Vector graphics software works similarly to drawing software. The main difference is, Vector is precisely manipulated, unlike Raster which is based on pixels and has its limitation.
While it is a bit more complicated than traditional drawing software, vector graphics software has some benefits. The biggest of those benefits is that there isn’t a loss of quality, no matter how the image is resized or scaled.
Learning vector graphics software can allow you to get into more jobs like UI/UX and Graphic Design and is great for personal art that you may be printing in various sizes as well. Keep reading to take a look at some of the best software options as well as get answers to a few frequently asked questions.
What Is the Best Vector Graphics Software?
The creation of vector graphics is one of the main reasons images online were able to move away from pixelated designs to more realistic lines and movements. This kind of software has a few other benefits as well. Vector graphics can be changed to raster graphics, but doing the opposite isn’t possible.
There are many benefits to using vector graphics software over raster graphics, and this software is used in many fields, including video game design, poster design, UI, embroidery, GIS, animation, and more, so you see why it is important to learn to use vector graphics software. Of course, you don’t want to just use any software but the best ones out there.
These are some of the top options for vector graphics software, but we will only focus on the top four today.
2. Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Illustrator is the absolute leader of the vector graphics world. With its numerous tools, creating almost anything you could possibly imagine is simple. It does have a steep learning curve, but you will have every tool you could need at your fingertips.
It works alongside the rest of Adobe’s Creative Cloud to allow for seamless transitions from one software to another.
Adobe Illustrator Key Features:
- Available on multiple platforms, such as on the App Store, and the computer.
- Seamless integration with other Creative Clouds products.
- Tools included in the software for collaboration.
- Abilities to use on multiple platforms, and use freehand drawing where applicable.
- Anchor points and snapping capabilities for accurate designs.
Adobe Illustrator User Experience:
Adobe Illustrator is absolutely packed with anything you may need. The constant updates from Adobe mean that if something is missing or doesn’t work as well as it should, they will fix the issue pretty quickly.
Additionally, as it is designed as part of the Creative Cloud offered by Adobe, it works seamlessly with all the other products included in the Creative Cloud. Many of these apps work together to create fully finished images, such as Photoshop and InDesign.
The biggest downside to the software is the cost. For those just wanting to use it recreationally or occasionally, it is a lot to ask to be able to afford over $20 a month. It is also hard to learn for beginners simply due to the sheer amount of tools and options available.
However, once you learn some of the shortcuts and get the hang of the tools available, it is an essential tool for anything related to vector graphics and graphic design.
Adobe Illustrator Cost:
Adobe Illustrator costs $20.99 a month on its own. Occasionally you will find sales for your first few months, but the $20.99 price is the standard pricing. Since this is a monthly price, some people choose to cancel whenever they aren’t using it for a while.
Adobe Illustrator is also part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud platform, which offers several products in one package including Photoshop, InDesign, Lightroom, and Express.
This deal can be a bit cheaper than buying them all individually, as it costs $54.99 a month with over 20 apps and services. There are discounts as well for teachers and students that put the price at $19.99 a month.
What We Like/Dislike About Illustrator:
- Integrates well with other Creative Cloud products from Adobe.
- Great customer service for beginners and experts alike.
- Widely used by professionals.
- Regularly releases updates.
- The basic tools are very intuitive.
- May crash when working on large and complex designs.
- Can be complicated due to all the features it offers.
Adobe Illustrator Scoring:
We have to give Adobe Illustrator a 9.5 out of 10. Though it has all the tools you might ever need for vector graphics, as well as seamless integration with another Adobe software, the price, and steep learning curve, stops it from being a perfect 10.
The features it offers do make it worth the steep cost, but it can be a little high for those just getting into vector graphics or using the software recreationally.
2. Affinity Designer
Affinity Designer is a vector software that is making leaps and bounds at setting industry standards in the design world, especially when it comes to vector graphics. It works alongside Affinity Photo and Affinity Publisher to allow you to make detailed and breathtaking vector graphics with ease and time-saving tools.
Affinity Designer offers its tools for a one-time purchase, allowing you to forever have the tools in your hands. The company offers frequent releases to constantly improve its design and product with new tools and bug fixes.
Affinity Designer Key Features:
- Available on multiple platforms including tablets.
- Ability to handle thousands of objects without any lag.
- Incredible zoom-in to see even the smallest of details.
- Tools and functions are designed to make your creative process faster and easier.
- Preview options to see how well your design will export and what it will look like in various sizes.
Affinity Designer User Experience:
One of the most positive parts of using Affinity Designer is that it is just a one-time purchase. You don’t have to worry about subscriptions or wasting money if you don’t use the software for a few months. Additionally, all upgrades of that version are included with the price, even years down the road.
