Artboard Enhanced for Mac Vector Illustration Creation

Mac developer Mapdiva is known for Ortelius, a vector-based drawing program geared to the creation of maps, floor and landscape plans, and presentations. Included are fully editable royalty-free vector outline maps of the world, continents, regions and several countries, to get users off to a quick start, although they can also use their own geographic information system (GIS) map data, trace and draw over scanned maps and images or make custom-scaled map graphics, thanks to the program's 20 tools. Every drawing feature supports map attribute information, such as those imported from GIS map data, that can be referenced by Ortelius' text labeling system. Users can create their own styles and symbols or make use of the hundreds supplied with the application. Other functionality includes WYSIWYG drawing and editing; layers and layer groups; and automatic junctions and style transitions.

Artboard would seem to embody the developer's wish to reach a broader, less specialized user base for vector image creation. To some extent this is clear from the inclusion of pre-designed templates to create fliers, invitations, signs and business cards. Artboard includes styles and editable clip art, including speech bubbles, buttons, maps and flags, "people factory," and home planning; plus a library for storing user-generated templates.

Beyond the templates, more than 20 tools are provided for drawing rectangles, stars, circles, lines, curves, text and navigating. Users simply choose a drawing tool and a style, either from the built-in library or a user-created one, and draw. The layers-based drawing environment, which includes "stacked" styles and layer masking, makes use of the same Bézier curves employed by Adobe Illustrator, with support for pen tablets and drag-and-drop between such productivity apps such as iWork Pages, Number and Keynote. Significant OS X integration is claimed via technologies such as ColorSync, Quick Look, Spotlight, Apple Fonts palette and Apple Colors palette. Users can browse SVG images with the Image Browser and drag them to a drawing, open them with File > Open or drag them in from Finder. Anti-aliased export for web and print in PNG, JPG, PDF and TIFF is possible, supporting resolutions from 72 to 600 dpi. Work can also be shared directly to social networking sites or sent via email.

Artboard provides text styles, which make it possible to save text properties to a library for future use. As with graphic styles, Artboard's style dropper tool can pick up styles from text objects and apply them to other ones. Artboard employs a "stacked styles" approach, which makes possible the combination of object style effects. These can be transformed, layered together and used in any combination.

New in version 2 is a fresh user interface that's said to improve performance and simplify access to commands, thanks in part to a single select tool for editing objects, combined with a new tabbed interface. This makes it possible to more-intuitively perform such operations as adding and removing points, simplifying paths, rotating and resizing shapes, editing objects, moving center points, combining objects with Boolean operators, cropping and clipping photos, and reseting an object's bounding box. The Styles Tab can be used to create and edit "stacked" styles (including arrowed strokes, rough strokes, pattern brushes, gradients, image tile, and patterned and hatched fills). It's now also possible to export a drawing, selected objects, individual layers, and/or "slices" of a drawing at multiple resolutions and scales, supporting multiple color spaces. Users can also print shrink-to-fit to a single page and "poster-tiled" printing over multiple sheets of paper. Finalyy, the collection of editable clip art and styles has been bumped up to 1,900 items. While all that's nice enough, one wonders whether going forward Artboard will remain a viable competitor to Affinity Designer, which provides more appeal to professionals at the same price point.

Artboard for Mac can be purchased for $29.99 until the end of May (regular $49.99), with more information available on the Mapdiva site. A trial version is also available for download.