Thursday, September 9, 2010

Layered Vector Drawing with Uncluttered GUI

Bohemian Coding has introduced Sketch 1.0, their new vector drawing application for Mac OS X. Its intentionally minimalist design is based upon a drawing space of unlimited size and layers, free of palettes, panels, menus, windows, and controls. Tools and modifiers are accessed as needed from drop-down graphical menus, and help/control dialogues open and close automatically. Though simple to use, it offers powerful vector drawing and text tools similar to those in more costly apps. Sketch can be used in conjunction with the company's bit-mapped graphics editor, DrawIt for OS X, as well as the portable SketchPad app for iPad.

Vector graphics do not lose any resolution when scaled up, while ordinary, bit-mapped graphics (i.e., photos) do. And because vector graphics describe shapes rather than pixels, they produce smooth curves and edits. Sketch is a true vector editing application and has many powerful tools to manipulate those vectors. The app features three different drawing tools: pen, pencil and brush. These tools are accessed through a drop-down menu in the user-configurable toolbar. Selecting the pen tool brings up the following message in small letters at the top of the drawing space: "Click and drag to add points and curves or click on a line to insert between existing points." The message scrolls back up after five seconds, leaving only a small pop-up menu at the bottom of the screen confirming the icon and name of the tool.

This elegant combination of message and pop-up window appears when using any tools or performing any operations, effectively and unobtrusively providing helpful feedback to the user. An inspector window can be opened to display or edit the complete parameters of any object. Sketch includes 10 pre-defined, editable shapes, and the ability to create user-defined shapes. These customized shapes are composed of objects (vector, picture, or text), which are designated as symbols. Once defined, multiple instances of symbols can be easily inserted into a drawing, and editing one affects them all in multiple layers, groups and pages within a single document.

Feature Highlights:
* Professional looking vector graphics, in a simple, versatile package
* Clean user interface with pop-up windows that appear and disappear automatically
* Infinite workflow, infinite size drawing space, layers, pages, and navigation
* Rulers, grids, and alignment tools
* Group and un-group layers
* Overlapping slices of a document can be defined and exported individually
* Fully customizable radial and linear gradients
* Import .jpg, .tif, .png, .gif, etc.
* Export .pdf, .svg, .eps, .jpg, .png, .gif, etc.
* Bohemian Coding's DrawIt for OS X can be used for filters and pixel-precise editing of Sketch documents
* Bohemian Coding's SketchPad can be used for modifying Sketch documents on the iPad

In addition to a wide variety of object creation tools, the application features a host of object modification tools. These include: precise Boolean operations, join & split, decorate, transform, scissors, rotate, smart rotate, stroke width, patch, blob, eraser, distort, and mirror. Of special interest are dynamic Boolean operations on groups of vectors rather than complete shapes, and smart rotate which allows multiple copies of a layer to be rotated around a point. The application also has complete text handling, allowing: text on path, user-definable text styles, kerning, leading, stroke, fill, and inner and outer shadow.

"I am quite proud of its minimalistic interface," stated President Pieter Omvlee. "For those who don't require a highly complex program like Adobe Illustrator, Sketch is a perfect solution."

Pricing and Availability:
Sketch 1.0 is $55, USD, (or its equivalent in other currencies) and available for direct download from Bohemian Coding. A free 15-day trial version is available. Review copies are available upon request.

*thanks iclarified*

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