Adobe Illustrator is by far the most effective vector-based design program out there. Many people shy away from working with it, though. There’s a steep learning curve for those who start out. Understanding how Photoshop works might be an easier task for beginners because we’re creating images. To understand vectors is, for many, way too abstract.
Why should you use vector-based design programs like Illustrator?
Creating images is one thing, creating with vectors gives you a whole lot more possibilities. There are things you should never design in a pixel-based program e.g. your logo and there are things that are better designed with software like Illustrator. Why?
Not sure what’s the difference between pixels and vectors? Check out this post on Most used design terms
Advantages of vector design
- Smaller file size
- Endlessly scalable, which means high resolution with a small file size
- Text can be converted into a path and modified easily
- Faster editing and correcting
- Creating detailed drawings and illustrations
What I use
When I started out in graphic design, I first learned Macromedia Freehand. This was my basis. Sadly, nothing lasts forever and Freehand was sold to Adobe and discontinued the software. There was no other way for me than to learn Illustrator and I hated it. Yeah, it’s true. Everything was so different from Freehand; I struggled for a very long time but came to good terms in the end. Now, I use it every day and can’t imagine using anything else. Almost everything you see on this blog was created in Illustrator. I have templates for my blog and social media images which allow me to create new images fast. But over time, I also tried other alternatives. Some were surprisingly good other not so much. Following are three I would recommend checking out:
3 alternatives if you’re not hooked on Adobe Illustrator
CorelDRAW is available for a monthly subscription just like CreativeSuite. Because of its wide range of drawing and vector tools, many professionals use it. The interface was immensely improved during the last years. That’s why it has become very popular.
High quality for a good price. Ready to use shapes of all kinds, export all common file types like PDF, JPG, EPS, text formatting, and brush sets for drawing your own stuff.
Artboard is the perfect tool for beginners. It’s affordable and easy to understand. The basic vector tools are there. You can design with shapes and paths, transform text and create transparent backgrounds. However, the possibilities are limited.
If you want to know what other tools I use on a regular basis, check out my Tools & Resources page. Do you use Illustrator? If not, any recommendations on alternatives? Share with us in the comments.