At a Glance
What Apple's powerful iPhoto and iMovie are to managing photos and editing movies, so you might assume MacPowerUser Software's iDraw would be to drawing illustrations and animations. iDraw 1.1.1 shares OS X compatibility and an elegant interface with the aforementioned Apple applications, but unfortunately, the resemblance ends there.
iDraw provides most of the basic tools found in vector drawing applications. Graphic artists can use iDraw to create attractive work, but it's not easy. The simple shape-drawing tools work more or less as expected, but the Bezier Pen tool has several quirks, and the freehand Pencil tool leaves too many points along a path; this balloons file sizes and makes tweaking the path after you've drawn it impractical.
The Combine Outlines command lets you meld drawn shapes, but the only option is to exclude the intersection of those shapes. There are distortion tools in the toolbar, but many of these "tools" can't actually be used in the document window -- clicking on the toolbar icon merely activates a slider (in the Info Panel) that controls distortion. On the plus side, a shape's line and fill can utilize transparency.
The Frames panel allows you to base subsequent animation frames on your initial frame, but the program lacks interpolation; if you want an object to move across ten frames, you have to set the position for each frame by hand. A timeline of some sort would be welcome.
iDraw exports still images in a nice variety of formats: JPEG, GIF, animated GIF, PNG, SWF, TIFF, PDF, and EPS. You can control JPEG quality but not GIF compression -- gradients and imported images display heavy banding upon export.
It's a good thing iDraw is fairly easy to figure out, since there's no manual or built-in help. The Read Me file provides a brief tour of the program and an e-mail address for further questions. But after a week's time, our e-mail messages remained unanswered.
Macworld's Buying Advice
Although iDraw 1.1.1 can be used to create illustrations and animations, it has many quirks and problems. Considering the dearth of OS X alternatives, the program might be an option for those with modest budgets and needs.
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