Two free or cheap alternatives to Adobe Illustrator

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Adobe Illustrato is infamous for its restrictive DRM that has eliminated all piracy. It’s like Illustrator, but without the “arrr”.


“Even”? Linux is its primary platform. It’s developed on Linux.


a $53 a month subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud is a fair price to pay

Forced SaaS is not fair, no.


I purchased the entire Affinity Suite (Photo, Designer, Publisher) last month and my wife is using it to publish her new book. Publisher is quite nice with “Master Pages” (aka, templates) so she can have pages with consistent layout and easily modify which reflects everywhere the template is used. Much nicer than using Word. I highly recommend you try it if you’re publishing something.

Designer and Photo are very similar to Illustrator and Photoshop. They can do nearly all of the stuff you need, but there are sometimes not a one-to-one equivalent for some feature. Usually, the new way is “better” because it doesn’t have all the legacy Adobe cruft and Affinity can re-think the process.


If you can afford to wait a while, the Affinity software products all go on sale pretty regularly for a 20% savings.


Many of our media design students rely on Adobe licensed to college computer lab machines to complete assignments, which they cannot do while the university is closed. We have been compiling a list of alternatives for Adobe products, so this post is timely and relevant. Thanks for sharing!!


Affiniti Designer user here, and really like it for just about all my vector needs. Inkscape’s “autotrace” feature is good once you get used to it, and is valuable if you’re creating fonts and the like.

If I were on Linux, I’d use Inkscape for everything, but X support on Mac OS is not the greatest.


I’ll toss my recommendation in for Affinity Designer as well. We just jumped the Adobe ship at work, and I’ve been retooling our process to use Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo instead of Illustrator and Photoshop.

It’s not perfect, but in many ways it’s already better for us, and the potential for further improvement is huge. There’s a learning curve, for sure, especially if you’ve been using Adobe for as many years as I have. But even so I’ve found it to be much is nicer to work with.

It’s too bad this wasn’t posted last week while their 50% off everything sale was going on.

(edit) as an example of one advantage we’ve been enjoying so far: smaller file sizes. After converting a PSD file to Affinity Designer, the file size was less than 10% of the original.

Screen Shot 2020-06-29 at 3.03.24 PM

That’s generally consistent with everything I’ve been converting – provided you go through and replace any “embedded objects” (originally “smart objects” in the PSD) by either rasterizing them, or opening them and copy/pasting them back into the new file.


I absolutely love the Affinity software suite. I switched from Creative Cloud a year or two back, and haven’t looked back. It’s been able to handle literally everything I’ve thrown at it, and at a tiny fraction of the price. It’s even capable of opening and modifying Adobe document formats (PSD, AI, PDF). I can’t sing their praises enough, it’s a fantastic alternative.


I will also sign their praises. I bought Designer and Photo over a year ago and I don’t think I’ve opened Illustrator or Photoshop more than a couple times since then. I kept CS6 around Just In Case, but it hasn’t been necessary. The couple times files haven’t opened perfectly, they’re been 99% and super easy to correct. I bought Publisher when it came out of beta, but I haven’t really used it other than going through the tutorials. All three programs are very sophisticated and mature. I convinced my wife to move her office to Affinity to get away from the Adobe tax (the economic slowdown has been brutal for her), and her employees have been suitably impressed so far.


I really enjoyed some 32…64bit paint programs and Pixiv is really doing a nice job with that once I got the HP pen to go with the HP at hand to draw with. Contrawise trying to stick a hard glass screen protector on the thing got me snaggy edges and worse touch sensitivity…precision got all de-rezzed to 0.5 cm or so there (but not with the Bluetooth pen.) C’est la micro. The Pencil by 53 should work fine on an iOS thing…

I was really looking for XaraX hard and failing. Xara offers a perhaps less pricey cloud platform (out of whatever German parent company they are now, having escaped Cambridge, England’s entrepreneurial crowds,) continues to have XaraX for Linux in the back 40 (free, not being handled very GPL2ishly,) and ah yes, sold lots of their IP to Corel, so that Corel’s creative cloud and buy-once options ($300ish/yr. and $300ish?) now have very good seam carving and object deletion tools, RAW editing, magic lassos, infinite pattern making, rip to color, lickable graphics and macros on whatever platform isn’t OpenBSD. And export to Adobe formats? No QNX. An IoT OS (twirling pens, no computer, virtual displays…I dunno, maybe Blender does the asset management?)

Anyone got Inkscape to compile in a bsd?


I did the same thing while they were all 50% off in the early days of quarantine after eyeing Affinity Publisher for quite a while. It’s just nice to have the capability to do Desktop Publishing without having to pay a subscription for InDesign or outrageous prices for similar software. I typeset all my written output and had previously used the obsolete version of InDesign Adobe had released for free(ish). I also got the other two programs in the suite as long as they were reduced but I am so used to Gimp and Inkscape that I haven’t yet taken the time to learn how to make the switch.


Currently working for an entity which has Opinions about The Cloud.

Like: no way anything is going there.

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The Affinity suite, in a way, saved my small business. I was using Gimp for most things but it was very slow and clunky for what I needed to do with it. I also needed vector stuff, and with apologies, Inkscape on Mac is not great (as others have said- mostly the fault of X). I jumped on the huge quarantine sale they had for the whole package and my workflow quadrupled in efficiency. They are really nice pieces of software and a one-time cost like software should be. Also no cloud nonsense. My files are all under my control.


I’m already asking hard questions in Affinity’s chatrooms on how to do uncouth things using their master pages feature in Publisher. It’s fun.

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