Adobe Illustrator is often considered the gold standard of vector software for Mac. However, you can use alternatives to create crisp artwork and beautiful diagrams. Illustrator alternatives exist, and they give you some compelling options when you’re short on cash.
Read More, vector imaging software The Best Vector Software for Mac Designers on a Budget The Best Vector Software for Mac Designers on a Budget Adobe Illustrator might be the gold standard when it comes to vector software for the Mac, but you don't always have to spend a fortune on design software. 88 Comments on Is Mac or PC Better for Graphic Designers? May 22, 2015 at 12:06 pm. And that’s the best reason to choose a Mac. PC’s needs a lot more system maintenance than a Mac, even today, and time is money. What would you recommend to a beginner graphic designer on a budget (Software, MAC or PC and what type, etc)keeping. A graphics software authority with web design and print publishing credentials. Updated November 16, 2018 Even if you can't afford to purchase photo editing software, you can still find free software to create and edit images.
The Best Image Editing App for Mac OS X. (or other expensive image editing software). If you just need to make basic edits, it is worth a look. Lifehacker’s App Directory is a new.
If you’re looking for a Mac vector editor to use in your next project you should try one of these free vector editors or cheap Adobe Illustrator alternatives first. This is the best vector software for macOS that you can use for free or buy on a budget.
What Are Vector Graphics?
For those who are still new to the concept, Vector graphics use mathematical equations along a 2D axis to draw lines and shapes inside a fixed space. This differs from raster images, which are pixel-based. When you scale a raster image past its max resolution, it “stretches” and becomes blurry. With vector graphics, you can scale up and down infinitely.
This flexibility means that vector graphics are incredibly useful for design purposes. They are great for creating icons, logos, diagrams, charts, posters, magazines, and other scalable artwork.
1. Inkscape (Free)
Inkscape is probably the most versatile free vector editor for Mac. With a long history of development and a keen fanbase, Inkscape works on all three major operating systems and costs nothing.
Inkscape uses an open-source development model (like these other free open-source mac apps15 Free Open-Source Mac Apps You Must Install15 Free Open-Source Mac Apps You Must InstallWant to use some open source software on your Mac? These macOS apps are open-source, awesome, and best of all... free!Read More), and as a result its technological progress is often slower than that of its commercial rivals. Inkscape prides itself on its full compatibility with the W3C open standard SVG, and strives to make itself one of the most user-friendly SVG editors for Mac on the market.
Despite this user accessibility, newcomers may feel a little out of their depth when trying it out. To help, there’s extensive documentation and answers to your questions within the Inkscape forums.
Note: Mac users may need to download XQuartz in order to run Inkscape. So if you’re not a fan of additional downloads, this might be a hassle.
Verdict: Inkscape is the best open-source vector graphics software for Mac, and the closest you’ll come to Adobe Illustrator if your budget is zero.
2. Vectr (Free)
Vectr is a free vector editor built on web technology. You can download Vectr for Windows, Linux, or Chrome OS, or run the browser version through macOS.
The app comes with a promise of being “free forever,” and its tools are mostly focused on creative vector drawings, such as logos, brochures, and posters.
Best of all? Vectr includes a comprehensive user guide and tutorials, so you can learn how to use it effectively in very little time.
Verdict: A free, web-based tool with excellent customer support via online tutorials.
3. LibreOffice Draw (Free)
LibreOffice is a popular open-source alternative to Microsoft Office, and it comes with its own vector drawing program called “Draw”. Unfortunately LibreOffice Draw isn’t as feature-rich as some of the other programs on this list, but it does have a few accessories.
The free vector editor seems to be aimed at users who want to create flowcharts or diagrams. It also has the ability to create technical drawings and brochures. LibreOffice Draw is also a great Mac vector editor for those looking to create network diagrams—all without a high degree of artistic skill.
Note: If you’re looking to create artwork, then Inkscape might be a better choice.
Verdict: Lacks the polish of some other programs. If you were previously using LibreOffice, you might already have it installed.
Best Editing Software
4. DrawBerry (Free)
DrawBerry won’t “wow” you with its features or extensive help documentation, but it still works on the latest version of macOS, so it may be worth a shot.
This free vector editor for Mac is very lightweight, and although it lacks the features of more advanced programs, its simplicity is key to its appeal. While seasoned graphic designers will be pining for more advanced features, if you need a logo for your low-to-no-budget project, you can do a lot worse than DrawBerry.
Verdict: Despite being ancient and lacking in features, it still works. It’s also still free, and it might do the job if you don’t need a hefty vector editor.
5. Boxy SVG ($9.99)
Boxy is a type of vector graphics software for Mac with similar functionality to Inkscape. It has its own Mac app available through the App Store, and can import and support SVG file extensions. It can also support PNG, JPEG, and GIF.
