Graphics design programs for the Mac
In days of old I used to be a Corel draw user and I have to say I was fairly expert at it because I used it every day for about 12 years. I had a signwriting business and it was my job to create artwork for vehicles and shops. When I moved to the Mac and was in need of a vector-based graphics program there wasn’t really much available except for the very expensive Adobe Illustrator. Although the Adobe application was quite powerful with what it could do it didn’t match the ease-of-use that I had with Corel draw. I have tried one or two vector-based drawing applications for the Mac including VectorDesigner and Artboard and Vector Designer and none of them have really come up to scratch. So in my search for a decent, well priced graphics application for the Mac I have downloaded an application that I bought because it was on sale for two dollars and it is called Candy Apple. So far I have had only a quick look at what this can do and it does seem quite simple. So let’s have a look and see what we can do with it. When I first look an application I like to do it without reading any manuals or help documentation so that I can get a true feel for the usability and how intuitive the application is.
Getting Started with Candy Apple
On opening the application Candy Apple you are presented with a working area with a grid on it and a set of icons at the top. You can lose the grid if you want to. The first icon is if you want to start a new design, then you have two zoom buttons zooming in and zooming out. Then you have import and export buttons as part of the group on the left-hand side. The access to the tools is over on the right-hand side and it is minimal in the extreme. All you have is a set of four buttons, select, text, draw and styles. So I’m going to click on the draw button and see what happens.
Drawing tools in Candy Apple
After clicking on the Draw button at the top in the header bar more small icons appeared below that give me access to a fuller set of tools. The first four of these tools from the left for drawing shapes such as circles, squares and rounded rectangles, then there are a number of line drawing tools including bezier line drawing tools. Then you have a tool for drawing ring shapes and another tool for speech bubbles. There is a text tool which allows you to put text into your drawing. I have to admit that when I first tried Candy Apple I thought that it was the button at the top that would get me to the text tools for inserting text and I was a little bit confused when nothing happened. It didn’t take me too long to work out today that you put the text in first (With Draw Tool) and then use the button on top if you need to change any of the details of the text such as the font you are going to use, the size, boldness, justification and positioning within the text box. There isn’t any difference it seems, between a simple text on the screen and paragraph text. Paragraph text is where you have a box and the text flows within this shape.
Shapes and text on the drawing space
So now that I have some objects on the drawing space the next thing to do is to work out what I can do with them. I’m having some trouble working out how to delete some of the nodes in one of the freehand shapes that I have drawn using the Beziers tool. I have tried double-clicking on the shape, double clicking on one of the nodes while the shape is selected and I can see the nodes. I have also selected the shape then changed to the drawing tool and in the selection of tools underneath that it looks like there is a tool to add to or to delete nodes, but once again I have had no luck in getting the job done. I might have to resort to reading a help file or finding a how-to video. The tools that I was looking to use at that moment was called Insert Path Point and Delete Path Point.
UPDATE: By zooming into the objects that I wanted to work with I was able to get these two tools to do the job of adding and deleting nodes.
It is quite simple to work with the bezier points to give me smooth lines from one part of the shape to the other. You just have to click and hold on the dot at the end of the bezier controller to change the shape of the line. It is possible to use styles and this gives you the opportunity to change the fill and line of the object. It is also possible to get rid of the line altogether by unchecking the box in the edit Inspector. I would like to be able to change some of the bezier points from sharp corners to smooth lines – Or going from smooth to sharp, and not having much success so far.
The Gradient Fills Challenge
I have been trying to add colours to a gradient fill. The standard gradient fill that I added worked fine and in the edit inspector I added another colour to the gradient so that it went from black to blue to white, but for some reason or other that didn’t get reflected in the actual shape I was working with.
My impression so far of candy apple
When you consider that I’m not a newbie as far as using vector drawing applications is concerned I should be flying along with Candy Apple. As it stands at the moment I am having to do a little bit more work than I would have expected in terms of getting used to a new application. I still have high hopes for how good this is as a vector design program for the Mac, but for the moment the jury is still out.
I still have a good number of tests to work through, such as how the Boolean operators work when I want to join shapes together into one single shape or if I want to use one shape to cut into another. I would like it if it is possible to add outlines and in lines to objects, I think I might be disappointed with this feature, as I haven’t seen any tools to be able to do that as yet.
In terms of moving around the document there is a zoom to fit which will take me to the whole document as well as there being a zoom in and a zoom out. One of the things that is missing is a zoom to object selected. This tool is really handy when you need to get in quickly to a part of your drawing that you are needing to get up close and personal with. As it is at the moment all you can do is to use the zoom tool and then to use two fingers on the trackpad to move the drawing around to where the object is you want to work with. That’s a bit fiddly…
When you have an object selected you see that there is a small purple dot and by grabbing this you can rotate the object around the centre point. It is possible to move the centre point for when you are using this to create patterns. Then there are the control points at each of the corners for the shape that you can use to change the size and the shape of it. With this you can easily change a circle into an oval and to make it as big or as small as you need it to be for your drawing. Then you have the control points halfway between each of the corners that you can use to stretch or two compress the shape in one direction. How this changing of the selected object works can be altered by using the shift key as you move the control points.
There is the usual layering involved of the objects with each object effectively being on its own layer. You can select an object and bring to the front or bring forward one layer at a time. The same thing going towards the back of the design. You get to this by doing a right click or a two finger tap on the trackpad and the context sensitive menu pop-up also gives you the option of converting the shape to an image/bitmap. You just have to remember that once you have converted the object to a bitmap you are going to have some jaggies to deal with if you change the size of the object afterwards.
If the object you are working with was a square, rectangle or a circle then you can convert it to a path which basically means it becomes a freely editable shape. In Candy Apple you can grab the control points of the bezier nodes and add or delete these as you see fit.
Video Tutorial coming soon!
I will be making a tutorial for getting started with Candy Apple soon.