Serif DrawPlus 8.0

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Serif DrawPlus 8.0

Pros

  • Good functionality

Cons

  • Images must be imported

Bottom Line

A jack of all trades and master of most, this is an excellent update to a well-loved program. It's simple to use, it includes a huge library of effects and is a highly customisable tool. Best of all, it's easy to produce good-looking results then print them or export to PDF and the Web. The PDF-editing feature is very useful. Professional designers will require more grunt, but it'll make a great buy for amateurs of all levels, particularly as you can use it as an image editor.

Would you buy this?

Another year, another edition of Serif DrawPlus - we're now on to version 8.0 of this affordable alternative to high-end, high-priced professional drawing packages.

The first thing that strikes you on booting up Serif's vector-based drawing software is how easy it is to use. The interface is beautifully laid out, with intuitive options helping you to quickly create your first document. There are new palettes and a colour wheel to give you total control over swatches. It'll be easy for even the most inexperienced artist to start creating. Other fresh facilities include a selection of design templates, though they are only marginally useful because it's so easy to start from scratch. The program includes a selection of photo-editing tools, including a red-eye remover. It's possible to open and edit Photoshop documents saved as PSD files, and you also get a selection of photo effects to create artwork using snaps.

DrawPlus is never going to take the place of Photoshop in a design professional's arsenal, but if you don't mind the irritation of importing images into a DrawPlus document to edit them, it'll handle your basic photo-editing needs. Serif DrawPlus can even work as a limited CAD (computer-aided design) tool. You can import and edit AutoCad documents that have DXF and DWG file extensions. The program is also set up to let you design Web sites, featuring support for animation and Web graphics. There's a huge library of realistic brush-strokes - there may even be too many to use. The availability of more than 50 dry-paint effects might seem excessive, but not to the developers.

Serif claims that the boundaries imposed by vector-based drawing applications "no longer apply" to DrawPlus, because you can create artwork using nearly 200 vector and bitmap-based brushes. With pastel, charcoal and watercolour categories, there's a ready-made brush for whatever it is you're looking to design. You can even create your own brushes or convert any DrawPlus 8.0 object to a brush using a single click. We found the program to be dynamic and flexible. You're no longer restricted to working with circles, squares, lines and shapes. It's certainly not Adobe Illustrator, but what it lacks in functionality it makes up in pricing.

You get a large selection of clip art -called Objects - although such elements will always appear amateurish alongside photos and professional artwork. Printing is a simple process, and you can export completed documents to PDF.

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