Released 23rd March 2015
With the Release of Affinity Designer for Windows, Serif have officially announced that PagePlus X9, PhotoPlus X8, and DrawPlus X8 are now legacy products. All are now discounted to £20. WebPlus X8 is no longer sold. To find out more about the legacy products visit the Software for Education site pages.
The latest release of DrawPlus, almost two years since the release of DrawPlus X6, includes several frequently requested features, and some useful innovations. I am not a DrawPlus expert — below are some of my first impressions of the changes since X6. (DrawPlus X7 was never released).
Just click to define the points and drag to shape the curve. Watch the Video on Serif.com
Several improvements were made to Customising the Workspace to improve workflow:
This has been one of the most frequently requested features for many years. Click on the bird logo to download an EPS version exported from DPX8.
Hairlines are designed for output to cutters. The lines are displayed in DrawPlus as 1 pixel at all zoom levels.
With more using high resolution monitors, large icons are not enough. The interface also needs to work at 200% display settings. This latest version fixes that problem.
DrawPlus doesn’t have the LogoStudio from PagePlus, but it does now have the logos, which have been added as a new category to the Gallery. These royalty free designs can be a starting point for your own logos. They are not smart logos, as in PagePlus, where each design could include text filled in with the Company name from User Details — they are just the vector graphics like clipart.
Two quick shapes from earlier versions of DrawPlus have been revived — the Quick Splat and the Quick Flash. The nodes on these can be adjusted to provide 16 and 11 different default shapes respectively. They may be useful for posters or advertisements.
This has been enhanced with a new clone tool and new filters. Although you can use Edit in External Program to edit in PhotoPlus (or your favourite bitmap editor), this may be less often needed now.
This is a very simple way to produce presentations with transitions in Shockwave or Video formats (*.avi, *.mov, or *.wmv).
Simpler to use that the replicate dialogue, this is a great way to produce grid patterns, and resize the elements for creating wallpaper effects.
Another frequently requested feature. Vector fills provide scalable fills that are sharp at any size. Add to the basic set of brick, tiles, dots, and hashes with your own pattern fills to create stunning designs. Right-click on a vector-filled object to edit the fill or to recolour it.
The traditional bitmap fill tool is good for filling closed shapes, but the vector flood fill will create filled closed shapes by filling in areas that are not closed. Great for the cartoonist who can draw a few lines, then fill the areas created between them with different colours, gradients, or patterns.
Released 4th March 2013
DrawPlus can create both Stop Frame and Keyframe animations. Stop Frame animations can be exported as GIF animations. However, animated gif images cannot be edited in DrawPlus. PhotoPlus can be used for that.
DrawPlus can take a bitmap image, and trace it into many small areas of uniform colour. Photographs typically have many unique colours, so to get an accurate vector trace requires more and smaller shapes than a simple logo image, or a black and white drawing. The Autotrace Studio has three default settings for Photo, Logo, or B&W, but each can be customised to get the desired results.
The suggested resample scale will depend on the size of the original image to be traced. If it is large, tracing it may be slow, so it is advised to let Autotrace down-sample it first.
The Flatten slider will affect the quality of the image. Move it to the left to reduce the banding of areas of similar colour. Adjust the other sliders to suit your needs, before Tracing the image, and accept the trace if it looks good in the preview.
The smallest area to trace defaults to 10 pixels. Decrease that to get more detail.
Open the Help Tab on the left of the Autotrace Studio by hovering the mouse over the right-pointing triangle, or by clicking it. This will give you more detail on using the various slider options for optimal results.
The blend tool can create all kinds of visual effects in a few seconds. To create this shape, I draw a quick wave, made a copy, gave it a different fill, and blended the two. Then I moved and resized the copy to modify the blended object.
Flow-charts, family trees, or diagrams can be created using the Connectors to join quick shapes, text frames, pictures, or Artistic Text. Lines that cross will have a cross-over elbow.
Any picture can be cropped with the square or irregular crop tool, or by a quick shape. The Image Cutout Studio can also be used to create an irregular vector crop.
The Toolbars, Menus, Keyboard shortcuts, and Workspaces can all be customised to improve productivity. Workspaces can be saved and then switched quickly to suit different projects.
Horizontal, Vertical, Diagonal, or Angular dimension lines can be added to engineering drawings or plans. The context toolbar allows the precision to be altered, and units to be changed or hidden.
