Inkscape vs Adobe Illustrator: Which is better?

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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Affiliate Disclosure

  • Adobe Illustrator is an industry-leading vector-based graphic design tool used by industries all over the world.
  • Inkscape is a free and open-source vector-based graphic design tool that freelancers and the occasional artists can try.
  • This article is just one of many that we have included in our dedicated hub for Vector Graphics software, so make sure you visit that a s well for more information.
  • If digital art is your passion, don't forget to stop by our Graphic and Design page as well.
inkscape vs adobe illustrator

We’ve reached a digital age where creating art or graphics is no longer something that is limited by how much talent you have. There are a wide variety of products out there that can be used to create graphic designs, each with their own unique features and approaches.

However, that in itself is also a problem, since too many options can make it difficult to choose which is the best, especially if you have a specific set of needs in mind.

On that note, we’ve decided to look over the pros and the cons of two very popular graphics design tools, and then compare the two to see which is the best.

As such, we’ve decided to compare Adobe Illustrator, a world-renowned software tool used by professionals everywhere, and Inkscape, a free and open-source program that anyone can use.

Inkscape vs Adobe Illustrator: Which is better?

1. Adobe Illustrator

1.1 What is Adobe Illustrator?

Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics editor created by Adobe, and it was originally created for the Mac OS, but it slowly managed to make its way to the Windows platform as well.

It was created after Adobe Photoshop and was supposed to be the vector-based variant of the program since graphic design using raster-based programs did come with its own limitations.

This was especially noticeable when dealing with large-scale projects such as banners and billboards where enlarging the image would eventually lead to it becoming pixelated.

1.2 What features does Adobe Illustrator have?

The UI is designed to be quite intuitive, and anyone familiar with Adobe Photoshop will have no problem whatsoever transitioning to this program as well. All the tools that you may ever need are present in a sidebar that appears on the left of the screen.

These tools allow you to select, create, and manipulate objects or artworks in Illustrator.

Of course, you also have access to sets of tools, each of which acts as menus for other more niche tools:

  • Selection tools
  • Paintbrush tools
  • Pen tools
  • Pencil tools

1.3 Pros and Cons of Adobe Illustrator

Pros:

  • Having skills with using Adobe Illustrator is currently a must-have if you want to land a job as a graphic designer
  • The program has plenty of features that automate many of the tasks that you would otherwise have to do manually
  • It is constantly developed, and micro-patches are automatically delivered once any type of bug is reported
  • Since Adobe is an industry-standard, you won’t have to worry about dealing with incompatible file formats
  • Files created in Illustrator can be easily imported into After Effects, Premiere Pro, Photoshop and all other Adobe tools

Cons:

  • The monthly subscription is only worth it if you yourself make money off of graphics design
  • It is a bit more resource-intensive than other similar tools
  • It doesn’t offer support for Linux

Download Adobe Illustrator for Free


2. Inkscape

2.1 What is Inkscape?

Inkscape is also a vector-based graphic design tool, but unlike Adobe Illustrator, it is completely free and open-source.

It works on Linux, Windows, and MacOSX and comes with a host of tools that can come as extremely when used for both artistic and technical illustrations such as cartoons, clip art, logos, typography, diagramming and flowcharting.

Because it too is a vector-based graphic design tool, it allows for sharp printouts and renderings at unlimited resolutions, even for works like giant banners or roadside billboards.

2.2 What features does Inkscape have?

As far as tools are concerned, Inkscape offers almost as many tools as Adobe Illustrator, but the highlit is actually the way you use the program. The interface is designed to be extremely simple and accessible, even to users that have no background experience using such tools.

More so, the fact that it is open-source makes it available in a wide variety of languages, and it also lets users customize Inkscape’s functionality with add-ons.

Admittedly, you may consider the fact that it is free and the open-source licensing as a big plus, but this too comes with its own set of drawbacks.

2.3 Pros and Cons of using Inkscape

Pros

  • Free and open-source
  • Uses fewer system resources
  • User-friendly UI
  • Works on Windows, Linux, and MacOSX
  • The community is quite active and extremely friendly

Cons:

  • Doesn’t support CMYK color format, so printable materials aren’t something Inkscape can handle
  • Most industries use Adobe Illustrator, so you’ll have to frequently deal with working with their files anyway
  • Frequent bugs and issues due to the open-source licensing
  • Since Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard, having Inkscape skills will not help you get a job as a graphic designer

Download Inkscape


2.4 Are Adobe Illustrator and Inkscape compatible?

Those of you that want a more hands-on approach at comparing the programs should know that they can do it quite easily since the two have a high degree of compatibility.

For example, Inkscape’s native format is SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), which is a format also supported by Adobe Illustrator. Unfortunately, the two implementations are not fully compatible.

More so, Inkscape also exports to PS, EPS and PDF, formats that Illustrator can recognize.

3. Inkscape vs Adobe Illustrator: The final verdict

Both software tools are perfect at what they do, and while Inkscape’s non-existent price-tag and open-source license may seem like the reason we would call it the winner, it is actually the very thing that makes Adobe Illustrator take our vote.

In a world where everything is standardized and jobs are hard to come by, investing in a program that will greatly increase your chances of success is better in the long run.

More so, Adobe Illustrator is used everywhere, it is always patched and updated, and the customer support is always available for you with the best answers.

Thus, if you want quality and reassurance, there is no way you could go wrong with Adobe Illustrator.

Basically speaking, everything you could ever do with Inkscape you can do with Illustrator, but you cannot say the same about the other way around.


FAQ: Learn more about Adobe Illustrator and Inkscape

  • Is Inkscape free?

Yes, Inkscape is completely free with no monthly subscriptions required. In fact, it is one of many similar free tools included in this comprehensive list.

  • Is Inkscape good?

Inkscape offers all the tools necessary to make it a more than a decent graphic design tool.

  • What can Inkscape be used for?

Inkscape can be used for pretty much any type of graphic design, such as illustrations, icons, logos, diagrams, maps, and web graphics. However, the lack of CMYK support makes it unsuited for materials that need to be printed.

  • Can I get Adobe Illustrator for free?

Yes you can, but you will need to create an Adobe account, and you need to do is download Adobe Creative Cloud free trial which will enable you to use all Adobe products for a 7-day period. if you are looking for a raster-based alternative, consider Adobe Photoshop instead.

  • What is the main purpose of Adobe Illustrator?

Adobe Illustrator is an industry-grade application used for creating vector graphics that can be used in a wide variety of situations.

  • What’s the main difference between Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop?

Strictly from a file point of view, Photoshop is a raster-based graphic tool (it is based on pixels) while Illustrator works using vectors, meaning that designs created with it can be enlarged indefinitely without loss of image quality.