Illustration Vector Editing Software

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by dzlfreak, Sep 7, 2016.

  1. dzlfreak macrumors newbie

    dzlfreak

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2011
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #1
    Hello, I'm looking for recommendations on vector editing software for Macs. I'm currently using Parallels to run Corel Draw (CD) on my iMac but I haven't upgraded my OS (updated but not upgraded) in many years because none of the latest versions of Parallels runs XP. I scan or take a photo of my hand-drawn designs then use CD to trace and edit (smooth out) vectors to make it look like my drawing so I can cut the design using my (old) Roland GX-24 (uses Cut Studio to cut the designs from AI files, see www.kmscustoms.com for reference (only the main page is active at this time)). CD is the only program I have experience with for my designs. I don't care if its free or pay, I'm looking for a quality program. Thank you!
     
  2. steve123, Sep 7, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2016

    steve123 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2007
    #2
    Affinity Designer is one app you might have a look at. Problem is the developers left a few key features out so depending on your use case, it could be a great fit or a total waste. For instance, believe it or not, there are no lines with arrowheads. They have been promising to add them for more than two years now and they still have not done so having been distracted for a while now to release a Windows version.

    So, if your use case is scientific drawings, forget Affinity Designer. If you are an artist, AD may work for you. They are soooooo close to being a contender in the illustration app category ....

    AutoDesk purchased the other vector illustration contender. They renamed it, get ready for this, Graphic. It has since gone down in flames

    Of course, you should consider the Adobe Creative Cloud apps. For vector illustration that would be Adobe Illustrator.
    --- Post Merged, Sep 7, 2016 ---
    Another note. There was speculation that the guys behind Pixelmator would release a vector illustration tool but they lost focus and got distracted with the iPad a few years back. Too bad for us and I think it spelled the end for them. I hardly ever use Pixelmator any more.
     
  3. MechaSpanky macrumors 6502

    MechaSpanky

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2007
    #3
    dzlfreak,

    I second steve124's recommendation for Affinity Designer. I have used Freehand and Corel Draw in the past but to me, while both of them were just as powerful (and maybe more so) than Illustrator, they both had a clunky U.I.. As someone who has been using Illustrator for over 26 years, I never thought I would find another program that could even come close to Illustrator. I was wrong. I started using Affinity Designer when it was in beta and I have almost completely replaced Illustrator in my workflow. Affinity Designer is powerful and it has so many nice, well thought out features but that doesn't mean it is perfect. The program is still at version 1 but it is developing very quickly. The developers are great, they actually listen to users and they take requests. They even post their Roadmap on their forum so you can see what is coming in the near future.

    Somethings are missing from Affinity Designer like:
    (as steve123 pointed out) lines with arrowheads (but I think they are coming soon but who knows).
    the ability to vectorize raster images (to me this isn't important as I normally just trace things anyway)
    linked files (now they are only embedded)
    There is no Shapebuilder (but they include lots of pre-made shapes and the ability to do boolean operations so you can easily combine shapes to make your own).

    For me the way Affinity Designer draws is much better than Illustrator and there is no subscription. The price is great as well at around $50 (much cheaper than Illustrator and Corel Draw). There are still some rough edges but they are smoothing them out pretty quickly. If there is something that you would like to see added to the program, just request it on their forum. They have a free 10 day trial so give it a try. They also offer the latest version of their beta for free to users who have bought the program so that they can test it out the newest additions to the program.

    Mecha
     
  4. KALLT macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2008
    #4
    Just throwing in the app Sketch. But I don't think it is particularly suited for drawing. They also have a demo version.
     
  5. MechaSpanky macrumors 6502

    MechaSpanky

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2007
    #5
    KALLT,

    Isn't Sketch more for U.I. design? I have heard good things about it (from U.I. designers) but I don't know anyone who uses it for more traditions print based designs. While Sketch maybe powerful, in my opinion, the U.I. of Sketch looks horrible (which is funny as it is marketed as a good tool to make U.I. elements). It looks like a cross between iTunes and RapidWeaver, which isn't a compliment. It might be powerful but that is an interface that only a mother could love and that is only if she is blind.

    Mecha
     
  6. KALLT macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2008
    #6
    I believe the comparison you are looking for is with iWork. It takes inspiration from Keynote and Pages.

