I have to say, I found Freehand 10 difficult to use, unlike earlier versions of the software. The user interface has completly been re-designed and I quite honestly hate it! Ok, so it may not be that bad, but if you are a computer novice like me, then everything will be slightly beyond you. The help sections contain huge amounts of information which you cannot follow because you might find yourself fallen asleep by the end of it. For the price, this software is not worth it, but as I got it with other software, its not so bad.
FREEHAND 10 REVIEW - I'LL POST IT IN THE RIGHT CATEGORY IF DOOYOO MAKE ONE FIRST ! PROMISE ! When it comes to making decisions relating to the purchasing of high-end graphical software, a consumer can be bombarded with a minefield of impenetrable statistics, choices, alternatives to those choices, genres, sub-genres and complex, jargon-infested explanatory literature; a consequence of trying to distinguish between innumerable, and typically indistinct, different products. Strip aside all the pretentious waffle, buzzwords and sales spiel, however, and you will find but one overriding issue remains: which member of my family can I auction off in order to fund this purchase ? As computers have grown into increasingly flexible cornerstones of the graphics industry, a field which they now utterly control, so too have prices spiralled out of control. While theoretically the choice of artistic software out there today is bigger and more varied than it has ever been, the figures banded around for the best software (if you are seriously interested in getting into digital art, you’d better budget yourself hundreds of pounds to kick-start your hobby) probably mean that those choices are ones that you cannot afford to make poorly. Make no mistake: Macromedia’s FreeHand 10 is a big player in computer graphics. The venerability a tenth incarnation of software that debuted over a decade ago (1988, in fact, under the Aldus FreeHand label) offers should not be confused with senility: FreeHand sits comfortably within the top echelons of its industry, and provides hot competition to arch-rival Adobe’s Illustrator package. There are too many different disciplines of graphics software to list in a sufficiently informative format here, so I’m not even going to try. All prospective FreeHand buyers need to know is that it is a vector graphics package; that endows the product with enough distinct advantages and disadvantageso
ver the alternatives to render comparisons worthless. Vector is one of the oldest and most highly-developed ways of getting your ideas down onto a hard-disc. Popular with output destined for print because of the perfect quality finish and bold, distinctive style that vector represents, increasing market pressures from the consumer for these expensive apps to be all things for all people mean that FreeHand 10 has evolved into an equally accomplished tool for interactive content and the web. Put very simply, the headline of vector is its adjustability. Every aspect of your work can be retrospectively revised, refined or binned entirely and replaced with a completely different solution. This allows you to be extremely experimental (and therefore productively creative), because you are never forced to commit to a solution that you (or, if all this is your profession, your client) are less than completely satisfied with just because you have spent hours getting there, or/and a tight deadline looms. Anything you don’t like can be quickly and cleanly changed, but selectively: because all the component parts of your canvas are, with vector, treated as separate entities, you are free to work on all the things you don’t like whilst keeping all the bits you do safe and preserved. It’s a nice way to work. In addition, because there is no fixed resolution to a vector image (image coding is purely mathematical), you are free to scale your work up or down to whatever size takes your fancy (or meets the needs of you or your client) with no loss of quality. An image, be it as small as you’d ever wish or as large as your printer can handle, will always reproduce perfectly, on screen or paper. Until relatively recently, the flipside of all this was that even a top-drawer vector app had considerable difficulty emulating anything even close to the quality offered by dedicated ‘painting tools’, like Adobe Photoshop
