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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Talking Vector-Based Drawing Apps: Which Are Best?


    I've just always worked with bitmap-style programs. I'm curious about vector but don't really know much about it, except for some doodling in a computer lab and reading up on the basics of what it is technically speaking.

    Before I just go with what seems like the default choice - Adobe Illustrator - I just wanted to see if maybe there's anything else out there that I'm just not aware of that would be a bitter fit for me.

    I HATE when vector programs over-smooth my strokes. I'd like to retain as much control over the stroke smoothness/straightening as possible; an adjustable system would be great, like with a slider or specific settings, but if that's not possible then I just want one that doesn't go crazy with it.

    I also need one that works with a Cintiq 21UX since that is what I'm using.

    If it had robust features for emulating textures and media, that would be just killer! I think I read a while ago that Microsoft was working on a vector-based alternative to Flash where those sort of features would be standard, but I haven't heard anything else about it since then? Of course such things aren't really what vector is for, but, just the same, if I could find something with any offerings in that general area...

    And finally I just want to find one where it's not hard to tweak a drawing. Let's say I want to change the flow of the gradient in a shape to which I've applied a gradient; if there were a program where I could just tweak some parameters or drag a wee box and see immediate updates, that would be best, instead of something where I have to click spots blindly until I sort of get what I'm after.

    Okay, thanks for your help guys!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Melbourne, Aus
    Thanked 97 Times in 70 Posts
    Illustrator IMHO is the industry leader for a good reason. Not cheap of course.

    I've been using it at work for 5 years now and still love it.
    Regarding the smoothness of strokes, you have full control of that with the pen tool and convert anchor tool.
    There is also a very nifty plugin called Xtream Path for further control.

    With regards to textures and media, you have full integration with Photoshop Smart Objects so using the two programs seamlessly is quite easy. It allows you to use the best parts from each program. There are also many plugins that mimic Photoshop filters and effects.

    Gradients have always been a fiddly thing with AI until the most recent version (Creative Suite 4). They are much much easier to configure and manipulate now. Though I think they could still work on some improvements. However, the gradient control was one of the best things about CS4 I think. This upgrade allows for the kind of thing you want to do....gradients are now 'live' ON the actual object. The slider pops up and you can add colours, change the direction and add transparency, all on the object and live without any horrible guesswork.

    Hope that helps you some! I've not had too much experience with other vector programs (except for an ancient version of Corel Draw - dont ask), however I think Illustrator is definitely the most sophisticated option out there.
    Kitty's Drawings - My blog!

    I have a Sketchbook now ---> SKETCHY!!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Wellington, New Zealand
    Thanked 1,312 Times in 544 Posts
    Illustrator, or maybe Flash (I found that better than Illustrator for some things, but the trouble is exporting afterwards).

    Yes. Hands down Illustrator and Flash.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Under a rock
    Thanked 54 Times in 23 Posts
    ToonBoom's Opus/Harmony/AnimatePro - iterations of the same software line called differently each time for some reason. This is professional vector software designed for animation. The price for it is a little out of consumer reach - even the stand alone version costs around 1k USD. However, I thought I'd throw it out there since you mentioned this:
    I HATE when vector programs over-smooth my strokes. I'd like to retain as much control over the stroke smoothness/straightening as possible; an adjustable system would be great, like with a slider or specific settings
    The new version, Animate/AnimatePro, has two different settings for brush stroke. One smooths the outside line of the brush fill and the other setting smooths the actual line path. The settings are on two separate sliders.
    The Boulder takes issue with that comment.


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  7. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Thanked 19 Times in 8 Posts
    Inkscape stay seducing me.
    "Afraid not of none of you cowards but of my own strength"


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