    I like Sketch a lot and can work well with the UI. It works for me. Affinity Designer, Illustrator, Pixelmator etc all have a broadly similar UI that just feels awkward to me. Granted, I use it for UI and web design as well as for (re)drawing simple images, but I don’t know what the OP is looking for specifically.
     
  7. MechaSpanky macrumors 6502

    MechaSpanky

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2007
    #7
    KALLT,

    Everyone is different I guess. For me Sketch's U.I. just doesn't cut it but oddly enough, I love Affinity Designer's U.I. and I like Illustrator too. For some reason I didn't care for PixeImator for some reason though. If Sketch works for you, the more power to you!

    Mecha
     
  8. GerritV macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 11, 2012
    #8
    I'm using Graphic for iOS, even though not an AutoDesk fan at all. Could you please comment on "gone down in flames" ?
     
  9. steve123 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2007
    #9
    It does not seem to get much love from Autodesk. I suppose it never really had many updates before Autodesk acquired it so perhaps the comment was not fair. I was always hopeful it would evolve and I would use it. That is why I threw my money at it in the first place ... hoping for the best. Sadly, iDraw did not grow to be the Illustrator killer I was hoping it would.
     
  10. IHelpId10t5 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2014
    #10
    Don't overlook the powerful Inkscape.
     
  11. MechaSpanky macrumors 6502

    MechaSpanky

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2007
    #11
    Inkscape is powerful, it has a lot of great features. I've tried using it many times and while it is powerful, it is clunky and not nearly as smooth nor as intuitive as other vector programs. If you are okay with that, then Inkscape may be for you.

    Mecha
     
  12. Ant3000 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2015
    Location:
    UK
    #12
    I have been using Adobe Illustrator since v 5.5 and now up to CS6 - I have been looking for an alternative as I do not like the Adobe model of renting - Affinity Designer is pretty good but agree with others that some fundamental tools are missing - although there are some things much better than Illustrator. So I find myself switching between the two quite often but usually sticking with Illy to do the finer work and prep for print.
    AD is almost there but it seems there is still more to do for it to be a true contender. But it shows how crappy some of the functions are in Illustrator that we have learned to live with and assumed were perhaps down to CPU speed but work better and faster in AD. Font selection for example is so much better in AD as the selected text is displayed in the font from the font menu before it is clicked, allowing much faster selection - small thing that makes work so much better than the tiny preview of the font in the AI font menu. For the price it is well worth trying - I just wish it would go that bit further.
     
  13. MechaSpanky macrumors 6502

    MechaSpanky

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2007
    #13
    Ant3000,

    I started using it around 1992 (sorry I don't remember the version) but I didn't use it professionally until version 5 or 5.5 like you. There are so many things to love about Affinity Designer and it is progressing rather quickly. The things it is lacking will hopefully be dealt with soon. Until then, I too have to switch back and forth between Designer and Illustrator. While I do use both, I find myself using Illustrator less and less these days.

    Mecha
     
  14. organicCPU, Sep 9, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2016

    organicCPU macrumors 6502

    organicCPU

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2016
    #14
    Illustrator is not perfect, but for most needs the best you can get today.
    Inkscape is a fantastic open source project, but for print design real cmyk color space is a must. For foil cut designs it's missing the ability to define own full tone spot colors with custom color preview, even though it's not a must.
    Another open source project is called sk1 (it could be the project page is compromised with a bad certificate at the moment), but there is no latest stable release for mac, just for linux and windows. This looks interesting, because of cmyk color support.
    Unfortunately Freehand is dead and tied to PPC Macs (it's super fast an a G4 though).
    Affinity Designer is promising. I'll watch the development.

    If Parallels doesn't like Win XP for CD anymore, why not use Virtual Box to virtualize XP? It's not that I like CD very much, but I had to use it to deliver several print-shops with that format and some are still using it.
     
  15. allan.nyholm macrumors 6502a

    allan.nyholm

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2007
    Location:
    Aalborg, Denmark
    #15
    The Pixelmator vector tool is in Pixelmator-land invoked with CMD+SHIFT+V - but it's nowhere near a real vector drawing application for OS X.

    It lacks easier methods of using the vector tools that Adobe and other actual vector apps provide in their apps.

