Sketch is a modern graphics design app for macOS that took the world by storm after its release in 2010. It is now the staple for web, mobile, UI / UX and icon design. The app is universally loved, and has very few direct competitors, but unfortunately due to the technologies exclusive to macOS that it relies on, the developers are not considering releasing it on Windows and Linux. While a great portion of graphics designers use Macs, many do not, and thus, Sketch’s Mac exclusivity becomes a problem.
So, if you are primarily a Windows or Linux user, here are the 8 best Sketch alternatives for you:
1. Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Illustrator is easily the most well-known and feature-rich vector graphics editor in the world. From logos, icons, mobile and web design to sketching, print design and typography, Illustrator lets you do it all. Just like most other Adobe titles, the community for guides, tutorials and resources, both free and paid is enormous.
Some of the features include perspective drawing tools, shaper tool, live shapes, dynamic symbols, smart guides, multiple artboards, transparency in gradients, and live gradient editing. Using Illustrator through the Creative Cloud also brings additional features such as cloud syncing, which lets you access your designs from anywhere, companion apps for Android and iOS, and access to Adobe’s collection of millions of royalty-free images, graphics and videos.
While Illustrator is great for digital illustrations (hence the name), and general-purpose vector design, it does not have a workflow for product and interface / UX design. It is certainly doable, but lacks the versatility of Sketch in this department.
The venerable open-source tool Inkscape is a general purpose vector graphics editor. While it is neither as feature-rich, nor as powerful as Sketch, it makes up for the shortcomings by being cross-platform and extremely lightweight. It has support for importing the greatest number of file formats, including Illustrator, CorelDRAW, Microsoft Visio and Sketch (using an extension).
Inkscape packs in features such as flexible drawing tools, including a pencil tool for freehand drawing, a pen tool for creating Bézier curves and straight lines, a text tool, and other powerful tools for illustrations, web design, and general vector image editing. Due to it being free and cross-platform, it is a great tool for students, people with older computers, and beginners to vector graphic design.
3. Affinity Designer
The Apple Design Award winning vector editor Affinity Designer was originally created as an alternative for Adobe Illustrator. That however does not negate the fact that depending on the use case, it can be an excellent alternative to Sketch. The reason it is not at the top of our list is that the Windows version is still in beta, and hence, prone to bugs and lacks functionality, compared to the much more stable macOS version.
Affinity trumps Sketch in a few features though, since, in addition to doing vector graphics, it has full support for pixel design, plus a more powerful and precise Pen tool. Other features include artboards, overprint, canvas rotation, trim, bleed, crop marks, and many more. On the other hand, it has some of the same limitations as Illustrator – it does not match up to Sketch when it comes to doing UI / UX design.
4. Xara Designer Pro
Xara Designer Pro is one of the most comprehensive solutions for graphics design. Other than basic support for vector design, it has tools for illustrations, web design, photo editing and more. Some of the advanced features include Live Effects, non-destructive photo handling, vector masking, layer blending, website creation tools, and support for PDF and PSD file formats.
Compared to the UI / UX design bent of Sketch, Xara is a more of a general-purpose graphic design application, offering something for nearly everyone. It is also much more conductive towards web design. If all you need is basic raster and vector image editing, Xara is overkill for you, both in scope and in price. Fortunately, you can choose to buy only the Graphic Design, or Web Design components separately.
Note: During installation, Xara offered to install a “PC cleaner” app called Simplyclean, marked to be installed by default. This qualifies as bloatware and is simply unacceptable for a program of Designer Pro’s repute and price.
Gravit is different from the other programs in the list, as it is a web-based app. While generally web-apps are simplistic and do not have great performance, this is not the case with Gravit. It holds its own against the likes of Sketch and Illustrator, and has the added benefit of being cross-platform, since all it needs is a recent version of Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Safari.
Gravit includes tools for screen design, interface design, vector graphics, and logo creation. It comes loaded with preset canvas sizes, over 29,000 icons, more than 1,000 stock photos, a curated list of Google web fonts and a community marketplace where you can purchase assets for your projects.
As is standard with web apps, it automatically keeps everything in sync with the cloud. This is also one of its greatest disadvantages, since you lose all access to the app and your files, if no internet connection is available. Another department it is lacking in is keyboard shortcuts, which is again not as good as compared to native desktop apps.
Availability: Web (Free)
Another promising, albeit basic web-based vector graphics editor is Boxy SVG. It is available as a Chrome Store app, and works in Chromium-based browsers such as Opera and Vivaldi.
6. Adobe Fireworks
Fireworks, Adobe’s now discontinued graphic design app is another Sketch alternative. It is not a vector-based design tool, and years of neglect has made its performance relatively sluggish. Also, the application does look outdated by today’s standards. Sketch’s interface design capabilities are unparalleled, but despite these problems, Fireworks is still a solid contender when it comes to web design.
Bonus: Adobe Experience Design (Preview)
Experience Design, formerly codenamed Project Comet, is Adobe’s direct competitor to Sketch. It is only available for macOS for now, but seems very promising and stands for some as the only potential answer to Sketch for UI / UX design. A Windows version is poised for release in late 2016. You can sign up to get informed by email.
Design Your Next Project with These Sketch Alternatives
We hope you found these Sketch alternatives for Windows and Linux useful. Although Sketch’s capabilities and workflow for UI and UX design are unrivaled so far outside of the macOS ecosystem, things are not so bad in general vector and raster graphics editing. Even in the interface design domain, things are looking up with the imminent release of Adobe’s Experience Design for Windows.
Did you like these Sketch alternatives? Have more to share? Let us know by dropping us a line in the comments section below.