Maya maker Alias has announced that its SketchBook Pro software is now available for Mac OS X. SketchBook Pro is a sketching and annotation software application that works with pen tablets. A trial version is available for download; a license costs $179 (around £100). The software is also available on CD-ROM for $199 (£110).

SketchBook Pro enables computer-based artists to use pen, marker, paintbrush and airbrush illustration tools to sketch illustrations or designs; it also features annotation tools that can be applied to the images on non-destructive layers, a helpful feature for production environments.

SketchBook Pro was originally released for Tablet PCs. Product Manager Colin Smith said that Mac users have requested the software for their platform since its initial release. "Almost every second or third e-mail has been, 'Can you put this on the Mac,'" Smith told MacCentral. "So when the time came to decide new features for this release, Mac OS X support was at the top of the list."

The Mac OS X release of SketchBook Pro coincides with a version 1.1 update to the software. That new release adds 26 new hotkeys, a new single layer copy tool, a redesigned brush editor and an enhanced user interface. It also offers full support for dual-display systems.

Smith said that Alias' previous Mac OS X porting experience with Maya, its flagship 3D rendering and animation software, proved to be very helpful this time around. "We were able to bring over some talent who worked on the Mac Maya port for SketchBook Pro," he said.

What's more, the Mac version has a unique feature that Windows users don't get: Support for Apple's own color picker. "We designed our own for the Windows version," Smith said. "The color picker included in Mac OS X is much nicer, so we just adopted it. It allows you to do things that the Windows version can't, like saving palette colors."

Other than the Mac OS X-native Color Picker, the Mac OS X release is functionally identical to its Windows counterpart, said Smith.

System requirements call for Mac OS X v10.3 or higher, G3 or faster, 128MB RAM, 1024-x-768 pixel display, a Quartz Extreme-compatible graphics system with at least 32MB of VRAM and a pressure-sensitive drawing tablet.