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20 Vector Graphics Editors Reviewed

In computer graphics images can be represented in two ways — using raster graphics (or bitmap) or vector graphics. The former is the representation of images as an array of pixlels, and the latter uses paths, points, lines, curves and shapes or polygons (which are all based upon mathematical equations) for the same purpose. Raster images are based on pixels and thus scale with loss of clarity, while vector-based images can be scaled indefinitely without degrading. In other words, vector graphics are resolution-independent and thus can remain the highest quality at any scale. [Content Care Nov/16/2016]

You may want to take a look at related articles:

Vector graphics drawing software is used for creating and editing vector graphics. It provides graphic designers with the ability to create precise, scalable and layered images. Both 3-D graphics and CAD (computer-aided design) technology rely heavily on vector graphics.

Inkscape (Mac, Win, Linux) Link

inkscape4

Inkscape5, an open-source vector graphics editor, is similar to Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW, but its use of Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), an open XML-based W3C standard, as its native format sets it apart from others. Inkscape supports many advanced SVG features (markers, clones, alpha blending, etc.), and great care is taken in designing a streamlined interface. In Inkscape, it is very easy to edit nodes, perform complex path operations, trace bitmaps and much more. Inkscape has a powerful command-line interface and can be used in scripts for a variety of tasks, such as exporting and format conversions.

Inkscape provides binary packages for Linux, Windows 2000/2003/XP (in a fully self-contained installer) and Mac OS X (in a .dmg package). We know that Inkscape is successfully used on FreeBSD and other Unix-like operating systems. Note that Windows 98/ME is no longer supported. Its latest version is 0.46.

Summary. Inkscape has a powerful command line interface and can be used in scripts for a variety of tasks, such as exporting and format conversions. It is a very mature and advanced editor that can serve as a good alternative for well-known commercial vector graphics editors. Download Inkscape6.

Xara Xtreme (Mac, Linux) Link

Xara Xtreme7

Xara Xtreme8 is a powerful, general-purpose graphics program for Unix platforms, including Linux, FreeBSD and (in development) Mac OS X. Formerly known as Xara LX, it is based on Xara Xtreme for Windows, which is the fastest graphics program available. Its latest version is 0.7.

Xara Xtreme for Linux is very fast and very slick to use. It offers some of the most powerful graphics tools available. Xara Xtreme has a small learning curve and is able to create a huge range of outstanding graphics. Xara Xtreme has behind it a huge amount of learning materials, tutorials, movies, tips and a very active, enthusiastic and growing user community.

The developers of the application claim that Xara Xtreme uses “the world’s fastest vector rendering engine”. And since performance matters when it comes to graphic editors, it is definitely a significant advantage. Download Xara Xtreme9.

Skencil (Linux) Link

Skencil10

Skencil11, formerly called Sketch, is a free vector graphics editor, released under the GNU Lesser General Public License. Running on GNU/Linux and other UNIX-compatible systems, it is a flexible and powerful tool for illustrations, diagrams and other purposes. A somewhat rare feature of Skencil (for a drawing program) is that it is implemented almost completely in Python, a very high-level interpreted language. Python is powerful, object-oriented, and yet easy to use. The rest of the program is written in C for speed. The software is now in version 0.6.17. It has versions compatible with Linux on the i386, DEC Alpha, m68k, PowerPC and SPARC architectures, as well as with FreeBSD, Solaris, IRIX64 6.4 and AIX.

In addition to the standard features that you expect from a vector drawing program, Skencil also has more advanced features, such as the possibility of bending text along a path. The current stable release is 0.6.17. Skencil is quite usable already, even for production use. The low version number is mainly due to a lack of some important features, such as good text support.

Some of its other distinguishing features are that rectangles, ellipses and bezier curves (in addition to ordinary horizontal and vertical lines) can be used as guides; text can be converted to bezier curves, though only if Skencil has access to the PostScript Type 1 font files (pfa or pfb); and blend groups allow for automatically updated interpolations of arbitrary objects. Download Skencil12.

Scribus (Mac, Win, Linux, OS/2) Link

Scribus13

Scribus14 is a desktop publishing (DTP) application. Scribus is an open-source program that brings professional page layout to Linux/Unix, Mac OS X, OS/2 and Windows desktops with a combination of “press-ready” output and new approaches to page layout. Scribus is designed for flexible layout and typesetting and allows you to prepare files for professional-quality image-setting equipment. It can also create animated and interactive PDF presentations and forms. Example uses include writing small newspapers, brochures, newsletters, posters and books. Scribus supports professional publishing features, such as CMYK color, separations, ICC color management and PDF creation.

Scribus is known for its broad set of page layout features as compared with leading commercial applications, such as Adobe PageMaker, QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign. Scribus supports most major graphic formats in addition to SVG. Although written in C++, it has built-in scripting using Python. It is available in more than 24 languages.

It also comes with a lot of support options to help you achieve the best results. There is an enthusiastic and friendly community around Scribus that assists beginner and pro alike through a mailing list, IRC channel, wiki, contracted support and a bug tracker.

VRR (Linux, Win) Link

vrr15

VRR16 was started as a student project in the Faculty of Math and Physics at Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. In September 2005, it was defended successfully. However, it is still being developed in the author’s free time.

