CraftArtist2 Professional - Traditional Crafting On Your Computer

11/15/2012 9:23:13 AM

Traditional crafting on your computer with CraftArtist 2 Professional


Price: $40.5


Required spec: Microsoft Windows XP or later, 512MB RAM (1GB for 64-bit OS), 1.1GB (recommended full install) HDD space, 1024 x 768 monitor resolution.

Serif has just released the latest version of CraftArtist 2 Professional, a product designed to replace all those pencils, paints, scissors, bits of colored paper and glue normally associated with hobby crafts. Instead, you have a set of digital utilities that can take the hard work out of creating things like photo books, greeting cards, posters, decoupage and invitations.

Of course, you could create most of these items with just about any illustration program. The difference with CraftArtist 2 is the $40.5 price, which is amazing value for money, and the content (called Digikits) that you can buy, to suit any number of craft style applications. In fact, to get you started, Serif has included the Daydream Digikit with the product.

Description: The Cutout studio helps to extract an object from the background
The Cutout studio helps to extract an object from the background

Digikits are basically themed collections of artwork, backgrounds, templates and text styles that range from $2.5 to $11, all available to download from Serif's Daisytrial website. They cover just about any occasion or theme you can think of. In most cases they're also cheaper than a single greeting card, so in my opinion they represent good value. In fact, you don't have to buy anything if you don't want to, because there are over 50 free Digikits you can download, and subjects include posters, certificates, street parties, various Holidays themes and many more. In addition, you get a $8 voucher to spend on any of the Digikits when you register with

However, these digital scrapbooks are not simply what CraftArtist 2 is all about; it's actually a very comprehensive set of illustration, photo editing and design tools set within a single interface. At first sight, it can seem rather complex, but this is the nature of the beast, simply because it covers so many different areas.

Description: CraftArtist 2 has its own built-in image editor
CraftArtist 2 has its own built-in image editor

For example, it has a dedicated Cutout Studio, designed to help you extract an object from an image to use within the main application. This provides red and green brush icons that symbolize add and subtract tools, used to separate an object from its background. This is a semi-automatic process, which attempts to recognize the boundaries between what you want to keep and what you need to discard. Effectively you alternate between the two brushes, refining the mask to isolate the subject.

This works quite well on images where there's a clear demarcation between the subject and background, but it doesn't appear to have any real fuzzy logic. Nevertheless it's a useful option and any comparison with dedicated cutout systems should be made with consideration of the price.

New to this version is the 3D Decoupage tool that with a single click converts any graphic into a series of stacked objects, creating the Decoupage effect. There's also a new Punch tab, containing hundreds of predefined shapes that you can drag onto a graphic and punch out the shape. Finally, there's a new Stamp Mode that creates a stamp from any object you select.

The program is designed to be primarily a drag-and-drop system, making it easy for users to quickly assemble a project, particularly for those who don't have the time or perhaps the knowledge to create the various elements that make up a project. Yet behind all that lies quite a powerful DTP or illustration program, which is capable of much more than it would seem.


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