Inkscape is a free open source software package for creating and manipulating vector graphics, and it can be seen as an alternative to Adobe Illustrator for those on a budget.
- Has lots of high-quality vector drawing tools
- Has many available filters
- Its functionality can be extended
- Can read native Illustrator files
- Completely free to use
- Extensive tool set that almost rivals Illustrator
- Runs on Linux
- Large network of users to provide support
- Lacks some important tools found in Illustrator, such as a gradient mesh tool
- Has no support for PMS colors or multiple pages
- Can be a little buggy
For those designers who can't afford Adobe Illustrator, or for those who work on Linux, Inkscape is a credible alternative. While its tool set is not as extensive as Illustrator's, it has most of the tools needed for everyday design work. It also comes with a wide range of quality filters, and its functionality can be extended. It further has a multilingual interface, supporting 90 different languages. Among its many features are pen and pencil tools, lots of geometrical primitive tools, text and calligraphy tools, and spray and paint bucket tools. Like Illustrator, it has limited support as well for raster graphics. It can also read Illustrator native files (AI), albeit imperfectly. Best of all, it provides all this for free, and there is a large network of users to provide support. There are, though, some important features that are missing, such as support for Pantone Matching System (PMS) colors and multiple pages, and it lacks a gradient mesh tool. Also, it provides very limited kerning options. Finally, some of its features are bit buggy, but the same can be said of Illustrator as well. For those learning graphic design, Inkscape is a good starting point. Skills learned while using it can easily be applied to Illustrator.