Design insights & tutorials.

Mac Vector Apps


Our recent “Blank Canvas” post asked the question: “Adobe Or Not?“. As a followup, here’s a quick web roundup of some alternative vector graphics software applications for Mac OS X. These applications vary in price from free to about $100, and each offer some nice features that may fill a gap in the feature set of your current vector graphics software.

If you’re using any of these apps, please sound off in the comments section below. We’d love to hear what you think of these, which features others should be aware of, and how you’re using the unique tools in your workflow.

Eazy Draw ($95): vector-based graphics editing for creating simple, non-photographic drawings, technical diagrams, and illustrations such as logos, icons, buttons, and stylized art.

Support for Classic Mac drawing formats including full import of ClarisDraw, MacDrawPro, and MacDrawII files.

VectorDesigner ($69.95) features a wide range of tools and smart shapes: easily create rectangles, ovals, polygons, stars, bezier curves – even convert bitmap images to vector-based drawings thanks to VectorDesigner’s automatic raster to vector conversion!

VectorDesigner even provides advanced tools for performing geometric operations, to achieve total control over your drawings (union, subtraction, intersection and exclusive-or operations)

Achieve unique effects by applying filters and Quartz compositions to your shapes and images non-destructively.

LineForm ($79.95) is the ideal tool for vector based diagrams and illustrations. Powerful features combine with a simple interface to create an intuitive artistic process:

  • Launches in under a second
  • Bezier editing tools
  • Boolean operations
  • Expert typesetting
  • Artistic strokes
  • SVG for full document import/export
  • Core Image support for real-time, nondestructive filters and effects

Cenon (free): Besides the general design abilities of Cenon, the following list of features stick out in the field of desktop publishing:

  • Color shading (gradual, radial, axial)
  • Exposing of images
  • Thumbnails of images
  • Generous text functions
  • Vectorization of images
  • Color Separation

Images can be read in the formats JPG, GIF, TIFF etc. For image procession, Cenon offers a simple and suitable function to expose images. Memory hungry images can be replaced with thumbnail images during work. This makes working a breeze even with fat images.

Text, Lines, Poly-Lines, Arcs, Rectangle, Vezier Curves and complex paths are the basic elements for graphical work. All graphic objects can be created and handled fast and intuitively. A clean layer management, grouping function, and Undo/Redo allows for fluent working in a professional environment. The graphic elements can be rotated, scaled and aligned.

Cenon also offers some special functions to punch, build contours etc. What was created for the output on CNC machines serves very well in design and publishing applications, too.

There are three different kinds of color shading implemented in Cenon. Linear in all direction, concentric and axial.

DrawIt (about $43): DrawIt is a vector editing application with support for bitmap-like image filters. Vector editing as well as the filters are completely non-destructive which means that a vector layer can still be edited even after a stack of filters has been applied.

DrawIt includes ready-to-use shapes such as rectangles, ovals and stars. Boolean operations on these shapes can create even more more complex ones.

Built on top of the vector tools is support for 50+ CoreImage filters and other effects like (inner) shadow, stroke, bevel and many more. These filters are applied in a non-destructive way which means that you can change both the effects and the underlying vector even after you added the effects because the result is never rasterized. Filters can be stacked and this too is all non-destructive and live.

Inkscape (free): an Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X, using the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format.

Supports many advanced SVG features (markers, clones, alpha blending, etc.) and great care is taken in designing a streamlined interface. It is very easy to edit nodes, perform complex path operations, trace bitmaps and much more.

DrawBerry (free): with layers, powerful tools, inspectors and workspace, DrawBerry is a complete and easy-to-use drawing solution featuring CoreImage filters. Some great exclusive features, like the magnifying glass or the undo history, will help you to draw more and more accurately.

Sketsa SVG Editor (free) is a cross platform vector drawing application based on SVG. Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is a graphics format and technology based on XML developed by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

About the Author, George Coghill

George Coghill isa freelance humorous illustrator/cartoonist specializing in mascot cartoon character design & cartoon logos. His cartooning & illustration work can be seen at and at his cartooning and illustration blog. Be sure to follow me on Twitter here!
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We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.

  • Adam Wagner

    Wow, I’d have never guessed there were so many. Great post George.

  • Andrew Crocker

    I'll throw another contender into the ring: Opacity. has one nice advantage: you can export as source code, so you can create more flexible graphics for OSX or iPhone apps.

  • George Coghill

    @Andrew – thanks for the heads up on that one, must have missed it in my search. Looks like another great option for Mac vector artists.

  • Marco

    Here's one you left out. Maybe one of the best. WHY “Illustrator” isn't more like any of these is beyond me. Anyway:

  • Simon H.

    I'm gonna try a few of these really soon!

  • George Coghill

    Thanks for the heads up on ZeusDraw, will check it out!

  • George Coghill

    Thanks for pointing this one out! Looks like another great alternative.

  • tylerwhitworth

    One more I like is Pencil. It's specifically an animation program but it can import AI Files, and I like how my wacom interfaces with it. Best of all, It's free

    Here's the link

  • Tim Plumb

    There are some great applications here. Thanks for sharing.
    I'm quite fond of Intaglio ( or (…). It's powerful but quite simple to get great great looking illustrations.

  • video izle

    Thanks for pointing this one out!

  • Dan

    Excellent job..
    dizi izle

  • AlexanderMcQueenStore

    thanks post!

  • Nick

    How about the FREE download of Expression 3 X …any oldtimer using it?
    Looks great, at least for a novice like me. The only thing making problems
    so far is how to cut out and use parts of imported images.

    So, if anyone out there of you professionals know how to do that in this
    program, please, help me out, can’t be that difficult?!



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  • myimage

    Try free one first …Inkscape is sound interest for me


    Thanks for informative post..

  • aldousd

    Artboard. The only thing I miss from Adobe using Artboard is “Live Paint” and.. if there is another program, cheap, that has that in Vector drawing, I’ll switch!