iDraw – A Cheaper Alternative to Adobe Illustrator [Mac]

Casual digital artists now have a cheaper app than Adobe Illustrator. I worked in the graphic design/printing business for twenty years, and the software that could do it all was Adobe Illustrator. The only downside to it is that it comes with a huge price tag. At just under $600, it’s definitely out of the question for casual designers. iDraw is available for a fraction of the price of Adobe, at just $24.99, and does nearly as much, but much more than Pages.

Even though I am no longer a graphic designer, I still have friends who occasionally ask me to do a logo for them. Enough years have passed that I don’t even have the current software for Adobe Illustrator. I have tried to use the drawing capabilities in Pages, but it just pales in comparison to what I am used to with Illustrator. I decided to see if I could find a cheap app that was comparable and what I found was iDraw. It’s available for both the Mac and the iPad. Neither are expensive in comparison to Illustrator, yet nevertheless are costly enough that you don’t want to have to purchase both. Reading that the Mac version has a few more capabilities than the iPad version, I opted for the Mac version. It would have been nice had I not had to choose one or the other, or if there could be some type of discount for downloading both.

iDraw-Canvas

iDraw has the tools you will want and need and has them arranged in a way that is basic and organized well. The Properties window is where you control the aspects of the canvas, coordinates and size of an object, how it will be aligned and arranged, the path and spacing. These functions are also found within the menu and sometimes at the top of the window as well.

iDraw-Shapes

The objects are created with the help of the tools located on the left of the canvas. I was asked to create a logo for a DJ service, and it was easily accomplished with these tools and shapes. I simply drew it with rectangles, polygons, circles and lines. While in an app with more options, such as Adobe Illustrator, I’d be creating the complex shapes by cutting and moving the index points, it’s created here with the eraser tool. The earpieces of the headphones started as circles, and I simply “erased” to make the flat edges on either side.

iDraw-Appearance

The look of all the objects and text is controlled in the Appearance window. The line weight and sharpness of ends is controlled here, and the brush size and shape can be set within this window as well. For shapes, the fill color is set here, albeit with limited color choices and no options for CMYK or RGB. Additionally, shapes can be set to be filled with gradients and images as well.

iDraw-Text

Text is handled in the Appearance window as well. Font, Size, and Alignment is handled in this window. After your text is set the way you want it, you can use the option to Convert Text to Path to treat your text as objects allowing you to do things such as fill the text with an image. The functions are limited here as far as the text. I was not able to set the text to a path or objects other than a basic text box. To accomplish the curved text, I put each character in a separate text box, then rotated each one separately, the same way I would have in the early days of graphic design before such options were made available. Text could also be set in a text program and saved as an image and imported in if more distinct text styles are required.

iDraw-Export

When the project is completed, it can be exported into a variety of formats including JPG, GIF, PNG, SVG, and others. Saving as a JPG allows for you to set the quality of the image as well as an option for including the background and a grid. Those who are unsure with all these options are helped along with short explanations onscreen of each different exporting option.

Every image manipulation option from other apps isn’t included in iDraw, but if that more extensive creativity is needed, it would be best to spend the money and get a more expensive app such as Adobe Illustrator. However, for more simple image manipulation, the much cheaper iDraw will certainly suffice.