The 8 Best Free Browser-Based Adobe Illustrator Alternatives
Adobe Illustrator is the default choice for anyone who needs high-quality graphic design software. But Adobe’s subscription model is pretty expensive, and you can’t use Illustrator online—it only works on Windows and Mac. If you’re a hobbyist on a budget, use Linux or a Chromebook, or want a more mobile option, what can you do?
Fortunately, there are plenty of free, browser-based Adobe Illustrator alternatives you can try. Not only do you not have to pay for them, but they’ll work on any device running any operating system. That makes them probably the closest you’ll get to Adobe Illustrator online.
Gravit Designer is a fast, powerful, and great-looking vector design tool with free and pro versions. As well as working in all major browsers, you can download a desktop version for Mac, Windows, Linux, and Chrome OS. In all cases, you get full cloud sync integration.
The program has all the basics you’d expect from Illustrator, including a version of the Pen tool and a freehand drawing tool that smooths your lines as you go. It’s easy to create custom shapes thanks to Gravit’s take on the Pathfinder tool. There’s also a wide variety of keyboard shortcuts, including many that are the same as in Adobe’s software.
In addition to all this, you get huge libraries of pre-designed shapes, illustrations, icons, lines, and more to use in your designs. If you need more, you can upgrade to Gravit Designer Pro for an annual subscription and get CMYK support and offline use, among other things. This is the best online alternative to Adobe Illustrator.
With support for all major browsers as well as a downloadable extension for the Chrome browser, Vectr is a simple tool for creating quick vector designs. It isn’t as feature-rich as Gravit, but that means there’s a shorter learning curve. And it has strengths for particular types of usage.
Vectr is especially good for creating social media cover pages. There are preset document sizes, and it’s easy to import photos and add your own text on top. There’s seamless cloud integration too. Every image has its own URL that you can share with anyone, or you can export your finished work in the SVG, PNG, and JPEG formats.
Boxy SVG is an SVG editor that works in Chromium-based browsers like Chrome or Opera. It also has a desktop version for Windows, Mac, and Chrome OS.
Boxy works natively with SVG files, so you never need to export your images when you’re ready to use them, and can easily open them in other image-editing apps. It also means you can output HTML code for your images, which you can paste straight into a web page. If you prefer, you can create normal image files in JPEG, PNG, WebP, and GIF formats.
So what features do you get? All the basics are here. There are lots of shape drawing tools, plus a pen and various curve tools. You also get plenty of type options, including integration with Google Fonts. Plus, support for clipping masks gives you the power to create more complex works.
We found Boxy’s interface to be a little tricky to master at first, but it’s a fast and very capable online Illustrator alternative, so worth persevering with.
Canva is a very popular and easy-to-use browser-based design tool. It offers more than 250,000 free templates for every type of user and purpose. You can use it to create logos, ebook covers, posters, ads, and a lot more.
You don’t get much control. There aren’t any drawing tools, so it’s not possible to create something from scratch. Instead, you just pick the template and customize it to taste. And that’s the point. Canva is about simplification. You can create some beautiful, complex, and very professional-looking designs without any design skills.
The free version gives you a generous 5GB of cloud storage. You can upgrade that to 1TB with a paid plan, which gives you many more features and tools to use to really expand your work.
Figma is a great alternative to Canva. Aimed at professional or serious users who may already know how to use Illustrator, the app has a growing reputation. It comes with an Adobe-style subscription plan but has a free offering that lets you create three projects and work in a team with two members.
Figma is primarily built for interface design, and fully supports files made in Sketch, another popular pro design tool. It also has mobile apps for iOS and Android that you can use to preview your designs on the fly.
The learning curve is steep with its online illustrator tool, but there’s little you can’t do with Figma. There’s both support for Google Fonts and your own imported, offline fonts. It’s easy to create shapes or design custom shapes through a Pathfinder-like tool, and there’s full mask support. You can also save them as Components to reuse in your other projects.
When you’re finished, you can export your work as PNG, JPEG, or SVG files, or just copy out your styles as CSS code.
Inkscape has long been established as one of the best free Illustrator alternatives. While it’s always been a desktop program, you can also use it in-browser through the RollApp service. The effect is a little strange, since you get the full desktop UI crammed into a browser window. However, once you switch the browser to full-screen mode, it works much better.
Inkscape is a powerful piece of software. There’s a learning curve, both in terms of mastering its tools and in that it uses a whole different set of keyboard shortcuts.
It’s also a tad slow. Using Inkscape with RollApp is ideal when you need to edit on the go, but in most cases, you’re better off installing the desktop software.
Janvas has a solid set of features, including support for masks, and plenty of pen tool and text options.
It suits the beginner, thanks to a library of templates covering everything from icons and UI elements, to letter and photo book templates. An extra series of pre-made gradients, patterns and textures, and filters help to make common design features accessible with a single click. You can save your work in SVG, JPEG, or PNG formats.
Janvas has its quirks. It’s got a panel-heavy interface that takes some time to master. It’s configurable, but you’ll need to experiment to find a layout that suits your workflow. The biggest downside is that it doesn’t support keyboard shortcuts at all. All of which means Janvas is a solid choice for smaller, quicker projects, if not for more complex pieces of work.
If you have an existing SVG file that you want to tweak, Vecteezy is a good choice. It’s best for editing files or making very simple icons and logos, rather than creating larger pieces of work from scratch.
This is due to the simplicity of the app. You get pen and type tools and not much else. Instead, there are heaps of pre-designed shapes and pre-drawn illustrations that you can import into your work. Templates are promised for the future, too. Saving files is trivial: just choose to export as either an SVG or PNG and your final image downloads instantly.
Adobe Illustrator Isn’t the Only Option!
None of these browser-based apps can match the full feature set that Adobe Illustrator has to offer.
But they’re more than good enough to create things like posters, illustrations, logos, and the like. You can even use them to learn the principles of graphic design, since all the tools—the various drawing, text, color, and shape tools—all work in the same way.