Microsoft Acrylic (beta)
- Large range of supported filters, easy to use
- Slow pixel painting
If Acrylic represents Microsoft's first serious foray into the professional end of the graphics market, it's a promising start - but with some way still to go.
Price$ None (AUD)
Here's to breaking creative rules. Convention dictates that the graphics world is split into two camps. Line-drawing vector editors such as Adobe Illustrator occupy one side of the divide, while bitmap-based programs such as Photoshop, PaintShop Pro and Corel Painter sit on the other.
Recent incarnations of these programs may have taken tentative steps inside each others' territory,but none so drastically as Acrylic. It's a program that traces its heritage back to Creature House's critically acclaimed Expression 3.0, bought by Microsoft back in 2003.
Nobody does it better
Uniquely, Acrylic mixes the accuracy of vector editing with the realism of painted bitmap images. For example, in Photoshop or Corel Painter, a paint stroke is a simple bitmap. But Acrylic's Skeletal Strokes technology allows both bitmap and vector strokes to be underpinned by a path that can be edited at will. This allows you to add curves to paint strokes or adjust its opacity. Skeletal Strokes can also have repeating elements, with fixed end-points. The results often offer near-photographic realism.
But there's more than this to Acrylic. Aside from Skeletals, this version incorporates improved bitmap-painting features, which allows more flexibility as an image editor. While bitmap support itself isn't new - in Expression, such images could be included as objects in a document - now they can be dealt with on separate pixel layers.
When working in a pixel layer,the content of the program's toolbox palette changes to accommodate bitmap-editing tools such as clone and red-eye correction. These add to existing features such as a Warping tool; something, remember, that has only recently been added to Photoshop.
An even more impressive arrival is a stunning image stitcher, which creates panoramas accurately from photographic originals. If you open a number of photos with some overlapping content and import them as bitmap objects in a vector layer, the program can calculate the overlapping points and create a panorama without further intervention.
Take your pixel
Acrylic comes with a wide range of pixel brushes. But be warned that pixel painting, at least in this beta, is slow, painfully so if you're working on a multi-layer document. Microsoft is working on improving performance before final release.
The clearest improvement in Acrylic lies in its range of supported filters. The program now offers its own set of native Live Effects - an outstanding way to apply effects such as drop shadows or colour adjustments, to bitmap layers and vector objects alike.
Although Live Effects are automatically turned into bitmaps when applied to objects, the shapes underneath remain intact. This means that both vector shape and its attached effect can be easily edited. And if the effect is later removed - a fresh palette lets you manage, apply and remove entire sequences of Live Effects - the object immediately reverts to its original vector state.
Thankfully, pixel and vector layers - which are used for creating text, paths or objects - are not mutually exclusive. You can change a layer's format using the helpfully named Layers palette, with the content of the pixel layers becoming a single object in a vector layer during the translation.
Acrylic hasn't abandoned its vector painting tools either. A Variations palette allows you to add a slight element of randomness to vector strokes, permitting the sort of realism you might be able to achieve when using a pressure-sensitive drawing tablet. From a single palette, you can specify degrees of variation in stroke features, such as hue, transparency and width.
Acrylic isn't perfect, though. Seasoned Painter or Photoshop users expecting a polished and consistent interface will view Acrylic's plethora of incongruous and clunky palettes with disappointment. A Hint palette - the sole purpose of which is to explain the role of the currently selected tool - merely adds to the clutter. But usability niceties elsewhere compensate for this.
Generally the program is easier for newcomers to understand than alternatives such as Illustrator. Chunky handles surround objects making them easy to select, group-scale and rotate. Even better is the way that rulers surrounding the document window fulfil a dual role: they can be grabbed and scrolled to navigate the document. If Acrylic represents Microsoft's first serious foray into the professional end of the graphics market, it's a promising start - but with some way still to go.
Although this version claims to work seamlessly with Photoshop and Illustrator files, we couldn't get the beta to fully understand native Photoshop files. Layers were flattened during translation in either direction. This is the sort of flaw that will hopefully be addressed by the time of the full release.
