A-Z #52Tech | Vector Drawing and Plans

The V post for #26Tech A-Z Challenge lists some easy to use apps for creating vector drawings, diagrams or plans.

Because this post lands on a Friday it also forms Week 17 of the #52Tech series.

Vector Drawing

This is a longer post designed for browsing and comparing apps. Scroll down and select any tool of interest.

Vector Drawing and Diagramming

As a new writer I initially believed my world – and therefore planning activities – should be filled with words. Wrong!

Being a visual-orientated learner, pure text drives me crazy. I started sketching out plans, and looking for diagrammatic methods (such as mindmapping) to relieve the visual arctic of working with words all day long. My work grows much richer when I can work out and use timelines, moodboards, digital index cards for scene plotting, and even fictional floorplans.

Looking for ways to flow your scenes, plot your fictional floorplan, or workflow your ideas? How to design and mockup your platform website?

We used to have to resort to hand-drawing (not readily extendable or changeable over time) or the extremely expensive Vector drawing programs like Adobe Illustrator or flowchart program MS Visio for these tasks.

Nowadays, there are many web services and mobile apps that offer flow diagrams, vector drawing and chart functions perfect for us.

Adobe Illustrator

adobe illustratorFor many years Adobe Illustrator has been the standard tool for creative professionals. But, like the other Adobe products such as Photoshop, the professional tool comes at a cost.

After recent upgrades of Adobe products to cloud service toolset Adobe CC (Creative Cloud), in January 2013 Adobe released old (Version 2) versions of Photoshop and Illustrator for free.

Adobe-Illustrator-CS2-iconIf you would like to try out this tool, you can download and install (without support) Adobe Illustrator CS2, for Windows or Mac OS.

The subscription rate for web-based CC Illustrator and the rest of the Adobe stables are also well worth looking into.


inkscape logoinkscapeInkscape is the free opensource vector graphics program closely matching Illustrator. For Windows, Mac OSx and Linux desktops. Inkscape has a lively community and a lot of learning resources supporting usage.

Website: Inkscape.

iDraw (Mac OS and iOS – iPad)

iDraw MaciDraw for Mac and iPAD combines the ability to draw vector drawings on desktop and on-the-go.

idraw ipad iconThe inexpensive iPAD app is popular with designers, offering a lot of features.

Website: iDraw

Microsoft Visio

visioVisio has been the standard professional diagramming program for many years, but does not come with standard office packages.

visio2010 iconAs I can’t get access to an affordable package for Visio, like many people, I sought some very good alternatives – some are as costly as Visio, mind you.

SmartDraw (Desktop with web view access)

smartdrawSmartDraw is an expensive software package investment, but offers a growing collection of templates for various diagramming and flowchart drawing types. I’ve fortunately owned the software for a number of years now, although refuse to continuously upgrade it yearly.

SmartDraw diagrams can be shared publically via the SmartDraw website, and there is also a free viewer app for iPhone or iPAD users – although any browser will do.

smart_draw_iconI particularly enjoy using  SmartDraw for floorplanning out my fiction settings, and timeline creation of plot events. However, as a direct competitor with Visio, and expensive as an option, you may look towards some cheaper options (below).

Website: SmartDraw

EDraw Max (Windows desktop)

edrawAs an Windows only app package Edraw Max offers a lifetime license with upgrades, or a one-year upgrade license for half the price of the above software. There are also student and educational packages.

edraw max iconParts of the Max Pro package are separated out as individual apps for less cost also – you can purchase EDraw Flowchart or EDraw Org Chart for less.

Note: the EDraw Mind Map package is freeware to download.

Website: Edraw

OmniGraffle (Mac OS and iPAD)

omnigaffleThe Omni Group are famous for many of their Mac and iPAD apps, including OmniGraffle. This app includes diagramming and wireframing tools for designs of diagrams or mockups.

omnigraffle iconOmniGraffle 6 is available as a single license or family license for the Mac. But the $50 pricing for the iPAD version may well put a lot of users off purchasing the mobile app, particularly as there are a lot of much cheaper but equally good options for iPad (below). For the desktop app there are Pro and Educational licenses also.

