Reviewers Guide

What is VectorStyler?

VectorStyler is an advanced vector graphics and illustration software for Mac. VectorStyler brings many new features and workflow enhancements into creating vector art, illustrations, design and icons. With its numerous new features, VectorStyler redefines and extends the tools available for illustrators and designers, improving and simplifying the creation of complex illustrations and designs.

The main objective of VectorStyler is to provide all the features designers and illustrators are familiar with, in an affordable and easily accessible solution, while also introducing an extensive set of new features and workflow improvements facilitating the creation of vector graphics and illustrations. This reviewers guide, highlights some of these new or extended features.

VectorStyler runs on the Mac. It is currently in beta, and can be downloaded by registering with an email. VectorStyler will be available under a traditional, one time purchased license, which includes one year of updates (there will be no subscriptions).

Feature Highlights

The feature description page contains a detailed list of features introduced or improved by VectorStyler. The feature set is at par with the current leading vector graphics industry standard solution, while introducing an extensive set of new useful illustration and drawing capabilities. Features familiar to illustrators and professionals have been improved and extended. A large number of new capabilities have been introduced, many requested by designers and illustrators, to improve and extend the design workflow. A selected few of these features are highlighted next.

Guides and Snapping

Collision snapping and guidelines.

VectorStyler extends the traditional guideline and snapping options with several new possibilities.

  • A canvas or an artboard may contain multiple grid styles.
  • Object snapping (also known as smart guides) works at arbitrary angles by rotating the document view.
  • Guidelines and grids can be rotated to an arbitrary angle.
  • Use the Guideline panel to manage collections of guidelines.
  • Each guideline collection can be assigned with a different color.
  • Collision snapping between arbitrary object shapes. When collisions snapping is enabled, shape collisions are detected when moving objects, and objects are positioned precisely to colliding shapes. Collision snapping can be combined with guidelines, grids or other snapping options at arbitrary angles.
  • Formation snapping enables the positioning of objects at precise geometric locations.

Symbols and Styles

VectorStyler provides full support to work with symbols and styles. Symbols are objects that can be reused without copying. Styles are object attributes, including shapes, fill, stroke, image or shape effects that can be applied to objects. When a symbol or a style is modified, all of their instances (places of use) are automatically updated.

  • Create and organize symbols using the Symbols panel.
  • Create and organize styles using the Styles panel.
  • Create shapes styles and use these to select shapes for multiple objects. When a shape style is updated, all objects using the shape style are updated as well.
  • Manage style overrides on symbol instances, or for the current canvas, using the Overrides panel.
  • Organize and reuse symbols and styles from different canvases in a single document.
  • Reuse symbols from other documents.
  • Creating a symbolic link to an object is as easy as command+dragging the object from the Layers panel into the document.

Object References

One of the new and powerful workflow feature introduced by VectorStyler is the use of object references and object roles. Object references can be used to quickly and easily define symbols and styles, while keeping these symbols and styles readily editable by modifying the object.

Defining a symbol or a style, using an object reference, can be done by assigning a name to the object (Layers panel or Object Options command), and setting an object role. There is a large set of possible object roles to select from, allowing the definition of various attributes used to create vector objects. The object role can be for example: symbol, shape, transparency mask, color style, gradient style, gradient shape, arrow or cap shape (and many others).

When object references are used to define symbols or styles, the editing of that symbol or style will be as simple as editing the object (with the role). Any changes on the object will automatically update all the symbol or style instances referring to that object.

For example: an object with the Shape role is also a shape style. This shape style can be used to define an arrow style. The arrow style then can be used in stroke attributes of objects with open shapes. When the original object shape is modified (by simple shape editing tools), all arrow instances in the document using the shape style are updated.

The object references with symbol roles will show up in the Symbols panel, and can be used as symbols. The object references with the various style roles will show up in the Styles panel and in various places throughout the user interface (shapes, arrows, stroke caps, color or gradient styles, etc), and can be selected and applied as styles on objects.

Gradient Shapes

Gradients with custom shape.

VectorStyler introduces the use of custom shapes for linear, radial and conical gradients.

  • A linear gradient geometry can be customized, by using open shapes, to create various new gradient styles. For example a waving or a bending gradient shape can be created by drawing and using a suitable shape.
  • For radial gradients (concentric in VectorStyler), closed shapes can be used to define various new gradient geometries.
  • For conical gradients, an open shape can be used to control the color variations around the gradient center.

New gradient shapes can be easily defined by using the menu commands of the Gradient panel, or by using object references with the Linear, Concentric or Conical gradient shape role. The shape of a gradient can be edited using the gradient shape tool (found in the application toolbox, under the gradient tool).

Stroke Options

The outline of vector objects can be styled with various stroke attributes using the Stroke panel. The following stroke features are highlighted:

  • Define custom cap shapes to decorate the end of open or dashed strokes.
  • Define and easily edit custom arrow and cap shapes linked to an object shape.
  • Offset the stroke relative to the outline shape to arbitrary distances (including, but not limited to inside, centered or outside).
  • Define and visually adjust dash and stripe styles.
  • Stripe styles break the stroke outline into multiple parallel strokes.
  • Assign a background fill style to the stroke gap created by dashes and/or stripes.
  • Stroke attributes can be saved as styles or presets individually as arrow, cap, dash, stripe or profile styles, or together as a stroke style.
  • Interactive variable width profile editor tool.
  • Tools to add, erase or smooth out variable width stroke profiles on objects.
  • Expand complex stroke shapes into an editable filled path with a minimum number of nodes.
  • Apply shape effects to the stroke shape, distorting arrows, caps, dashes and stripes, without expanding to stroke.

Object Alignment

Aligning objects to a shape.

