Let’s say you have just downloaded an AI file from the internet and want to edit it to make some modifications. Unfortunately, you have no Adobe Illustration installed on your computer so you start looking for an Adobe Illustrator alternative to edit the file. Although AI (stands for Adobe Illustrator Artwork) is a proprietary file format, there are some vector graphic editors that have the capability of opening as well as editing AI files.
You might have heard about Inkscape? It is a free vector graphic editor that has the capability of opening as well as editing an AI file. Inkscape is a cross-platform app, available for Windows, Linux, and Mac. This app has a built-in library to convert an AI file into an editable format on the Inkscape app window. You can download the binary file of Inkscape on its official website.
How to open an AI file with Inkscape
Once Inkscape is installed on your computer, launch the app and go to File -> Open (Ctrl+O) and select the AI file you want to open. You will be asked whether you want to import the file via the external library or via the internal library. Select your choice and click the OK button.
The following are the differences between those two options:
- External library: Text consists of groups containing cloned glyphs where each glyph is a path. Images are stored internally. Meshes cause the entire document to be rendered as a raster image
- Internal library: Text is stored as text but white space is missing. Meshes are converted into tiles, the number depends on the precision set.
Once the image is successfully imported, you can double-click the image element you want to edit. For instance, if you want to edit a text, simply click double-click the text you want to edit.
Inkscape itself has the native file format of SVG. You can save the edited file into this format if you have a plan to re-edit it later. Inkscape doesn’t allow you to save the vector file in an AI format, but it allows you to save the vector in an ESP format if you want to send your file to someone who works with Adobe Illustrator.
Potential issues when opening an AI file with Inkscape
If you find your AI file is not 100 percent converted accurately in Inkscape, it probably because the image creator used features or effects unique to Illustrator.