The goal of the VRR project is to create a vector image editor designed especially (but not only) for making illustrations of mathematics articles. Its main features are many types of geometric objects and the preservation of their dependencies, cooperation with TeX, scripting in Scheme, real-size dimensions and support for a wide range of file formats (including PS, EPS, PDF and SVG). It latest version is VRR 0.9.4. You can also download the user’s manual here17.

Summary. Although TeX text objects are one of VRR’s main features, you do not need to know TeX to work with VRR or to create valuable and sophisticated images with it. TeX is a typesetting system written by Donald E. Knuth that was “intended for the creation of beautiful books, and especially for books that contain a lot of mathematics.” Download VRR18.

ConceptDraw PRO (Win) Link

ConceptDraw PRO 19

ConceptDraw PRO20 is powerful business and technical diagramming software that supports the creation of business diagrams, flowcharts, network diagrams, floor plans, technical drawings, home and office layouts and the like. ConceptDraw 7 charts can be exported to a variety of file formats, including images, CAD documents and HTML. It also supports importing and exporting of Microsoft Visio XML files.

With ConceptDraw PRO, you can design professional-looking graphics, diagrams, high-end flowcharts, floor plans, engineering drawings and other intricate illustrations in minutes. ConceptDraw’s libraries include thousands of scalable objects. You can maintain business processes with clear visual documentation and present and communicate information in a clear and vivid way.

Through ConceptDraw Office, ConceptDraw PRO provides you with the tools you need to generate reports, documentation and presentations that entirely reflect project performance. It is a comprehensive tool that can be used to create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and to track a project’s status on an intelligent dashboard. It has the huge set of vector drawing tools that can compete with any professional illustration program. It runs on Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. Its latest version is 7.2 and costs $299.

Summary. ConceptDraw Professional is designed for people who need to create high-end flowcharts, engineering drawings, and other intricate illustrations. ConceptDraw’s libraries include thousands of scalable objects. If you have enough resources for a powerful leading vector graphics editor, ConceptDraw is definitely an option worth considering.

ZeusDraw (Mac) Link

ZeusDraw21

ZeusDraw22 is a new vector drawing program with a fluid, graceful interface, great brushes and a host of other features. It requires Mac OS X 10.4 or higher. ZeusDraw is a Universal Binary and can be run on Intel or PowerPC. Its current version is 1.3.1.

Quartz and Cocoa let ZeusDraw show you what you are doing as you do it. When you move or rotate an object, you see the object move or rotate, not its bounding box. ZeusDraw has a selection of vector brushes (smooth, shaded, multi-hair), and it also has an object brush that allows you to paint with any piece of artwork, either vector or bitmap. ZeusDraw simplifies bezier curves. With ZeusDraw’s path tools, you enter control points in order along the path (which is more logical and intuitive because the shape of a polygon made by the control points is a rough indicator of the shape of the curve). ZeusDraw comes with a version of the Shades Color Picker built in. In addition to working with normal full-color bitmaps (JPEG, TIF, PNG, GIF and BMP), ZeusDraw can use grayscale bitmaps as stencils.

Chromatic Bytes has announced the release of ZeusDraw Mobile for the iPhone and iPod touch. It’s available for purchase and downloading now from the App Store for $9.99. ZeusDraw costs $90.

MagicTracer (Windows) Link

MagicTracer23

MagicTracer24 is a raster-to-vector converter for Windows. It includes both raster and vector editing tools. MagicTracer includes support for image scanners.

If you are a construction manager or architect who wants to import scanned blueprints or sketches into your favorite CAD program, or a sign maker who wants to convert an image file into shapes that you can cut out with a vinyl cutter, then MagicTracer is for you. MagicTracer offers three main categories of tools for manipulating raster and vector data: image, raster and vector.

In the latest version of MagicTracer, vector entities now have their own color property. All of the draw commands in vector mode use the current color for newly created entities, just like the draw commands in image mode. Its cost is $60. The online-alternative is a free tool vectormagic25 that converts bitmap images to EPS, SVG, PDF, and PNG formats.

NodeBox (Mac) Link

Nodebox26

NodeBox27 is a Mac OS X application that lets you create 2-D visuals (static, animated or interactive) using Python programming code and then export them in PDF or as a QuickTime movie. NodeBox is free and well documented.

NodeBox can generate forms such as rectangles, ovals, stars, arrows and also bezier paths in general. It supports images (even PDF) and text (with line wrapping). NodeBox is a “state machine.” As such, it is easier to understand by people who have no experience in programming.

Although it has a limited set of commands, NodeBox has full Python support, making it a useful tool for advanced Python programmers as well. You can deconstruct paths into contours, insert points at arbitrary positions on a path and construct paths based on a list of points. You can apply all of these transformations to text as well.

NodeBox can generate PDF documents that can easily be certified (CMYK colors, embedded fonts and images). It also generates QuickTime movies. The application targets designers and has an easy set of state commands that is both intuitive and creative. It is essentially a learning environment and an automation tool.

Tgif (Linux) Link

Tgif

Tgif is an Xlib-based interactive 2-D drawing tool under X11, available on Linux and most Unix and Unix-like platforms. It was developed in 1990 and is free software released under the QPL license. Tgif saves its drawings in a Prolog-based plain-text file format. Partly because it is based on Prolog, there is little support from other programs for reading the Tgif file format.

