What Does Acrylic Mean?

Acrylic is the code name for Microsoft’s Expression Design product, a professional design tool used to create sophisticated vector graphics for web applications.


Acrylic is part of the Microsoft Expression Studio suite and is an enhanced version of Expression, the vector drawing software created by Creature House, a company Microsoft acquired in 2003. Acrylic initially evolved from its original version with more refined brush features and new vector laying capabilities. It can be used in Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Acrylic is also known as Microsoft Expression Design, a product discontinued in 2007.

Techopedia Explains Acrylic

Acrylic is a raster-based drawing program with the ability to edit vectors. It combines both the richness of pixel-based painting and the flexibility of editable vector graphics with a flexible work flow for the designer and developer. It is based on skeletal stroke technology, which uses a bitmap or vector image or animation as a stroke. These strokes, when laid on top of paths, alter the stroke image as the path is altered.
Acrylic is a vector graphics editor used for working in interactive media, print, Web and video design. It is an illustration, painting and graphics tool mainly used by creative graphic illustrators, creative designers and Flash developers.
The main objective behind Acrylic is to create a common code base for both developers and interface designers working on Window applications. It acts as a professional tool by providing a rich format for the information created by the interface designer, which can then be communicated to the developer. The fidelity and live effects of the interface designer’s design are maintained throughout the entire designer-developer work flow.
Although promoted as “a unique graphic program aimed at fine artist”, Acrylic has some features similar to those found in Adobe Photoshop. Unlike Adobe Photoshop, which is a bitmap editor program, Acrylic is a pure vector art program. And, while Adobe focuses on print, Web, video and interactive graphics, Acrylic focuses on platforms, applications and content.
Some of Acrylic’s key drawbacks include low-quality exports and JPEG compression. However, with its painting and graphic design capabilities and provision for integrated work flow, Acrylic serves as a good choice for developing .NET applications with rich user interface.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…