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Adobe FreeHand MX 11.0.2 Review

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PROS / FreeHand includes a wide range of powerful vector tools.

CONS / Adobe has explicitly stated that they are not going to add updates to FreeHand.

 VERDICT / Although it has some unique features now, it will become outdated without regular updates.

Adobe FreeHand MX is a powerful illustrator that should not be underestimated. Unfortunately, it often is. Adobe has chosen a favorite illustrator, and FreeHand MX is not it. Instead, Adobe puts every ounce of effort into promoting Adobe Illustrator, their brain child. In fact, when consumers go onto FreeHand’s website to purchase this illustrator, Adobe encourages them to consider Illustrator. Despite this negative propaganda, Adobe FreeHand is a force to be reckoned with. FreeHand remains competitive with other drawing programs because it has a comprehensive list of impressive features that are unique to Adobe's illustrators, FreeHand and Illustrator.


Some of the superior illustrator features incorporated in FreeHand include an easy graphing tool, a perspective tool, 3D vector effects and Boolean operators. Both the graphing tool and the perspective tool are found as a button on the toolbar. They are simple functions, yet they will make a user’s life much easier. After pressing the graph button, users will enter the information for the graph, and the graph will generate on the screen. Users who own illustrator software without this simple feature will have to manually create a graph themselves.

The perspective tool is also easy to use. A perspective grid will populate on the screen after a user has pushed the perspective button. The grid grows smaller until it reaches a vanishing point, and it is a perfect model for users to create their realistic vector illustrations on.

FreeHand also has 3D vector effects that create snazzy 3D objects. After the 3D object has been generated with the illustrator, users can rotate and view every angle of the object. Because users can see every plane of the object at one time, FreeHand’s 3D objects are ideal for technical illustration.

Another impressive feature that FreeHand includes is the Boolean operators. These functions allow users to unite, divide, intersect, punch and crop shapes to create entirely new shapes. Unfortunately, these commands are found on a dropdown menu, instead of easily located on a toolbar. Nevertheless, the function is not too difficult to locate, and it is an excellent feature to be included with illustrator software as it is a crucial tool for making unique shapes.

FreeHand falls short of illustrator software because the drawings it produces (and its interface) do not look as sleek or sophisticated as newly updated illustrator software. Adobe has explicitly stated that they are not planning on adding any new updates to FreeHand, although they will continue selling the illustrator to the committed group of FreeHand users. Even though FreeHand has some impressive features that are not found in other illustrators, in the future this may not be the case. As other drawing programs receive updates and FreeHand does not, it will surely become less competitive, and likely less useful, than other illustrator software applications.

File Compatibility

FreeHand has commendable file compatibility, and it imported or exported most of the file types with tested with the software. Unfortunately, FreeHand cannot import or export EMF, RAW or SVG files.

Ease of Use

This illustrator was not the easiest software to use. Instead of simply adjusting a line or shape in an all-inclusive appearance pallet, users had to make adjustments in the stroke panel, the color panel, and various other places to change the appearance of an object. Essentially, users had to go all over the screen just to format one simple line. Apart from the lack of a location where all an object’s features can simultaneously be adjusted, FreeHand’s features are relatively intuitive to use and find.

Help & Support

Adobe provides similar help and support for FreeHand as it does for their other software. Some notable support options include digital manuals, knowledge base and telephone support. Unfortunately, Adobe does not post video tutorials for FreeHand on their website.


As Adobe’s red-headed step-child, FreeHand MX does not get the attention or credit it deserves. This illustrator has powerful tools and features compared to other illustrator software. FreeHand also has competitive file compatibility, ease of use and help and support options. Although Adobe is not planning on adding any updates to this software, FreeHand MX still has the features to create professional illustrations and compete with the top-ranked illustrator software products.