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Download Adobe Illustrator for free or with Creative Cloud

Download Adobe Illustrator
(Image credit: Adobe)

If you want to download Adobe Illustrator, Adobe has a range of subscription options that can make the process seem complicated, but fear not. This guide will explain everything you need to know about how to download Adobe Illustrator for free or with a Creative Cloud subscription. 

Adobe's vector drawing software is the industry standard used by artists, illustrators, designers, art directors and marketing professionals to create all kinds of scalable artwork, graphics and illustrations on a Mac, a PC or an iPad. This guide will walk you through the steps to download Illustrator for free (to try it out) or to buy it as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription that's best for you.

If you want the full Adobe suite, check out our roundup of the best Adobe Creative Cloud discounts available now. You might also want to take a look at how to download Photoshop, and our guide to the best cloud storage.

Download Adobe Illustrator: everything you need to know

Can I download Adobe Illustrator for free?

Yes, you can download Adobe Illustrator CC for free as a trial. The free trial gives you seven days to play around with the full version of the drawing software to see if it's right for you. This is the only legitimate way to download Adobe Illustrator for free. Of course, there are pirated versions around online, but downloading one would mean breaking the law and putting your devices and data at risk from viruses and malware. This could allow people to steal your identity, take money from your bank account, or worse, so we certainly wouldn’t recommend it. 

To download Adobe Illustrator CC for a free trial, you’ll need an Adobe ID. If you don’t already have one, it's quick – and free – to set one up. Next, you’ll need to enter your credit card details. Don’t worry – as long as you cancel your account in good time, you won’t get charged. If you decide to continue with a subscription, payment will be taken automatically each month.

How do I buy Illustrator CC?

There’s only one way to access Adobe Illustrator beyond the seven-day trial, and that's as part of a Creative Cloud membership. For that, you'll need to pay a monthly or annual subscription. There are two broad options. The first, and cheapest, is to subscribe to Illustrator only. The second option is to take out an All Apps subscription. This is more expensive but includes access to all of Adobe's Creative Cloud apps, along with a range of other benefits. (If you’re not sure whether other CC apps might be useful for you, see our Adobe software list for the full breakdown). 

If an All Apps subscription seems too expensive, don’t despair: Adobe often runs promotions that bring the cost down. There are also discounts for students and teachers, and separate pricing for businesses, schools and universities. It’s always worth checking what deals are available.

How much does Illustrator CC cost?

Download Adobe Illustrator: Stylised illustration of flowers

Illustration by Karan Singh (Image credit: Adobe/Karan Singh)

The cheapest option is to buy Illustrator CC through an individual Illustrator subscription. At the time of writing, that costs £19.97 / $20.99 / AU$29.99 per month if you commit to an annual plan. For that price, you get a subscription to Adobe Illustrator CC, plus 100GB of cloud storage, Adobe Portfolio, Adobe Fonts, and Adobe Spark. 

The alternative is to buy Illustrator CC through the Creative Cloud All Apps package, which gives you access to Illustrator as well as Adobe’s entire collection of creative desktop and mobile apps. This costs £49.94 / $52.99 / AU$76.99 on an annual plan, but look out for deals because Adobe often runs promotions, for example during Black Friday.

Adobe Illustrator discounts for teachers and students

If you’re a student or teacher, you can buy Illustrator as part of a discounted All Apps plan at a much lower rate. This will usually allow you to get the entire Creative Cloud suite of apps along with 100GB cloud storage, Adobe Portfolio, Adobe Fonts, and Adobe Spark, for just $15.99 / £13.15 / AU$21.99 per month for the first year. The price rises to $29.99 / £25.28 / AU$43.99 the following year.

How to get started with Illustrator

Download Adobe Illustrator: Six stylish letters against colourful backgrounds

Typography by Lidia Lukianova (Image credit: Adobe/Lidia Lukianova)

After you download Adobe Illustrator, check out our roundup of the best Illustrator tutorials to help you get started with the software. These tutorials can help you to expand your skills and knowledge whatever your level of expertise. Whether you want to design a complex illustration or just a simple icon, our selection of tutorials is bound to reveal new tips that could help you to be more productive and creative in your work with Illustrator.

If you're looking to save time and effort with Illustrator, make sure you check out our roundup of the best illustrator plugins. Finally, if you’re looking for Illustrator brushes, we've sought out the best the internet has to offer, both free and premium options.

Illustrator CC: Key details you need to know

Adobe Illustrator is a sophisticated drawing programme based on vector graphics, which are infinitely scalable. That means your work can be scaled down for mobile screens, scaled up to billboard size and can cover everything in-between without losing resolution.

The software was first released in 1987, and it remains one of the most used tools among professional illustrators, visual artists, graphic designers and web designers. It's widely used to create quality artwork, from simple shapes and backgrounds to icons, logos and emojis, social media graphics, infographics, cartoons, charts, diagrams and graphs, and of course full-blown illustrations and digital art.

As part of a CC subscription plan, you receive all Illustrator updates at no extra cost, so you can guarantee you'll always be using the latest software. The latest version is Adobe Illustrator 2020. The big news with its release was the introduction of Illustrator for iPad, but the 2020 edition also introduced version history and better ways to share work with collaborators. You can read more about the latest updates to the software on Adobe's blog.

Download Adobe Illustrator for Android and iOS

The last update to Illustrator made the software finally available for the iPad, a move that was welcomed by many designers. There are still no signs of a full Android version of Illustrator – there's only Adobe Illustrator Draw – nor is there any plan to launch Illustrator for the iPhone as far as we know. 

Illustrator alternatives

For our money, the best Illustrator alternative is Affinity Designer, which was launched in 2014 by Serif, the makers of Affinity Photo and Affinity Publisher. Affinity Designer is available for Mac, Windows and iPad for a one-off fee rather than a subscription. Affinity's three low-cost apps are interoperable, in a similar way to Creative Cloud apps, although there’s no equivalent to services like Adobe Fonts and Adobe Stock.

For digital design, our favourite Illustrator alternative is Sketch, which has become one of the most used vector editors for UI and icon design since its release in 2010. However, Sketch is only available for Macs. If you're looking for more options, see our full list of Illustrator alternatives.

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Rosie Hilder

Rosie Hilder is the acting editor of Creative Bloq. Before joining the CB team in 2018, she worked on a range of print titles, including Time Out Buenos Aires, Computer Arts, 3D World, Paint & Draw and Mac|Life. Her interests lie in branding and illustration, tech and sexism, and plenty more in-between. This year, she was delighted to be invited to join the judging panel on the Brand Impact Awards.