Draw and design on your PC with DrawPad

If you want to design a logo, greeting card or menu, but a program like GIMP or Photoshop is too complex for you and Paint has too few options, then DrawPad is an excellent compromise. This free drawing program has a wide range of drawing options, works with layers and comes with simple image editing tools.

Tip 01: Free or cheap

DrawPad is a user-friendly middle class among the graphics programs. Of course, it cannot compete with the heavy guns such as Photoshop or Illustrator, but the home user will achieve great results without too much effort. There is a version of this drawing pack for Windows and macOS. DrawPad Graphic Editor is free for non-commercial applications. For a professional license you pay 22.12 euros once or 1.72 euros per month. Still, the program tries to push you in the direction of the pro version here and there. For example, in the free version you are only allowed to download three images from the clip art library and you can start from only three templates. We can live with these limitations and keep it free.

Tip 02: Opening window

In the intro screen, the program shows six oversized buttons. Of New Project you end up in the normal working environment of the program. Of Advanced Project you should already know the correct dimensions of the design. There is also a button to open saved projects. In addition, there is a help function and a button that takes you to the official tutorial videos. The sixth button opens the way to the templates.

Tip 03: Templates

The easiest way to get started is through the Template Wizard. Here you start from a few basic models: banners, business cards, greeting cards, flyers, letterheads, logos and so on. When you choose a model, you get some templates to narrow the choice. You will then come to a window where you can adjust the elements of the template. You select new colors, different texts, you choose a font that you like, until the template is completely to your liking. When you're done, the template's custom design appears in the base DrawPad workspace. Every element of the design is here on a new layer.

The easiest way to get started is through the Template Wizard

Tip 04: New or Advanced

To start from an empty workspace, use the button New Project or Advanced Project. The only difference between the two is that with Advanced Project you have to enter the dimensions of the new project at the beginning. You specify a height and width in pixels, centimeters or millimeters and below that you determine a resolution in pixels per inch. You select a background color or go for a transparent background. The latter is interesting for illustrations that you later want to apply to documents or slides that already have their own background.

Resolution

The resolution you see in the window Create New Image specify is extremely important. After all, a digital image consists of colored dots that we call pixels. The closer those pixels are together, the sharper the image appears. We call this point density resolution. If you want a perfect print on paper, set the resolution to 250 or better still 300 dpi (dots per inch). An inch is 2.54 cm. The higher the resolution, the bulkier the image file will become. Until recently, 72 pixels per inch was sufficient for images that you only want to view on a computer screen, for example images for websites. On higher pixel density displays, higher resolution images appear much sharper.

Tip 05: Tools

In the toolbar of the tab Home are almost all the tools that you have available in this program. So DrawPad does not work with floating toolbars. Here you will find, for example, the buttons to save a project, but also to place text on a curved line, a text tool, various shape tools and the selection tools. Here you will find for example Eyedropper, the eyedropper, which selects a color from an object on the stage. You can also 'suck up' a color from any object that is visible on the computer screen with this eyedropper, even if it is in another application. For example, the eyedropper is useful when you want the text color to match a dominant color from an image. In that case, click on a shade of the image with Eyedropper, so that you immediately capture the color of the text.

Tip 06: Scale and align

When you copy a photo and create a new document in DrawPad to paste that photo into it, the program will immediately set the new document to the pixel dimensions of the pasted photo. Of course you can select the pasted photo, grab one of the corners with the mouse pointer and then scale by dragging. By pressing the Ctrl key you can select several objects together to align them horizontally or vertically. The different options to align are in the tab Advanced.

Layers make it much easier to put together a nice composition

Tip 07: Layers

Some users are afraid of working with layers. Layers make it much easier to put together a nice composition. For example, in this example we started with a blue background on which we applied a photo and a text layer. In the right column you follow the structure of the layers. Now the text layer is above the image layer, but you can change the order by ticking the box layer drag the bottom layer up. When you select a layer, the four buttons become active. The button with the green plus sign places a new layer, the one with the red cross deletes the selected layer, the one next to it duplicates the selected layer and the fourth button is used to merge layers. In addition, you can infinitely adjust the opacity of the layers.

