Why Inkscape is WAY ahead of Adobe Illustrator

Well this is most definitely not a troll. But a genuine appreciation of software that gives you the scope to develop top-quality vector graphics that allows designers to explore the limits of software and render graphics to perfection.

Of course, one cannot take away Adobe Illustrator’s great features, but there is only so much you can do with all the ‘power-packed features’. Inkscape, offers you limitless scope that allows you to learn and build as you go and this definitely is what keeps it way ahead of all other similar vector software.

Light on the pocket plus optimized design experience

First point in favor of Inkscape is of course its open source origins. That it does not cause a big hole in your pocket even as it delivers superior quality features, on par with paid Adobe Illustrator, is a worthy point that works in Inkscape’s favor.

Additionally, it is not just children working on school projects who are using Inkscape with ease. Professionals, designers prefer the hands-on experience that Inkscape offers to ensure maximum work scope over-and-above Adobe Illustrators’ power features. Add to its small footprint, typically in small sizes that makes working on Inkscape easier and faster.

Additional features such as RGB color, very sophisticated path effects; and by far, the best open and save function feature for SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics). Now, SVG is the format for rendering 2D graphics and application in XML. This helps in using these graphics on websites as well as print media.

Inkscape is as professional as Adobe Illustrator

Though, Adobe Illustrator has a better text feature pack, Inkscape makes up with some of the best multiple or general illustration features. Whether for coloring, illustrating or building icons, Inkscape is easy to use.  Add to it the following features native to Inkscape only – direct editing on SVG source, editing clones on canvas, screen pixels manipulation – move, rotate or scale; shapes can be converted into objects; using handles for editing gradients on the canvas; use of keys to edit nodes’ fill paint bucket with a single click and color wash over objects.

Better User Interface

Another feature of Inkscape is its better and more useful interface. It is not the typical ‘oversimplified’ open source software, but has the perfect user interface for beginners to professionals. Additionally, Inkscape scores well users because it automatically converts Bitmap to Vector format.

Packaged Software does not translate into full support

A key feature for Inkscape users is that, when in need of support one can directly get to chat with developers and ink out doubts, use cases and optimize their scope, which is most definitely not the case with the beautifully packaged Adobe Illustrator software. You can get a host of tutorials, support pages to wade through and after an exhaustive search, get relief only after a paid conversation with the help desk.  Your nearest help for Adobe Illustrator will remain support forum.

Over and above any of the above, Inkscape rules over Adobe Illustrator because of the free spirit with which it can be used. No limiting or strict licensing with Inkscape, you and the entire team can work simultaneously without having to run up budget over-runs.

Read also our post31 Great Tutorials for Inkscape!

  • CharlstonChew

    right on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/browncanada Jonah Brown

    But, if you have to get professional printing done they ask for .ai files. So inkscape still has a way to go.

  • Quinnard

    inkscape is better for illustrating. The tools are just as powerful and more intuitive. I guess seeing as I avoid typography like it’s a horrible boring plague then the advantages illustrator has don’t appeal to me anyway.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/D2TGQ3SFSVMD6COZRWA33Y4R2I John

    I have used Inkscape for years and generally prefer it over Adobe Illustrator.  But lets be honest about some things.  The user interface is definitely not better.  It’s not bad, but it is less convenient in a lot of ways.  Take for example the creating a new text object and modifying its properties.  In Illustrator, the text properties can be docked and set before creating the object.  In Inkscape, you cannot do that, you have to create the object, then bring up a dialog window and set the properties there.  Another example is the gradient window.  Setting/moving stops is really quite clunky in Inkscape, but much more intuitive in Illustrator. 

    Ok, now that I’ve played the devil’s advocate, let me pour out some praise on Inkscape.  I use it in my profession regularly.  It provides me with everything I need to create excellent vector drawings.  I highly recommend it for hobbyists and professionals.  Best of all, it is free and available on all major operating systems.

  • Charlie Whitman

    I’m not sure what you mean here.

    If you mean that Inkscape “has a way to go” because it doesn’t produce .ai files, then that’s silly because .ai is a proprietary file format.  Printers shouldn’t really require a proprietary format; it doesn’t make sense.  It would make more sense to accept a more or less standard format like eps (or svg, really, since it is an open standard).  There are still quite a few users of CorelDraw out there.

    If, on the other hand, you mean that Inkscape “has a way to go” in acceptance and mindshare as indicated by the fact that printers only accept Adobe Illustrator files, then that is a valid thought.  That’s an illustration of why it’s not really good for an industry to use a proprietary, paid-only format as a standard.

  • Toosleep77

    What he is saying is that in the real world, where some of us live, we send out .ai files to print shops. Believe it or not, it might even be in CMYK or Pantone spot color.

    “If you mean that Inkscape “has a way to go” because it doesn’t produce .ai files, then that’s silly because .ai is a proprietary file format.” is not what he’s saying at all. That would be putting words in his mouth.

    “That’s an illustration of why it’s not really good for an industry to use a proprietary, paid-only format as a standard.” True if they ONLY accepted proprietary formats, but this is not the case; never has been.

