Macintosh drawing software compared

Below is a list of various drawing applications that are available to use with System 7 (68K).

I’m mostly interested in apps that can do both pixel and vector, and that support layers and transparency. The table below might be useful for at-a-glance comparisons. Apps run in both mono or colour, unless stated otherwise.

Deneba artWorks is a standout app that can do both pixel and vector, has layers and (partial) transparency. The bottom layer is opaque and all layers on top are transparent. Collections of pixels are managed as a special object, and there’s a limit of 8 layers. The user interface is brilliant.

Freehand is king of the vector apps. It really was so much better than Illustrator. Such a shame that it’s no longer around. To use it on iPad is quite something!

Also interesting is how many early versions of successful apps didn’t support layers (Photoshop, Freehand) or transparency (Photoshop).

One small disappointment: Macromedia Fireworks requires the PPC architecture so won’t run on my iPad System 7 setup. Sad face.

artWorks Bottom layer opaque
Canvas Bottom layer opaque
ClarisDraw   Pixel drawing within specific objects only
Cricket Draw        
Draw It Again Sam      
Drawing Table        
Freehand 1.0–2.0     Layers not managed visually
Freehand 3.1–5.5      
Illustrator 88–3.0        
ImageStudio 0.6       Custom brushes
MacDraw Pro      
MacroPaint     Transparent patterns
Photoshop 1.0–2.5        
Photoshop 3.0    
Studio/1       Animation, 1-bit
Studio/8       Animation, 8-bit
SuperPaint   One layer each for pixel and vector
UltraPaint Bottom layer opaque
Zeus       Animation

Key: ● full support, ○ partial support

Comments: @gingerbeardman