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I used to use PhotoImpact which is no longer developed so I'm looking for a replacement. What made PhotoImpact great to me was the ability to work in both bitmap and vector modes.

What I mean by that: I could have an image or screenshot and easily add arrows, text captions or shapes to it. These shapes were vector objects so I could come back to them later and amend their properties easily.

Software I know of:

  • Paint.NET is purely bitmap so please don't recommend it - layers are not enough for my needs
  • Drawing tools in MS Office work pretty much the way I'd like - you can paste an image and then add vector objects on top of it. It just doesn't feel right to have the full-fidelity original images stored as .docx or .pptx (I don't fully trust Word/Powerpoint that they don't compress the image)
  • I'm not sure about GIMP but if it's just "better Paint.NET" (i.e., layers but no vector objects) I'm not interested
  • Photoshop is out of question purely because of its price tag

Corel killed PhotoImpact because they already had a competing product (Paint Shop Pro) but AFAIK it lacks vector features.

Any tips for PhotoImpact alternatives would be very welcome.

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5 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Try Inskscape, it's free, open source and multi-platform and it is really a wonderful and powerful application.

It is primarily a vector graphics editor, but can handle basic functions (import, scale, rotate...) on raster images too.

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I just did a very simple test - downloaded Inkscape, pasted a screenshot, added a text and saved as PNG. The screenshot was blurred, unfortunately. –  Borek Apr 15 '10 at 19:33
    
There is an "export" function which did a good job. I think Inkscape might be what I'm looking for although I find it highly unintuitive. Thanks for the tip. –  Borek Apr 15 '10 at 19:42
    
It takes some getting used to... but it's worth it for the amazing features you get. –  Nathan Osman May 9 '10 at 22:56
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There's a plugin for Paint.NET that allows you to do vector image creation:

I don't know if that will meet your needs, but since it's free you could give it a try.

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I believe Adobe Fireworks does both vector and bitmap but the pricing may be similar to that of Photoshop.

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I've seen Fireworks recommended elsewhere too, the only problem is its price. –  Borek Apr 15 '10 at 19:12
    
I used Fireworks back when it was Macromedia. Never seen better vector + raster integration. Alas, it's USD 300. –  hyperslug Apr 15 '10 at 22:55
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  • You may be interested in Satori Paint, it keeps having always a free version in their site, satoripaint.com . It's cool that it mixes raster and vector functions.
  • xaraxtreme.org , if you have access to a Linux, this one is free, really comfortable to use, and very powerful. (and free).
  • It's commercial version, in Windows, Xara Pro, is a wonder.
  • Sk1 project. sk1project.org . Vector editor, also free. An advantage of this one is it has real support of CMYK, needed for print.

Edit: Sk1 Project last time I checked did not have the windows version done, but is planned, can't remember if was already Mac version, but their plan is support the 3 platforms.

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If you're working primarily with screen captures, take a look at Snagit from TechSmith. It can easily do what you mentioned, but it's not a photo editor. Also, Photoshop Elements supports vector-based shape layers.

Another option is to find a used copy of Photoshop 7 or higher on ebay. PS6 introduced vector-based layers, but PS7 also added vector-based text layers.

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