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Expression Design 4 Review

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PROS / Expression Design has a huge project workspace for users to create designs.

CONS / This software lacks some useful illustrator features and file compatibility.

 VERDICT / It has all the essentials to help you create professional vector illustrations.

Microsoft Expression Design 4 is a professional illustrator with a sleek appearance. Users have maximum design space with Expression Design because the illustrator is organized to give the majority of the space to the project workspace.

Unfortunately, users must buy Expression Design in a package, bundled with other Microsoft products such as Expression Blend, Expression Web and Expression Encoder Pro. This is regrettable for those who only need the illustrator software. On the other hand, the other applications included with Expression Design may also enhance your workflow and be beneficial for your career, so it’s worth considering them.


One of Expression Design’s helpful features is the properties side panel, which includes an appearance and an effects pallet. The appearance pallet is a one-stop location where users can set and adjust the fill, stroke and gradient of objects. In this area, users can also adjust the number of points on a polygon, as well as its inner depth and twirl angle. The effects palette allows users to apply raster effects to vector objects. This area records which effects users have applied to a selected object and in what order those effects were applied. Because this information is consolidated in one area, it is easy to edit the order of effects or delete an undesired effect.

However, this product falls short because it does not include many of the features of other illustrators. Some of these missing features include 3D vector art, easy graphing capabilities, Boolean operations and a perspective tool. While this illustrator can add unique elements to your projects and drawings, making it the sole illustrator in your repertoire will likely limit your drawing possibilities.

File Compatibility

Although this illustrator can’t import and export to as many formats as some other illustrator software applications, Expression Design has the ability to convert files to many different file types. Consumers many want to note that Expression Design is not compatible with AutoCAD.

Ease of Use

When we were testing the software, we kept oscillating between feeling that the illustrator was really easy to use or really hard to use. Instead of blaming this occurrence on a lack of decisiveness, we came to the conclusion that there simply are some commands that are easy and some that are hard. For example, the toolbar is simple and not bogged down with too many buttons and features, allowing users to easily find and use the features that are included. On the other hand, the toolbar might be a little too simple. There are some commonly used illustrator features that are missing, such as a button to create star shapes. Instead, users must create a polygon and set the inner depth to create a star.

Fortunately, users have some flexibility to adjust the features on the toolbars and the toolbars’ locations on the illustrator screen. Users can then save the new setup as their default workspace.

Help & Support

Unfortunately, the help and support is not easy to locate on the Microsoft homepage. Microsoft offers free general support through live chat, knowledge base and troubleshooters. However, according to a member of the Microsoft support staff, there is no free support available specifically for Expression Design. Users must pay per incident if they desire more personalized help with their illustrator than the general information from Microsoft accessible via live chat or written guides.

On the internet, users can find video tutorials and a user’s guide to help them learn how to use this illustrator.


Microsoft Expression Design 4 has some unique features and simple, flexible organization of toolbars and side panels. Mostly, we appreciate this illustrator software’s sleek appearance and the huge space that is devoted to the project workspace. Expression Design may not have everything offered by other illustrator software, but it has all the essential features to create quality vector designs. Go ahead and express yourself.