I finally plonked down my $25 for Clip Studio, and was please to find no nonsense about “you’re in the UK, must pay in £’s and have 20% sales tax added”. $25 was $25. I can’t say the same about the mini-nightmare that is trying to serialise and register the software, but the initial buying process was painless.
As a first feature-test I tried vectorising a Comic Book inks test-render from Poser. I first benchmarked it in Inkscape (fast, reasonable quality), PhotoLine (fast, but appears to be of iffy quality) and Vector Magic (superb, but takes six minutes). Clip Studio beat them all in vectorisation, by a mile. Instant and accurate, making Clip Studio worth the $25 even if all you want from it is good vectorising tool for lineart. And it’s really easy to use for that, too…
I’ve yet to find a way to round-trip it from PhotoLine for this purpose. I suspect it’s not possible to send out a bitmap and return a vector.
In other news, re: my search for a good tool to make .SWF output for Cartoon Animator… I’ve added a further item to my recent Software that will output .SWF in 2020 survey post…
* Serif’s DrawPlus (later replaced by Affinity Designer, with the .SWF export said to be removed there). The old DrawPlus is perfectly capable and is available as an X3/X4 DVD (or higher, X8 being the most recent) for pocket-money prices on eBay.
So either PhotoLine or DrawPlus is the ideal solution re: balancing sub-$100 price/power. 2015’s DrawPlus X8 would be your ideal target. There was a free DrawPlus Starter Edition (a cut-down X7 version), but apparently one can no longer get an activation code to install it.
How I didn’t identify DrawPlus on my first pass of searching I don’t know. Anyway, it’s on the list now.
I should also add, for the benefit of future searchers, that I’ve had no luck finding a third-party .SWF exporter for Clip Studio.