In the digital era, creative design has evolved quickly and moved into many new industries as business fight for brand awareness. As a result, there has been a big increase in the demand for both graphic designers and the need for better graphic design software. While it's easy to find powerful designer tools, they usually come at a steep price. Luckily, if you're a designer or small company working with a tight budget, Inkscape can provide you with a quality graphic design software free-of-charge. This open-source vector editor is similar to its paid competitors like Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw. It makes use of Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) as a native format for better compatibility across different platforms. This program is packed with features that can equip any designer with the tools they need. However, does Inkscape really have what it takes to go toe-to-toe with the best in the market?
Top-notch design software for free
As with many design products, Inkscape is passionate about improving its features and its services.
The creators of Inkscape certainly understand the meaning of passion, and their love of digital art and their sense of community continues to help graphic designers all over the world. The Inkscape software is their open-source counter to Adobe Illustrator's hefty price tag. And it comes with a surprising range of features that means it can be considered as a serious alternative to the leading design program.
Simplicity and efficiency
Navigating through Inkscape is simple and remarkably intuitive, especially if you already have experience with tools such as Illustrator. Some users even claim that it was easier for them to learn how to use the software than many of its premium counterparts. It has a nicely-arranged menu system filled with tools for manipulating various paths, shapes, text, gradients, and transparency effects. This program supports layers that you can organize to make your creative process more efficient.
Inkscape also uses SVG as a native file format so that you can easily open your designs on other software if needed. In addition, your work can be exported in different file formats, so you won’t need to worry whether your clients will be able to open the logo study you’ve created for them. It is true, however, that the file format options are limited when compared to Inkscape’s paid counterparts.
For the community, by the community
Even if Inkscape lacks some of the features of the industry heavy-hitters, no one can compete with them on price! As this is open-source, it's absolutely free to distribute the software and use it commercially. Consequently, its source code is available for everyone to see.
The Inkscape website has an extensive knowledge base where you can find articles, forums, and video tutorials that will ease you into the platform. They also have a community chatroom where you can seek help from other users whenever needed. You may also send their support team an email for more customized assistance.
One of the most common complaints Inkscape users have is the program's tendency to lag, hang, or in some cases, crash. This happens especially if you apply one too many filters on your design. Fortunately, dedicated developers continue to update Inkscape in order to keep up with the changing needs of its users. Its latest version now supports mesh gradient and showcases a checkerboard background for you to identify transparencies easily. Much like any other product, it continues to work on improving the service it provides its users.
Where can you run this program?
Inkscape has readily available software for Windows and Linux-based desktop systems. While it isn't available on Mac, you can build Inkscape on your Mac using MacPorts, which you can also get on their website free of charge. Being an open-source program the raw code is also available for download and ready to compile.
At the moment, Inkscape does not have a mobile version, so those looking into downloading a photo editing app on their phones or tablets will need to opt for other applications such as Snapseed, Adobe Lightroom, etc.
Is there a better alternative?
There are plenty of programs that can serve as alternatives for Inkscape. Adobe Illustrator, another SVG illustrator, is the most commonly used software for professionals. It gives users tools for drawing and typography, with advanced color controls and creative brush effects, as well as a comprehensive vector graphics environments. Its key features also include multiple artboards, intuitive vector painting, and gradient transparency with on-object controls. The biggest drawback is of course that Illustrator comes with a hefty price tag.
Other cheaper options include BoxgSVG, which offers a free tool to create scalable vector graphic files. This browser-based vector runs as an extension in Google Chrome. It comes with all the tools necessary for SVG creation such as pends, bezier curves, basic shapes, text, layers, and many more. It has a straightforward interface and sometimes works faster than Illustrator.
Considering that the software is offered free-of-charge, installing Inkscape is definitely a win-win situation. It equips you with all the necessary tools needed to create or edit scalable vector graphics. This program supports a range of file formats such as EPS, JPG, PNG, and BMP files, among others. It's great for graphic designers, artists or for small businesses that need have a limited budget. Inkscape is a great tool for you to exercise your creativity.
Should you download it?
Absolutely! It might be free but the Inkscape authors still make sure that their design tool is on par with its competition, and regularly update and improve the program to meet the demands of the community. Their website is also well curated and easy to navigate, and their customer service is excellent. What more can you ask for?