I'm a software developer and am working on a personal project (website + iphone/ipad app). I need simple illustrations for these to fill in the blanks until the project gets "some" paying customers or I find investors. With more money I can hire some graphic design folks to do a great job. As for now, I'm aware of the big brand tools out there (Photoshop, Illustrator) but am looking for an illustration tool for beginners. I've used "Paper" app by FiftyThree Inc. and was able to create something fairly decent in just a few minutes. I'm looking for an application that will do this on my computer, that has more features than Paper, but without the learning curve of Photoshop or Illustrator.

Summary question: What are some great beginner illustration tools (OS agnostic)?

Thank you


2 Answers 2


It sounds like you may want to look at wireframing tools instead of "Illustration" tools. This article has a list of tools for both apps and web (I've heard good things about Pencil Project but have not used it myself) that you can use to put stuff in place and help you build the UI.

Beware the "quick icons until I hire a designer" approach; you end up continuing to use those same icons a lot longer than you originally plan to since I've found that developers tend to push the UI part onto the back burner for more back end functionality (sorry - not meant as a slam but there's only so many hours in a day, particularly if you're doing this as a side project).

If you really must, you could probably use something like the Gimp to create bitmap icons.

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    +1 also, re icons, I'd add that it's better to choose, download and use good free icons than make not so good ones - good icon design is hard and when understanding function is the most important thing, too familiar is better than not familiar enough. Search this site for questions about where to find good free icons, it's been asked before Commented Jul 12, 2012 at 21:19

If you're trying to draw I find Inkscape to be way better than Illustrator because of the Threshold. I've looked and looked in Illustrator for the feature thinking I must be missing it but to my knowledge it doesn't exist. With Threshold turned up drawing is a lot easier in Inkscape. Its also free so worth at least looking at.

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