When you’re using Boxy, transform tools, grouping tools, and painting tools are all supported with preset shapes, along with support for gradients and patterns.
Verdict: Boxy is a nice entry to the vector graphics category built on web technology. It’s lightweight and begging to be played with.
Download:Boxy SVG ($9.99)
6. Autodesk Graphic ($29.99)
Previously known as iDraw, Autodesk Graphic is a great lightweight vector editor for Mac. It’s more expensive than it used to be, but it still maintains a robust feature set with full support for SVG, PDF, and AI (Illustrator) formats. It also has layered PSD imports and exports for photoshop users.
Featuring a good range of tools for drawing and sketching, Autodesk Graphic makes for a great choice for a SVG editor when you’re a designer on a budget. You can also download Autodesk Graphic for iPad, which uses iCloud to sync. This way you can access your designs on the go.
Verdict: A proper vector editor above all else.
Download:Autodesk Graphic ($29.99)
7. Pixelmator ($39.99)
Pixelmator is one of our favorite vector editor alternatives on this list. The app provides limited support for vector drawing with shape and lines.
Pixelmator has a range of in-built shapes and tools for mapping out vectors, though professional users who are used to the advanced features in Illustrator will probably be left wanting more.
Best Photo Editing Software For Mac
Verdict: A great app that can perform many common tasks.
8. Affinity Designer ($49.99)
After the glowing reception it received for the raster editor “Affinity Photo”, Serif Labs introduced Affinity Design to take on the vector editor market. It specifically targets Adobe Illustrator’s subscription model by offering the program for a one-time fee instead of a monthly cost.
Affinity claims to have the best PSD import engine around. While we’re not sure Adobe would agree with this, Affinity does support PSD, PDF, SVG, AI, Freehand and EPS file formats.
There’s 16-bit per channel editing, support for slices, realtime masks, adjustment layers, and graphics tablet support.
All of this comes alongside the usual features that you would expect from such a program—a great pen tool, curve editing, smart shapes, flexible text, and several workspace templates designed for web and print. You can also use raster-style effects for the best of both worlds.
Verdict: A serious vector editor alternative to Illustrator, with no subscription fees.
Download:Affinity Designer ($49.99)
9. Sketch ($99)
The most expensive of the SVG editors for Mac on this list, Sketch bills itself as a professional vector program for designers.
Built for ease of use, Sketch aims to produce high quality vector drawings. There’s even a Sketch Mirror companion app that allows you to preview your designs live on your device as you work.
As you’d expect from a professional app, Sketch has all the bases covered: an advanced UI, excellent text rendering and a slew of grids and guides to help you design to your heart’s content. You can learn the ins and outs of the program with the Sketch support pages.
You can also get a helping hand with your project by downloading community resources, ranging from iOS development kits to icon templates.
Sketch offers a 15-day free trial, so you can try this vector editor out beforehand. The only downside? You’ll need to renew your license on a yearly basis.
While this yearly renewal is still less expensive than Adobe’s subscription model, it can definitely get pricey if you’re on a budget.
Verdict: Sketch is up there with the best of the best when it comes to vector software for Mac. Unfortunately it also has a price tag to match.
Vector Software That Didn’t Make the Cut
If you’re thinking “there must be more out there!” then you’d be right. There are a lot of apps that didn’t make the cut, and here’s a few so you can dismiss them entirely:
- Xara Xtreme: A free, open-source version of the premium Windows project, the mac version of Xara Xtreme was previously in development. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like the project has had an update since 2008.
- Skencil: A free vector drawing program for Linux that will run on macOS. Unfortunately there have been no updates since 2010.
- Karbon: A great free package that’s open-source, but it requires the whole Calligra Suite to be installed to use it. We guess it’s worth a try if you’re unsatisfied with Inkscape or Boxy SVG.
What’s Your Favourite Vector Software for Mac?
Did we miss any great vector packages for macOS? If so, let us know about your favorite vector software in the comments below. And then take a look at why it’s important to know how to change the DPI of an image3 Ways to Change the DPI of an Image3 Ways to Change the DPI of an ImageIn this article, we explain everything you need to know about DPI and how to change the DPI of an image in different ways.Read More, especially if you’re a designer.
Explore more about: Graphic Design, Image Editor, Mac App Store, Open Source, Vector Graphics.
Something new on the Mac App Store - ZeldDesigner
Boxy isn't free anymore.
You forgot Gravit Designer. It's web based, but it's much more advanced than Vectr.
Boxsvg is not free anymore. US$10
I've been using inkscape for lack of free alternatives on macos. I like it most of the time but quite slow because it's on xquartz I guess.. and mouse/keyboard mapping sometimes a bit confusing. ctrl c instead of cmd c for example.
