This post was sponsored by Linearity. Learn more about their sophisticated graphic design software with Native M1 support, Vectornator, in our review below.
What is Vectornator?
Vectornator is professional graphic design software that is compatible with Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Today they released a brand-new update with lots of improvements, including a visual overhaul to match MacOS Big Sur.
Using this flexible software, you can create illustrations, interface designs, layouts, and much more, all with one application. For anyone wondering, yes, all the versions of Vectornator (iPhone, iPad, and Mac) are free.
Who is Vectornator for?
Vectornator is for graphic designers, artists, and creative professionals. The developers have put a lot of effort into maximizing the workflow between tablet, phone, and desktop devices.
It’s also one of the most optimized apps for the apple pencil on iPad. If you prefer to use a combination of pen, touch, and mouse or trackpad, and like multi-touch gestures, Vectornator is for you.
Vectornator is Great for Beginners Too
Vectornator has been designed to minimize the learning curve, making it much easier to pick up for beginners.
Its interface feels familiar and intuitive, even if you have never used any graphic design apps before.
Then, if you want to dive in even more, Vectornator’s unique help pages are some of the best out there.
Using the all-new Vectornator Learning Hub, you can become a power user in no time and level up your vector skills in a beautiful, fun way.
Getting Started in Vectornator
It’s pretty easy to get started in Vectornator, as the software has excellent graphic design features like the pen tool and auto-tracing. It’s intuitive and efficient, without the clutter and confusion of other vector design apps.
Check out this video from a famous designer and YouTuber, Will Paterson. In the video, he covers an introduction to Vectornator using the MacBook Pro.
Vectornator’s Main Features
Vectornator’s main features are a backbone of original vector editing tools like the pen tool, layers, and shape manipulation. It also has some useful unique features that Vectornator is particularly suited to:
- Pen Tool supporting multi-touch plus stylus gestures
- Unique Auto Trace feature with Apple Core ML
- Timelapse features
- Isometric Grid
- 3rd party pencils
- Import from Figma and Sketch
- Built-in Unsplash and Iconator Search
Let’s take a look at these features a little more in-depth.
Amazing Pen Tool With Intuitive Gestures and Stylus Input
The pen tool supports the Apple Pencil on iPad, with multitouch gestures to increase the efficiency of your workflow. When you’re on desktop, Vectornator also supports Wacom Slate and has 3rd party stylus support.
Pinch and zoom, drag, swipe, and multitouch. When moving objects, each grab handle is big and chunky, giving you an almost-tactile feeling. Menu elements can be easily rearranged and hide automatically if they aren’t needed.
The UX with pen tool and multitouch gestures is highly optimized. You’ll get fluid motion and learn muscle memory quickly, allowing fast ideation and concept-to-page.
For example, when the stroke is transparent, the stroke width hides. Then, once the stroke color is set, the menu appears. These touches keep your sidebars clean and minimalist, no matter how complex your artboard.
Rotate handles give good separation from the shape, so you can’t accidentally click rotate when you want to scale. It’s touch-friendly additions like this that add speed and make workflows easier.
New contour brushes with pressure sensitivity are on the way with v 4.0 release (end of March, 2021).
Unique Auto Trace Using Apple Core ML
Vectornator also saves time with auto-trace features that allow you to press a button and instantly have your sketches and scribbles brought to life in vectors!
The Vectornator library tab includes access to Unsplash in addition to the Iconator icon search engine. That means any image in Unsplash can potentially be vector artwork. Just click on the image you like, and trace.
Each auto trace uses Apple Core ML to name each feature automatically, based on its color and shape. From these name tags, you can more easily find the layers you want, merely using search.
Since trace can provide up to 10,000 individual objects from one image, auto-tagging and search can come in handy.
Learn more on how to use Auto Trace here.
Iconator, the Icon Search Engine by Vectornator
Icons, Icons, and more Icons 80,000+ of them, to be precise! Vectornator includes icons contributed by the community, free to use with any vector work.
Even without any vector design experience, you can combine, mix, match, and edit icons to make a beautiful, unique piece.
