Product: Serif DrawPlus X4
Retail price: $49.95 (educational pricing) stand-alone; $149 as a
program in the integrated Serif Design Suite. Suite site licenses start at $2,200.
By Carol S. Holzberg
Windows-compatible DrawPlus X4 2D and
3D graphics tools create and polish Web
images, stop-frame and key-frame Flash animations,
logos, photos, and illustrations for
print and digital projects. The latest version
adds several features and enhancements.
Quality and Effectiveness: Serif’s
DrawPlus X4 provides a student-friendly alternative
to Adobe Illustrator. Its graphics tool
kit is available for about half Illustrator’s price.
While DrawPlus has been around for some
time, the latest release adds features to, and
upgrades others in, its collection of standard
Bezier tools; customizable brushes; specialeffect
filters; and start-up templates. It even
opens Adobe Illustrator (.ai) files (V9 and later)
and saves key-frame animations in Adobe Flash (SWF) format.
Ease of Use: Start-up templates, video tutorials, and onscreen
How-To Guides provide step-by-step directions for
a variety of design tasks. Movie tutorials streamed from
the Serif Web site teach users how to create rollover Web
buttons, animated Web banners, and 2-D charts and plans.
Creative Use of Technology: This program supports
text-to-path drawing as well as freehand curve designs. A
touch-sensitive Paintbrush lets users draw with pressuresensitive
graphics tablets instead of a mouse. They can use
the program’s Connector objects to link boxes and symbols
in technical drawings and organizational charts.
Suitability for Use in a School Environment:
This vector-graphics application has a rich tool kit for
logos, Web-page banners, technical drawing, and animation
design. Unlike Adobe Illustrator, which requires at least 1 GB
of RAM and 2 GB hard-drive space, DrawPlus X4 will run on
Windows computers with as little as 512 MB of RAM (though
going to 1 GB will improve performance) and less than 1 GB
DrawPlus X4 is a suitable inexpensive, feature-rich vectorgraphics
application for Windows-based schools running
32-bit versions of Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, or 7. It
may not be as practical in environments where time and
budget constraints require the integration of software
that offers versions for both Macintosh and Windows.
¦ This versatile 2-D and 3-D graphics
application integrates a rich collection
of tools for vector artwork.
¦ It supports several layers, gradient
fills, customizable drop shadows,
transparencies for shading and
reflections, and much more.
¦ It’s less expensive than Adobe