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It's a breeze to get started in Canvas. Just open the program, select the type of project you want to create--an illustration, a publication, an animation, or a presentation--and Canvas pulls up the appropriate templates and tools. Canvas's tiny tool palette saves screen space for your artwork; each button on the palette folds out to reveal a large subset of choices. If you're accustomed to Adobe products, you may be uncomfortable with Canvas's spartan, unfamiliar interface, but we think it's brilliantly engineered to be compact and customizable.
Canvas's robust set of technical drawing tools is its best feature. You'll find the usual complement of CAD-esque tools, such as Fillet and Trim. But, unlike traditional CAD tools, Canvas's are relatively easy to use, thanks primarily to their built-in snapping capability. For example, if you want to place an object in the exact center of a circle, just draw the object near the center, and it will automatically move there. Snapping eliminates a lot of vector drawing calculations.
Snazzy Special Effects
Like the competition, Canvas ships with a bunch of imaging filters (it calls them SpriteEffects) such as blurs and textures. But Canvas's filters come with a special twist: once you apply effects to an image, it remains totally editable, so you can still reshape it or edit text. Best of all, Canvas lets you focus a lens tool on a selected part of a drawing and apply the SpriteEffects there. The filter appears only on that place--a supercool way to apply attention-grabbing effects.
It's No Photoshop
We also love Canvas's host of basic image-editing tools. From filters to paintbrushes, these tools are incredibly convenient when you need to import photos into your drawing and touch them up on the fly. But despite Canvas's hearty selection, we would use them for only minor touch-ups. Its tools just aren't extensive or sophisticated enough to perform as well as Photoshop's.
At $375, we think Canvas is a superb investment. This all-in-one package provides the widest range of features of any illustration program, all seamlessly integrated. It's a must-have for the graphics professional who wants all the available tools, all in one place, but doesn't want to pay a fortune to get them.