'The Ultimate 256 Colour Graphic Art
Program' shouts at you from the colourful box with demo pictures displayed
all over it, and what's more it could be just that depending upon your
style of graphics. The program is suitable for any 48k machine XL/XE
included and in taking you through both the favourable and unfavourable
points, I'm sure you'll be able to decide whether Technicolor Dream is for
Technicolor Dream has many excellent
features including Help Screen, 256 Colour Palette, 128 colour Filters,
Joystick &/or Touch Tablet control, Picture Dump to Screen or Printer,
Quick Colour Selection and High Quality Picture Content. The disk version
has the main program on side one, coupled with a selection of picture
files on both sides. The disk takes approximately one minute to boot up
owing to the heavy protection against copying. From the title screen (a
Red Rat) it soon slips into the help screen which can be recalled at any
time by pressing [ESC]. XL/XE owners can also use the [Help] key to access
the screen. The help screen comprises 11 commands, all of which can be
used when the picture is displayed.
Selecting a colour is quite good. Pressing
the Space Bar displays a 256 palette of colours on the screen and moving
the cursor via the Joystick (Port 1) or Touch Tablet (Port 2) to the
colour of your choice and pressing [Start] will select your colour. At the
bottom of the screen are three boxes, the first box displays your selected
colour, the second shows your mixing colour (obtained by using Option
& Select, more about this later) and the third box displays the 'Mix
Mode' colour i.e. alternate pixels from boxes one and two. Below these
boxes are alphanumeric codes (letters & numbers to me & you)
signifying the selected colour. These codes are important for later use.
Press the Space Bar to return to the drawing screen and start your
picture. To access the colours again press the Space Bar and the palette
overlays your picture without affecting the drawing screen.
Once you have colours on the drawing screen
an easy way to select a previously used colour is to position your cursor
over the colour and press [Start]. The manual also suggests 'painting' a
selection of colours down the side of the screen to 'dip into'. The 16
main colours are of a solid construction, whilst the brightest are made up
from a line of luminescence and a thinner line of black, thus giving a
striped effect, however this does look effective no matter how strange it
Drawing is done with only one brush size
although this moves with speed and ease. Alternate changes of colour or
luminance can be achieved by typing in an alphanumeric code and using the
[Option] key to signify Colour and the [Select] key to choose a Luminance.
Using the 'Mix Mode' colour can have pleasing results. As previously
stated this gives you a checkerboard pattern.
You can at any time use either the Joystick
or Touch Tablet to draw your picture and I hope that other programmers
will make use of this feature more often in the future. On completion of
your picture, any of 128 different filters can be overlaid to give a
delicate tint. A handy feature is the Temporary Storage area in which you
can `store' your picture in its original format whilst you experiment with
different colours, shades, and designs. Returning to the original picture
can be achieved quite easily.
Saving the picture is fairly easy as is loading. In each
case you need to type in the [Device: Filename] but no extender is
required. This is mainly because the file is saved twice, once under
[Filename:col] and the other as [Filename:lum]. Deleting pictures and
formatting disks can also be achieved from within the program. Pictures
can also be saved in Compacted or UNCompacted format. All the pictures can
be loaded onto an autorun file (provided) for displaying as a continuous
show without the need for the main program.
A picture dump to printer is included on the disk
although I couldn't get this to work on my Epson RX80F/T. A basic listing
is also included in the manual for a printer dump, this does work and
takes about 8 minutes to print out a picture on its side down the paper.
There is a section entitled 'Advanced Effects' which can be selected by
pressing [Control] E, whereupon the screen will disappear and a small
black and white miniature is returned in its place. From this section you
can change a colour or luminance, add a luminance or create a negative of
Most of the effects are obtained by typing in commands
using the aforementioned alphanumeric codes.
With basic listings and explanations in the sixteen page manual, inclusion
of pictures into your own programs shouldn't be too much of a problem.
It's a shame to have to come to the unfavourable parts
in any program but sometimes there are definite problems with software. In
the attempt to be completely innovative, the programmers have forgotten
the simple adage of brevity. Many of the commands could easily be achieved
by simple keystrokes or use of the Joystick/Stylus, but invariably you
have to press a number of keys to obtain the desired result, for example,
to clear the screen there are 8 keys to be pressed and to change a colour
through the 'Effects' screen can take you up to 21 key presses!
You may have noticed no mention of standard features
such as Circle, Square, Line, Point Fill and Zoom etc. These are not
included in the program with the exception of Line which takes so long in
setting up that you'll achieve it faster manually. The other exception is
Fill, which I could only get to fill the whole
screen and not selected parts. The other difficulty I encountered was when
you choose a colour from the palette which overlays the drawing screen,
already full of colour, discerning which colour is which is extremely
Technicolor Dream was originally designed to enhance the
quality of artwork for games software and if this is the main reason for
buying then you've made a good choice. On the other hand, if you view it
as 'The Ultimate 256 Colour Graphic Art Program' then it falls short of
the mark. The demo pictures show the obvious quality of the program and if
you can put up with its limitations then, priced at £12-95 for disk and
£9-95 for cassette, it's a good buy. The package includes a well
presented and informative manual all boxed in a rigid plastic case which
should survive even the hardest throw the postman can give it.
I hope that future modifications will include some of
the more easily accessible commands and in turn lose some of those
interminable 21 key presses.