This article is from the Macintosh application software FAQ, by Elliotte Harold email@example.com with numerous contributions by others.
For sheer artistic capability MacroMedia Freehand and Adobe
Illustrator have been playing leapfrog with each other for years. As
of this writing I consider the race too close to call. For day-to-day
work most people feel more comfortable with whichever program they
learned first since the interfaces of the two packages are somewhat
different. I will note that Illustrator is by far the more popular
package, at least in the New York City graphic design community,
where jobs that require Illustrator vastly outnumber ones that
Both Illustrator and Freehand are designed for tasks that would
traditionally have been accomplished by freehand drawing. If your
drawing tends more towards the technical than the artistic, you'll
probably be happier with Canvas 3.5 which has a superior interface
for object alignment and drawing to scale. Illustrator and Freehand
can do pretty much anything Canvas can and vice-versa; but having the
right package does make particular jobs easier. If your pictures
will consist mainly of smooth curves, Illustrator or Freehand will
suit you better.
All of the above packages are geared toward serious artists and
professional designers and are priced accordingly. For occasional
drawing by non-professionals any of the integrated packages such
as ClarisWorks or even the drawing modules of WordPerfect or
Microsoft Word will likely serve well for a substantially smaller
investment of time, money, and disk space.