Website: OmniGraffle

Creately (Desktop and/or Web Service)

createlyCreately is both a desktop (Windows, Linux and MacOS) and online diagramming app, with emphasis on collaboration.   The desktop license costs $75 with a year’s worth of personal online access also.

creately iconYou can subscribe for personal use on the online app only – for $5 per month or there is a free public version with limited functionality.

Website: Creately

Draw.io (Webapp)

drawioDraw.io offers free drawing using simple drag and drops from shapes and flow templates. What is a little different is that you don’t need to register or login to the site – as soon as you go to the link below you can start drawing immediately – although the app may well also query you where to store the diagrams (I was offered a choice between Google Drive or my Dropbox account). Built as a Github project around Google Drive, there is also a Google Chrome Draw.io extension.

draw-ioThe app contains a lot of vector graphics to choose from, making it a usable diagramming tool for many types of charts.

Website: Draw.io

Gliffy (Webapp)

gliffyThe Gliffy webapp uses Flash. Like some of the others above, there is also a plugin for Confluence which supports team usage.

Gliffy offers a lot of templates. Diagrams created in Gliffy can be shared including embedded to your own sites. The free user account offers many features, but diagrams can not be saved onsite – they can be downloaded in various formats and saved in that way.

gliffy iconFor edit and save functions onsite, there is a standard account subscription at $5 per month, or other Pro options offer more collaborative or team sharing capabilities.

Website: Gliffy.com

Adobe Ideas (IPAD)

adobe ideasAdobe Ideas is part of the newer Adobe Touch Apps (which includes Adobe Photoshop Touch). These hook into the Adobe Creative Cloud for further editing through the Adobe CC product lines also.

For the iPhone or iPad, Adobe Ideas gives you freeform vector drawing on mobile devices with stylus support, sharing options, and multiple drawing tools.

adobe ideas iconObviously designed for tablet usage and sync with Adobe Illustrator, the app is free, but requires in-app subscription purchases to the Creative Cloud for storage above the free 2GB the app comes with.

Appstore: Adobe Ideas

Inkpad (iPAD)

inkpadInkpad by Taptrix is a free vector drawing app for iOS.

inkpad iconThe app contains a lot of usable features such as unlimited layers; and saves drawings in several formats including SVG for scalable drawings.

Appstore: Inkpad

iDesign (iOS)

idesignidesign iconBy TouchAware, iDesign works with the creation of 2D vector diagrams.  It’s good at creating line drawings of floorplans etc.

Appstore: iDesign

iMockups for iPAD

imockupsimockups iconFor website designers, iMockups allows you to create wireframe designs for the web. The app also includes a presentation mode for displaying the designs to clients on the go.

Appstore: iMockups

TouchDraw (iPad and Android)

TouchDrawAnother popular vector drawing app for the iPad and Android tablets is TouchDraw.

touchdraw iconContaining a large library of shapes and lines, the app is good for all those flow drawings you may have previously used desktop apps like Visio for.

Appstore: TouchDraw (iOS) and TouchDraw (Android)

26Tech-Logo_thumb.png#26Tech: This was the V post for my A to Z challenge, where this blog will be posting 26 days worth of Tech posts relevant to writers and creatives.

You will find the other posts under tag: #26Tech or an index post will be provided on May 1st.

A2Z-BADGE-0002014_thumb.jpgA to Z: in April you will find other bloggers providing A to Z posts on many topics, through the 2014 Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

52tech year#52Tech: This was also the Week 17 post in the #52tech goal – to investigate and share one technology post once a week for 2014. You can find all the posts indexed via the #52tech tag, or top menu option at hunterswritings.com

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