Lineform

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Nobody contests that Adobe produces the de facto tool set for designers. But that fact makes it easy to forget that the company’s applications can be more complex than necessary for some tasks. Lineform by Freeverse and Intaglio by Purgatory Design are good low-cost, lightweight alternatives to Illustrator. Though the two applications are roughly equal in terms of basic features (pen tool, polygons) and support for EPS and SVG in addition to the standard image formats, they each have a few interesting, idiosyncratic capabilities. Lineform’s spare appearance hides some smart integration: Rectangles have an extra drag point on a corner for immediate rounding rather than requiring a separate tool or effect; circles also include an extra point for cutting out arcs. Intaglio provides alignment feedback similar to Illustrator’s Smart Guides, but across all objects in the document, not just the two that happen to be intersecting. Intaglio also supports Automator workflows in addition to the ubiquitous AppleScript. OS X’s Core Image features come into play for visual effects—a growing trend in independent software that provides some connection to other tools that might already be in use. While neither application is likely to replace Illustrator on the experienced designer’s computer, they are both useful for quick layout sketches that don’t require the full battery of the Adobe features. At about a fifth of the price, either one would also serve as a good transitional learning tool for users unfamiliar with vector-based illustration without hindering their ability to produce high-quality work. 

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