FREE Open source inkscape.org
Inkscape is a vector drawing app with all the key tools you’d expect in an application
of its type. So there’s a pen
tool that enables you to draw
Beziér curves, you can add text, and you can manipulate objects using the selection tools. It’s also easy to clone, copy and paste objects, and place them on separate layers.
If you’ve used Adobe Illustrator, you might find Inkscape takes a bit of getting used to because many tools they have in common have different names and aren’t where you might expect. Most are present, though. Take Illustrator’s Pathfinder palette, for example. In Inkscape, the same options for combining objects are called Boolean operations.
There’s a tool similar to Illustrator’s Live Trace, which assists in turning a sketch or a bitmap image into vector art. And the use of nodes on paths makes them easy to edit; their apperance changes to indicate different features, and they can be selected, moved, rotated, and scaled using keyboard shortcuts – a godsend if constantly clicking and selecting with a pointer drives you up the wall.
New features in the latest release (0.91) include enhancements to the Find/Replace tool, a new Measurement tool, and a feature that allows you to swap the positions of selected objects or their stacking order.
There are tools missing when compared with Illustrator; there’s still no gradient mesh tool or proper colour management, but new features are being added all the time.