Serif DrawPlus X4 review

£80
Price when reviewed

It’s hard to get too excited by blend modes, however, as they are such design staples. DrawPlus X4 really needs a standout capability to leave its rivals standing, and it might just have that in the form of its bitmap image handling. This has always been surprisingly powerful thanks largely to dedicated dialogs for managing image cutouts and bitmap-to-vector conversion. Now these are joined by another dedicated environment – the PhotoLab.

Effectively, this means you have access to a powerful standalone photo-editing package directly within DrawPlus. The Filters tab, which runs down the right of the dialog, offers full slider-based control over brightness, contrast, white balance, colour temperature and unsharp mask parameters, while the Curves control lets you fine-tune your image’s tone curve. By default, all filters are applied globally, but red eye removal and patching tools are also provided and you can quickly create selections to act as masks.

Serif DrawPlus X4

The PhotoLab also caters for the less confident designer with its range of preset adjustments and effects. These are represented by small thumbnail previews and clicking on them applies common effects, ranging from boosting colour intensity or warmth to adding film grain, vignetting and some impressive artistic effects.

When you like the look of your effect as shown on the large central preview, you can commit it and the parameters involved are added to the list of filters running down the right. This means you can fine-tune the interaction of all filters to get the best possible results. Even better, the PhotoLab handling remains non-destructive so you can always recall the dialog and fine-tune its effect retrospectively.

For output, DrawPlus X4 offers dedicated options for publishing to PDF, Flash and CAD/CAM formats, but the main output route is the Image Export dialog. This is mainly focused on bitmap standards such as JPEG, PNG and TIFF (but not PSD), with new support for SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics). There’s also a new super-sampling option that builds on traditional anti-aliasing to improve the smoothness and quality of image output.

DrawPlus X4 doesn’t provide all of the power of CorelDRAW or Illustrator, but it doesn’t do badly, and thanks to the new PhotoLab tool it also throws in much of the power of Photo-PAINT or Photoshop. At such a reasonable price, that makes DrawPlus X4 a very attractive proposition.

Details

Software subcategory Graphics/design software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Linux supported? no

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