DRAWING WITH FLAIR AND STYLE
A GRAPHICS tablet is a device which has an electronic pen and a special surface on which to draw. As the pen is moved across the surface, software translates the position of the pen and reproduces it on screen.
Saga Systems has allowed Sinclair User an exclusive preview of Style, a package of interface plus drawing software, priced at £29.95 inclusive, and a graphics tablet priced at £69.95 plus VAT. This compares well with other Spectrum tablets.
Initially the interface and software can be used with an ordinary joystick, and at a later stage, you can splash out on the graphics tablet. As a bonus the interface doubles as a Kempston compatible joystick interface.
The interface contains a two channel analogue-to- digital converter, so the technically minded could use it with their own analogue joystick or, with their own software, to input sound.
The software with the interface is comprehensive and easy to use. All the usual features are included - freehand drawing, straight lines, points and circles as well as elastic banded boxes and triangles.
You can zoom in on any part of the screen and magnify it by a factor of eight for detailed work, erase bits of the picture, fill them with ink, or add text. In order to keep track of where the character squares are, when colouring the drawing, a grid can be overlaid to highlight them. You must remember not to overlay the grid once you have started adding colour, otherwise the colours will be removed.
To colour the picture you can either change the attributes globally - over the whole picture - or locally, at the pen position.
The software has some nice features. Once it has been loaded you are presented with a menu, to which the program always returns without losing the picture. The pen is used to select the option - icons are used on some which makes selection easier.
Once you are in the desired mode, for example, freehand drawing, a cursor is displayed on the screen as you move the pen around. There is a button on the left of the graphics tablet and when you press this the pen starts to draw.
Two brush effects are available; either a solid line or stipple. Drawing solid lines is quick, while shading has to be done more slowly. Fill also has two modes, either solid or using alternate lines.
No product ever does everything you want in the way you want it to, and Style is no exception. Saga is aware of this and is open to suggested improvements, which might well be included in later versions.
Whether you just want to draw pictures for your own amusement, or to produce the ultimate loading screen then Style is a good way of producing them. The software is not up to the standard of some drawing programs now available but it is readily usable and continually improving.
For further details contact Saga Systems Ltd, Gran Haig House, Woodham Road, Woking, Surrey. Tel: 04862 22977.