Tgif is one of the few free drawing programs that has not only a ruler but a usable grid. Fonts are represented as PostScript font names. Originally, it was possible to print Tgif drawings in batch mode without using an X display; however, this changed during the 4.1 versions. Currently, printing drawings requires running Tgif on an X display unless the drawing only uses Times Roman, Helvetica, Courier or Symbol fonts. The current release of Tgif is version 4.1, patch level 45.

You can download it here

Tplot (Win) Link

Tplot28

Turbo Plot29 is a freeware GUI application that produces 2-D and 3-D plots of functions and data, under Windows XP or newer. Like any drawing application, TPLOT can save images, and it can also save vectors. As well, TPLOT can save TPLXML files, which are text files that contain what you have created in text commands so that you can load them easily or edit them manually. TPLOT can save in SWF (Adobe Flash), which is an animated vector file format. This allows you to create high-quality non-aliased graphics with animation.

TPLOT requires Windows XP, Windows 2003 Server, Windows Vista or newer, and also DirectX 9 or later (if you plan to work with a DirectX 9 drawing). As a precaution, Turbo Plot will not run on Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0, Windows ME or Windows 2000.

ZCubes (web-based) Link

Zcubes30

ZCubes31 is a free Web-based software that allows you to create HTML-pages, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, albums and portals. ZCubes’ platform is a multi-functional platform that provides through a single interface large sets of functions that are typically delivered in separate applications.

You can instantly create Web pages using ZCubes online or on your desktop by using drag-and-drop functionality. The key differentiator is the omni-functionality: ZCubes is an immersive platform in which you can create and edit content while you browse. It combines features of several “document-creation” software apps available on the market and is provided on the Web, accessible to all.

The main advantage of the editor is in the mixing of slides, drawings, document pieces, pictures, music and videos (each as separate ZCubes) all in one page (named the “ZSpace”). The e-cards feature in ZCubes lets users upload media, such as videos, images and Zpaint drawings, to their greeting cards and add some handwriting.

Sodipodi (Win, Linux) Link

sodipodi32

Sodipodi33 is general vector illustrating application for Linux/Unix and Windows. It uses W3C’s SVG as its native file format and in-memory image format and can do many neat things. Drawing tools include rectangles, ellipses, freehand drawing, text objects, imported bitmaps, fills and outlines. It is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), Public Domain. The operating systems it supports include all 32-bit MS Windows (95, 98, NT, 2000, XP), all BSD platforms (FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Mac OS X), all POSIX platforms (Linux, BSD, UNIX-like systems) and Linux.

The user interface is similar to that of a regular drawing program. Both vector and bitmap objects can have alpha transparency and can be arbitrarily transformed. Sodipodi supports multiple opened files and multiple views per file, and it prints and exports to PNG bitmaps. Sodipodi is no longer under active development.

Footnotes Link

  1. 1 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/01/the-ultimate-collection-of-free-vector-packs/
  2. 2 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2016/11/how-to-create-a-dramatic-vector-illustration/
  3. 3 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/03/100-beautiful-illustrator-artworks-by-artists-around-the-world/
  4. 4 http://www.inkscape.org/
  5. 5 http://www.inkscape.org/
  6. 6 http://www.inkscape.org/download/?lang=en
  7. 7 http://www.xaraxtreme.org/Developers/what-can-xara-xtreme-for-linux-do-now.html
  8. 8 http://www.xaraxtreme.org/Developers/what-can-xara-xtreme-for-linux-do-now.html
  9. 9 http://www.xaraxtreme.org/download.html
  10. 10 http://www.skencil.org/
  11. 11 http://www.skencil.org/
  12. 12 http://www.skencil.org/download.html
  13. 13 http://www.scribus.net/
  14. 14 http://www.scribus.net/
  15. 15 http://atrey.karlin.mff.cuni.cz/projekty/vrr/index.html
  16. 16 http://atrey.karlin.mff.cuni.cz/projekty/vrr/index.html
  17. 17 http://atrey.karlin.mff.cuni.cz/projekty/vrr/doc/man/index.html
  18. 18 http://atrey.karlin.mff.cuni.cz/projekty/vrr/releases.html
  19. 19 http://www.conceptdraw.com/en/
  20. 20 http://www.conceptdraw.com/en/
  21. 21 http://www.chromaticbytes.com/products.php
  22. 22 http://www.chromaticbytes.com/products.php
  23. 23 http://www.magictracer.com
  24. 24 http://www.magictracer.com
  25. 25 http://vectormagic.com/
  26. 26 http://www.nodebox.net/code/index.php/Home
  27. 27 http://www.nodebox.net/code/index.php/Home
  28. 28 http://www.turboirc.com/tplot/
  29. 29 http://www.turboirc.com/tplot/
  30. 30 http://www.zcubes.com/
  31. 31 http://www.zcubes.com/
  32. 32 http://sourceforge.net/projects/sodipodi/
  33. 33 http://sourceforge.net/projects/sodipodi/

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  1. 1

    Actually, I’m impressed that Illustrator wasn’t included. How nice to see open source and free or low cost alternatives to the Adobe product highlighted, especially in these tough economic times.

