Best Buy
  • Price: 190

  • Company: ACD

  • Pros: Professional quality technical illustration and general design and layout program with extensive toolkit all in the same application. Imports and exports just about anything.

  • Cons: User interface is excellent but Illustrator or FreeHand users may take time to learn a few of the concepts. Mac users miss out on some Windows-specific features.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10 We rate this 9 out of 10

Canvas was launched by Deneba in the early 1990s as a technical illustration program to work with and complement CAD graphics. Since then it has grown into an integrated vector graphics, image editing and multi-page layout package, though still with the emphasis on CAD import for technical drawings.

Canvas was launched by Deneba in the early 1990s as a technical illustration program to work with and complement CAD graphics. Since then it has grown into an integrated vector graphics, image editing and multi-page layout package, though
still with the emphasis on CAD import for technical drawings.

Today, there are various different versions available for different niche markets – there’s a Scientific Imaging version available (for £400), and there’s a £470 GIS+ version as well. Two years ago Deneba was acquired by ACD Software.

The new Canvas X emphasises workflow efficiencies and the ability to import more than 80 graphics formats. It can open and edit virtually anything with no need to own a bunch of programs. In particular the DXF/DWG support has been upgraded so that maximum image fidelity is retained when importing AutoCAD files – even when 3D drawings are projected into Canvas X’s 2D design space.

 border=0 />New features for collaborative working include annotation, mark-up and redlining in a range of colours. Users can create and distribute encrypted PDFs with password protection to control whether documents can be viewed, edited or printed.
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<p>
Canvas is very fast to open and operate in Mac OS X, and can be made faster by converting large objects into low-resolution proxies. The excellent user interface show lots of live information very clearly, and there’s a good live contextual assistant.
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<p>
Windows users come off best with new features. You can embed ActiveX controls within Canvas X documents. The Canvas Print Driver for Windows lets you ‘print’ any type of image file into a Canvas document. 
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<p>
<b>SpriteEffects</b>
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<p>
The extensive Canvas vector drawing tools are similar to Illustrator or FreeHand. SpriteEffects lets you create transparency effects plus lenses that show a magnified view of a section of the image. 
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<p>
Layout tools are basically the same as any frame-based DTP program. You have templates, guides, text-flow between columns, boxes, full typographical control, and colour management. There’s a decent set of templates for various document types, and a useful set of flowchart symbols in the library. 
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<p>
Picture editing is confined to global or selective effects (there’s no pixel painting available), but there’s a decent set of exposure adjustments, filters, resizing and envelope distortion tools, plus an autotracer.
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<p>
If you need to do technical illustration from just about any format of source image, Canvas X does the job efficiently and well. It’s a fine all-round creative design and layout tool, all at a great price and much cheaper than either QuarkXPress or Adobe CS 2.
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