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Making art in Artboard is easy. Instead of focusing on layers and attributes and all the little 1’s and 0’s that make professional art programs such a drag, Artboard encourages a smorgasbord of shapes piled on shapes. After slathering the forms together, you can group them, recolor them, adjust their sizes, and all that good stuff.
If that sounds too messy, you can still create surgical, precise layers like in Photoshop if you really want to, but Artboard caters to more casual users. Artboard utilizes the same style of floating windows as Adobe’s Creative Suite, but its emphasis on drag-and-drop creating is completely its own. In fact, one of those windows is nothing but hundreds of swatches and styles—everything from gradients to clip art—strewn about in a haphazard jumble. You can sort the mess by size or kind, but even sorted by kind, we still found gradients among solid colors, and colored strokes interspersed with gradients.
Artboard can make some impressive art. And, uh, this.
Luckily, it should only take you a project or two to adjust to the program’s quirks, and when common sense fails you, a comprehensive set of instructions and templates is easily accessible. The instructions detail everything from making colored lines to customizing your toolbar, and the templates show you how to make all sorts of next-level artistry.
On a technical level, Artboard can support that next-level artistry, too. It supports Pen Tablets and deals with hundreds of individual pieces extraordinarily well. That is, unless you zoom in too far to try to adjust miniscule details. In our testing, it slowed to a crawl during fully zoomed fine-tuning. This problem only manifested itself in the rarest of occasions; the rest of the time, Artboard squealed along like a giddy elementary school finger painting.
The bottom line. Whether you’re new to vector art or just looking for a lightweight option to play around with, Artboard is a good option. It’s an uncomplicated and swift way to create cool graphics, but it’s too simple to bridge the gap between low-level Paint-like options and prosumer applications like Illustrator or Photoshop.
Mac OS 10.6.6
Easy to use. Great bang for your buck. Handles dozens of objects well.
Really weak import options. Unable to export in vector format. Slows to a crawl at maximum zoom. Unorganized Swatch and Style windows.