Now it seems I can try others.
Ironically, I came here as I use Sketch but it doesn't import AI files (apparently. Correct me if I'm wrong). So I came looking for an app to import ai and export as pdf or svg, to be imported into Sketch..
Create, by Andrew Stone, was pretty good... still works... keeps a library... (belight's app isn't here?) what's the best way to transfer workable images between them? Pdf? .eps? I've used .pdf to share vector files between Mac apps, although in 3D apps it seems to strip down to a basic skeleton of the image.... but editable.
It's obvious the author is Canadian; which means he's funny and he owns a lot of coats. Sounds like I have a couple of free options for vector software. Glad I found this article.
Canvas Draw is back!!!
Affinity Designer very good
What about Affinity Designer? Is that any good?
You forgot the Illustrator-Killer-App: Affinity Designer. It supports CMYK, Lab-Colors, 16-Bit colors, Imports Illustrator, PDF and Freehand-Files(!) and is superfast.
Would you stop with the 'Illustrator Killer' nonsense!? If you worked at any level with AI, you'd know what Affinity Designer nowhere near AI's capabilities. You simply can't replace a program that has been around over 20 years with a 'new kid on the block' app that has been developed in a year, poorly implemented, has vague features, and tons of bugs.
Well that's exactly what Sketch could be described as as well, during its first 2 years its popular existence, but it still meant the very abrupt end of photoshops (impressive) 25+ year reign over (UI) design land... it just took another 1.5 years untill you wouldn't get hired anywhere anymore without knowledge of Sketch.
That alone makes Sketch one of the best options on this list.. although they still (and will) need to improve one or two things before I personally will write off illustrator entirely. And budget isn't even any factor in this choice making.
I love Inkscape on Linux Ubuntu. On MacosX is painful -> 1/2 of screen is displayed
PixelMator 3.3.3 doesn't support SVG format
Pixelmator does not — at any version — support ANY vector format import/export.
Your article is misleading. I just paid $30 for Pixelmator based on this article as well as the description on the website. I found only after the purchase, Pixelmator does not support import or export of vector images. I located 2 very long threads on their support blog of many angry customers that made the same mistake as me or almost made it and there is absolutely no response from Pixelmator support to any of the blog posts dating back more than 3 years. I do not recommend this app!
PixelMatr deos support vector gracia (although not SVG) but you need to switch to VectorMator mode - CMD-SHIFT-V
No it does not. Even switch to VectorMator mode, it just converts vector graphic into pixel map.
Thanks for a great list! And you might consider updating this article, now that Serif has Affinity Photos available for beta-testing. I have Adobe CS5.5 Web & Design Premium--was required for school. I've had iDraw for over a year and it's my go to for doing a quick logo or simple drawing. Because it doesn't have the extras like Photoshop and Illustrator special effects, it loads faster than Illustrator so I can get to work sooner. iDraw has all the basic tools for creating vector-based images and then some--like being able to create buttons for websites and drop that code into your document. It's also got some cool features for those who develop apps for for iOS. iDraw documents now provide sub-layers and grouping those sub-layers=very convenient. I found the PDF User Guide to be instructive for not only using the software, but for those who've never used a vector creation app or with limited knowledge or use, the User Guide educates about vectors vs. raster and what the different tools can do.
I've gotten 2-3 free updates to iDraw since I purchased it, and these have made the software easier to use, and added functionality. I intend to get Pixelmator and possibly the Affinity apps. I'm currently beta-testing Affinity Photos; and while it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of Photoshop, I don't want or need all of those bells and whistles.
Just paid $30 (the revised price) based on your blog post for Pixelmator and it DOES NOT support vector files.
'Vectormator' mode merely opens up all of the tools/palette windows which include some vector-based shapes. IT DOES NOT give you any ability to open, edit, or save actual vector images. That's a big ole FAIL :(
Please do your homework before misinforming your readers.
I was similarly disappointed. However, on closer inspection, it actually does kinda do vector editing. It’s just not “like” a real vector app in the way it does it. The view is ALWAYS raster-like at the documents set DPI. Combining and subtracting paths isn’t convenient like in a real vector app. And it rasterises even when exporting to PDF. As advertised it bills itself at a full featured (100%) vector app. At first glance, it infuriatingly seems to be barely a 5% featured vector editor. At a second glance though, it actually turns out to be… I’d say 30% featured. Still deserves the FAIL, of course, but just wanna say you might find it capable of at least some of the vector work you want to do.
Hi, Thank you for the listing.