or Corel Painter. Absent from vector was that extent of depth and naturalistic ‘softness’. Happily, evolution (and Macromedia’s R ‘n’ D department) has done much to counter this. While vector is still unmistakably vector (and, depending on how you look at it, all the better for it), there is no shortage of ‘natural media’ tools in FreeHand 10 that allow the program to have a good go at pretending to be something it is not. Of course, is you already own a suite of software for catering to individual requirements all this will be nothing more than a nice touch; it is, however, an extremely advantageous development for those of us without the financial clout necessary to fund more than a baby’s handful of £300+ ‘toys’. (Incidentally, FreeHand offers an exhaustive ‘Export’ menu that’ll allow even the most well-equipped designer to introduce his .fh10 files to Flash, Photoshop, Acrobat and many others, as well as the traditional ‘Save for Web’, animation and TIFF options.) FreeHand 10’s toolset is stupidly extensive, and there’s no way I can hope to sum it all up in one article. Fundamentally, it centres on the drawing of shapes, either using the meat-and-potatoes ‘Pen’ and ‘Pencil’, or some the more elaborate templates. These outlines (called paths) can then be customised, almost beyond belief, with stroke and fill styles, brushes, a festival of interesting special effects (‘Xtras’) and more. At any time, you can distort and transform the original path using the highly intuitive warping tools. Objects can then be layered, one on top of the other, to produce stunning, multi-tiered pieces that betray FreeHand’s status as an industry-standard graphics package. Objects can even be animated, making this something of a junior Flash. I’ve only been working with FreeHand for about a month, and, while I&
#8217;m confident I’ve considerably more still to learn than that which I’ve already uncovered, navigating the program has already become second nature. I'm still familiarising myself with the software, and I've no doubt that as I progress further, so too more problems and issues will become apparent. At this stage, I've yet to uncover many, and certainly nothing important. There’s is no really sorted solution for adjusting the opacity of objects, which really stinks, to be honest (this is something Illustrator users have had for a long time). The interface can be annoyingly convoluted at times, and I’m told that, as an upgrade, 10 is slightly skimpy n terms of new features (this being my first excursion to Macromedia’s bestselling vector waters, I shouldn’t like to comment). From personal experience, I can reliably inform you that the software runs nicely (and without complaint) on Windows 98 and ME. It was wonderfully easy to install, and is apparently beautifully Carbonised for all you Mac OS X users too. Being a staunch Photoshop 6 fan, I could also be described as very exacting: I would not give this the time of day were it anything less than extremely useful, and sufficiently different to Photoshop that it adds a new dimension to my work. As it is, while FreeHand is still certainly not a replacement for Adobe’s imaging giant, as a vector package it is both useable and extraordinarily capable. As easy to pick up from the outset as it is deep and involving, Macromedia’s FreeHand 10 is an impressive piece of kit that flatters the rookie while fulfilling all the needs of a pro. Multi-format output is easy to do and produces great results, while the relatively low system requirements and adaptable singularity of the program mean that you don’t even have to auction off a member of the family to pay for it. FreeHand retails for around £360, although you can shop ar
ound for discounts. Or you could crack the free downloadable demo, if you were a low-down, law-breaking vigilante. ;) However you get hold of it, I can honestly testify that, unusually, it more than lives up to all the hype. And, at the risk of sounding like the spawn of Macromedia, if you can afford to buy it, then you cannot afford not to buy it. Really impressive. On the other hand, it is not cheap, and it is not quite as comprehensive as Adobe Illustrator (although I know Macromedia would loathe to hear me say that). Slightly more worryingly, the hot competition between Illustrator/FreeHand means new incarnations of these programs are being released with worrying alacrity. For the price, you do not want to be working with out-of-date software within a few months. I do believe FreeHand will be up for an update around August: bear this, along with the £150 'previous version upgrade' cost, in mind when making your purchase. For that reason alone, I've given FreeHand 10 4 out of 5. Detrimental customer ethics of the stupid Adobe v Macromedia brawl aside, both companies produce excellent, market-leading software. FreeHand has been subject to over 14 years of constant refining and development - if you're into computer graphics, then you miss this at your peril. - And if you’re really THAT interested, FreeHand 10 weighs in at just under 20 MB small and needs 40MB of RAM to run, at the very least. Check it out all official-like at http://www.macromedia.com/freehand .