We’ve discussed, on several occasions here on Mac.AppStorm, the niche of apps comprised of consumer-grade imaging and design software. It is still a fairly young app space with huge potential for hobbyists and part-time designers that may not have the funds (or the feature requirements) for the professional tools like those developed by Adobe.
I like to dabble a small bit (emphasis on “small”) in vector art, and with a brother who is a graphic designer by trade, I’ve had my time to play with the big guns like Illustrator. Not only is it way more firepower than I’ll ever need, but I’m also not willing to shell out the required cash for what amounts to a part time hobby for me. Today, I’ll take a look at iDraw, a vector drawing app by Indeeo with a more reasonable price tag and a less immensely overwhelming feature set for the small-timers like me.
First things first: I can’t say enough good things about the interface of iDraw. The tools are clean and easy to navigate, and they’re presented to you on a set of dark-colored palettes and toolbars. This makes the artboard and any color and contrast in your work really pop. Working in iDraw proved to be a very visually enjoyable experience.
Now I very recently (as in, a few days ago) purchased a new MacBook Pro with Lion, so I may still be geeking out over full-screen apps. But aside from your general file commands, just about everything the app has to offer as far as creating and manipulating your work can be found on the toolbars to the left or the series of palettes that you can show/hide with ease. I found using iDraw in full screen mode exceptionally pleasant, allowing you to focus on your work and leave that menu bar hidden.
Tools & Functionality
iDraw has all of the standard functionality you’d expect from a graphics creation program. The rulers, artboard, layers manager, and object management tools are certainly all up to snuff. The pen tool, as one of the most crucial tools employed by a vector artist, is satisfactorily implemented in the app. Layers and grouping/arranging are powerful enough to give you convenient control over your objects without giving you a bunch of flow-breaking fine-tuning controls to worry about.
The palettes above are the extent of the floating windows in iDraw, and can be shown/hidden as needed, viewed individually, resized, and docked together. There is a bank for shapes can all be edited and saved for later use. This is handy, as the iDraw webpage points out, for mockups, such as a mockup of an iPhone app you might be working on.
iDraw has a powerful gradient editor, as well as all of the most useful pathfinding options for unifying, clipping, and creating compound paths. The brushes and styles banks are also editable and savable for later use, and, as expected, any brushes applied to paths maintain their malleability.
iDraw supports the import of several different image formats into your project–useful for tracing and text masking just to name a few. It also has adequately powerful dimensioning features. A useful tool for floor-planning, dimension lines append an auto-populated dimension bubble to the path.
Finally, and perhaps most usefully, iDraw plays well with others. It supports PDF and SVG as export formats, which means that (even if you’re using the iPad version) iDraw doesn’t have to be the only graphics editor you use. You can sketch something up here and then send it off to a heftier app, or you can even import it into another app altogether for use on a different project.
For those of us that remain classically un-trained in the art of graphic design, iDraw’s interface and easy-to-understand tools streamlines vector drawing without bombarding the user with complex information or finicky tools.
As I mentioned before, the writers here at Mac.AppStorm have tested and discussed many apps in this category of consumer-grade graphics. I have tried a great majority of them, and iDraw is without a doubt my favorite. Assuming they continue development and pay attention to the user feedback that they invite, I think that the folks at Indeeo have written an app that comfortably sits among the frontrunners in this market.
iDraw has a companion iPad app (which I haven’t tested) that appears to have much, if not all, of the same functionality as it’s desktop counterpart. The mobility an flexibility of iDraw give it the potential to find a permanent spot among users who have a requirement for an app like this.
Have you given iDraw a test drive? Let us know how you like it and how it stacks up compared to other vector drawing apps you’ve used.