Best Free Vector Graphics Editor



I will use the following list of technical features as the basis for evaluating each vector graphics editor. Other features that apply to any software (like local and online help, tutorials, and support) are not in this list.

Basic editors should be small and fast and easy to use for quick jobs or small, simple images. You may find that the drawing component of an office suite is sufficient:

  • simple transformations like resize, rotate, and flip.

Advanced editors should have important features like:

  • layers
  • advanced transformations for masking
  • print colour management although this is becoming less important as publishing moves to the Web
  • support the Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file-format

Read also What are vector graphics and their key difference? at the end of the page.


Rated Products


An excellent vector graphics editor for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Open source)
Very mature product with lots of features. Can do most things commercial packages can.
Slow development.
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DrawPlus Starter Edition  

A drawing and graphics program enables you to create vector graphics and more

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Limited features)
Easy to use and surprisingly powerful; Create vector graphics, family trees, room layouts, brochures, design documents, and even web animations; Part of a family of free products.
Registration is required with an active email address so you can receive confirmation emails; There is no resume support for the download so consider whether you can download 100MB without your connection failing; The restricted features can be annoying. No longer supported by the developer.
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Microsoft Expression Design  

A tool to build graphics for application user interfaces, the web or any other medium

Our Rating: 
License: Free
Useful with Microsoft Office as it supports WMF and EMF file formats; Excellent manual; Slices ie parts of the drawing can be exported without the entire drawing.
No longer developed or supported.
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Other Vector Graphics Editors

  • InsightPoint has a non-standard interface and looks rather unrefined. It is unusual in requiring the use of a move tool to move an object - usually you click on it and move it while holding the mouse button down. It is also limited to page sizes under A3. However it has a wide-range of capabilities that you can preview in the screenshots on the home page.
  • Creative Docs .NET is unusual in having its own non-standard interface which consists of icons without text. However there is text on lower level menus and dialog boxes. It could have been promising but it has some bugs which are unlikely to be resolved because it no longer appears to be developed or supported. Although the website specifically says it is actively developed there have been no updates since 2011.

Specialist editors are not reviewed here

I have deliberately excluded the following types of vector-graphic editor because they all deserve their own specialist reviews:

  • flow-chart and diagram editors
  • animation editors
  • online editors
  • 3D editors


Related Products and Links

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What are vector graphics and their key difference?

Vector graphics

Vector graphics use geometrical objects including points, lines, curves, circles or other shapes to form an image. The alternative is bitmap or raster graphics which are a map of bits, i.e. dots or pixels.

A vector or path has direction and magnitude (let's say length) and it is easily represented as a mathematical expression or formula. All we need to make it more concrete is to know the coordinates where it starts or ends:

Point A –————► Point B or Start –————► End

To double its size we simply double the path length which means a simple change to the mathematical formula to multiply the path length:

Start ——————————► End

Unlike bitmap graphics, vector graphics vector graphics are scalable without losing any resolution. So if I double the size of a vector image then it does not lose sharpness or clarity. But if I were to double the size of a bitmap then I will lose sharpness as the individual bits or pixels become more visible. If you don't know what I mean then see this example.

Vector graphics editors versus bitmap graphics editors

The most common bitmaps are photographs and videos, images that represent the real or natural world. The most common vector graphics are two-dimensional (2D) designs for the World-Wide Web. Vector-based computer graphics are heavily used in industries that need precise designs: web design, CGI, engineering, construction, manufacturing, and science.

There is no clear-cut dividing line between most 2D vector-graphic editors and many bitmap-graphic editors. They often do aspects of the other. At the lowest level, a vector-graphics editor may be able to include bitmaps as a background and crop them. On the other hand, many bitmap editors draw vector lines and add text formatted with vector-graphic fonts.

The key difference is how the images are stored

Where there is a clear dividing line is what happens to the vector information when the image is saved to a file. If the vector data is converted to a bitmap format then the program is a bitmap editor. If the program stores the vector data then it can be included in this category. So the range of supported graphic file formats is a key consideration in rating vector-graphic image editors.

The typical place where vector graphics and bitmap graphics are stored together are compound formats. You are probably familiar with what are primarily document formats. Typically, the graphics are embedded within the format and may be able to be manipulated or edited by a drawing component of an application:

  • PDF (Portable Document Format), the most widespread format.
  • word-processing and desktop publishing (DTP) formats e.g. Microsoft Word DOC and DOCX.
  • PostScript page description language, which is mainly used for printing, and EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) which is essentially PostScript with a preview image included.
  • Flash animations.



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Can anyone comment on DrawPlux X8 vs. Inkscape? I've used the DrawPlus line for years (with many paid upgrades), but it's abandonware now. I'd like to move to opensource. And sooner or later I'll have to stop using DPx8 because it's not supported anymore. But should I make the move now, or use DPx8 for a few more years first?

The download link for Inkscape has changed. The correct one is now:

And there are official versions for both 32 and 64 bit.

Microsoft Expression Design links take me to Norton site

Sorry about that. The correct link has been restored.

"... VPaint 1.5 beta is an experimental vector graphics editor based on the Vector Animation Complex ... It allows you to create resolution-independent illustrations and animations using innovative techniques ...":
This article has been rewritten. The bad news is that there are very few free vector graphics editors for Windows - there are more for Linux and I may get around to reviewing them at a much later date. In the years since the last major update there has been no change to the two recommended products. The good news is that the top pick, Inkscape, has got better and more stable plus there is now a 64-bit option. Remah - Editor