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Even though raster graphics (i.e. graphics using a fixed-size pixel bitmap to display the colors) are prevalent in most areas when it comes to digital graphics, vectors (where the colors and size are dynamically calculated) have always had their place and are now becoming increasingly more popular, thanks to newer technologies that allow them to be closer to the realism of raster images (it’s still impossible to create vector photos, though).

Vector graphics are actually more desirable when it comes to any kind of digital work and printing, with their main advantage being the possibility to scale up and down without losing any quality – that’s possible because the image/colors are calculated using lines and points rather than fixed pixels with predefined colors. Just as there are a lot of apps to work with photos and other raster graphics, so there are tools to help you create and edit vector graphics, and below I’ve listed the top ones that are currently dominating the industry:

Adobe Illustrator. Adobe Illustrator is of course, the number one solution when it comes to vector graphics. It’s the most feature-rich application and it can basically be your only software that can be used for creating and finishing any kind of vector illustrations and images. The program can be used for anything from designing magazine covers to creating digital art and other things. All the features you’d ever need are present, from perspective drawing and natural brushes to advanced typography and 3D effects, and if you still find yourself needing more, there are hundreds of plugins out there to help you with your work.

CorelDRAW. Corel DRAW was, for a long time, the leading app in vector editing, but it has lost the title to Illustrator. The latest versions have picked up, though, and today, Corel DRAW is just as good as Illustrator, and even better for some purposes, like large format printing (plotters work better with their format). All the other features are present, allowing you to create and design beautiful vector art without having to use any other tools. The price of Corel DRAW is also lower than Illustrator, so it’s the perfect choice if you’re cash-strapped.

InkScape. InkScape is quite the capable vector editor, having all the features you may need for basic creation and editing in SVG format. It’s not as advanced as Illustrator or CorelDRAW, but it definitely gets the job done and being free, it is the perfect choice if you’re just getting started. The biggest gripe that users had with it was the interface, but in the latest version, that has been fixed as well – the new UI is easy to use and is intuitive for new users, as well. If you want to work with vector graphics once in a while or are just getting started with vectors, InkScape should be the first editor you get.

Google SketchUp. Google SketchUp is more of a 3D modeling app, but the vector capabilities are pretty good, and with the app being free, it’s hard not to recommend it for vector graphics. You can do a lot of things and create some pretty good basic vector graphics – SketchUp is perfect for the occasional illustration, but if you like it, there’s a Pro version with much more functionality.

Xara Designer. Xara Designer is the third editor in the top trio, along with the above-mentioned Illustrator and CorelDraw, but it’s a slightly more specialized and less popular program. It’s perfect for vector graphic editing though, plus it’s great for photos, as well, if you buy the whole suite. The app is easy to use and easy to learn, so you won’t have any issues with that.

If you need to work with vector graphics for any kind of purpose, you should definitely check out some of the above apps – they’re the most popular on the market, and even though most of them are paid, they are definitely worth the money, especially if you’re going to work with vectors professionally or on a regular basis.

Roger is a freelance writer that contributes to where you can get some useful resources to help you choose your host.

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