Is there a free program similar to illustrator that I can use on a mac?
June 27, 2013 5:51 PM   Subscribe

I'm a teacher and would like to make a few custom posters for my classroom for next year. I'm pretty decent with Illustrator but don't want to invest in it for rare projects such as this. I need something that will let me a bit more nuanced formatting than just a word doc. Any ideas?
posted by shrimpsmalls to Technology (15 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Inkscape is probably the best free program similar to Illustrator out there, and it's available for Mac. That said, while it does similar things, it has a very different interface. It can also be challenging to learn and to get it to do everything it's supposed to do. If you're willing to invest the time, you can probably use it to create the posters you want, and the price is certainly right.
posted by maxim0512 at 5:56 PM on June 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

I came here to recommend Inkscape, too.
posted by wayland at 6:14 PM on June 27, 2013

Inkscape is awesome, and it's pretty close in spirit to Illustrator.

For simple poster projects, you might have luck with LibreOffice draw- it isn't nearly as sophisticated, but it has simple ways to do word art, etc- might be worth trying if Inkscape is too weird.
posted by jenkinsEar at 6:21 PM on June 27, 2013

Check out Pixelmator -- it's fairly cheap (I think it is $15-$20) and available in the app store. It started as more of a Photoshop competitor and is pretty great for the price. I use the full Adobe suite but bought just to check it out. I haven't used it in a while so just went to check out how easy you can create vector shapes. Well, apparently they have added a vector mode called "Vectormator" that you enter by pressing Cmd-Shift-V. I just discovered this now so I have never used it, but that may be an option to explore as well!
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 6:27 PM on June 27, 2013

I just recently downloaded Inkscape. It's... OK. It reminds me more of CorelDraw than Illustrator, really. Also, the Mac version is, like, ported to Mac using this weird software so all the hotkeys are Windows hotkeys. Which is so far my only huge WTF, but ????? As a previous Illustrator user I have to say I'm not that impressed with it so far.

It might be OK for your intended use, though?
posted by Sara C. at 6:41 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I did an extensive tour of free graphics software for the mac last year, and yes, Inkscape is the best of the free for vector on the mac.
posted by nanook at 7:33 PM on June 27, 2013

Response by poster: thanks so much. I will look into each of these.
posted by shrimpsmalls at 8:18 PM on June 27, 2013

The only time I use Illustrator or Photoshop instead of PicMonkey anymore is when I want to use my own fonts. It's web-based and really fun, easy, and great. Couldn't do my job without it.
posted by thebazilist at 8:26 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I know you said free, but for a mere $50 Sketch is worth checking out.
posted by O9scar at 8:30 PM on June 27, 2013

iDraw is cheap and Mac native. It's not as feature complete as CorelDraw so I assume it's even less feature rich than AI. It is pretty serviceable though.
posted by chairface at 9:21 PM on June 27, 2013

I have an Intel Mac and cannot use it, but the PPC Mac version of Illustrator version 12/CS2 is downloadable from Adobe. (Just in case you have an older one)
posted by Leenie at 2:11 AM on June 28, 2013

Umpteenthing Inkscape, if you're looking for something free.

As much as I hate to admit it, your situation seems perfectly suited for Adobe's Creative Cloud leasing scheme. It looks like you can get the full version of one app (i.e. Illustrator) for a mere $19/month.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:12 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just in case you haven't checked out the Illustrator pricing lately, it might be worth doing so. Adobe has recently moved to this "Creative Cloud" concept, where instead of buying the app for hundreds of dollars, you subscribe to it online for a monthly fee. Apparently all the plans require an annual commitment -- so it wouldn't work to just sign up for a month when you need it, unfortunately -- but there is a 30-day free trial. If you can get the posters done within that time, maybe that would work?
posted by ourobouros at 4:20 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

No one has mentioned it, but the educational discounts for the adobe products are pretty big. I'm not sure if you get a creative cloud discount as well, but I seem to remember educational accounts don't require the extended commitment...

Aside from that - Inkscape works really well for creating vector graphics...
posted by NoDef at 5:17 AM on June 28, 2013

I came to suggest keynote (part of apples iWork suite). Its not conventionally used for posters but you can change the slide size to something more poster-like and its great for putting something together quickly.
posted by piyushnz at 7:59 PM on June 28, 2013

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