Michael Ferguson
Michael Ferguson
Utility: Graphics
ZX Spectrum 48K

John Gilbert
Chris Bourne

LAST MONTH I reviewed The Artist, from Softechnics, and said there was nothing which could beat it.

I was proved wrong. Art Studio, from OCP, outclasses it in speed and style. Once loaded from disc or tape, the program display is set to white with a blue double-decked bar menu across the top of the screen. Near that is an arrow cursor which can be manipulated using the keyboard, joystick, or Kempston mouse.

To select an option on the menu, the cursor must be moved over it and the fire button pushed.

As well as being able to draw single lines, by placing two points on the screen with the cursor, you can extend lines to create shapes such as triangles and elastic banded lines. Elastic banding starts from a specified point. The potential line is then dragged across the screen by the cursor and set in position by pressing the fire key.

Once you have produced your drawing you can start to fill it in with solid colour or one of the textures provided on the FILL menu. Those include roof slates, brick structures, lines and dots.

To produce a fill effect, all you have to do is put the cursor inside the shape, and press the fire button. The shape is first filled with a backdrop of colour and the texture is then dropped in.

The most impressive part of the package is its ability to cut and paste parts of screen pictures. That process is accomplished using windows. You must first put a window around the shape which is to be transferred to another part of the screen. Then choose one of two options. The first allows you to do a straight copy of a shape, the original remaining on the screen. The second performs nearly the same operation but the original is cut out and a hole left on the screen.

While the cut and paste up operation is taking place it is possible to change the scale of the shape along the X and Y axes. To do that, open a window using the cursor, set it to the position in which you want the new shape to appear and make that window larger or smaller.

The only problem when using windows to achieve those results is that a rectangular patch is left in place of the shape. The screen then has to be retouched with the package's pen.

Apart from that one flaw, the package outperforms The Artist in almost every way. It has superior speed to the Softechnics package and the menus are easier to use. It can be used with disc, tape or microdrive and contains a printer driver which handles most compatible Spectrum printers. It is an extremely powerful utility which should be of use to professional artists and designers as well as the home user.

John Gilbert

Publisher: OCP
Price: £12.95 (cassette version. Opus disc/microdrive); £19.95 (cassette/disc version)
Memory: 48K