Tip 08: Objects

Of course you don't want to create a new layer for every object. In the image, the logo and text are each on a separate layer. But the logo consists of several line segments, which we call objects. By clicking the plus sign in front of the layer, you get the list of all individual objects on the layer. You select such an object in two ways. The first is to click on the name of the object in the object list. That is often unclear, because such an object usually has a meaningless name such as Pen Stroke. The second option is to click on the object in the workspace. When the object is selected, you can adjust its properties such as brush width, rounding, pen type, stroke color, fill color, and so on.

Colors and swatches

Objects have a line color (stroke) and a fill color (fill), unless you set the stroke or fill color to transparent. Double-click on one of the two colors in the Color Picker to open the window that allows you to select other colors. Here you can use sliders to select any color based on a red, green and blue value in combination with the HSV-fashion model (Hue, Saturation, Value or hue, saturation, and value). Usually we use the term Brightness (brightness) instead of Value. Here too, you have an eyedropper to quickly remove a shade from the background. While drawing, you want to keep certain colors so that the design looks consistent. The twelve color samples serve this purpose, swatches. To add a color to a swatch, first select it with the eyedropper and click the button Set to Swatch.

To draw beautiful shapes that remain razor-sharp, you use the so-called Bezier curves

Tip 09: Bezier curves

To draw beautiful shapes that remain razor-sharp, you use the so-called Bezier curves. Sun Bezier curve is a vector line whose slope and position can be adjusted afterwards. Select Bezier Curve from the toolbar. Learning to deal with it is a matter of practice. Click once on the workspace to place the first anchor point. Then click a second point and drag to bend the formed line. At each point you capture in this way, you control the slope of the curve with the two handles attached to the selected anchor point. In the image, the curve has no color or line width yet. To do this, first select a color in the Color Picker. Then select a tool in the right panel: pen, highlighter, brush, chalk or spray can. Finally, click Create Element. This causes DrawPad to create a smooth line in the selected color with the indicated tool.

Tip 10: Adjust curve

In the right bar, check the option Allow line editing at. This gives you the option to still drag the anchor points of the Bezier curve. To change the position of such an anchor point, move the mouse pointer over such a point so that it lights up. Then you can drag the anchor point, which of course also changes the shape of the curve. The line or shape you just drew appears elastic. You can delete an anchor point with the right mouse button. When you bring an end point and start point together, you can right-click the command Close Path select to close the path.

Pen options

When you indicate that the Bezier curve should be displayed as a line from the Pen tool, you can also determine the rounding of the vertices in addition to the line thickness. You can also choose from a regular pen or two different calligraphic pens. Some objects can be converted directly to a path. That saves a lot of work. Then select the object with the arrow and then right click on the object and choose Convert to path. If you then in the right bar Allow line editing you can adjust the path and anchor points.

Freehand dragging is difficult, but you can adjust a Bezier curve very fine

Tip 11: Curved text

The tools come with the tools Curved Text to place text on a curve. When you click the button, you can immediately select a standard shape from the presets in the right panel. We are talking about an arc and a circle, but a square or a triangle are also possible. In addition, you can manually drag a curve and then type a text that will automatically follow this path. Of course it is very difficult to drag very precisely from the free hand, but it is a Bezier curve that you can adjust very fine afterwards. If you drag the curve from left to right, the text appears on the line. If you drag from right to left, the text you enter will be upside down below the line.

Tip 12: Color gradient

You can also fill objects with a gradient or with a pattern instead of colors. In that case, click in the Color Picker on the arrow pointing down and you choose Fill with a Gradient or Fill with a Pattern. In the first option you obviously have to select two shades for a linear or a radial gradient. If you choose Fill with a Pattern, this app will show you a collection of patterns from which to choose. Nothing prevents you, for example, from selecting a pattern on the Internet that you save on the desktop. Then you go through the button Browse to the desktop graphics file so that this new pattern is also included in the DrawPad pattern set.

Tip 13: Effects and output

Objects that you paste or draw can be provided with effects. The set of effects in this program is modest, but they are useful filters. For example, it concerns a drop shadow, where you set the offset, the size of the shadow and the softness by means of sliders. Or the effect to give a shape depth and a bevel (Command/Emboss). Then there are effects that distort an object or give it a glow. DrawPad saves projects by default in the drp format (DrawPad Project), but you can't do much with that if you want to use the image in PowerPoint or Word, for example. That is why you can also save a finished project in the common graphic formats such as jpg, png, pdf, svg, eps and bmp. The formats gif and tif are not possible.

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