Have fun creating graphics with Livebrush

Livebrush is a delightfully unique drawing program, which can be downloaded for free and will operate on pretty much any computer system. The software does require Adobe AIR for launch, but both packages can be downloaded and installed in a matter of moments.

On launch the Livebrush interface opens the six main elements of the program on the workspace. Centrally is the main drawing area, or “paper,” at the top of the screen you will find the traditional Tool Bar with the Project Bar set in a subsection just below. On the right are the main control panels for organizing Styles, Tool Settings and Layers.

This is a highly practical application and to learn how it works it is best to just dive straight in. In the styles menu you can select from a vast range of brush types and then you can begin your creation on the paper. The brushes will respond to the pace and motion of the strokes made with the mouse. For the keen artist the package is probably best used with a drawing pad like a Bamboo, but it will work equally well with a standard mouse or laptop mousepad.

When a drawing is created each stroke of the brush generates a new layer and these can be locked, turned on/off, or deleted. The colour of each panel can be adapted through the swatch panel in the toolbox. The effect of the strokes can be further adapted in the tool settings panel which will allow you to adjust the velocity and friction of the strokes.

The software comes with a range of useful drawing tools like the Deco Tool, which adds flourishes to lines as they are drawn. The Pen Tool can be used to create or modify different lines within the drawing. There is also a transform tool which can be used to scale or rotate elements with an image.

Download Livebrush

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Draw chemical structures with ease using ChemSketch

ChemSketch have released a much needed free version of their original chemical drawing software, with some great features that are perfectly ample for a chemistry student or casual home user.

The software is easy to download and has a straightforward and user-friendly interface – it was simple enough to get to grips with the functionality although some of the features seemed to work in the opposite way to the paid version which felt a bit counter-intuitive. The main crux of the software is the same, with the ability to draw chemical structures including polymers, organics, Markush structures and organometallics.

Other useful features include the name generation capability (up to a generous 50 atomic structures and 3 rings), comprehensive report generation and viewing and cleaning features for both 2D and 3D structures. It also provides tautomer recognition and valuable access to search engines such as PubChem, eMolecules and ChemSpider which are all great sources for the chemistry student or enthusiast. There are some advanced features that the paid version has and that are missing here, but these gaps are mainly felt if you are familiar with the paid version of ChemSketch.

This popular software is great for home and educational use, good enough even for a working chemist. The fact that it’s free allows accessibility to this clever software, including for students who may not be able to fund the paid version. Some valuable features are missing here and some of the way it works is reversed but none of this will matter too much if you are only using this version.

Great features included in a user-friendly bit of kit.

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Artweaver – a simple freeware program for creative painting

Available since 2009, but only recently issuing a first stable release Artweaver 3.0.2 is a painting application addressing the needs of beginners and advanced users alike. Similar to Adobe Photoshop or Corel Paint, it is a joy to work and play with.

It comes in two versions; the freeware version, for non-commercial use, contains cut-down functionality and is available for two weeks. Artweaver Plus costs 29€ and includes many more features, in particular around customisations and configuration. Both versions include saving and playing back events, which is a great way of recording and playing back your greatest brush strokes.

There is something very attractive about this product: you can record all your steps and replay them afterwards or provide them to other users.

Painting and drawing is great fun with Artweaver and its comprehensive digital toolset. It is easy to work with and low cost. We think the authors have got it right and that the free version will draw new users into buying Artweaver Plus, even though there great competitor freeware artwork packages out there.

Download Artweaver

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