Macromedia updates design tool

The company unveils a new version of its popular FreeHand design tool and premiers a Web design and animation suite.

Macromedia (MACR) introduced a new version of its popular FreeHand design tool and premiered its Web design and animation suite.

FreeHand 8 helps content creators move their work to the Web with built-in support for Macromedia Flash, a graphics and animation tool.

FreeHand's new capabilities allow users to lay translucent text over bitmaps and create glass-like effects, the company said. It also features Magnify Lens, which allows designers to create zoomed views, useful for annotating technical illustrations, according to the company. It includes Macromedia's new Freeform drawing tool.

Available in March for both Windows- and Macintosh-based systems, FreeHand 8 will cost an estimated $399 retail. Existing users of FreeHand can upgrade to version 8 for $149.

In other news, the San Francisco-based multimedia software maker also unveiled its Design in Motion suite, a graphics and animation package for Web designers. Priced at $499, or $299 for previous customers of FreeHand or FreeHand Graphics Studio, the new suite bundles FreeHand 8, Macromedia Flash, a graphics and animation tool, and Insta.html 2 for exporting HTML files directly from FreeHand.

The company is targeting designers looking to move their work from paper to the Web. The company said the suite allows artist to animate over the Web with Flash, design and illustrate with FreeHand, and generate Web pages without any coding with Insta.html.

Earlier this month, Macromedia began shipping Dreamweaver, its Web authoring tool with dynamic HTML support, for the Macintosh and Windows, at an introductory price of $299.