As far as downsides, the biggest one is that despite all of the tools that Affinity Designer does come with, it is missing some of the more advanced features that other similar software has.
Check out this course to start with Affinity Designer Today – Link Here
Part of this comes from the fact that Affinity tries to make its tools simple and less complicated. However, this also means that it may not work well for more complicated designs or changes.
If you are planning to do simple work and projects as a beginner, this software will last you a long time. Even if you are a beginner to vector graphics, picking up Affinity is quick thanks to their tools that walk you through common next steps and what options are available to you.
The organization of the tools is also intuitive, making it easy to quickly get to the tool you need even if you’ve never used it before.
Affinity Designer Cost:
Affinity Designer offers their products in return for a one-time payment, instead of a subscription like most software. They offer options to buy the PC or Windows version for just $69.99 and the iPad version for $19.99.
If you want multiple Affinity tools, get the entire suite of creative tools and software for a single payment of $169.99. While this payment may be steep for some, the fact that it is just a one-time payment makes it a lot easier to purchase.
At this point in time, the second version of Affinity products is available. If you have version one, you are eligible for 25% off of version two. You also get additional content for free that is said to be worth $259.98 in value.
They even offer free 30-day trials that allow you to make sure that this software is something you may be interested in. Trial the tablet version, the computer version, or the complete license depending on your needs.
What We Like/Dislike About Affinity Designer:
- Easy to learn and use.
- Amazing customer service.
- Works well with other Affinity tools.
- One-time payment instead of a subscription.
- Quality can often come out better than other software.
- Software is constantly improving.
- Simple instructions to tell you what action to take from where you are in your process.
- Lacks some advanced features other top vector graphics software has.
- Some tools are confusing and not intuitive.
- May be hard to use at first if transferring from other software.
- Can be confusing when to use Affinity Designer vs Affinity Photo.
Affinity Designer Scoring:
We have to give Affinity Designer an 8 out of 10. It has a lot of features that make using the software simple and easy, as well as intuitive. The one-time payment and the ability to use it on your tablet or computer are also a bonus.
However, the lack of some standard tools that other vector software has means that you often have to rely on multiple tools to get the job done, reducing the benefits of the low, one-time payment.
The software gets updated regularly, so many users hope that they will add more tools down the road, but that isn’t the case currently. Though the lack of these tools means it isn’t an industry standard, it is still a good option for those looking to do their own art or designs.
Inkscape is a free and open-source vector graphics software. While it isn’t as broad as some paid software, which makes it not ideal for professional use, it is a great option for those getting started or using vector graphics software occasionally.
The software allows you to make basic shapes, text, and designs and then export them to be used in another software. While making basic designs in Inkscape is simple enough, for anything complicated, you may want to look at combining it with other software.
Inkscape Key Features:
- Flexible drawing tools.
- Ability to produce bezier and spiro curves.
- Ability to create, manipulate, fill, stroke, add text, render, and convert all on one software.
- Constantly improving thanks to its community.
Inkscape User Experience:
If you are switching over from Adobe Illustrator, it may take some time to get used to this platform. While it is fairly well organized, tools are often under different sections or menus than you might be used to seeing.
While doing a lot of detailed or advanced design isn’t possible, it does allow for a variety of different steps that come with vector graphic design. For most simple or recreational designs, you have everything you need at your fingertips.
Check out this Beginners Inkscape Course – Link Here
There is a limit on the number of file types it can convert your design into. The most common ones are PNG, OpenDocument Drawing, DXF, sk1, PDF, EPS, and PostScript. However, some of the more common file formats aren’t accepted.
Inkscape is completely free. There are no hidden costs associated with it. While you see some loss in quality and options with Inkscape, many people find it is still usable and produces good-quality work.
What We Like/Dislike About Inkscape:
- Free and open-source.
- Easy to use and understand with a user-friendly interface.
- Wide range of features focused on vector graphics.
- Cross-platform friendly.
- Looks professional despite being free.
- Good support base.
- Works on all major operating systems.
- Can integrate other powerful APIs.
- Missing some key features that are common on other vector softwares.
- Limited support for files.
- Not used by companies.
- Not a lot of tools and font options.
We will give Inkscape a 7.5 out of 10. While it is lacking in quite a lot of features you would see in more professional settings, it is still a usable product and can get the job done in most cases.
The fact that it is free and open-source as well is a huge benefit that makes it easier to overlook some of its faults.
Many people find themselves moving from Adobe Illustrator to Inkscape due to the subscription to Adobe being a little too high if you aren’t a professional.
