FreeHand 9

The package's coolest new tool, the Perspective Grid, lets you visualise layouts along planes representing three instead of two dimensions. Competitor CorelDRAW can fix vanishing points to objects, but FreeHand has a more coherent environment for composing layouts. Attach an object to a plane, and its size and angle change depending on how far it lies from the screen. Too bad you can't do this with scanned photos.

Unlike both CorelDRAW and Adobe Illustrator, FreeHand 9 lets you export drawings to its Macromedia sibling Flash 4, which can transform them into Web interfaces and animations (you can buy the two as a set).

Another advance is FreeHand 9's new Flash anti-alias mode, which lets you work on graphics while seeing them as they will appear online.

Like various other Macromedia products, FreeHand uses symbol libraries, so master graphics are stored, reused and updated globally without causing file bloat. However, you can't share these libraries between Macromedia products.

You can deform objects with 21 presets - such as Arc and Octagon - or warp shapes by adjusting Bezier curves. FreeHand 9 adds two new selection tools - Magic Wand and Lasso - and refines controls for colour output, shape blending, and drawing precision.

FreeHand 9

Price: $799

Distributor: Scholastic New Media

Phone: (02) 4328 3555

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John Goddard

PC World

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