Graphic designers have to deal with software that can be expensive at times. Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator are the industry standard, but they can be quite pricey for some people. If you’re looking for an affordable alternative, then you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we will be discussing 10 software applications that are alternatives to Adobe Creative Cloud software for graphic designers. So whether you’re a student on a budget or just don’t want to spend a lot of money, these programs will suit your needs!
Alternative Software for Graphic Designers
You clicked on this article because you’re looking for alternatives to Adobe. The real truth is, if you’re going to compare apples to apples, there are no alternatives to Adobe. Adobe is the king of software for graphic designers, whether you’re looking at Illustrator or Photoshop – there’s nothing better out there than that software. So if you’re looking for an alternative, you’re kind of out of luck. But if you’re looking for something that you can design on and is more affordable for you right now, because maybe you’re at the beginning of your career and you don’t want to pay the subscription fees that Adobe Creative Cloud costs – whether it’s $20 for one app or it’s all the apps for $50-$80 bucks – there’s no shame there.
Regardless, I want you to know that there’s nothing as powerful and nothing out there that is as great as the Adobe software. I wanted to make sure I started off by saying that, but if you need to find something that’s more affordable for you, where you can pay a one-time fee, there are some good software programs out there that I’ve talked about in the past and that I want to talk about today. I’m going to give you guys 10–yes 10–alternative software programs to Photoshop and Illustrator.
Illustrator Software Alternatives
First, I want to get into Illustrator. I want to know first from you guys what you’re using as your day-to-day software. Are you using Adobe? Are you using something alternative? What brought you to this article? I’m trying to get more feedback from you and engage with people like yourself. The more I know, the better content I can create. So let me know what you guys are using for your design software now. The designer themselves is more important than the software, I believe, but the software for graphic designers are powerful tools to make you more efficient and to get the job done quicker. So I want to talk about first the thing that I use the most, and that is Adobe Illustrator. The alternatives to that are five options here that I’m going to go through really quick.
The first one is one I’ve talked about before: Affinity Design. Affinity Design is a great program; I would say it’s good even in comparison to Illustrator. But it lacks some of the features that Illustrator has. They do have an iPhone app which is nice, but no app for Android. The mobile app is a cool thing to have, but there are some limitations to it. There are some bugs and there are some just advanced features that Adobe Illustrator has, especially with their new AI tools that Affinity just does not have. But if you’re just getting started and you’re learning how to do raster-based art, Affinity Designer is a really great place to start.
The second one I want to talk to you guys about is CorelDRAW. Now, Corel is an industry veteran in the design space; it’s probably one of the top software programs out there. A lot of sign guys have been using CorelDRAW for decades – it’s probably as old as Adobe if not better or older. I can’t back that up with any data at the moment because I didn’t do research on that, but the truth is this: Corel has been around a long time, it’s very well established. I think that their subscription price is about $250 a year total for the year. That’s a really good price, especially in comparison to paying a much higher total annually or paying high fees monthly for the subscription software with Adobe. But I understand that you may not be as familiar with Corel and there is kind of a learning curve.
For number three, I want to jump over to Inkscape. I’ve never used this program specifically, but I’ve heard really good things. I did do some research in advance and Inkscape is a good alternative to Adobe Illustrator, so that might be something you want to look at. You want to do your due diligence there before you just jump into it, but I think that there’s a learning curve as well. They don’t have any mobile apps, like Android apps or iPhone apps, in the play store.
The next one is a program called Sketch. Sketch is a Mac-only software program, it is an Illustrator-type software, but it is limited. It does have a learning curve as well, so this is something you’re going to need to take into consideration. Like I said at the very beginning of this, nothing is going to be as good as Adobe Illustrator. I live and breathe that software – the designs that I create I’ve really been able to do my best work in that program. But if you’re looking for an alternative, you have these other ones: Affinity Designer, CorelDRAW, Inkscape, and Sketch.
