If spending $50 a month for the rest of your graphic design life seems a bit much, check around for a few of the rapidly improving alternatives. As Adobe’s pricing heads into the stratosphere, alternatives have improved to fill the low end and mid-range abandoned by the Photoshop and Illustrator maker.
Sketch, The Gem
Sketch for the Mac is a bit like Illustrator Lite with touches of Photoshop thrown in just to make it interesting.
Yes, Sketch is a vector-based drawing app, more fit for the masses than anything with an Adobe label on it.
Everything is layer based in Sketch. Drop in a shape. It’s a layer. Combine shapes and every piece remains editable as you scale up or down; as a whole or individually.
Layers and objects can be organized as groups, renamed, and easily found. Every item on the screen snaps to a pixel. Every object can be positioned, rotated, and resized– as a group or individually.
All the expected tools are there, too, including fills, borders, shadows, blurs, text and more. It’s as if a graphic designer actually designed Sketch. Import and export EPS and SVG, save as Sketch or PDF.
One of my absolute favorite features in Sketch is the single window approach. No more floating palettes of tools wandering around the screen.
Drop in bitmap images and Sketch can edit, those, too. Grids are easily implemented and tweaked. Sketch does multiple pages and multiple artboards per page. Fireworks users who regret that Adobe has abandoned one of the Mac’s best web design tools will appreciate Sketch’s options to export CSS properties, and an easier way than slices to export objects for web use.
One thing about Sketch I don’t like is the sync with iCloud, so I use Dropbox instead. iOS users can view designs on iPhone and iPad using the Sketch Mirror app which displays a live preview (Sorry, no Sketch for iOS. Yet.).
Sketch is nicely done, receives good reviews, and relative to almost anything from Adobe, is affordable. Unlike Fireworks, updates are available regularly, and bugs actually get fixed.