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Utility: Graphics
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K

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John Gilbert
Chris Bourne

IT MAY have icons but this package is not quick on the draw. The speed at which it performs its operations precludes its use by any designer who wants to produce images swiftly and with the minimum of fuss.

My test for icon packages is to see how far I can get into the program without resorting to the manual. I was able to understand most of the icons - except the rubber - but none of them seemed to work.

A quick look at the instructions, which are very brief indeed, did not reveal any wrong doing on my part so I tried again. Eventually I found the need to hold down the fire key or joystick button for three to five seconds.

Control may be slow but Audiogenic brings a whole new meaning to turtle graphics. It is the slowest drawing program I have seen. A utility written in Basic could do better. Icon Graphix takes 10 seconds to draw a line across the width of the screen. To fill the screen with a texture - it can't do colours - takes, on average, 35 seconds. What are they using, Basic ROM routines?

If Icon Graphix is not so fast it does have a wide range of graphics and text effects. The three drawing implements available are felt tip pen, paint spray and paint brush.

You can select the width of the felt pen using the Shapes icon. Sixteen nib or spray shapes can be selected, ranging from short, straight lines, through blobs to large squares of texture or colour.

The texture of your pen is changed by selecting a new texture from the blocks around the screen. Those include solid black, various hatch patterns, and plain white. You can also design your own textures using the draw option.

Lines, circles and boxes can be drawn in felt pen mode. Those shapes are elastic-banded, so that you can see the shape expand as you manipulate the cursor. To draw a line, you would press the fire key and move the cursor to the position at which you want the line to end. You can twist the line in any direction and when the fire key is released the line is completed.

Drawing predefined lines, circles and boxes is even slower than drawing simple pen trails made up of individual texture dots. The speed difference is very noticeable - we're now down to a snail's pace.

One of the only outstanding - and fast - features of the package is the magnification. It can treble the size of a particular area of your design - where the cursor has been located - and can make detailed design work easier. Unfortunately you cannot select the level of magnification, a feature which would have been useful to professional designers and artists, but in general the magnification is enough for most line drawings, plans and circuit diagrams.

Icon Graphix lacks colour - most of the time. Drawing is done in black and white and colour is added afterwards by selecting the colour menu - which appears at the top of the screen - setting the colour and then moving over your design with the felt pen. That works well enough for simple shapes but you cannot add colour on a pixel scale to complex drawings, or paint the whole screen in one colour with one instruction.

Audiogenic has relied upon the popularity of icons in an attempt to make much more of what is a sub-standard product. The package is too slow, in both control and operation, and does not have the flexibility which a professional designer would need.

Even if you're not a professional the best design equipment available is Art Studio, or The Artist, or even Animator1.

John Gilbert

Publisher: Audiogenic
Memory: 48K
Price: £9.95
Joystick: Kempston