Macromedia has announced FreeHand 9, the new version of its illustration software for print and Web designers.

FreeHand 9 has tight integration with Flash 4, offering native SWF export, animation, a common Symbol Library and a wide range of export options.

One of the other key new features is the automated perspective grids. This disposes of the need to manually draw perspective grids in a background layer.

The background perspective grid guidelines can be set up with infinite vanishing points and horizontal lines. Objects are then snapped to the grids, automatically scaling towards the vanishing point. The grid layout and perspective can be changed while the objects on the grid update to match the new perspective.

The software has a new lasso tool, and easier layer management with three new controls - Merge Layers, Drag Toggle and ActiveLayer Indicator.

It now has intuitive multi-page management – a new page tool manages pages directly on the pasteboard, modfiying, re-sizing and re-orientating individual pages or ranges of pages.

More PDF functionality has been added, so that multi-page PDF documents can be produced and edited in FreeHand. An embed fonts option is now included, and hyperlinks can be set to create interactive PDF files.

Other features include more colour management options (Apple’s ColorSync or Kodak’s Digital Science), a live enveloping tool for warping and distorting graphics directly on the page, and editable vector transparency.

FreeHand 9 is set to ship in March, with a price of £279, upgrades from FreeHand 8 are £99. The company is also offering a Studio suite consisting of FreeHand 9 and Flash 4 for £399. Upgrades to the Studio from FreeHand, Flash, or Design in Motion Suite cost £139.