Looking for a free, open-source replacement for Adobe Illustrator? Inkscape is the ideal candidate, offering vector graphics editing that nearly matches the capabilities of Adobe's premium offering, Corel's CorelDraw, and even Xara X.
The program's file format is based on the W3C standard Scalable Vector Grpahics (SVG) file format, and supports features like alpha blending, cloning, markers, layers, and 3D object creation. The woman shown above isn't a photograph--she's a hand-drawn illustration created in this awesome toolset.
But it gets even better--Inkscape supports digital tablets. For graphic artists, that's an important aspect when considering vector-based solutions. The freeware even goes so far as to support pen tilt and pressure, allowing for unique strokes defined by angle and weight. This manual line-weight support is necessary when trying to cartoon or draw calligraphy.
Honestly, it's simply amazing that this powerful tool doesn't cost a thing.
Download: Inkscape 0.48