Autodesk reboots vector illustration tool as Graphic

Graphic spans the Apple world using iCloud to move drawings between iOS and Mac.

Autodesk has rebooted its iDraw vector drawing tool as Autodesk Graphic, a Mac/iOS-specific vector technical illustration software product. Graphic uses iCloud to create a common environment for moving between working on iPhone, iPad, and Mac version.

New Autodesk Graphic is designed to be used across all devices in the Apple universe as a tool for technical illustration. (Source: Autodesk)

New Autodesk Graphic is designed to be used across all devices in the Apple universe as a tool for technical illustration. (Source: Autodesk)

Autodesk describes Graphic as “a modern, full-featured graphic design and illustration application created specifically for Mac OS X.” The intended market is technical illustration, diagramming, user interface design, web graphics, game development, and as a simple alternative for some 2D CAD applications including floor layout.

There are tools for 2D lines and geometric shapes, as well as brush and pencil tools for making illustrative vector freeform drawing shapes. A geometry settings pane allows for precise numeric editing. Layers are part of the format, including features such as layer reorder, merge, delete, or adjust blend and opacity by layer.

Autodesk Graphic supports drawing at scale with a variety of technical illustration tools and rudimentary dimensioning support. (Source: Autodesk)

Autodesk Graphic supports drawing at scale with a variety of technical illustration tools and rudimentary dimensioning support. (Source: Autodesk)

For technical illustration Graphic includes an adjustable grid, smart alignment guides, object snapping, and basic dimensioning tools. Unit displays include pixel, feet, inches, yards, and metric units.

Autodesk has another illustration tool in the Apple universe: Sketchbook. Comparing the two, there is some overlap but Sketchbook is more oriented for artistic illustration and Graphic is more for technical illustratration.

The Mac version supports pressure-sensitive input, and works with Wacom tablets and Force Touch trackpads. Other features that distinguish Graphic from its iDraw roots are numerically positioned path points, creation and re-use of custom calligraphic brush stroke styles, and a transform toolbar for editing object selections as a group. Mac users can also drag and drop editable elements from other applications if they are in SVG, AI or PSD formats.

Autodesk Graphic is available in specific apps for Apple Mac, iPad, and iPhone. (Source: Autodesk)

Autodesk Graphic is available in specific apps for Apple Mac, iPad, and iPhone. (Source: Autodesk)

The iPad version supports the iOS 9 updates for multi-tasking and split-screen compatibility, making it ready for the new iPad Pro.

Illustrations created in Autodesk Graphic can be exported as JPEG, GIF, PNG, TIFF, SVG, PSD, AI, and PDF formats. Despite the software’s ability to draw to scale, there is no direct support for exporting as a file directly readable by CAD software.

Autodesk Graphic is targeting user interface design as a primary application. (Source: Autodesk)

Autodesk Graphic is targeting user interface design as a primary application. (Source: Autodesk)

Other features in Autodesk Graphic that support a professional workflow include:

Path editing: Union, Subtract, Intersect, Exclude, and Divide paths; create custom shapes combining multiple shape; join and disconnect vector paths.

Appearance controls: Apply drop shadows, inner shadows, inner and outer glows to shapes; add multiple strokes, fills, and effects to a single object; arrange the order of fills, strokes, and effects using drag and drop.

Text styles: Text line height and kerning options; place text along a path; in-place editing of transformed text; smart text box resizing.

Dropbox, iCloud, and Handoff support: A Dropbox browser is built-in; import images, resources, and other files from any Dropbox folder. iCloud users can store documents and keep them up-to-date across devices. Apple’s Handoff feature allows users to move designs from one device to another for continued work.

CMYK support: Print-ready documents can specify CMYK colors and color profiles. Export CMYK-based PDF documents.

Auto-export: A layer or a tagged item can be exported separately. Create @2x and @3x copies and export assets directly to Xcode.

Scripting: A built-in code editor allows creation and use of custom scripts for design automation.

OpenGL: Autodesk Graphic is optimized for OpenGL, allowing for GPU acceleration.

Available on the Mac and iOS apps store, Autodesk sells Graphics for $24.99 (Mac), $8.99 (iPad), and $2.99 (iPhone).

What do we think?

Autodesk is caught in the middle between low cost illustration programs for mobile like Concepts by TopHatch (see https://gfxspeak.com/2015/02/12/concepts-drafting-rebooted/) and high-end illustration tools for design like CorelDraw Technical Illustration suite. These tools from both sides of the spectrum support DXF, SVG, and more. Meanwhile, there’s Illustrator the other gorilla in the room. Illustrator supports DXF and DWG and Adobe offers the mobile app Illustrator Draw as a free vector drawing tool for Creative Cloud members (there is a free membership available).

But, to natter on about CAD compatibility is to miss the point. Graphic will be judged primarily on its talents as a drawing tool. Autodesk’s mobile tools are designed to be a funnel to attract and educate creative people about Autodesk’s tools where the company would like to sign them up as professional users. Autodesk’s journey into subscription is just getting started but it will be helped along the way, if it can build a big pool of potential members and a wide range of tools to attract them.

Posted in: DCC, Featured

About the Author:

Randall S. Newton is the former Managing Editor of GraphicSpeak. He has been writing about engineering and design technologies for more than 25 years.

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