    12
  2. 2

    I didn’t see any mention of VectorDesigner for Mac? That application certainly ranks as one of the better ones.

    -2
  3. 3

    I dunno if adobe is intentionally missed but anyways ppl Inkscape is great, and I hope that is the reason for it being first on the list :D
    Great article guys :D

    1
  4. 4

    Illustrator? Corel Draw? Xara Xtreme?

    3
  5. 5

    Indeed, where are Fireworks and Illustrator?

    -1
  6. 6

    Agree with Will, at $69.95 VectorDesigner for OSX should be included on the list. Powerful app that won’t break the bank!

    -2
  7. 7

    yeah, where is vectordesigner… way better than 90% of these…. wow, big oversight.

    -3
  8. 8

    Great list! Very helpful. I am glad you omitted the Adobe apps as they really don’t need to be advertised anymore. ;)

    -5
  9. 9

    Adobe makes the best software! How can Illustrator not be a part of this list? Perhaps the title should reflect Free or Open Source.

    -2
  10. 10

    How sad: why didn´t you mention CMYK support?

    -1
  11. 11

    I use Inkscape for all my vector sketching/designing purposes and for illustrations. It’s the most pleasant vector drawing tool to work in, the paths are ultra-easy to make, and you can see the end result of the curve before you set the node. Bezier tool in Inkscape beats them all. Even the freehand tool has a great default setting, and you get a nice line by drawing with the mouse. The default colors you get in the pallete are really beautiful, and the fill is RGBa! It’s native export format is PNG and the dialog box is really intuitive, and it exports a HQ PNG image with transparency.

    But it really has it’s flaws too. Here they are:
    – The text tool is awful and buggy, forget about twisting texts like in Corel, Illustrator and PS.
    – You can’t make a single node transform(like when you hold CTRL and move a node in PS, and only one node moves.) so it’s a little hard to get some 3-d like effects without using the built in plugin which is not much compatible.
    – It’s not really good at importing from AI without preparation in AI, and generally there are some quirks when exporting/importing EPS. It’s blur and transparency aren’t compatible with other software.
    -Transparent gradients work great in InkScape, but may cause import errors in other software.

    These quirks should really get fixed. I am not using text tool and blurs and I fix my gradients so they’re not transparent for export, so I don’t have trouble working in it. And if you make an illustration all the way in Inkscape, it can be really cool.

    Inkscape is a great tool for illustration, and still at 0.46 version, so I don’t mind the bugs and flaws.

    2
  12. 12

    This is great. Does anyone know how these actually compare to Illustrator?

    2
  13. 13

    Never used anything but Illustrator.. But this is quite interesting.

    8
  14. 14

    Great list, but some of those names sound quite scary.

    -3
  15. 15

    Helpful intro, and some things to try if I get stuck in Illustrator – or need to do more vector stuff from home. I think calling it a “review” is a bit misleading – more like a summary. That’s just nitpicking though, you guys do great work – keep it up!

    -1
  16. 16

    Glad to see Inkscape mentioned, I’ve been using it for a couple years on my professional design work. FYI: Linux Is Not UniX.

    -2
  17. 17

    i guess illustrator is so already used by all that it doesnt need to be in this list.. its kinda ‘alternative tools’, if you catch my drift.

    6
  18. 18

    No Expression Design? Really?

    I know a lot of designers hate MS out of a misplaced sense of brand loyalty or whatever, but the only vector program that kicks out decent xaml should be on the list.

    3
  19. 19

    VRR was started as a student project in the Faculty of Math and Physics at Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. In September 2005, it was defended successfully.”

    What do mean, defended successfully? We are talking software packages here, right?

    -3
  20. 20

    Nice to see a lot of cross platform apps included. My favorite is Inkscape but thats because its the only one I knew about before this list. Good to know there are alternatives. Great List!

    -1
  21. 21

    I’m glad to see all the linux based programs. There are a ton of great free open source products for web design, I wish Smashing writers would acknowledge this fact more often. All too often I see posts loaded with programs only for Mac or Win.

    -2
  22. 22

    in my experience, open-source vector editors are more toys than useful tools. paying at least something usually brings much more quality. from the affordable ones, I believe VectorDesigner and LineForm (both Mac) are definitely worth trying.

    0
  23. 23

    Steve Lyons,

    I have to disagree. I consider myself relatively savvy, in computer terms, not graphics. I love most Adobe products. I use Photoshop on a daily basis.

    But I gave up on trying to learn Illustrator. I have taken several passes at what I would consider extremely simple vector graphics only to end up with wasted hours. I even pored over endless mindnumbing tutes about the software.

    I am sure it is great for avid graphics people, but for the common user it is an overstuffed hulk of unintelligible software.

    0
  24. 24

    William Stewart

    December 5, 2008 12:13 pm

    *cough* Illustrator *cough*

    -1
  25. 25

    (17, 34) My experience is that Illustrator is terrible and Freehand (formerly of Macromedia) is great (Windows or Mac). P’shop is not really suited to drawing per se.

    I’d be interested to know which graphic tools import 3-D CAD data.

    -1
  26. 26

    Where is Adobe Illustrator? :S

    0
  27. 27

    Where is Microsoft Expression Design?

