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Creature House Expression


Microsoft Expression 3 (formerly from Creature House)

Your Guide, Sue ChastainFrom Sue Chastain,
Your Guide to Graphics Software.
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The Bottom Line

Expression was the first graphics program to allow users to create brush strokes from arbitrary pictures, and remains the most artistically-oriented vector-based drawing package available. Microsoft acquired Creature House in 2003, after this review was written. At this time, Microsoft is offering free downloads of Expression 3 for both Windows and Macintosh.

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  • Create scalable, editable vector-based art work.
  • Unique technology for expressing artistic vision.
  • Modest system requirements; affordable.
  • Difficult learning curve; Tutorials too advanced for beginners.
  • Acquired by Microsoft, Expression's future is uncertain.


  • Vector-based drawing and illustration software based on unique 'skeletal strokes' technology.
  • The first application to introduce the concept of drawing with strokes of objects along a path.
  • Any kind of object, whether vector- or bitmap-based, can be defined as a custom brush stroke.
  • Unique features go beyond traditional drawing software to provide ultimate artistic expression.
  • Pressure-sensitive pen support, familiar and specialized drawing tools, many import/export options.
  • Version 3 adds repositionable textures, reflection-mapped fills, user-definable fringes,
  • eraser mode, head/tail anchoring, repeatable sections, transparency and width variability,
  • new and improved drawing tools, productivity enhancements, and PSD and PNG import/export.
  • Boxed version includes a detailed, 200-page printed user guide with several tutorials.
  • Windows and Macintosh versions of Expression 3 are available for free download from Microsoft.

Guide Review - Microsoft Expression 3 (formerly from Creature House)

Creature House Expression (formerly Fractal Design Expression) is a vector-based drawing tool featuring "skeletal strokes," a 2D drawing primitive which offers complete editability and scalability. While many other computer drawing programs have tried to imitate Expression's object-stroked paths concept, none can come close to the flexibility and variety offered by Expression. The user interface, though somewhat overwhelming, is well-designed with much care taken to alleviate keyboard and mouse (or pen) swapping as much as possible. You really need to have both artistic ability and a strong desire to explore and learn this program, but it's quickly obvious that once you do, you can do truly amazing things with it.

Update February 2004: Since Microsoft's acquisition of Creature House in September 2003, sales and downloads of Expression on the Creature House Web site have been suspended indefinitely.

Update May 2004: An updated Macintosh version of Expression 3.3 is now available for download from Microsoft.

Update June 2004: Microsoft is offering Expression 3 for Windows and Macintosh as a free download after completion of a brief online survey.

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