Vectors marked the beginning of the evolution of graphics for the Web 2.0 generation. Almost every button and rendered image an Internet traveler sees on the web these days is a vector image drawn with expensive professional software like Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw. For non-designers looking to venture into the vectorizing sphere of the World Wide Web, we suggest Inkscape, an open source vector graphics editor with the same tools and resources as other drawing applications.

Off the bat, Inkscape impresses —unlike other open source freeware, Inkscape actually supports the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format and incorporates SVG features like markers, clones, and alpha blending, as well as a streamlined interface that does not lag with every mouse click. The program itself is a bit of a hefty download, as this is not a light app. The toolbar interface includes medium sized icons with rollover descriptions for easy learning and every action is smooth and fluid. And, if you get stuck, Inkscape’s main site also includes tutorials in a variety of languages, so there’s no need to feel intimidated by the blank palette laid out on your desktop. Use Inkscape to create icons, design web pages, web buttons, and your own free-hand vector art.

Open source freeware may take awhile to finally catch on and become as all-inclusive and capable as our paid application counterparts, but for the graphic design world, it’s great to get a fresh start with something that is easy to use and supports the open source community’s efforts to make programs like these accessible to everyone, regardless of income bracket or computer abilities.

Download Inkscape here