Graphic Shop

Reviewed by Alan Goldsbro

 

Issue 26

Mar/Apr 87

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ANTIC Publications

$19.95

After months of struggling with Print Shop's Graphic Editor, I viewed the prospect of an easier way to produce high quality icons with some relish. When I read of such a program in Antic, to convert Micro Illustrator and Micro Painter files into Print Shop format, I just had to obtain it with all possible haste and immediately ordered it from Software Express International of Birmingham.

 

From taking apart the packaging and booting up the disk it takes only seconds to give a screen display similar to Print Shop. This is not surprising as the whole program is based on Print Shop's user friendly operation.

FOUR OPTIONS

Menu driven, the program has four options,

Load Micro Illustrator
Load Micro Painter/Computereyes

View Directory
Format Graphics Disk

To load either Illustrator or Painter files, type in the file name and press return to display the picture on the screen. Toggle from Convert Whole Screen to Convert Part Screen via the space bar.

WHOLE SCREEN

If you wish to convert the whole screen, the picture is compressed into a 600 byte Print Shop Icon. This takes approximately 1 minute or less depending upon the depth of detail in the picture. Once compressed, your icon is displayed in all four corners of the screen, each one in a different shading pattern. Pressing the space bar rotates these icons showing the detail in either black, white or pattern fill. You may at this time return to the previous screen or main menu. Select the pattern of your choice and type in your filename, Graphic Shop checks to see whether there are any duplicates before writing to disk. If there is an existing filename you get the option to re-enter a new filename or replace the existing file.

The detail of the compressed pictures can be somewhat lost in the compressing and only pictures with a small amount of detail are worthwhile compressing. I had to touch up the 'new icons' using Print Shop's Graphic Editor almost every time, however it still is easier than using Graphic Shop alone.

SMALL SCREEN

Converting only a portion of the screen takes much less time to do and gives a better imaged icon. Using your joystick, move the FLASHING frame over the selected part of the picture and press the joystick button to start the process. The frame is a set size approximately one twentieth of the screen and cannot be altered. Again you get the option to preview the icon and return to the previous picture or menu before saving.

VIEW DIRECTORY

Whilst all this reading and writing to the disk is in operation, it is worth remembering that you need a separate disk for the icons. The program is directory smart so it knows whether it's a DOS disk or Print Shop disk. Graphic Shop will read either type of disk and list it to the screen.

FORMAT GRAPHICS DISK

Graphic Shop has the ability to format your disks acceptable to Print Shop.

CONCLUSIONS

In general I liked Graphic Shop, it's ease of use, no frills, no nonsense approach is commendable. I did come across one or two problems, one being the program locked up everything when it tried to convert a whole screen with only a small amount of detail on it. This wasn't just a one-off as it happened on more than one occasion. Sometimes it wouldn't load in picture files properly, it came up with garbage on the screen. Worst of all though it gave two different file names to the same picture. I've still got an unlabelled icon lost somewhere on my files and once or twice it saved an icon but on attempting to load it through Print Shop, the message 'Drive Error' was displayed. So far only 75% of my files/icons were fully supported by Graphic Shop. Whether I bought a faulty copy remains to be seen but an attempt to discuss this with a representative of ANTIC (the publishers of the disk) at the recent Atari Show only resulted in the cold shoulder, so maybe they are all the same.

Priced in this country at 19-95 (a for $ conversion) I feel that Graphic Shop may not be a good buy unless you use Print Shop regularly and have access to or compose your own picture files. On the other hand if, like me, you are hooked on Print Shop then I'm sure it will fit into your collection with ease. If it were marketed at 9-95 then I am sure it would have a wider appeal.

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