Adobe has dominated the world of creative software for decades. Since Illustrator’s debut in 1988, it has built a rich legacy of features, and now sits as one package within the Adobe Creative Cloud (or Creative Suite, as it used to be known). Adobe’s dominance has been such that it became impossible to work as a designer without using something from Creative Suite.
Until, that is, Sketch launched exactly six years ago. It has since become established as a viable — some would say desirable — alternative to Illustrator. Read on to find out how these apps compare, and how you can get started with them, especially if you’re new to design.
Pixels vs Vectors
Before we get into the details, just a quick word about how Illustrator and Sketch work. They are both programs called vector-based graphics editors. In a normal image editor like Photoshop, GIMP, or even Microsoft Paint, when you draw a shape (let’s say a circle), what gets saved is just a lot of pixel data, which merely *looks* like a circle from a distance:
But in vector-based packages like Illustrator and Sketch, what gets saved is some mathematical cleverness that plots the shape itself. In practice, this means that you can keep zooming in to a vector forever and you will never see any degradation in image quality. Designers and illustrators usually prefer to work with vectors, because they can always be converted to pixels… it’s much harder to go the other way.