Is iDraw for the Mac a viable alternative to Adobe Illustrator?

iDraw opening window
I wanted to see if iDraw was viable alternative to Adobe Illustrator.
Initially I wanted to see if there was a similar graphic design program to Adobe Illustrator (for a reasonable price).  I wanted to try and find a program that could do most of the things that Adobe illustrated does but for a lot less money (mainly because Adobes new way of selling Illustrator made it hard for me to just upgrade every few years to control cost).
The first thing I needed to do was make sure that iDraw could you everything I needed that adobe Illustrator currently does.
My actually needs are quite basic because I only use illustrator for design work and not for illustrationwork . Actually all I needed iDraw to be able to do was:
  1. Draw basic shapes which are teh basis of graphic design
  2. Create type and resize the text easily
  3. Change the fill colour and outline colour of objects and type 
  4. Move and scale objects and type easily
  5. Place an image/photo/picture inside a shape or text
  6. Colour an object with a spot colour. (I need this to be able to make a line which can be follower by a plotter/cutter)
So I downloaded iDraw and fired it up. My first impression was oh, this is a bit basic. Still, I made sure that I gave it a good look. It didn't take long to see that this is an impressive beast fully capable of most of things that I need it that illustrator provides.
iDraw blank page screenshot
It took the little bit of getting used to because some of the ways it operates are designed to be so simple, intuitive and easy to use and that in fact if you have a little bit of professional knowledge you expect a more complicated approach (which often offers greater flexibility).
With only a little bit of time I was up to speed and doing things that I have been doing an Illustrator for years.
I must admit that I didn't like some of the ways things were done iDraw, for example I ran into a couple of big snags for me. First, It couldn't do custom spot colours which was largely because iDraw uses the somewhat limited builtin Mac OS X colour palette. After a quick search, I found that this is something that the developers seam to want to address in future versions. I also found limited success with placing an image into an object. The problem is that iDraw doesn't like you to put a wide image into a tall thin object it offers a slider to change the scale of images placed in objects which is limited to 200%. It can easily occur that you can't enlarge the image placed in a object (called clipping mask) large enough to fill it completely simply because the image is the wrong aspect ratio.
It was even little bit confusing at times, but once you get the hang of it you realise its simplicity is part of its beauty. iDraw does a lot of things Illustrator does for a fraction of the price.
Although iDraw had it's small flaws, it also hit plenty of huge home runs. Vector editing was exactly the way I like it, it responds to node editing in smart simple way better even than illustrator and on par with Coreldraw (I've always loved Coreldraw's node editing capabilities, but, well, they just don't make a up to date Mac version). In fact I found a number of great features in iDraw that were easy to use and amazingly powerful. Like when you draw a box and then can erase parts of it just by simply painting with the erase tool leaving with a nice clean object which you can fill or further manipulate. I don't know how to do that in Illustrator.
iDraw or Illustrator, what does all this mean? Let me answer some questions based on my experience:
Can iDraw replace Illustrator? If you need advanced colour functions, blending and other complex tools to create vector illustration, then you will find iDraw too limiting. But if you haven't yet used illustrator, there are some great tools in iDraw and for the price I think it's worth a try. iDraw is certainly a great app for starting our in graphic design without the need of a huge monetary commitment. Budding illustrators should consider buying iDraw instead of illustrator and spend the money saved a digitising tablet.
Is iDraw on par with illustrator for desktop publishing? Yep. It does desktop publishing very well. It has some great tools, everything you need for a great price.
Could iDraw replace Illustrator (CS6) for me? No, not quite, but that is simply because of a few things I need that just aren't quite there yet. But, It's surprisingly close to doing everything I need. So although iDraw cannot replace illustrator for my use (which would be classed as graphic design) it is a mighty program which can certainly be used to create complicated hight quality designs. One should certainly not make the mistake of saying it's not a professional program.
If you've got illustrator and you don't want to have to continue to pay Adobe cloud every year your probably better simply working with what you've got. Unless you really need some features the latest version of Illustrator has. Also you might find it hard to adjust to the way iDraw does things.
If you don't yet have illustrator or indeed have an old version, then have a good look at iDraw and give it a real chance. It's priced right at $24.99 and it does a great job for the money. I would go as far as to say who anyone who needs to do graphic design should get themselves a copy and decide for themselves. It's a rocking product and if Illustrator is the Goliath of graphic design and illustration, given time, this David might just be able to knock it down.
For young designers and people who haven't got a design or illustration program and are wondering whether or not this will save them money and do enough; If you intend to do graphic design, desktop publishing or basic illustration work and you want a reasonably priced package then get iDraw it's top-notch program. I give iDraw big recommend.