    I use primarily Sketch for drawing icons and such but it can't provide the free-drawing that Adobe Illustrator has. Affinity Designer is getting there but it appears to be mostly dead in the water now the team behind the two apps found their Windows audience.

    I don't have access to the Adobe Creative Cloud anymore because in all actuality I'm not that super great with drawing so don't take my words here for more than what they are. Plus between, Acorn, Pixelmator, Affinity Photo and Designer and Graphic and Sketch + probably a few more freely available I have my hands full.
     
  16. MechaSpanky macrumors 6502

    MechaSpanky

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2007
    #16
    allan.nyholm,

    Affinity Designer isn't "dead in the water" at all. They have two development teams. One for the Windows side and one for the Mac, so adding a Windows version isn't slowing them down that much. The program is progressing quickly if you have been using the betas. They normally add many things to the betas and it takes a while for those features to make it to the Mac store release but they have made some pretty big chances pretty quickly.

    Mecha
     
  17. allan.nyholm macrumors 6502a

    allan.nyholm

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2007
    Location:
    Aalborg, Denmark
    #17
    Cool. Appreciate the update.
     
  18. MechaSpanky macrumors 6502

    MechaSpanky

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2007
    #18
    allan.nyholm,

    No worries Allan. I recommend checking out the latest beta. You can find it on their forum. Of course to use the beta, you have to have purchased a copy from the Mac App Store. They have lots of goodies in the betas that haven't quite made it into the Mac App Store version. The beta has many new things like symbols, constraints, and many others.

    Mecha
     
  19. steve123 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2007
    #19
    Arrowheads?
     
  20. MechaSpanky macrumors 6502

    MechaSpanky

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2007
    #20
    steve123,

    Technically they do have arrowheads on the latest beta but they are only for shapes and not for lines yet. You can pick and choose many different options for the ends (or which end, etc). This isn't quite enough to make up for the lack of arrowheads on lines but at least it is something. I do believe that they are working on adding the capability to add arrowheads and other things to lines in the near future (hopefully anyways)! There are some rough edges in Affinity Designer that is for certain but they are fixing things pretty quickly and so every month, a few of those rough edges gets worn down.
     
  21. steve123 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2007
    #21
    I hate to keep banging on the arrowheads ... but this feature has been the top requested features from their users for over two years now. Speed is not a word I would use to describe their efforts in this regard ...
     
  22. MechaSpanky macrumors 6502

    MechaSpanky

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2007
    #22
    steve123,

    You are right, it does seem like it is taking them a long time to get something that seems as trivial as arrowheads (on lines) but I would guess that there is a reason for the wait. They have said before that they don't want to add a feature that is half-baked and so maybe they are looking to "do it up right" instead of just adding plain arrowheads, maybe they are going to add arrowheads with some cool or new/interesting features. The developers have been very good about delivering what they promise and so I am confident that they will make good on their promise to add arrowheads. The only question is when? To be honest, I haven't missed arrowheads at all. As I mentioned in my previous post there is an arrow shape that can used in many instances in place of the arrowheads on lines (not always but sometimes) and it works well enough for me. The program really is maturing nicely, and I would imagine that they will add arrowheads by version 2!

    Mecha
     
  23. dzlfreak thread starter macrumors newbie

    dzlfreak

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2011
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #23
    Thanks for all the replies! It sounds like Affinity Designer and Inkscape are the top of the list and I'll check out the other suggestions too but I'm not sure about using open source programs simply because I haven't looked into it and have concerns about other people being able to access or use my creations (not that they'll make much off them). I have no experience using Illustrator and I have a Wacom tablet that I'd like to get used to using now that I've finished college and have some free time again.

    When referring to arrowheads, are these the points on a line that be kept or removed to smooth it out? (Sorry, seriously, very novice user of these programs...I need to educate myself one day.)
     
  24. steve123 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2007
    #24
    Arrowheads simply refers to the line style or end cap of a line or curve. For example, draw a line connecting two elements and you want one end of the line to end with an arrowhead or another style of end cap (circle, square, etc). Several apps provide this capability such as Adobe Illustrator, Autodesk Graphic, Dia (open source), Keynote, Preview, Inkscape (open source), Powerpoint, ...

    FYI, Affinity Designer 1.5 debuted today and still no arrowhead line styles.
     

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