Types of Drawing Software

By April Kohl

CAD software is used for creating technical drawings.
i Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images

Drawing software comes in several forms. Each type of software is designed to suit a certain set of related functions, such as photo manipulation or graphic design. While it is sometimes possible to use particular drawing software for other tasks, such as using a vector art program for producing a sketch, this generally causes problems that could be avoided by using software designed for the task. As a result, knowing the different types of drawing software and what they are for makes creating with them easier.

Three Basic Kinds

There are three basic kinds of drawing software: bitmap, vector and computer-aided design (CAD). Each is designed to fulfill a different set of requirements. Although vector drawing software can be used for many of the same functions as bitmap, including comic art and general drawing, the different types of software excel over the others in their specialist areas.

Bitmap Drawing Software

Bitmap drawing software is the kind of art package most computer users are familiar with, thanks to Microsoft Paint being packaged with Windows. Bitmap software handles images as a grid ("map") of pixels ("bits"). The user draws an image by changing the color of bits in the map. Bitmap drawing software is suited to photo manipulation and general drawing, but it cannot change the size of an image without losing quality.

Vector Drawing Software

Vector drawing software handles shapes and lines as mathematical formulae rather than fixed points on the page. This creates smoother curves in images and allows the image size to be scaled up or down without losing resolution. As a result, vector drawing software is best suited to graphic design, although the smoothness and regularity of the images can look stark.

CAD Software

CAD software is designed for the production of plans, technical drawings and other similar designs. It is commonly used to produce object, building and vehicle designs, both for real world use and in computer modeling, and is wholly unsuited to general drawing or sketching tasks.