    Other than svg for web graphics Inkscape is a great second choice for personal projects and independent designers.

  • Ruel Smith

    Yes and no. I use Inkscape all the time. There are still features in Illustrator I’d love to get. However, the UI is just spot on in Inkscape for my use, but Illustrator has much more advanced UI properties that make it much more suitable for the professional environment, when you need to be very productive. Also, Inkscape annoyingly crashes on me – always just when I haven’t saved anything yet. They really need to fix some bugs. There is still a bug in it that used to pop up all the time, but now less frequently, when you ungroup items and at least one item moves somewhere other than where you moved it. This has been in there since the last few dot releases of 4.6. Like I said, it comes up a lot less often, but every now and then, it’s there. Very annoying… Illustrator is far more stable. For everyday professional use, that goes a long way. It just seems to boggle my mind that typically, FOSS is much more stable than proprietary software, but not in this case.

  • Gtfo


  • Hehh

    So if I like typography I should stick with AI?

  • Matty

    Yes, you will just end up hating Inkscape if you try it hoping to have decent type tools. I think a lot of the more powerful type tools are very new and still need a lot of work to polish of.
    But manipulating paths in Inkscape is like a dream, until it crashes, but still so good I love it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Prynceton Brian Ellis

    IMHO if you’re in graphic design using inkscape is a waste of time as everything that was brought up can be fixed with a plugin for AI and you still have suite compatibility. Easy choice if your in a CS environment. Inkscape is for someone wanting to just try illustrating. Adobe packages the environments for a reason and it’s catered to multi-discipline designers.

  • Michael Llitty

    I would love to be able to use Inkscape professionally, but have never been able to deal with the lack of object management, even if the text tools could be overlooked.

    Being able to quickly and easily turn visibility on and of, lock/unlock individual objects, drag an object to a different level or layer, select multiple objects by clicking on them in a list… I have no idea how anyone maintains an efficient workflow in Inkscape. I do like the tools and the UI doesn’t bother me, but the lack of direct object management keeps me from ever using this in a professional environment. Even GIMP does a better job.

    I have high hopes for Inkscape one day. I check in with the project a few times a year, but almost every time I try to do something with it, the first time I want to move an object from one layer to the next, I start to pull my hair out.

  • http://learnwithsimeon.tk/ Simeon Prince

    I love this article. I used to use Illustrator as my main vector graphics app, since it is the standard. But it’s really expensive. I tried xara, which is great but still lacking in compatibility with Ai. My fascination with inkscape started when I was discovering Ubuntu Linux. I searched for the alternatives to adobe creative suite and found this. I didn’t welcome it at first but years later I decided to do all my personal artwork in Inkscape, so that I can master it, and Gimp, Scribus, Bluefish and Libreoffice. Since I’m proficient in all of these now, I don’t ever have to use windows and Adobe software that often, if at all. All the alternative software I mentioned earlier are just as good as Adobe software, without the price and anyone in the field of graphic design, desktop publishing and web design can build their own agency with no cost to software and feel good because you didn’t pirate adobe products. I encourage all of you to Try the apps I mentioned above…if you’re accustomed to Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign and Dreamweaver, then learning these other apps is not difficult at all, same principles.

  • http://learnwithsimeon.tk/ Simeon Prince

    I know what you mean, but for now it’s just cut and paste to a new layer. you’ll get used to it. this is a good free resource to learn inkscape http://inkscapetutorials.wordpress.com/

  • http://learnwithsimeon.tk/ Simeon Prince

    For everyone here, the solution is to save the inkscape artwork as pdf. Just outline all your text and you’re good. Illustrator can open these pdf files with no problem at all. I do it all the time. CMYK is another story though, but Inkscape can mix cmyk colors, just can output them.

  • Cedric

    Wow … to be honest, I only use inkscape months I cannot afford to pay for the Illustrator fee. It’s a very nice tool, for a free one, but UI is really hard to work with, and maaany many AI’s usefulnesses are definitely missing. This post actually is definitely a troll cause I cannot see here any real argument to support your statement saying that Inkscape is “wah ahead” … Support ? quite true … but let’s be honest, most users don’t really care about having a chat with the devs. And Adobe’s is not that bad. Price and opensourceness ? That’s obvious. Even if most users don’t care about the former. Better user interface and as professional ? Come on, this is not rational arguments, purely subjective, biased, this is what we call trolling in the jargon.

  • Jason King

    Absolutely spot on. Things seem much easier to create vector objects and manipulate them in Inkscape but for typography there is not comparison with Illustrator. People harping on at me for still using Illustrator instead of Indesign for one page designs… yuk!

  • Josh

    Although I really like Inkscape, I feel that it is still a ways behind Illustrator. I do t-shirt graphics and also find that Illustrator is lacking as well though. I find myself using an old version of flash with my Cintiq to draw out the design and then bring it into my vector program to vectorize the image and finish it for print production…maybe I’ll bring this up in the development pipeline again. It would reduce my Illustration time a great deal.