    0
  28. 28

    Although Adobe Illustrator is widely used and already known by most people, I don’t think it should be missing from this list. Anyway, great article (as always!), thanks!

    0
  29. 29

    Vectormagic isn’t free. It started out as free, but its certainly not any more (the desktop version costs a substantial $295). Shame – it would have great if it remained as such…

    0
  30. 30

    I´ve discovered a few new programs, but what about illustrator?
    Thnx.

    0
  31. 31

    There are a lot I have never seen. Thank you!

    0
  32. 32

    great list…

    but and Fireworks??

    0
    • 33

      Yeah, Fireworks is great. I’m trying to switch to something else, since Fireworks doesn’t handle SVG export (at least my version doesn’t, they might’ve fixed this in a future version), doesn’t run on Linux, and, strangely, you can’t distribute an educational license (3 comps, I think) on several operating systems. But I haven’t found a worthy replacement yet…

      -1
  33. 34

    how to make vecter in MS Paint plz

    -1
  34. 35

    For those people who are considering venturing into the realm of vector graphics for anything other than a light hobby, don’t waste your time with any of the apps on this list.

    Most working professionals creating vector art today use Illustrator. Omitting Illustrator completely from this list, or not even providing rough comparisons to Illustrator, shows an odd bias on the part of the writer and renders this list pretty useless. I have tried many of the mac apps on this list and while its great to see competition brewing for Adobe, I can say with confidence that Illustrator won’t be knocked down from its top spot any time soon.

    Illustrator is a mature product (v.1 came out in 1987!) and was the flagship product of Adobe for many years, receiving most of their stellar team’s attention and focus in development in the early years (before Photoshop emerged as the monster it is today). Illustrator became the de facto standard for CMYK graphics creation and single page design (and since version 8, many, many web designers use it as well thanks to its robust slicing and RGB web graphics optimization capabilities). The big page layout apps, Quark and InDesign, both have integrated support for Illustrator files. This is important, since most vector work is not an end in itself and ends up being imported into some other application. Illustrator can generate high-quality PDF files which include transparency, gradients, raster effects and more. To top it all off, Illustrator’s typography engine is truly amazing and includes typographic controls that will satisfy the most detail-oriented designer or type geek. Add to that the ability to rasterize objects, apply pixel- based filters, and apply 3-D transformations and you have an application that can do almost anything that a designer could want.

    Given that the vector world is somewhat split into two camps (print vs. web graphics creation), it also seems odd not to take that into consideration in this list. If you are doing print work, your vector program must support CMYK. For the web, you need RGB. From what I can tell, most of the apps listed above are RGB only. Illustrator can work in either color space, and even allows for the inclusion of raster graphics from both color spaces within the same document. Note: Adobe now also has Fireworks, a powerful RGB vector app aimed at web designers, which goes unmentioned in the list above as well (do I detect an anti-Adobe theme?).

    For beginners trying to decide where to start, don’t let Illustrator’s maturity scare you into thinking that its hard to learn. Exactly the opposite…Illustrator is a joy to use and keeps much of its power below the surface. Time spent learning the Illustrator interface reaps an added bonus: much of the interface is shared with the other Adobe apps. Learning Illustrator will give you a head start at Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver and Flash.

    1
    • 36

      Thanks for good and detailed commentary!

      0
    • 37

      The downside of Illustrator:
      – its price
      – Adobe’s new interface design for all their programs is terrible

      1
  35. 38

    Very good post, for those who can’t afford Illustrator !
    Also a demonstration that Adobe charges very (too ?) much for its softwares.

    Ideally the comparison table could include supported formats. But this is asking a lot.

    1
  36. 39

    Michael Flanakin

    December 5, 2008 1:21 pm

    What about Microsoft Expression Design?

    0
  37. 40

    Even though I like the fact that some rather unknown software is being presented, I felt the “reviews” were a little bit too ambiguous, generic. I mean, they were more a description, rather than a judgement. I would have liked better if you said which one worked out the best or has the best set of features, or anything like that. Something which helps me choose between them.

    :D

    2
  38. 41

    And so all of the Adobe disciples crawl out of the woodwork terrified that people may find that there are alternatives :)

    Illustrator is bloated, and has become very unintuitive. At work, we’ve dropped it in favour of Corel Draw because it’s just so much more effective for what we do (web), even if we paid $$$ for the CS3 licenses. I’ll tr a few of the above as well !

    2
  39. 42

    Nice to see a list w/ so many open source and Linux alternatives.

    Not suprising, of course, to see the Adobe fanboys hating on the exculsion of Illustrator, so don’t anybody let that ruffle you.

    Competion in the market is always a good thing. And Inkscape is on the path to do so…

    Also, doesn’t the KOffice suite run on Windows now? Anybody tried Karbon14 on Windows?

    0
    • 43

      Shut up. Illustrator is definitely the best vector program. If you don’t agree, it’s because you’re probably one of the people who use about 1% of all functions that a vector program has to offer.

      -2
      • 44

        I personally think that its impossible to tell someone to shut up over the web and if it is possible please show some maturity when doing so.

        I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

        3
        • 45

          Actually, JakeT and his “Adobe Fanboys” comment is much more inflammatory than a cursory “shut up”. Deriding someone as a ‘fanboy’ for their opinion is the equivalent of directly calling them a moron for not believing their views.