Join the newsletter!
Bang and Olufsen BeoVision 14
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-55EZ950U
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-77EZ1000U
Nespresso Creatista Coffee Machine
WD MY PASSPORT™ X Gaming Storage
WD MY PASSPORT™ Gaming Storage
Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44
cloudandco Smart Cane
Dyson Supersonic™ Hair Dryer Fuchsia/Iron
Apple iPhone X
Toys for Boys
Lego Mindstorms EV3
LaCie Rugged USB-C Portable Hard Drive
UBTech First Order Stormtrooper Robot
Onyx Smart Walkie Talkie
Leica M10 Digital Rangefinder Camera
Ubiquiti Network’s Front Row Camera
Google Daydream View VR Headset
Bose SoundLink Micro
Propel Star Wars T-65 X-Wing Drone
PETKIG Go Smart Dog Leash
Xbox One X
Dearear Endear In-ear Wireless Earphones
WD MY CLOUD™ HOME Personal Cloud Storage
iRobot Roomba 980 Vaccum Cleaning Robot
Amazon Echo Bluetooth Speaker
Toffee Bags Commuter Satchel
Nest Protect Smart Smoke Alarm
Panasonic Hi-Fi - SC-UA7GS-K
Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K
Belkin Pocket Power 10,000mAh
Fallout Geeki Tikis
Tile Pro Bluetooth Tracker
Urbanworx Full HD Action Camera
Kogan Bluetooth Soundbar
3SIXT 3-in-1 Smartphone Lens Kit
Raspberry Pi Starter Kit
Panasonic Portable Splashproof Fun - RF-D20U
Lexon Flip Alarm Clock
Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse
Ikea NORDMÄRKE Wireless Charging Pad
Logitech Doodle Collection Wireless Mouse
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Hisense takes the fight to home entertainment heavyweights with flagship Series 8 and 9 ULED TVs
- 2 Sony's latest Ultra HD OLED debuts in Australia
- 3 Panasonic Ultra HD OLED TV Review
- 4 D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD DSH-C310 review
- 5 Oppo A77 smartphone: Full in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Officeworks hops on voice interface bandwagon with Google Assistant integration
- Amazon confirms early 2018 Australian launch for Alexa and Echo
- JBL join smart speaker arena with the portable, waterproof and (Google-powered) JBL Link range
- University of Sydney Signs World-First Agreement with Dropbox
- Microsoft delves deeper into AI with new kit bag of tools
PCW Evaluation Team
I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.
It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.
Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.
The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.
The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.
The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic
- LG V30+ review: The videographer's smartphone arrives
- Fitbit Ionic review: Impressive but not quite iconic
- Xbox One X review: Brave new world
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSenior Telecommunications RiggerSA
- FTService Desk Analyst/Telecommunications Service AnalystOther
- CCWintel Team LeadWA
- FTMachine Learning LeadOther
- FTService Desk EngineerOther
- FTProject Engineer, Operational Infrastructure & TelcoOther
- CCDesktop Support EngineerNSW
- FTProject Manager/- Accommodation / Facilities ManagerOther
- TPBusiness Analyst - Public Sector Health ProgramQLD
- TPProject Manager - IaaSQLD
- FTSoftware EngineerNSW
- FTBusiness AnalystOther
- FTCyber Security Program ManagerACT
- CCData ScientistVIC
- FTEnterprise Lean Agile CoachOther
- CCMicrosoft Dynamics AX ? Technical ArchitectQLD
- FTDevelopment manager - Product and PlanningOther
- FTSenior SAP Business Analyst (Business Intelligence & Data Management)NSW
- FTSenior SQL EngineerOther
- FTNetwork Architect - up to $800 per dayOther
- FTMultiple DevOps EngineersNSW
- TPOffice 365 Technical LeadQLD
- FTTelecommunications RiggerOther
- FTScrum MasterOther
- CCThe job "Automation Test Analyst Guidewire " is now ExpiredQLD