Expression: Graphic Designer (Beta)
Price TBC | Company Microsoft | Web www.microsoft.com | Contact 0870 601 0100 | PC only

The name is misleading. This software, previewed here at beta stage, is a surprisingly powerful and useful tool for digital artists. Microsoft is busy pushing it in the direction of developers wanting to create better interfaces for Vista, but digital artists may remember it from its days at Japanese software company, Creature House. Now you can download it for free (while it’s at beta stage) and it’s an incredible tool with a mass of amazing features.

Expression GD impresses because it combines the flexibility of vector graphics with the subtlety of painting with pixels. The software differentiates these two ways of working by asking you to work on separate vector and pixel layers – with the toolbox, brush list and other tools changing contextually as you switch between different kinds of layers.

The vector tools are excellent. They enable you to paint a sketch quickly on a tablet, then go back and tweak points to get the right shape to your line.

If you’re not used to Bézier editing, this may be an unfamiliar way to work, but once mastered it becomes natural. And you can scale your artwork to any size without reducing quality.

Pixel painting is also impressive. While you’re not getting the flexibility and brush control of Painter, there are a good amount of brushes on offer. Crucially, you can create your own brushes, too. Several image-editing tools are offered, enabling you to control the usual hue and saturation, and apply a number of effects.

Features

System Requirements