          -2
  40. 46

    TuxPaint.org is fun, and surprisingly powerful for an educational “kid’s” paint tool. *Do* get the stamps with the TuxPaint!

    I enjoy the “Duh-uh-UH-uh” when you quit. I like that sound a bunch!

    0
  41. 47

    Thanks for including the O/S and price comparison matrix. That’s a very useful feature that has been sadly missing in many of your previous tool review articles

    0
  42. 48

    Xara rocks! It’s the one app I miss since my switch to mac. I hope they release a mac version, but last I heard they’ve abandoned the project. :(

    0
  43. 49

    Pascal Hartig

    December 5, 2008 5:36 pm

    Awesome list. Thanks for all the Linux programs listed.

    0
  44. 50

    I am amazed to see Adobe Fireworks and Adobe Illustrator missing from this list. Both of them are powerful vector editors, and Fireworks (as a plus) is also much cheaper than Illustrator, while being almost as powerful in the vector field, as Illustrator is. And it can also edit bitmaps very efficiently.

    This list should include at least 22 items, not 20… IMHO. Maybe a correction is needed. It’s like you mention the ‘Top 20 brands in the car industry’ and you omit Mercedes Benz and Honda from it… :-/

    -1
  45. 51

    Yes I also heard that Xara was dead because they had decided to open source it but them realised that they vector rendering engine was to valuable to be open sourced and then the comunity gave them the finger.

    I sometimes use Inkscape but it’s not that good (yet), could never find a snap to path in the damn thing.

    Can anyone tell how good scribus is for professional work? I like Indesign a lot, but would love to spend more time on my ubuntu box.

    0
  46. 52

    I tried to use a few of the free alternatives to Adobe Illustrator. I found them difficult to use. Now, I use Adobe Illustrator because I tried the demo version and found it easy to use. I paid a big amount of money, but it is worth it. Some may find other softwares easier to use than Illustrator. Each one will find something suiting him/her better than any other option.

    -1
  47. 53

    DrawPlus from Serif is another one to consider. They aren’t very well known in the US, but they have some good, moderately priced products. I’ve used DrawPlus for some technical illustrations and found it fairly easy to use.

    0
  48. 54

    Ruben DaSilva

    December 6, 2008 7:56 am

    The title of this article says “20 Vector Graphics Editors Reviewed”.

    I only see one review on the page and that is from Zhille (reply 20 – Inkscape).

    The article itself merely parrots product press releases, finds no fault with any of the apps, and gives no solid basis for choosing any of them.

    It is an interesting list, but that is all.

    1
  49. 55

    I have tested Inkscape, it’s a very good software, very easy to use.
    SK1 and Xara looks good too.

    0
  50. 56

    I’m a big fan of Xara. On the PC, it is not free, but it is an excellent, affordable alternative to Adobe Illustrator. I use Illustrator at work and hate it with a passion. Illustrator’s user interface is abysmal. I’d challenge anyone to try Xara on Windows and defend Illustrator as the app with the superior interface. And yes, Xara can handle professional output including CMYK colour separations, spot colours, etc. It can also import PSD files and export to PDF.

    The vector apps in this article have varying levels of functionality. It would have been

    0
  51. 57

    Pietro Marafiga

    December 6, 2008 6:32 am

    Xara Xtreme for mac???? WHERE???

    0
  52. 58

    Nice roundup. But my off-topic question: did you use an obscure WordPress extension or did you hard-code that nice, clean table at the end of the post?!

    0
  53. 59

    I’m using Xara Xtreme before I move to Adobe illustrator. I learn vector graphics through Xara Xtreme. Functionality is simple and recommended to all newbie in vector graphics.

    For now, I’m using Adobe illustrator/Photoshop and planning to learn Adobe Fireworks soon.

    Anyway, great article…tnx for posting. :)

    0
  54. 60

    Does GIMP do vectors?

    0
  55. 61

    too bad creature house’s Expression isn’t here. it was a great way to emulate painting using vector strokes. far ahead of illustrator at the time for natural media emulation.
    doubly too bad microsoft bought them out and isn’t planning on releasing a mac version.

    0
  56. 62

    Erik Kubitschek

    December 7, 2008 6:12 am

    I would just like to take a moment to thank you for putting together such an amazing site.

    Happy Holidays!!

    0
  57. 63

    I see that you chose to miss out a few of the obvious choices. I’m a little surprised as I guess a percentage of your readers are new to the industry.

    I was more surprised that you did not include Fireworks. As the toolbox and layout in a number of Adobe products are almost identical, it’s a good choice for anyone who is familiar with these but requires a simple vector design solution, especially for the web.

    -1
  58. 64

    Normally I like what Smashing puts together, but I have to agree that not including the major players (Illustrator and CorelDraw) is a huge oversight for one simple fact. These are the *industry* standards. Which means if you actually want to have your file work in the industry and be suitable for both print and web then you really should train on the standards. Training on something that isn’t the standard is a huge waste of time for everyone.

    These might be good *hobby* programs but they are no substitute for the industry standards.

    -2
  59. 65

    Quite impressive listing, many new tools.. good listing

    -1
  60. 66

    I used Xara Xtreme for years, and it’s still one of the best vector programs i’ve used. If youre on Windows, its the best way to go after illustrator. I happen to use a Mac now, So..

