Aviary's Introduces Raven to its Flock; Competes with AdobeMost designers face budgetary challenges as often as they face creative ones. At times like these, designers take notice of software that helps enhance design while saving money. For new start up shops that can't fork over the bucks that Adobe requires for licenses like Photoshop and Illustrator, or for designers who just like to try new things, meet Aviary.

A Replacement for Adobe?

Aviary has been around for a while and offers web-based solutions that aim to challenge similar desktop software. They have already introduced (in Beta): Phoenix, an image editor along the lines of Photoshop, Peacock, a visual laboratory of sorts for pixel-based images and Toucan, a color palette tool.

These are just three of the many tools at which Aviary is hard at work, recreating some of Adobe's most popular works.

Raven, A New Vector-Based Image Editor

They have just released Raven, a vector-based image editor that hopes to compete with Adobe Illustrator. While it's functionality doesn't exactly match that of Adobe, it does a decent job of recreating the essentials. It's not just limited to complex vector art though.

Raven includes the following features:


  • Powerful and full-featured path engine
  • Draw curves and lines
  • Manage handles
  • Multiple selections
  • Draw shapes (square, star, polygon, circle, eclipse)
  • Transform tool
  • Add/remove anchor points
  • Convert Anchor Point tool 
  • Convert curve to line and line to curve
  • Freehand tool
  • Break/Split path

Layers panel:

  • Full layered file
  • Add/move delete layers.
  • Hide/lock layers
  • Small previews in the layer panel. 
  • Blend modes
  • Alpha

Fill & Stroke:

  • Control Fill style and apparence
  • Solid, linear, radial fill
  • Control stroke style, width and color
  • Gradient strokes
  • Powerful Color picker

Additional features:

  • Import SVG from url and computer
  • Export SVG and bitmaps
  • Undo/Redo
  • Cut/copy/paste
  • Align and distribute
  • Zooming
  • Keyboard short cuts 
  • Guides 
  • Rulers

In future updates, users can look for text tools, brushes and the ability to import bitmaps.

A Cheaper Alternative With a Few Less Features

Aviary solutions are available with basic features for free. Yet to benefit from all the collaboration and community enhancements, a Pro version is available for US $ 9.99/month.

If you've already got Adobe, play around with Aviary's free features to see what it offers. Who knows -- maybe you'll be able to save some money when CS5 comes out. If you've yet to make a down payment to Adobe, perhaps this is an opportunity to see how much you can benefit from Aviary's solutions.

Competition breeds change, as they say, and Adobe's been a mainstay of the design world for a long time. Perhaps, a flock of birds will help ruffle their feathers.