DrawPlus can export to most popular bitmaps formats, and EMF, WMF, SVG, or SMF vector formats. Serif Metafiles are useful for using drawings in WebPlus or PagePlus. Each format has appropriate options for resolution, colour depth, and transparency. Super-sample will smooth jaggies. This is similar to Export as Picture in PagePlus and WebPlus.
A wide range of filter effects can be applied to objects or text to add drop shadows, bevels, outlines, reflections, etc.
Files in *.dxf or *.drw format can be imported and exported.
Complex shapes can be created quickly by joining curves using the Add, Subtract, or Exclude options.
There is a choice of icon sizes. Small, Large, or Automatic detection based on the resolution of your monitor. If adding new custom icons use a size of 18 x 18 pixels.
Complex drawings are much easier to work on if split into layers. Layers can be locked, hidden, or made not printable. Layers can be moved up or down in the stack using the layers tab. If you open ken Cope’s African Elephant sample drawing (illustrated below) from the Startup Wizard you can see that it uses many layers.
Spelling dictionaries are included for Danish, Dutch, English (UK), English (US), Finnish, French, German, German (pre-reform), Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish. Language is a character attribute so different languages within the same paragraph can be checked simultaneously. DrawPlus lacks any hyphenation dictionaries, but soft hyphens can be inserted into text using Alt+0173.
As in PagePlus, OpenType features such as ligatures, ordinals, Small Capitals, or Stylistic Alternates, can be enabled via Character Format, OpenType, Details, or from the Context Toolbar drop list. To see all features, use the Character format dialogue.
None of the 222 fonts installed with DrawPlus include any OpenType features, but Windows 7 has several fonts such as Calibri, Constantia, Cambria, and Gabriola, that include many features. My free OpenType fonts include a wide range of features.
DrawPlus includes a number of predefine PDF profiles to suit different tasks. To produce small PDF files suitable for the Web, use the Web Compact or Web Normal profiles. For professional printing, use Press-ready or PDF/X-1a, or define your own PDF profiles and save them for future use.
Most, or at least many, PDF files can be opened by DrawPlus, but there are some programs that produce PDF files that DrawPlus cannot open, or that include features that it doesn’t understand. If you encounter such a problematic PDF file, try opening it and saving it from PDF-XChange, or as a last resort, Export as an Image at whatever resolution you need.
DrawPlus supports pressure-sensitive tablets, to draw thicker or thinner lines with more or less pressure. The pressure profile can be edited. If you’re thinking of buying a tablet for use with DrawPlus it’s worth doing some research on Community Plus before deciding which one to purchase.
Quick shapes can save a huge amount of time. They have one or more nodes to create an almost infinite variety of shapes from a single quick shape. This bicycle sprocket was created with a Quick Petal and some quick circles.
Designs can be saved as groups to the “My Designs” category of the Gallery for future reuse. Make sure that you backup the %AppData% folder for DrawPlus to external media such as a USB drive or to DropBox. Just archive the entire folder using 7-Zip to preserve all of your program settings in case your hard drive fails, or your computer gets stolen.
The above design was created using copy and paste in place, then rotating pairs of circles holding the shift key to constrain the angle to steps of 15°. For large grid patterns, the Replicate dialogue can save time and ensure even spacing of objects.
Object styles include a number of filter effects. Use the presets to make a quick shape look like it’s made of metal or wood. Save your own object styles for future reuse.
The Transform dialogue is similar to the replicate dialogue, except that it can rotate and resize objects in the process of replicating them
This is where DrawPlus really excels for the graphic artist. PagePlus and WebPlus have many of the above drawing tools. However, it has only simple solid, double, dashed, or calligraphic lines, but no brushes. Artists can paint with the vector brushes to produce realistic drawings.
Take a look at the DrawPlus Art Gallery on CommunityPlus to see what can be done by skilled users, or open some of the sample drawings from the Startup Assistant.
Open the Brushes Tab on the right to choose a category from: Draw, Edges, Effects, Embroidery, Galaxy, Grunge, Nature, Paint, Photo, Sponge, or Spray. Select the Document group to see a list of brushes used in the current drawing.
If you create and add your own brushes, be sure to backup the %AppData% folder for DrawPlus and copy it to an external drive and/or to DropBox etc., to avoid losing tools that have become vital to your work.
Significant Improvement* New feature† Powerful New feature***
DrawPlus have so many features it would be impossible to list them all. Below is a list of the most significant new features in DPX8. Since DPX6 is now only £20 it makes little sense to buy any earlier version even if you can find one for less than £20, and it is not worth downloading and installing the Starter Edition unless your needs are very basic.
Page last updated on 19 March 2018