October 10, 2022

VectorStyler - vector drawing program

 

By accident I came across a new vector drawing program called VectorStyler. Someone mentioned it in a Facebook group and I decided to take a peek. What I saw was close to mind boggling; the functionality of this program takes the cake out of its competition. It still is a beta, so it contains bugs, but if its developer succeeds in repairing them, there is nothing in the market that compares to it, not even the well established market leaders and promising runner up programs. Not by far, I may add - it is chockful of tools and functions, some of which are unique (but quite useful) to the community of vector drawing artists. Vector-Styler has all the functions its competition combined has and then some.....


Created out of enthusiasm


It is available for Intel Macs, M1 Macs and Windows. VectorStyler is developed by a one man team (!!!), someone named Csaba Raduly-Baka who resides in Finland. When peeking into his other (high level advanced and complex) activities it is difficult to imagine where he finds the time to do all this.... The overwhelming measure of functions that the program offers obviously results in a necessarily extensive user interface, so figuring out how things work, requires time for users who come from other programs. But like I wrote: If the developer gets things right, it will most definitely be worth to grapple your way through the learning stages and wait until the bugs are corrected. Currently - March 2021 - he is asking for feedback (not money) from his users to fix bugs in the program code. Visit the VectorStyler Forum to post bugs or make comments. The developer is very responsive, which also shows in the large number of bug fixes in the various beta versions that succeed each other rapidly. This is a project most certainly well worth your attention and support.

I'm new to this program myself, so I still have to explore what it can or can not do (the latter part of the sentence I added for linguistic completeness rather than hinting at a lack of functionality). To get an idea of what it is capable of, check out their homepage (scroll down the page somewhat) and the detailed feature list in the second link above. It still is free while in beta-stage, so go download it and give it a try. I am sure you will be thoroughly amazed and that the competition may turn pale from anxiety and possibly start crapping their panties resulting from that. The program is said to cost a one time fee of just 99 USD when it comes out of the beta stage, which is a reasonable price in view of its stunning functionality.

I currently use Affinity Designer to create vector art, that has an easy to grasp user interface, but by far not as many functions as VectorStyler. Like all other vector drawing programs I have used in the past. I have worked with Illustrator professionally for decades, while working with CorelDRAW privately and with Inkscape occasionally, but I must say that none of these match VectorStyler in the functionality department. That is a huge accomplishment for the single person development of VectorStyler. I will therefore keep a close watch on how the program evolves and keep you updated as I familiarize myself with it. You may even find some artwork resulting from this process in this blog. Stay tuned.


Update October 10 2022

I now began testing this program, in a more intense way than before, familiarizing myself with the UI and tool functions. Since VectorStyler is densely packed with functions, unavoidably the UI is complex. Not more complicated than Illustrator's interface, while offering a lot more features, but I had to find my way around in it. So, figuring out how to apply image effects was an adventure, that I figured out after some trial and error. What drives me to survive the steep learning curve, is that I truly believe that once the bugs are written out of the code and perhaps the UI is a bit more streamlined, this program will become the first choice of many artists. Some features that I already encountered in this first serious venture are:

  1. VS has real vector brushes, not the bitmap ones that are presented to be vector as in Affinity Designer
  2. VS has many warp (distortion) functions (including mesh warp), many more than any of its competitors, including a liquify tool with which vector objects can be reshaped
  3. VS has a ridiculously easy to use shape builder tool
  4. VS has a knife tool and a vector erase tool, that works exactly the same as the eraser in photo editing programs
  5. VS has a configurable object blend tool
  6. In VS users can create vector tiling patterns
  7. VS can import, edit and export genuine AI-files, maintaining object layer structure
  8. VS has a stunningly huge number of image effects that can be fine tuned in the related panel, offers a visual way to edit the effects, can combine multiple effects and can show/hide, reset and remove effects at a later time, which makes the program parametric and non-destructive up to quite an elevated level
  9. The VS community is responsive and helpful and the developer fixes bug quite swiftly, while adding new functionality
  10. VS objects can be copied and pasted into Affinity Designer and Adobe Illustrator where they can flawlessly be edited as if they were native objects
  11. VS has an object collision tool (....)


Text warping in VectorStyler




The above text was warped in VectorStyler. One of the brilliant tools in the program is this object warping tool, that can of course also be applied to text. It is possible to do this in Affinity Designer, the program I use most these days, but it takes at least 10 times more time. CorelDRAW has an envelope distortion tool that sometimes produces strange results. Adobe Illustrator can warp objects as well, but it has to be controlled from within panels, which is slower and less intuitive. VectorStyler has a slew of different tools to warp and deform objects, so basically it is possible to create any type of shape one could think of, including intricate deformations in an interactive way. Simply brilliant.

I am sure there are many more things worth mentioning, that I have not yet discovered, but as I wrote, this is my first dive into the depths of VectorStyler. There are still bugs, some of which make the program instable, but its potential is so huge, that I will keep trying to become more familiar with how to use it, particularly because of the excellent support department. Note I changed the date of this blog entry to October 10 2022, to allow visitors to become informed about this mind blowing program. If curious, go visit their website to download the trial version, that is free for 42 days, which is a generous offer you won't find anywhere else. The costly monthly subscription Adobe for instance, offers a 7 day trial for its suite programs. Over time you will find more updates of this blog entry, as I progress in learning how to use VectorStyler properly, so stay tuned.

A very useful resource on how to use VectorStyler is the Youtube channel of artist Fred Lespine. On Vimeo there are many tutorials on how to use the different tools / functions. On VectorStyler's own website, having a peek at 'Discovering VectorStyler', will offer useful tips for those who are new to the program. On Ben Designs Youtube channel he explores VectorStyler. On the MacRumors website there is a post about VectorStyler and the comments to it by users who discovered and tried it out.