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Utility: Graphics
ZX Spectrum 48K

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John Gilbert
Chris Bourne

GRAPHIC design will never be the same with the arrival of The Artist, a Picasso of utilities.

Its comprehensive and exceptionally powerful design capabilities provide all you need to produce full colour high resolution screen pictures.

The package is rigidly structured using three main, and a number of subsidiary, menus.

When first loaded two cursors, a dot and a cross, are shown on the screen. Using the keyboard, or joystick, the dot cursor can be moved around in relation to the cross. If the CAPS SHIFT key is pressed the cross moves to a position over the dot which can then be moved around again. The cross, therefore, acts as a static reference point for any drawing that the dot cursor may do.

The dot cursor represents the brush and its size and drawing texture can be altered using Brush and Brush Pattern options respectively. Text can also be produced by the cursor from eight different fonts.

The second major menu provides basic drawing commands and operations. Unlike other packages on the market, it does all your work for you.

Lines, boxes, arcs, circles and ellipses can be produced with the minimum of fuss using the cross cursor as the first reference point and the dot as the second. Shapes can be filled with a Spectrum designed texture or one created using UDGs.

The shapes must, however, be made up using a complete border. There must be no holes in it or the fill texture will leak out.

Overlay is one of the most powerful, and unique, features of The Artist. It has four functions. The first allows the user to trace a section of a picture, cut it out of that section and transport it to another part of the display. Parts of the picture can also be scaled up and down on the x or y axes.

The author has also included an advanced UDG generator and animator. It uses the eight character sets available through the utility.

Images can also be mirrored and rotated. Once a sequence of frames has been created it can be animated in a four or six step sequence.

The generator is easy to use and it took me just 10 minutes to produce a four frame animation of a walking figure.

Full screen pictures can take up a lot of RAM memory so the author has included a routine which will hack down the amount of RAM required. The Compressor is a separate routine on the tape. All you have to do is load your picture into it. The program will then optimise storage needs.

The Compressor works at its best and most visibly with complex pictures using colour to the full. It is an intelligent utility and, of course, affects only the memory requirement and not the picture on the screen.

The power of the line generation and pixel commands, coupled with the cut and paste facilities, and not forgetting the UDG generator, makes The Artist one of the most powerful graphics aids.

John Gilbert

Publisher: Softek
Price: £12.95
Memory: 48K
Joystick: Kempston