I am doing graphic design and produce artwork that can be translated to end product. I am not strictly attached to any brands/product of the application/software. How ever being a nerdy at the 80's in my early age, I have been exposed to Broderbund's, Aldus', Adobe's etc.
How ever, when software and format limitation being a critical issue on some stages, such as software versions, machines and operators I always find that the native and raw format is the best solutions. Yet still, editable file are the main issue especially in collaboration cycle with others.
I'm using Inskcape on Mac/Linux/Windows for the past 5 years and still wondering which alternative application (or stack or applications) that can smoothly produce editable Ai format.
Affinity Designer is looking' good!
I miss ConceptDraw, non-commercial license cost me about $99. Impressive tool, compatible with Visio native format btw.
You are superman! thanks a LOT
good ;) thank you .
Long gone are the days where snapshots came back from the photo lab and disappeared into albums and shoe boxes. Now, digital photos are tweaked, adjusted, and remixed in ways their analog counterparts couldn't imagine.
Photo by NoiceCollusion.
Earlier this week we asked you to share your favorite image editing tool. The votes have been tallied and now we're back with the top five contenders for the crown of Best Image Editor.
Best Image Editing Tool?
Once the venue of seasoned photographers with dark rooms and bins of chemicals, photo touch ups and …Read more Read
Picasa (Windows/Mac/Linux, Free)
Picasa is the kind of application that geeks love because it's so simple and effective and non-geeks love because they usually don't have the time or inclination to get bogged down in the more technical aspects of digital photography. If your tech un-savvy mom or dad emailed you tomorrow and said she or he needed an easy-to-use program for organizing and editing photos, you'd likely send them to download Picasa. The built in editor is more than robust enough for most casual users and includes basic color correction, cropping, and a variety of special effects—the majority of which manage to avoid being cheesy. Picasa isn't a tool for deep and detailed editing, but it's extremely easy to use for the kind of quick crop and correct editing most digital camera owners need.
GIMP (Windows/Mac/*nix, Free)
GIMP has long been toted as the open-source competitor to Adobe Photoshop. Many people are quick to point out GIMP's shortcomings, claiming it isn't a true Photoshop replacement, but in the process they overlook what GIMP has accomplished. Without the extremely polished and commercially driven Photoshop to stand against, GIMP is almost entirely unrivaled in sophistication. Color correction, channel mixing, advanced cloning, paths, and layered compositions are all part of the GIMP package. There is very little the average Photoshop user does that can't be done in GIMP, and if you're not working for a company footing the bill for Photoshop, the free-as-in-beer price tag looks mighty fine.
Adobe Photoshop (Windows/Mac, $699)
Photoshop has achieved such status in the design community and such widespread recognition by the general public that even non-designers recognize what someone is saying when they exclaim, 'That's photoshopped!' Many of the techniques and methods that are standard across photo editing software were pioneered in Photoshop, like layers, slices, and image correcting macros and filters. On its own Photoshop is a titan of photo editing power, but thanks to a nearly complete dominance in the graphic editing industry, there are entire companies devoted to creating plugins for it. When it comes to manipulating images, if you can't do it in Photoshop, there's a strong chance you won't be able to do it at all. Photo by HVarga.
Paint.net (Windows, Free)
Paint.net was originally the senior project of some computer science students at Washington State University, taken on under the mentorship of Microsoft. The project exceeded expectations and has been in development now for 6 years. Over the years it has grown to include layer-based composition, blending, and support for plugins—the majority of which are designed by an active support community. The interface of Paint.net is easy to pick up, and an unlimited undo function makes correcting your learning-curve mishaps a snap—making Paint.net a favorite among Windows users looking for a no-nonsense (yet powerful) image editor.
Adobe Lightroom (Windows/Mac, $299)
Lightroom is on the same branch of the editing family tree as Picasa: a hybrid of an organizational tool and a photo editor. Unlike its big brother Photoshop, Lightroom wasn't designed to be a detailed pixel-by-pixel editing tool. Lightroom focuses on being a digital darkroom for modern photographers, allowing them to quickly make the corrections necessary to their workflows. Lightroom excels at batch work and advanced color balance corrections; photographers can even tether their cameras to their computers with Lightroom integrating directly into their editing workflow. Photoshop might be the appropriate tool for giving a single image a deep and intense workover, but Lightroom is the tool you call on when you have a huge batch of images from a photoshoot that need to be cropped, corrected, and made print ready as soon as possible. Photo by M. Keefe.
Now that you've seen the top five contenders for best image editing application, it's time to log your vote to determine who goes home with the crown.
Which Image Editor is Best?
( online surveys)
Can't believe your favorite editor didn't make it to the top five? Wishing a copy of Adobe Photoshop would fall off the back of a truck for you? Sound off in the comments below with your photo editing opinions.