Unlike raster graphics that use pixels, vector graphics use paths, points, shapes, polygons, lines and curves to represent images. They have the advantage of being scaled without any loss in clarity or degradation.
In this post, we will review some of the best free vector graphics software that are built upon this visual system as its core technology. Let’s dive right in!
Can these free vector graphics software replace Illustrator?
Adobe Illustrator is the industry-standard software for creating and editing vector graphics, however, it has an expensive Creative Cloud subscription. It’s not always the most cost-effective solution for many. Thankfully, it’s not the only choice. There are many Adobe Illustrator alternatives out there that are free.
We compared Illustrator to some of the most known graphic design software (free and paid):
- Comparing Illustrator vs Photoshop, both to look at the differences between the vector and raster but also to see how the premium CC software differ.
- Comparing Illustrator to Affinity Designer, to see how cheaper vector software can be up to par with the more expensive ones.
- Comparing Illustrator to GIMP, both to put the raster and vector technologies head-to-head, but also to see how free software can compete with paid ones.
With the use of free vector graphics software, you will be able to create high-quality vector illustrations that you can scale as much as you want without loss of quality. Using such software you can create a page layout, watermarks, logos, sharp-edged artistic illustrations, block diagrams and charts.
The following list doesn’t come in any particular order, and can be used on various operating systems.
It’s a free and quick-paced cross-platform tool that is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux, in addition to a web-based version.
It has an intuitive user interface that will make you get very comfortable using it almost right away. The whole software is actually easy to learn and simple to use.
You can create high-resolution designs, brochures, web elements, posters, logos, presentation and much more. It’s featured with typography support, custom shapes and a layering system. It comes with all the necessary drawing tools like pen and pencil.
It also offers you various import formats like AI, EPS, PNG, JPEG and more. Not to mention that the scalability option is quite remarkable.
The browser-based application allows you to save and synchronize your work in real time. It also supports real-time sharing, which is great for collaboration.
Official Website: Vectr
7. Synfig Studio
This is a 2D vector animation software that is very powerful. It produces high quality and dynamic images besides being a cross-platform tool that you can run on Windows, Mac and Linux.
Synfig is highly adaptable, with an excellent support for multi-layer edition. In other words, it allows you to use different types of layers, apply real-time effects on a single or a group of layers. We’re talking about more than 50 layers here. Moreover, it has unlimited possibilities when it comes to using gradients, fractals, geometry, filters, distortions and transformation.
In addition to that, it has very advanced features for animation. It provides you with tweening features and it calculates in between frames automatically.
Beyond that, it has sophisticated character rigging and puppet creation, granting you the possibility to even use arithmetic expressions. Not to mention that it offers you a Bone system to control your vector artwork in a skeleton-like way.
Official Website: Synfig Studio
Another open-source free vector based software that will allow you to create high quality graphics. Using it, you can create stunning logos, icons, web elements, heading designs and more. It’s extensively used by startups, agencies and SMEs. Besides that, it functions on HTML5 canvas with Google Drive.
YouiDraw provides you with many brushes that are customizable with various textures. In addition to that, it comes with all the modern drawing tools such as the pencil, pen and switch elements plus color options.
Moreover, you can benefit from many custom options, like border size, text, shapes and so on. When it comes to logo creation, the system empowers you with very convenient tools and features to control your draws. For example, you have the freehand logo tools, the quick styles, templates and vector logo effects. There’s a browser version called YouiDraw Logo Creator if you like.
Official Website: YouiDraw
It’s a free 2D visuals creator that allows you to create static or interactive visuals. To be more specific, it’s a scripting tool that uses Python programming language and then exports the work as a PDF file among other options. NodeBox is well documented, so there’s no need to worry when you get stuck: you will find answers with a simple search.
The system allows you to create various shapes with high edge definition, ranging from rectangles, ovals, arrows, stars and so on. It also generates paths, and you can even deconstruct them into contours.
In addition to that, you can insert points on the path in any position you want even if it’s arbitrary. This feature can be applied to text as well, besides the support of text and line wrapping.
Official Website: NodeBox
This one is a popular open-source free vector editing software among publishers in particular. It allows you to create professional page layouts, clean designs and flexible typesetting. It produces high quality image settings, along with excellent tools to create interactive PDFs and animated presentations and forms. There are a lot of examples for use cases, like newspapers, brochures, newsletters, books, posters and other printed media.
If you are in the publishing industry, then this tool will be perfect for you. It supports the CMYK color mode and ICC management. We can safely say that it’s a leading software that competes with flagship commercial brands like Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress. Not to mention that it provides you with various export formats like SVG.
Official Website: Scribus
3. Xara Xtreme
If you use one of the Unix platforms, then this free vector art software is an ideal choice for you. It’s a little old, but it works as a professional vector program for Linux, FreeBSD and Mac. Using it, you can create a variety of graphics such as logos, icons, illustrations, maps, diagrams, etc.
It was formerly known as Xara LX before switching to the current brand name. It’s such a fast and slick program that will provide with many advanced tools and features. It’s quite suitable for beginners since it has a fine learning curve. In addition to that, you can find rich learning material and a large community of users to help you out when stuck. Not to mention the amazing and smooth render engine: it grants the whole system a great performance that you will notice very clearly, casting a spell upon your workflow.
Official Website: Xara Xtreme
2. Gravit Designer
This interesting free vector graphics software comes with a powerful set of tools, besides being very flexible and fast. The simplicity of the workflow and the clean interface makes it easy to navigate and master. Not to mention that you can customize it to the way that will suit you best.
Furthermore, it produces high quality graphics that can be used for social media and print media alike. The toolset includes dashboards, drag and drop functionalities and excellent editing tools. It’s featured with color and lighting adjustments, filters and blending modes.
It offers the possibility of creating smart shapes that are geometrically flexible: they have primitives and control points. Moreover, it has many alignment options, rulers and smart guides for more precision.
In addition to that, the Gravit dashboard allows you to change the width and height of the doc. It also has a large library of predefined templates that will help you create graphics seamlessly. We can mention for example the business card, flyer and banner templates.
For the typography options, you can control the text according to font, styles, lines, spacing and so on. When it comes to the import and export options, you have various formats like PDF, EPS, AI, Sketch file and much more.
Official Website: Gravit Designer
It’s an open-source free vector graphics software that is very efficient for vector art creation. It uses SVG files and provides you with many features, such as clones, Alpha blending, markers and more. In addition to the great performance even with complex operations, Inkscape is also capable of editing nodes and tracing bitmaps as well.
The software has a stable and beautiful interface for a better user experience. It will definitely be a contributing factor in the process of producing professional vector graphics easily and quickly.
Furthermore, it has super handy export options besides format conversions like AI, PSD, PNG, EPS and PDF among others. Moreover, it uses command lines, which make it a very powerful scripting program. It has many advanced features and tools besides the fact that it’s free: this advantage makes it a great alternative to the top commercial software. We even compared Illustrator to Inkscape just to showcase this point!
Official Website: Inkscape
We hope you found this list useful and informative. Comment below if you think that we’ve missed something or if you have any other suggestions. If you happen to know other free vector graphics software, please leave them in the comments and we will include them in future posts.
If you’re an Android or iOS user, you’re interested in vector art and don’t have a PC we got you covered! You can check our extensive list of vector drawing apps for iPad and also our selection of Android vector apps.