The Alignment panel of VectorStyler introduces a number of new capabilities besides the traditional align and distribute commands. The content of the Alignment panel can be customized (panel menu commands) to show only a subset of the available options.

  • Alignment direction considers the viewing angle. In VectorStyler the view can be rotated to arbitrary angles.
  • Align the size of objects to the last, minimum, maximum or average object size.
  • Align objects to shapes and interactively edit the position of objects on the shape.
  • Set the distance from the shape of the objects aligned to the shape.
  • Define new alignment modes by aligning custom positions relative to the object frames.

Corner Shapes

In VectorStyler sharp corners of an arbitrary shape can be modified using the Corner tool. This includes the traditional rounding of corners, but also the use of custom corner shapes.

  • Use the Corner tool to interactively edit shape corners.
  • Use the Corner panel to select corner attributes and corner shapes.
  • Set the round or other corner shape into inward or outward mode.
  • Create custom corner shape presets or styles, or use object references with the Corner Shape role to link to shapes of objects as corner shapes.

Adjustment Effects

Motion blur on a selected area.

In VectorStyler any object or layer can be turned into an adjustment object or adjustment layer, by using one of the many image effects available. When using adjustment layers or objects, the backdrop under the layer is modified using the selected image effects.

  • Create new adjustment layers by selecting an image effect.
  • Stack multiple image effects to define a single adjustment layer effects.
  • Use the content of a layer as a mask for the adjustment effect.
  • Turn any existing object (or layer) into an adjustment object by checking the Adjustment Layer option in the Object Options command (or Layer Options for layers).
  • When using adjustment objects, the object shape (or content if Content is Mask is enabled) determines the image filter mask. Moving or transforming an adjustment object modifies the filtered area.

Color Filters

In VectorStyler, the colors of objects (including gradients) can be adjusted using a large collection of color filters. Instead of applying an image effect over these objects to adjust colors, and implicitly converting all vectors to an image while rendering (or exporting), using color filters will modify the colors used in the objects, without creating an image.

  • Adjust object colors using the Curves and Levels color filters.
  • Modify color tones using the various color shifting, mapping or toning filters.
  • Replace colors in the selected objects using complex color replacement schemes.
  • Randomly disturb colors of a vector art.
  • Recolor vector art using randomly generated colors.

Shape Effects

Bending a group of object along a shape.

In VectorStyler, shapes of objects or groups of objects can be distorted using shape effects. A large collection of shape effects are provided to enable quick and easy vector artwork creation. Multiple shape effects can be stacked on top of an object group. Shape effects are non-destructive, the object shapes and the effects remain editable.

  • Manage the shape effects on the selected object using the Shape Effects panel.
  • Interactively edit the shape effect attributes using the Shape Effect tool accessible from the panel.
  • Create and edit attributes of multiple shape effects on an object group.
  • Create envelope distortions using arbitrary shapes. Reuse and link to existing shape styles, or object shape references, when setting up envelope shapes.
  • Create and interactively edit vector mesh distortion effects.
  • Create and interactively edit vector bend effects. The bend effect stretches a group of objects along an arbitrary shape, while also applying a variable width profile along the shape.
  • Paint shape effects destructively (modifying the actual shapes), over object groups using the various shape effect brush tools.

Multiple Fill and Stroke

VectorStyler introduces a number of workflow enhancements when working with multiple fill and stroke styles on a single objects.

  • Use the Object Style panel to setup and manage multiple fill and stroke styles of an object.
  • Add image or shape effects to individual fill or stroke styles of an object.
  • Show styles of multiple selected objects separately, to enable drag&drop of fill and stroke styles between objects.
  • Open multiple instances of the Object Style panel, to allow the drag&drop of individual fill and stroke styles between different objects.

Typography

VectorStyler implements the typography features typically found in advanced DTP applications, focusing on vector graphics and illustration, with several notable improvements:

  • Using editable text as a shape that clip any group of objects or a layer.
  • Interactively adjusting the position and distance of a text aligned to a path.
  • Easily change the baseline of a text shape, using the Node tool, into an arbitrary shape to create a text on path effect.
  • Creating and linking text frames, and flowing text between multiple frames, on multiple artboards or canvases.
  • Interactively create text flow links between multiple frames of arbitrary shapes.
  • Implementing a multi-line paragraph composer for better layout of a text flow.
  • Interactively editing the position and rotation of individual characters.
  • Using glyphs as object shapes.
  • Inserting any symbol or shape into a text as a character.

And many others

The list of new capabilities and workflow enhancements introduced by VectorStyler is long and it will be covered by documentation and tutorials. These include not just completely new capabilities (like noise fill, multiple canvases, collision tool, text decorations, rotating views, alternate histories), but also details of how familiar features work:

  • The ability to open multiple Layer panels, fixed on different parts of the layer and object hierarchy, to facilitate object reuse and copying by drag&drop.
  • Renaming large number of layers, objects, symbols styles, artboards or canvases using copy and paste of a multi-line text with a name in each line.
  • Interactive editing of blend and contour effects.
  • Importing native AI file format to retain object style and effect editing, enabling the ability to reuse swatches, tiling pattern and vector brush definitions.
  • Selecting objects by attribute similarity.
  • Finding and replacing object and text attributes.
  • Setting up multiple slices to define an export workflow for large number of assets.
  • Rotating artboards (and also export slices) to arbitrary angles.
  • Copy and paste the object shape, style, or image and effects.
  • Support for multiple canvases in a single document, to enable advanced workflow, by reusing objects, styles and symbols as components, and creating multiple variations of the same illustration.
  • Defining and using master canvases to reuse artwork and design between multiple canvases.

Images

About NumericPath

VectorStyler is developed by NumericPath, a small independent software developer from Finland, for details and press inquiries please contact at contact@vectorstyler.com.