- Platform: Windows
- Price: Free (Paid version £81.69)
Although at first sight you might think DrawPlus isn't really intended as an app for professionals, it's actually surprisingly capable, and as it's offered in a free version it muscled its way into our list of alternative vector apps.
DrawPlus is designed to be intuitive in use, and has a wide range of tools that mirror functionality in Illustrator, but in a more approachable manner.
There are also some nice extra features that are actually implemented in a more user-friendly way than Adobe's software – 3D being a prime example, where you can quickly make an object 3D via extrusion, apply a wide range of 3D styles or draw your own bevel profile that's instantly applied to your object. Similarly there's a collection of brushes and pre-defined templates to get you started working quickly.
The app works happily in CMYK, allowing you to easily output print-ready artwork and it's also capable of working with Pantone colour profiles.
- Platform: Mac
- Price: £34.99
This Mac-only vector editor is a slick, polished alternative to Illustrator, offering a full range of editing tools including a rich set of web options such as the ability to copy CSS styles directly to the the clipboard.
Built-in grid options for 960px and support from multiple artboards, many instances of the same effect (such as drop shadows, fills, gradients etc) and slices make this a great app for generating artwork intended for screen.
It's not designed for print work, however, so keep that in mind when comparing it directly to Illustrator.
That limitation aside, there are some really nice features that make this a lovely tool to use including the method in which you can edit and merge vector shapes in a non-destructive manner.
Text is rendered beautifully, and the pixel preview mode helps you see exactly what you'll get when you rasterise your artwork for the web.
As with Adobe Illustrator, there's also support for multiple artboards. And unlike Illustrator, these aren’t size constrained.
- Platform: Mac
- Price: Free (beta)
With those who balk at the price of Adobe Illustrator firmly in its sights, Serif's Affinity Designer for Mac is a pro drawing app that enables you to create crisp vector art. It features flexible layer management and a range of raster tools for finishing your images, and takes full advantage of native OS X technologies such as OpenGL, Grand Central Dispatch and Core Graphics.
Featuring a PSD import engine and with full support for Ai, PDF and EPS, Affinity Designer is the first in a new range of professional creative software for the Mac from Serif. It's currently in beta and is available to try out for free.
Words: Sam Hampton-Smith
Have we missed your favourite alternative to Illustrator? Tell us about it in the comments!