In Vectornator, you download icons as vectors, so you can ungroup them, change stroke, fill, blending, layers, and even directly edit shapes. Even if you just like one or two figures in an icon, it’s ok.
The icon library dramatically accelerates the workflow to create complex layouts and designs without using the pen tool even once!
Create custom letters and lettering with the Vectornator app. Using the efficient and intuitive tools in Vectornator, you can adjust the strokes, lines, and shapes quickly.
Create Beautiful Illustrations
Used by leading brands like Disney and Apple, Vectornator is an excellent choice for digital illustrations. It has a sophisticated but easy-to-use pen tool.
This software is ideal for creating intricate illustrations on any iPhone, iPad, or Mac device. The pen tool has pen gesture support, various path options for edits, and a node tool. You can also choose from some shapes and styles to help make it easier.
You can even put together realistic mockups to show your beautiful illustrations properly.
Vectornator supports the Apple Pencil, Wacom Slate, Wacom Pencil, Mouse and Trackpad, and touch!
Artboards allow users to layout their content for UX/UI wireframes quickly and efficiently. Designers can put the concepts for several different devices side-by-side.
The design workflow can be sleeker than with other apps like Affinity Designer or Illustrator. Because the mobile app for iPad and iPhone contains almost all the desktop app’s power, it’s easier to bring your prototypes to the customer.
Just sketch out a prototype quickly on iPad, then flesh out the full concept on desktop. Bring the full artwork in-app right to the customer, rather than needing to export and sync all your changes between all of your devices.
Social Media Templates
If you’re looking for an easy way to export to various social networks, Vectornator has some useful built in templates and size guides for the following platforms:
- LinkedIn Size Guide
- SoundCloud Size Guide
- Discord Size Guide
- Twitch Size Guide
- Pinterest Size Guide
- Facebook Post, Event, and Profile Size Guide
- Twitter Size Guide
- YouTube Size Guide
- Instagram Size Guide
Vectornator for Desktop
Vectornator works on Desktop, iPhone, and iPad. Whatever device you prefer, you can have the full experience.
For example, by connecting a keyboard, mouse, or trackpad to iPad, you have the same exact software as Vectornator on a MacBook!
Vectornator allows you to import projects from Figma, Sketch, Illustrator, and other programs/tools.
Because of its unified codebase across all platforms, and all the import/collaboration features, Vectornator is an excellent tool for a variety of flexible UI design workflows.
You can work on projects with a team and on the go. It also allows the use of pens/trackpads for more flexibility when designing interfaces.
Vectornator for iPad & iPhone
The versions of Vectornator for iPad and iPhone work the same as Vectornator Desktop. It’s no surprise, since they run on the same code.
On the smaller screens, Vectornator is great to do quick editing of your Vector artwork on the go or even full-fledged design work, you decide. Imagine a powerful graphic design tool, in a device that fits in your pocket.
It’s also a fantastic collaborative tool for sharing and creating with others. Need feedback from a friend? Work on your iPhone or iPad to use the full software on any device with Vectornator’s unified codebase. Real-time collaboration is coming to Vectornator soon too!
Popular Integrations and Formats
One of the biggest apparent benefits of Vectornator is the fact that it is free and accessible. Most vector graphic design software is expensive and can be harder to learn. Some are also not easily integrated with others and make it harder to import/export.
Unlike Illustrator or Affinity Designer, Vectornator does not have a monthly subscription (it’s free) and offers 3rd party support for pencils, tablets, and more.
With Vectornator, you can use SVG and other common filetypes and formats. Vectornator supports these formats:
- .svg, .pdf and .ai editable formats.
- .jpeg and .png (raster images) – they can be imported and opened inside Vectornator, plus turned into vectors using the Auto Trace feature.
- .fig (Figma files) and .sketch (Sketch) can both be imported with drag-and-drop and edited inside Vectornator.
- Wacom files generated using the Bamboo Slate.
Where to Learn More
There are many tutorials available on the Vectornator new Learn pages. You can start with the essentials, or dive into advanced features.
Vectornator’s help pages are brand new and take you through in an interactive format. It’s one of the best help pages we’ve seen.