Last but not least, you have Gravit Designer. Gravit Designer is actually a pretty popular one – they have a free version which is nice. So if you can’t afford to spend any money right now on a graphic design software that’s vector-based software, then you can check out Gravit. That’s it for number five, and that’s the end of our Illustrator-type alternative software for graphic designers.
Photoshop Software Alternatives
Let’s go ahead and jump into the Photoshop type software programs now. When it comes to photo editing, Photoshop is the ideal software for graphic designers. I consider this type of art and design to be like painting with photography or painting with pixels. You can do actual artwork, and you can actually paint with photos. It gives you more artistic ability than Illustrator does. Illustrator is more vector-based, so it’s more of like stamps and cutouts and sign type work. But there are some five alternatives to Adobe Photoshop that I want to give you guys.
The first one is Affinity Photo. This is going to give you a lot of great features – it’s a really cheap price, I think I paid $54 for the subscription one time. It’s a one-time cost. Now, if you want to get the newest version, you’ll have to pay probably additionally again for another one. But Affinity Photo, similar to Affinity Designer, is a great alternative if you can’t afford to pay for Photoshop. There’s nothing better than Photoshop. It lacks some of the features that Photoshop has, but it’s really introduced a lot of AI and it works well with other programs, so bouncing back and forth between Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, and all the different ecosystems that Adobe has built is what makes Adobe so powerful.
Number two is a rising star in the graphic design software market because the learning curve is so low due to the fact that there are so many people who have created templates for the software and that’s what Canva is for. It isn’t really intended for vector-based work, but if you want to create beautiful layout designs like InDesign type work, Canva might be an excellent alternative. There are a lot of things that you can do with it, like booklets and business cards. We actually take a lot of our designs and have templates inside of Canva. We as a team use Canva quite a bit especially for social media graphics. It’s easy to go in there and edit quickly for non-designers, so Canva is kind of the design program for non-designers. So if you’re just trying to get started and give yourself some sort of baseline, kind of like a template to work off of, Canva is a great resource for that.
The third one is an old-school program that is completely free and regularly updated. I remember when I was first using Adobe, I heard about this one and it’s called the GNU Image Manipulation Program, or GIMP. This one is another design software that you can use. It has a little bit of a learning curve but it’s pretty easy to use and highly customizable with plugins and the ability to write your own scripts in Python. It’s free and it’s been around a long time. It does lack some of those same features that you want to have in Adobe but this could be a good alternative for you. If you’re really on a tight budget, I would check out GIMP.
The next one I have here is Pixlr. I’ve actually used this one; it’s actually pretty decent software for graphic designers. It doesn’t have anywhere near the number of features that Adobe Photoshop does, but it’s a good software program with enough features to make it worthwhile to use. This is one you want to check out as well, especially if budget is what is stopping you from using the Adobe suite. If you’re using any of these, I would definitely love to hear from you. Let me know which one you guys are using.
So last but not least, this is number 10 of all the alternative software programs. I wanted to give you this is actually a popular one, and if there was any software that I felt was close to Photoshop or had comparable features and functionalities aside from maybe the Adobe ecosystem and that would be Procreate. I know a lot of talented artists use it. If you love to draw and you’re that type of artist maybe you’re doing logo sketches and things like that, Procreate is a really good alternative. At $10, it’s pretty affordable, as well, but it’s an iOS exclusive software program. It’s going to come in cheaper than Adobe, and this is something you can just get started with to wet your feet.
Final Thoughts on Alternative Software for Graphic Designers
Once you start making some money, you can start generating some revenue to use to invest in your business. Then, you can make the investment of your time and money and jump into Adobe like the pros that are out there. Anybody that’s a pro in Adobe is going to want to use something like Adobe because there’s just nothing else out there. The ecosystem of having Adobe stock, Adobe fonts, and all the different creative assets that you can put into that is really really helpful. So that’s what I have for you guys today if you were looking for 10 alternatives to Adobe. There you go, thank you guys so much for reading. I’m Adrian Boysel and I’ll see you in the next article. Until then, keep looking up.