Differences between Inkscape and Illustrator

From Fab Lab Wiki - by NMÍ Kvikan
Jump to: navigation, search

For vector design there is more than one option of which program to use, and at FabLab Reykjavík we have Illustrator and Inkscape installed on the computers. Illustrator is a commercial product by Adobe and Inkscape is an open-source program. I have mostly been using Inkscape for now, but while learning about Illustrator, I am taking notes of the differences, trying to construct some kind of a guide.

My first impression of Illustrator is that while in inkscape the basic approach is to work with shapes, Illustrator seems to see things more as collections of lines. For example, while tracing a bitmap, Inkscape by default traces it as shapes on top of each other, but Illustrator as strokes that may or may not be connected at their end nodes.

Movement tools

Getting used to moving around in one program has clear advantages while it makes you able to move around efficiently without having to think about it, but when shifting to another program it's a bit frustrating how the same commands suddenly produce different results. Both of the programs have similar ways of moving around the canvas, but through a bit different key combinations.

up & down left & right zoom in/out pan
Illustrator mouse wheel ctrl + mouse wheel alt + mouse wheel space + left mouse button
Inkscape mouse wheel shift + mouse wheel ctrl + mouse wheel sapce or mouse wheel

One of the things I have to remind myself about is that while in Incscape pressing ctrl+z undoes and ctrl+y redoes, in Illustrator, while ctrl+z is undo, to redo is ctrl+shift+z instead of ctrl+y.

Creating and editing nodes

Both in Inkscape and Illustrator you are able to edit the lines of your drawing by cliking and dragging the anchor points or the handles of them or the lines themselves while having the Edit paths by nodes (Inkscape) or Direct selection tool (Illustrator) selected. In inkscape, while using the Edit paths by nodes tool, you can add nodes by double-clicking. In Illustrator, you can add nodes, or anchor points, by having your drawing selected and using the Add anchor points tool. It is also possible, and at the time I think more convenient, to use the Reshape tool that allows you also to move the anchor points around after creating them, allowing you to work without constantly switching tools.