    0
  61. 67

    jacques du toit

    December 8, 2008 3:00 am

    I use xfig constantly in producing images for my thesis. I am concerned with a three dimensional problem which makes drawing the images correctly near impossible considering their complexity. To this end, using octave -> (gnuplot) -> xfig -> latex has
    produced some wonderful images using the ps/latex export function in xfig. The construction of the underlying images in octave means they are mathematically exact and may be reproduced or tweaked at any time with very little effort and minor edits in xfig.

    0
  62. 68

    I am amazed that the editors of Smashing Magazine deleted the link to my personal blog from my previous comment – #53 (optimiced.com) – why (are you afraid of millions of visitors going to visit my personal website or what? LOL!)?

    I stand behind my words — that Adobe Fireworks (and Adobe Illustrator) should not have been omitted from the list of vector graphic editors. I wrote more than once on the topic of Adobe Fireworks and I firmly believe that this is one of the most powerful and flexible (and easy to use) graphic editors out there – excelling in the vectors’ field, especially!

    Yes, you have to pay for it (although it is not very expensive – less than USD 300 in the US), but some good things are not free – this includes Adobe software and beer;-)

    -3
  63. 69

    Would love to see a smackdown of actual curve quality. Only 2 products reviewed specifically mention splines, and none of them NURBS. I can’t stand Illustrator’s lumpy curves, and would love to find a quality 2D vector program that does great curves, not just Beziérs.

    Thanks for the work as usual – I appreciate the effort involved.

    0
  64. 70

    Nice list,
    some addions:
    1) Smartdraw (commerical, win only)
    2) Conceptdraw has a mac-version too
    3) I am missing xtreme (pro) for win (commerical)
    4) mayuradraw (shareware, win only)

    0
  65. 71

    Great article! The idea here is not to review the Adobe’s tools for vector graphics(or Corel’s). The idea of this article is to show that there is a real alternative of these editors. So, I don’t understand why so many people here are complaining about this. Why do you need a review for Illustrator for example? Or for Corel Draw? Even people who are not graphic designers know these products. Let’s show them that there is an alternative of them(and most important in these tough times – a free alternative). Inkscape is a great product! I have designed a couple of things for the print world(incl. t-shirts), exported in EPS and the results are looking really awesome on the printer!

    3
  66. 72

    CorelDRAW is the best !!! more better than illustrator, test it plz

    0
  67. 73

    There is a reason so many people have never heard of these editors before…because they aren’t any good. I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw Billy Mays pitching these vector editors along with his Pro Caulk tool kit. Do not waste your money on any of these. Save up for Illustrator and also save yourself the headache of trying to work with sub-par software.

    -2
  68. 74

    This is a great list, and not hurt a bit by the absence of Illustrator or any other software. The advantage of a list like this is in offering people opportunities to try something they might overlook otherwise.

    I’ve used Inkscape and Scribus extensively on Windows and Linux platforms, and it’s true they have their flaws when compared to Illustrator and Pagemaker/InDesign (or Quark Xpress, which I like far better for DTP). But they cost nothing, and they are continually improving, and I have been impressed. I can see how you might have a problem with their performance if they were competing in the marketplace, but they are Open Source collaborative works and for many purposes, they work great.

    After you’ve got some experience with these, and after you save a little money, you can decide whether it’s worth it to lay out cash for the name-brand product.

    Thanks for the list! Time for me to look at some of those other offerings for Linux.

    1
  69. 75

    illustrator.. corel.. freehand.. fireworks?

    -2
  70. 76

    Great List Thanks!

    0
  71. 77

    COREL DRAW???? has fine gradients and transparencies, supports lots of files…. and the list goes on ;;)

    -1
  72. 78

    Wow! What a lot of effort went into cobbling that list together – and in the sub-editing. What on earth does: “In September 2005, it was defended successfully” mean?

    Why do I get the feeling that the author had a target of twenty apps, and just trawled through Google until they reached twenty candidates? Particularly the last one – I thought everyone knew that Inkscape had taken over from Sodipodi, so why list them both?

    0
  73. 79

    you forgot MS Expression Design??? so, it is intented to creat user interface graphics, it is worthy to mention.

    0
  74. 80

    I miss creature house expression, which microsoft bought and destroyed. It started the vector brush concept and had automatic bezier curves which most apps still don’t offer.

    -2
  75. 81

    I think the whole point here was to give information on alternatives to the huge players, like Adobe Illustrator. Why write about something that everyone and his grandmother already knows about?

    Hence, I’m kind of amazed the rather large amount of commentators don’t pick up on that (especially the one guy which should be having its own blog, looking at his comment length).

    Great list, it’ll give me some alternatives to try out when designing open source graphics.

    1
  76. 82

    hmm.. its interesting..
    I never used anything except CorelDraw..

    0
  77. 83

    illustrator Coreldraw? you seem to hate the best

    -2
  78. 84

    @ [post 59]

    Last I heard paint.NET wasn’t a vector program.

    I think a lot of folks here don’t understand the diff. between raster & vector?

    Later…

    -1
  79. 85

    I wonder why CorelDRAW is not listed.

