Serif has had something of an overhaul of all its key products this year, moving away from the yearly naming convention of DrawPlus 2006, to the far more enigmatic X2 branding.
The X2 means that it is works with the Vista operating system, so new buyers needn’t be to worried about compatibility.
DrawPlus is essentially a vector drawing tool, aimed at those users who like the idea of digital drawing but don’t have the money or confidence to opt for a full-blown, or expensive package.
We weren’t expecting much of an update over last years version but we were surprised to find that Serif hasn’t simply changed the name but added a range of new tools, as well as new ways to work.
As you would expect, the look has a Vista feel to it, with a clean and easy to navigate interface. All the key aspects are on the main page and we found it easy to find tools, especially those you use the most of.
As with most art packages, the interface is made easier if you use a tablet to draw. With this is mind, the new features allow you to change the style of your pen, so creating different styles far more easily.
Freeform is a new addition and makes it easier to add new objects. One of the new additions we particularly liked was the way you can now edit object far more easily. This is achieved by holding the Control down and then simply moving your object around. While this doesn’t sound like much of a step forward, it does make changing your hand drawn images a lot easier to manage.
The main new addition and something we were really expecting was the addition of keyframe animation tools. Essentially, in previous versions you had to draw each frame, now you can create easy frame-by-frame animations by choosing the Storyboard tab. This allows you to draw the key arcs and then allow the program to fill in the bit movement between frames. Once again, this isn’t anything innovative, it simply helps you to speed things up a great deal.
There are plenty of others new features, including flash animation and the use of converting 2D images into 3D, which are supported by a range of tutorial, making getting to grips with DrawPlus a good deal simpler.
Corel Draw and the undisputed champion in this space is Adobe Illustrator. However, these tools are rather expensive and aimed at the professional, or at least experienced, user.
DrawPlus X2 largely seems to largely differentiate itself on price and being aimed at more the casual or first time user. This doesn’t mean it’s basic or without merit, and the new tools seriously ramp up the quality and value for money.