Another which is better design software question

I finally updated to a new laptop after 12 years. The downside, I can’t install my old faithful CS5 Suite because of its EOL key and Windows 11. So now I have arrived to a new fork in the road as to what direction to go for design software. I had the entire Adobe Suite prior because that point and time in my life I required it, but now I only use the laser sparingly and not for a living. I won’t be editing photos on a regular so I’m not pushed to get Photoshop or Corel’s whole suite either, and I still have my old laptop if need be.

My real quesiton is do I pay Adobe $10/$60 (Illustrator only/All apps) a month and get what I know or go with a one time purchase of Corel? I help on the side with a vinyl shop so occasionally I need to make full color designs to be cut, but I don’t feel like I’d be losing out with Corel. Are there things I can do in Illustrator that I can’t in Corel?


If you’re gonna spend the time to learn a new piece of software you might as well learn inkscape which is free.


I mean that’s a 100% valid point. Why pay to hate the difference and try and learn when I could learn and not pay a dime. I feel like i tried Inkscape at one point but didn’t like it, but that could have also been the learning curve and lack of need to learn.

Will Inkscape open AI files at all? I know Corel will.


I’m an old-time Corel user and never found it limiting. But I also use Inkscape (it’s great for teaching because every student can get a copy of their own) and Affinity for some of the photo tools that I feel are a little easier to use & more robust than Corel’s.


#1 welcome back
:partying_face: :tada:

I use Inkscape and Gimp like they were 2 parts of the same program as Gimp does rasters and Inkscape vectors. I had used Corel since version 3 and really liked what was happening with their 3D stuff and then they just murdered it in the next version and never went back. Corel does vectors by stacking them and this would make a real mess with the laser.

If you tried Inkscape a few years ago you would find it much better now. There was a time when open-source programs focused on efficiency rather than ease of use while the expensive programs valued ease of use over efficiency to the point that It would be ten moves to get to five different results in the expensive program while it held your hand at each step, while open-source programs would have 5 commands at one move per result often not even a return, but you had to know what you wanted.

Over time the opensource programs realized the barrier to entry and made them more newcomer-friendly, plus, many YouTube tutorials out there can get you over the hump.


You can do a free 30 day trial with the latest AI. Do that and then decide. The latest versions of AI are amazing and keep getting better. There is a lot to be said for using something you already know how to use - like letting you focus on what you’re making instead of how you’re going to make it in your software.

$10/month for AI is a steal: the price of 2 coffees. I have the entire Creative Suite and I’m extremely happy with it for $54.99/month. Plus there is a ton of training from Adobe and all over YouTube.

If you’re using Corel for the Vinyl Shop then it would make sense to do that. Depends on how often or much you work with them.

If you don’t really need Corel and paying for the new AI doesn’t feel worth it then consider Inkscape.

The “best” sotware is always the one that you have and know how to use.


Agreed, well worth it.

Absolutely – I have a forever copy of Affinity Design as well as Inkscape, but I always gravitate back to IA after using it professionally for over a decade.


Check out Inkscape and Cuttle!


Thanks for all the input everyone. It’s nice to pop back in to the forum on occasion and still feel welcomed, especially with a question that’s asked numerous times before. I do agree after thinking about it, why pay for something I will have to relearn when I can pay for what I know or learn for free from Inkscape.

Well I have downloaded both the trail version of the new Adobe CC and Inkscape. I’m currently working on a project that requires my knowledge of AI and once I do that I’m going to play with Inkscape. The quick run through I did with Inkscape today at lunch seemed rather intuitive so I might like it pretty well.

Side note, Adobe is not very forthcoming on their website and some what lies about their “one app” pricing. It says $9.99 per month but when you click to buy your preferred app the price is significantly different. AI was $20 or 22 a month. That’s a very different price point. I will probably end up using my SIL’s teacher email to purchase the educational discount for the cost of the single app. I’m still not sold on subscription based vs one time purchase, so I may learn to love Inkscape and use AI on an as needed basis.


Well, software evolves over time. It’s worth revisiting this topic from time to time.

Cuttle for example is a fairly new entry into the discussion.


I had used Gimp a fair amount before getting the Glowforge but knew no more than having heard the Inkscape name by that point. So I sat down and tried out every command in sequence without a goal of more than to see what it did. It did not make me an expert, but I was more able to know where to look when the need for that command came up.

I would suggest that you DL Gimp as well as Inkscape is quite lame at raster editing (as are most vector editing programs) and learn them together as they are “Jack Sprat and Wife” of imaging.


The subscription means you’re always got the latest software. There are still improvements being rolled out on a regular basis, and there has been even more with the artificial intelligence integration.

I’ve seen several people mention Cuttle now but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s niche, and if you don’t like the Adobe price you won’t like theirs.

Whatever you pick just make sure you learn it. No sense having tools you never learn to use.


Cuttle is free for 5 projects at a time - so unless you desperately want to keep your files loaded to their servers…


I found GIMP to be pretty obtuse, but love, so if one doesn’t suit your fancy try the other :slight_smile:


Oh I understand the benefits to the subscription model, but for their “package” options to price point I would surpass the value point rather quickly in my mind. My CS5 Master Creative Suite was around $1500 I believe, and it has been with me since at minimum 2012 but I think more like 2010. So roughly $100 a year. It may be outdated by far, but it served the complete purpose of what I needed it to do with minimal complaints.

I would happily pay $2000 maybe even $2500, to own my copy of Adobe CC and get another 10-15 years use out of it. At $60 a month to use 1-2 programs on a semi regular basis it’s just tough to swallow. If they were true to their word about $9.99 a month for 1 program sure, but alas it’s $22.99 for Illustrator. Maybe Adobe should make an “Hobbyist” bundle of Illustrator, Photoshop, and Acrobat (making PDFs comes in handy occasionally) and price it at $30 a month. $360 a year is still steep in my cheap brain, but it’s a happy medium between the $60 and nonexistent $10 they advertise.

But yes always learn the tools you have in your box rather than letting them rust. It’s one thing to say yeah I have that in the shed, and another to know how to use what’s in the shed.


You also get Adobe Fonts and all of the mobile apps - Capture is particularly useful for laser work.


Indeed there is a need to know how to use every program you need. The real question is about the reverse. I was doing a lot that used Blender and several video manipulation programs. I am not doing those things ATM but expect that I am likely to use them in the future. Blender particularly morphs pretty radically in each update and what I do know declines as they make it work differently. It is also a primary program for more distant disciplines than any program I am aware of. They have even just introduced a cad package that used to be the biggest area they did not cover.

So, Yes I have it. It is not costing me anything to still have it. And I will put more attention to coming up to speed when that need comes back around. From Corel to Autocad I will not be updating any of my very old copies and am resisting any situation to do so.


Check with Adobe support. You should be able to load what you own. I still have a copy of that version in my closet too. It would hurt to go back!

I’m not trying to convince you one way or the other. The only thing I know about you is that you are rich enough to own one of these machines :grin:




That made me laugh, and I had to double check what I wrote.

1 Like