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Serif DrawPlus X6 review

Katharine Byrne
17 Apr 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
82
inc VAT

DrawPlus X6 has lots of new features to spice up your graphics, but the speed problems from X5 are still present

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Specifications

DrawPlus X6 is the latest version of Serif’s vector-drawing software, and it lets you create art, graphics and logos from curved lines and simple shapes. It’s a great alternative to more fully fledged bitmap manipulators such as Adobe Photoshop CS6, as you don’t need to be particularly artistic to create great pictures, and the software itself is roughly a fifth of the price, too.

The QuickShapes tool makes a welcome return, and it lets you create pre-cut 2D and 3D shapes such as rectangles, polygons, tears, moons and cogs, as well as blend them together to form larger, more intricate designs. Each shape can also be adjusted manually through the use of sliders, so you can create an instant pie-chart from a circle or round off the corners of your rectangle quickly and easily. Not all shapes have the same flexibility, though, and this can feel a little limiting.

You can make the shapes 3D, too, using an Instant 3D button. You even have a movable light source, but the ability to create 3D shapes is more of an amusing distraction than a particularly useful tool. All you can do to the shape is add effects such as textures and shadows rather than alter the individual nodes that compose the lines. Clicking away from the 3D object will also take you back to its 2D options, removing the ability to rotate it unless you re-select the Instant 3D button.

Leopard in a box

We liked how each vector line could be selected individually, but finding them on the actual image was almost impossible on more complex images

This kind of fussy interface was present in other aspects of the software as well, such as its free drawing mode with the Brush and Pen tools. This lets you dive straight in with your own creations with a huge variety of brushes, including chalk, marker pen, sponge, long grass, fog and rain effects to name just a few. Generally, we liked the amount of control you had over each brushstroke, as every line is stored in the right-hand menu pane once you’ve plotted the vector nodes. This gives you endless scope for editing the line’s trajectory, line width, colour, brush type and transparency levels.

Drawing more complex pictures wasn’t quite so simple, though. DrawStudio X6 stacks brushstrokes on top of each other within layers. Annoyingly, each new brush stroke places itself at the top of that stack automatically, which means you then have to move it to the required position in the stack manually. Curiously, brushes would frequently revert back to other brushes we’d used previously when we used a graphics tablet, which meant we had to re-adjust our settings to get back on track.

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