4. Adobe Capture
Adobe Capture is a mobile and desktop tool that lets you create your own assets. These assets include patterns, shapes, materials, types, brushes, and looks. After you make these assets, you upload them to other software to get a more unique and specific look.
It also allows you to do basic sketches on the software. Since it has a mobile application, it works well when you want to use an image for inspiration while you are walking around, or if you get an idea while away from your computer.
When combined with the Creative Cloud apps, you then store the new assets in your library to pull up later when actually working on vector graphics.
Adobe Capture Key Features:
- Ability to produce themes, patterns, shapes, and brushes from a photo.
- Can turn your vision into a reality.
- Designed to work best for mobile use, though it has a desktop application as well.
- Compatible with all other Creative Cloud applications.
- Constant updates with new features and bug fixes.
Adobe Capture User Experience:
Adobe Capture is a brilliant tool to have on your side. While it doesn’t work as an all-encompassing vector graphics software, it does provide a lot to get your creative juices flowing.
With just a snap of your camera, you will have new paint brushes, color palettes, and fonts available to you. Use them on the Capture app or send them to other Adobe software to allow for more detailed work.
Adobe Capture Cost:
Adobe Capture is free. If you want to use it alongside other Creative Cloud apps, you will need to purchase the Creative Cloud membership which is $54.99 a month.
With the free Adobe Capture, you can use it on your phone, whether Android or iOS. You get 2 GB of free cloud storage. It can also be upgraded to 20 GB for $1.99 a month.
What We Like/Dislike About Adobe Capture:
- Integrates easily with other Adobe Creative Cloud apps.
- The interface is understandable.
- Good for mobile applications and uses and also works on desktops.
- Can create custom palettes.
- Can easily scan colors and fonts of other work.
- The algorithm is a little weak when it comes to font recognition.
- Sometimes it takes a long time to load.
- You may not be able to access all of Adobe Capture’s features if you don’t have a membership for Creative Cloud.
Adobe Capture Scoring:
While this isn’t an all-inclusive software when it comes to vector graphics, it is a great way to make some touch-ups and edits on the go. It also allows you to copy fonts and color schemes from products you find around you while out and about.
The fact that it is free sounds like it would be a positive, but many users bring up the point that some of the features, including customer service, are inaccessible without a subscription. For this reason, we will give Adobe Capture a 7 out of 10.
Best Vector Graphics Software FAQS
What Is the Difference Between Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator?
There is a lot of overlap between these two Adobe softwares, but there are many more differences. The biggest is that Photoshop is best suited for actual photos and raster-based designs. Adobe Illustrator does best with vector graphics.
Illustrator is also better when it comes to designs and logos. Because it is based on rasters, Photoshop isn’t able to handle images changing shapes, like you often need for logos. When you need something in a variety of shapes and sizes without losing quality, vector-based software like Illustrator is best.
What Are the Limitations of Vector Graphics?
The biggest limitation of vector graphics is when it comes to manipulating actual images. Images and designs that use true images don’t work well with vector graphics as they are often pixel-based. Additionally, vector graphics are unable to match colors as truly as raster graphics are.
There are also occasionally issues with compatibility between designs and conversions. Complicated designs may also be a struggle to pull off with vector graphics as manipulating individual pixels isn’t possible.
When Should You Not Use Vector Graphics?
Since vector graphics are limited when it comes to complex or true colors, complicated designs, or actual photos, there are times you may want to use raster graphics instead.
With raster graphics, manipulating individual pixels is simple, including giving them different colors. When zoomed out, this can create unique colors and color blends that vector graphics are unable to compete with.
Additionally, since it can’t make those blends and it doesn’t work on pixels, true photographs may look odd if you try to use vector graphics on them instead of raster graphics.
Vector graphics work best with simpler designs and logos rather than complicated applications.
Is Adobe Illustrator Free for Students?
Adobe Illustrator is not free for students. However, you do have the option to get a free trial as a student. You also get a pretty large discount as a student on both Adobe Illustrator and the rest of the Adobe Creative Cloud. This only applies while you are a student, but can save you quite a bit of money in the long run.
Instead of the usual $54.99 a month for the Creative Cloud, it is only $19.99 a month for the first year. After the first year, your price increases to $29.99 a month. That is about 60% off of what everyone else pays for the same software and apps.
No matter which software you decide to go with for vector graphics from the list above, you won’t be disappointed. Each one has its own pros and cons that can make them ideal for your situation.
For example, while almost everyone agrees Illustrator is the best of the best, the high subscription cost means that many people find themselves using other software instead.