compare Vectr and Inkscape is to make a great mistake – these two products are both in a league of their own. What Vectr lacks in features, it compensates for in intuitiveness. The learning curve on the program is non-existent: if you’re just starting in the design industry, you may be able to create your very first logo in five minutes after you start the program without having to skim through pages of tutorials.
Another advantage of the app is ubiquity – not only is it available on all popular platforms, but it also has a browser version with the same functionality as its desktop counterpart. That means you can work on your designs on your PC and then finish them in an internet cafe in the middle of nowhere.
The app allows all standard vector operations – creating and editing geometry shapes, curves, and paths. It supports multiple layers and pages, letting you organize your project. Vectr allows imports in AI, EPS, SVG, PNG, and JPEG file formats.
Another useful feature is the ability to share your projects simply by sending a URL to your colleagues, letting them view and edit it in a workflow similar to Google Docs. The development of full-scale collaboration with multiple people working on the same project simultaneously is currently underway, along with Marketplace and Versioning. You can literally watch the Vectr team’s backlog in the Open Roadmap.
- Cross-platform and browser versions
- Intuitive, easy to use interface
- Easy sharing of projects
- Integration with WordPress
- Need to create an account
- Some people report crashes – the new features may be unstable
- Lacks advanced features
Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS, Web
Download link: designer.io
We might be a bit subjective here. After all, Gravit used our icons. However, Gravit’s developers have much more to offer than having good taste.
On a feature-wise specter, Gravit falls precisely between Inkscape and Vectr. It has more features than the latter while staying as intuitive as the former. And, like all the apps mentioned in this article, it comes with no price attached. Talk about balance.
The app allows you to do everything you would expect from a vector software program: Create curves, edit paths, manage layers and use the knife function. It supports SVG, PDF, JPEG,.SKETCH and recently, EPS (finally!) formats for import and export. In addition, you can work on your projects across different platforms; Gravit Cloud allows seamless transition of files between desktop and online versions. A portable version is also available.
Among the other handy things that Gravit features, there are vector assets that are available within the app. Gravit Designer’s library of assets includes icons, shapes, emojis, and illustrations – all of which can be combined and modified for commercial and non-commercial use.
Even though the tool is free (according to developers, “there will definitely be areas in Gravit Designer in the foreseeable future, or areas surrounding Gravit Designer, that are subject to a charge”), bugs are being fixed and the most voted for features are being developed. You can see a full description of the new features in the Gravit Designer developers’ blog, along with a bunch of cool tutorials.
Tutorials: Youtube Playlist
- Huge library of vector assets out-of-box
- Intuitive UI and workflow
- Browser and cross-platform versions, all connected with cloud
- Not yet clear what features will stay free in the future
- No advanced features like the ones that can be found in AE or Inkscape
Download link: https://github.com/SVG-Edit/svgedit
SVG-edit is one of those tools that does exactly what their name suggests: It allows you to edit SVG’s, and create your own. It’s an online free vector program that is available in most popular browsers.
The feature set is standard: Create shapes, draw with a pencil, convert lines to paths, colorize and add images. The result can be exported into popular web formats: WMP, JPG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, and of course SVG itself. The interface is pretty straightforward and reminds you of painting programs from the early 2000’s – nothing fancy here.
One of the advantages of SVG-edit is that this open-source program can be easily embedded into your website, allowing your users to create and edit SVG’s of their own. The tool also allows you to quickly export results as HTML-code.
Even though SVG-edit lacks features in comparison to apps mentioned earlier in this article, it still can be useful in some cases – especially for web developers. Freely available Github repository allows modifying the source code to your needs. Another plus would be that the tool is constantly being updated.
- Simple, quick to use
- Open-source web code
- Lacks advanced features
- Node-management is not perfect
Not a vector drawing software itself, but RollApp allows you to run some popular desktop apps online, in your browser. One, in particular, is Inkscape. So if Inkscape being only desktop was the only thing stopping you from using it, RollApp will seal the deal.
This web tool really has some 90’s vibes to it. But if you’re a fan, give it a try. It’s available for free and there are enough features to make logos or other fancy web graphics. However, if you consider using FatPaint for commercial purposes, developers kindly ask to support them with a Pro subscription.
A free web vector editor to create vector images. It allows export in SVG, PNG and JPEG. The clean UI is a bonus. It features everything you need to create a logo or an icon inside your browser.
A graphics editor available for Windows, macOS and Linux. It’s primarily used for building math graphs and illustrations (the ones you often see in school math books). But if you feel like life is not hard enough yet, you can try drawing vector art using this tool.
If you’re interested in free raster drawing software, check out our Best Free Drawing Software: Five Candidates article
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