    -1
  80. 86

    hei!i think you forgot somethink like CorelDraw X4!…

    0
  81. 87

    I’m surprised that you included ConceptDraw but not Visio. ConceptDraw is a Visio clone!

    Anyway, great list of apps, nice to have the platforms listed in the titles too!

    0
  82. 88

    Good to see alternatives other than the top two tiers (CorelDraw and Illustrator). I have personally used CorelDraw ever since version 5 and only picked up illustrator (if compulsary) at the CS version (i found illustrator to be bit too technical). but this is a great list to show that there is an alternative. i’m trying to migrate to opensource softwares through the years (an advocate of free thought…opensource is an idea that is..nay should be for the people).
    Just tried Inkscape and Gimp for a year now and although i haven’t used it as steady as my mentioned payed softwares they were enough to raise an eyebrow. i actually teach my students to explore other avenues of production for two things…one to be able to learn to adapt and use alternatives..and the other…simply…TO stick it to the man!!! hah!!! teenagers love doing that.

    0
  83. 89

    Xara is great software. It’s way easier than Illustrator and it has the friendly feeling like Corel Draw, ofcoz it cost only fraction of Illustrator. I have to use Illstrator at work, I admit I hate Illustrator UI, it’s so clunky….

    0
  84. 90

    Hamranhansenhansen

    April 19, 2010 5:34 pm

    Illustrator, Fireworks, and Flash all make vectors and would make this list much more complete.

    Opacity would make a great addition also. Its drawing tools are fairly limited, but it creates JavaScript output that is really cool.

    -1
  85. 91

    sara lovelace

    July 25, 2011 8:11 am

    I have my own small IT company and have
    been using Network Diagram Software
    for a while now. The program is comprehensive and reliable. I would recommend
    anyone in this field to try it out and see how easy it is to use.

    1
  86. 92

    I’ve worked with a goodly number of these programs, both on mac and windows, for many years. Hands down, Xara wins out, over every vector program available. It pains me that Xara (Magix) has dropped the Mac version. I own both macs and windows machines, and find it a pain that I can’t put Xara Xtreme/Designer on my Mac. Just the fact that Xtreme is 1000 times faster (screen redraws) than Illustrator should tell you something. Xreme/Designer can do most or all of what Illustrator can do, but it can do it faster on a slower computer! Plus, it totally rocks for doing things like designing multipage publications, including fabulous websites, like magazines, that can be output to cmyk, or as a pdf which can then be sent to your favorite online flip page service and put on the internet. It’s completely amazing. The cheaper programs mentioned in the list are immature, underpowered and slow. Their feature sets are small, as well. Go with Xara, and for you Mac users, contact Xara and demand that they reinitiate development of a mac version. It’s really worth it.

    If you’re curious about how I can make such statements, I own my own graphics/website/marketing company, and have been at this for almost 20 years. I’ve had illustrations in many magazines around the world, including Scientific American, Spectrum, and others. I’ve designed/developed many websites, all using only Xara Xtreme, as well as many illustrations. I have lots of experience in this topic. FYI

    0
    • 93

      Xara is definitely the fastest and easiest to use. It is limited in some features that are in Illustrator and Corel, but if fast illustration is what you want – Xara is king. It’s blend tools are superior. It’s boolean tools are far less satisfactory, but easy to access. Inkscapes boolean operations are superior.
      I use an older version of Xara on Windows. The one problem that occurs in trading files. If you have to get something to someone who only has Illustrator – you have to watch carefully – how you construct a file. Many of Xara great blend tools become useless in these cases. But that is the case with using any other program. I use Inkscape a lot for simple stuff – as it requires only modest concerns if the file needs to be imported into Illustrator.

      -1
  87. 94

    adobe have totally lost the way – i have been using illustrator since the version called “88” and watching it getting riddled with “featuritis” – getting slower, more complicated, confusing and expensive. I am looking for a good alternative with a simple and elegant interface to create vector illustrations – unfortunately Inkscape crashed too often and the interface was more suited to a programmer, rather than an artist, similar to GIMP which I was considering for bitmap graphics. I wish someone created a simple vector illustration program with artists in mind. Will look into Xara but seems are also trying to do too much of everything.

    2
  88. 95

    I wish CorelDraw would port to mac, I think its the best vector software out there, bugs and all. they are missing out on a large market too.

    I tend to use Skencil, inkscape or Xara although I do have parallels with CorelDraw x5 installed.

    1
  89. 96

    There are many options, but those who work with CMYK?

    0
  90. 97

    I clicked the link to download Xara Extreme and it took me to a download for a Linux version, but there was a place to go for windows version, but it is NOT free! It is $249.00, why is that? And it is called designer Pro 7 there also, never saw Extreme. Also I had downloaded it earlier to try, I think it is way easier than Illustrator to use, but when I tried saving files, they seemed to look distorted on the web. Weird. So I am leary to buy it. But Adobe is really pushing my buttons lately!!
    UGH! Also the Synfig link does not work!

    -1
  91. 98

    Barbara Born

    June 19, 2013 12:07 pm

    I wanted to follow up regarding ConceptDraw PRO. CS Odessa has just released an update to ConceptDraw PRO which increases efficiency and adds new vector libraries to help users diagram ideas and processes, map out locations of any scale, and see connections and outcomes in real time.

    5

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