@Motorsep: Photoline’s latest betas introduced a very nice smooth draw option, comparable to Gimp and Krita. The drawing feel is very nice now.
Painting is comparable to Photoshop before the brush engine revamp - which is okay. It’s compatible with Photoshop brush libraries, and you can load those up.
In terms of image editing Photoline is excellent (full 8/16.32bpc RGB, CMYK, Lab), and on par with Photoshop, even arguably an improvement over Photoshop, and in some other areas a little behind. The svg import and export is really good. There are no limits to the number of layers you can have or the size of the file (unlike Photoshop which has a 8000 layer limit, and limits to the dimensions). The layer mask system in Photoline blows Photoshop out of the water. External file layers are also possible now. And the vector tools behave like real vectors, unlike the ones in Photoshop.
The layer system is extremely liberating compared to Photoshop: any layer can be set to any bit depth and colour mode. Even layer masks (although masks effectively work up to 16bpc). Can you imagine the freedom? No more switching between image modes if you want to work in Lab mode, or CMYK - merely switch the layer to a different type! And the curves work in Lab, RGB, HSV, or HIS on layer without the need to switch the actual image mode of the layer! WOW! After experiencing the freedom of Photoline’s layers, Photoshop feels positively outdated and awkward.
One of the best features of Photoline are the virtual layers: instanced layers based on any type of other layer, including layer masks and groups! They update in realtime (opening up mirror/symmetrical painting, for example), and can be recycled across pages (yes, Photoline supports pages unlike Photoshop). It means layer masks can be reused in other layers, making it possible to do almost entirely non-destructive texture production. Aside from that Photoline has full adjustment layers and layer effects support - even going so far as converting Photoshop’s most common adjustment layers and the layer effects, preserving the editability. (Photoline has more layer effect options than Photoshop, btw).
In some respects Photoline is far ahead of Photoshop. In some it lags behind somewhat (no spot channel support, no scripting). I completely switched to Photoline, and use the app link to hook up and work with Krita for more advanced painting (Krita’s painting is an improvement over Photoshop anyway). The nice thing about the PL-Krita combo is that both applications feel very similar, especially in how the layer system works.
@Cekuhnen: Yes, I always preferred Freehand over Illustrator myself. Did you know Adobe issues a general serial for users, so in principle anyone can now download and use Freehand? Not quite legit - comparable to the CS2 situation.
I still use CreatureHouse Expression 3.3 for Windows - like Painter for vectors. Btw, Microsoft Expression, which is based on Expression with a more modern GUI bolted on top, can be downloaded for free - it’s still a capable vector illustration app: