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Artworks graduated transparency previewed

By Chris Williams. Published: 27th Jul 2004, 07:31:03 | Permalink | Printable

Now that's more like it

Thumbnail of AW screenshotMW Software has published a couple of screenshots of the next major release of Artworks, the popular vector graphics package for RISC OS.

MW Software first introduced transparency to Artworks with the Crystal module, and, according to MW Software, users can now introduce graduated transparencies as well as 'graduation profiles'.


Artworks 2 website

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This excellent piece of software continues to go from strength to strength.

 is a RISC OS Userjonix on 27/7/04 9:28AM
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Everbody at my school thinks that my RISC OS is wonderful at graphic work, wait until I finish saving up for Artworks (my !Draw upgrade!!!!) Wow RISC OS is really good for graphic now. Well done for Artworks and the support MW Software. Regards, Steve.

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 27/7/04 11:35AM
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Amazing! Kind of unbelievable! Thanks Martin!

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 27/7/04 1:12PM
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Graduated transparency is something I'm really looking forward too and I admire Martin's talent in producing it.

But...the user interface looks a little clunky. Would it not be better to have a bezier curve that one could drag around to graphically set the amount of transparency across an object (as in Photodesk or David Pilling's scanner software). I'm a little wary of that %age offset setting with a preset curve - the %age is not a very intuitive way of specifying where the graduation change should start.

Just trying to keep Martin on his toes, you understand ;-)

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 27/7/04 10:38PM
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I noticed that Windows tends to favour Paint, WMF format clipart and images, though the graphics enthusiasts do use something like Corel Draw. I do not really like Windows format clipart and images to work with, and I do prefer clipart in our !Draw format.... I find !Draw so easy to work with. I am saving my pennies to get !Artworks, I am told by !Artwork users how great it is. Would !Artworks and the likes of !PhotoDesk put our RISC OS graphics software at a competitive or better level as PC's and AppleMacs?? How does it compare, does anyone know? Regards, Steve.

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 27/7/04 11:43PM
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I don't know how it compares in detail but as for Crystal, i.e. transparence, ArtWorks offers three kinds of it and - and that is AFAIK unique - it can take grouped objects as *one* single object when applying transparency, that is it makes the group object transparent instead of making the separate objects the group consists of transparent.

And another goodie is the speed - it is fast. I remember the odd review of Xara, the Windows ArtWorks from Computer Concepts aka Xara, and there the review stated that it is stunningly fast. Compared to ArtWorks on my ex-Risc PC I didn't consider Xara stunningly fast though :-)

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 28/7/04 6:55AM
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TonyStill: I think most users find the choice of preset curves in combination with a start offset much more intuitive than creating a bezier curve for something as abstract as the change of a transparency level. In most cases you do not need to change the start offset anyway. It only makes sense for radial transparency. If you use linear transparency, it is easier to change the start of the graduation arrow, which has the same effect.

Maybe you misunderstood: The main way of specifying the graduation is to drag the graduation arrow across the object. The start offset just means that you can defer the start of the graduation for radial transparency, so you can have a circular area with a constant transparency level in the middle before the graduation starts. I cannot think of any more intuitive way of allowing you to do this. First of all, a Bezier curve does NOT even allow you to do this and secondly, even if you could define a whole path with lines and curves, which would allow you to do this but would introduce nasty additional problems, it would be a major task to define something like a curve that is first constant for 75% and then graduates towards the top in an S-shape. With ArtWorks, you do that with two clicks and 2 keypresses!


 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 28/7/04 9:36AM
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hzn: Well, XaraX and its predecessors have always had these three (or more) kinds of transparency and on a modern PC XaraX easily outperforms ArtWorks 2 on an Iyonix. But you are right: Group transparency is unique AFAIK and considering the massive usefulness of it I wonder why other packages do not offer it.


 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 28/7/04 9:38AM
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Sawadee: In terms of the overall feature set both ArtWorks2 and PhotoDesk do not stand a chance compared to current PC packages. In terms of ease of use I think ArtWorks compares quite favourably. In terms of being able to create vector output that can be used in other applications, ArtWorks beats the PC comptition hands down.

Regarding the Draw file format: I think this is the biggest asset of RISC OS. The Draw format is so straightforward and yet powerful and clearly defined allowing hundreds of applications to generate resolution-independent editable vector data that can be used in hundreds of other applications. Windows has nothing like it - WMF is pretty poor and if you ask an average PC user he does not even know what it is. EPS is pretty good quality but most applications require an embedded bitmap preview and cannot render it as vector graphics and it is not properly editable.

Most RISC OS users do not know how lucky they are being able to exchange vector graphics in Draw and ArtWorks format and being able to embed them in so many applications, which can display and print them as true vector graphics!


 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 28/7/04 9:47AM
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As a long time user of Artworks and xara X I have to say that togeather they make an unbeatable package when working with vectors. In terms of export I have found nothing that compares to Artworks with the exception of Adobe software. I tend to now work entirely using SVG and I have found that art works is one of the few packages that will render the xml correctly.

Quick question how will svg export handle Graduated transparency?

 is a RISC OS Usergurgi on 28/7/04 11:01AM
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Wow! Just tried the latest beta, and the enhancements to transparency are extremely impressive. Very intuitive to apply too, and I like the way that linear/radial transparency follows the familiar linear/radial paradigm. I'd assumed that graduated transparency wasn't really going to be for me: I was wrong ;-)

There are a number of other new features too:

1) The Arranger (magnetic) tool 2) Text areas can now be converted to shapes 3) Support for right-to-left text in text areas (flagged as experimental, as there's no export as Draw, etc. yet, but otherwise working well).

The right-to-left text is a delight for entering Hebrew. Moreover, the ability to convert text areas to shapes means that applying the range of ArtWorks effects to Hebrew is simplicity itself. Wow!

Thanks, Martin: ArtWorks2 goes from strength to strength!

 is a RISC OS UserStewy on 28/7/04 2:57PM
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To gurgi: In the same way as "Bleach" and "Stained glass" transparency are currently handled: By ignoring them. SVG does not support transparency graduations (nor different transparency types).


 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 28/7/04 3:43PM
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to wuerthne:

you mean it doesn't support them well? Version 1.2 includes transparency in clipping paths and masks as well as enabled background property?

or have I missunderstood the specifications, I have to confess I haven't looked much into using transparencies in svg barring a really quick look at the latest working draft.

 is a RISC OS Usergurgi on 28/7/04 3:54PM
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To Martin:

I had a multi-control-point line like in David Pilling's scanning software in mind. However, the proof of the concept is in its use so I shall try it.

I regard any further thoughts from me as embargoed due to the arrival of the Beta </embargoed>

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 28/7/04 7:30PM
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gurgi: Yes, I was too quick there. Of course, an alpha mask would do it. So, in contrast to stained glass and bleach transparency, which are really not supported by SVG, graduated mix transparency can be exported - not sure about the graduation profiles though, I do not think they can be represented.


 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 28/7/04 11:24PM
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Wow, I think Artworks 2 is looking great! Nice job Martin.

As to comments about comparing it with current PC packages, if you mean software like Adobe Illustrator CS, then yes, Artworks 2 is less-laden in terms of features. But, having tried using CS, and Illustrator 9, the learning curve for me at least, is much steeper!

Give me Artworks any day - I had such fun using the original :-)

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 29/7/04 2:38AM
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I have briefly seen !Artworks and the layout appears simple enough for the user to enjoy speedy progress creating work with it. Does !Artworks 2 have features to give the user the options to hide it's tool boxes and bring them into view by means of shortcut 'Hotkeys'. For example, hitting the keys "Alt S" for shapes toolbox, "Alt G" for the Graduated toolbox, "Alt I" for Interpolation Effect toolbox, and so on. Are there shortcuts like this already on the 'F1', 'F2', .... F function keys? I was thinking of an option to hide toolboxes and memorizing the shortcuts so that the screen is view free with maximum work area and not clogged with any toolboxes much like my !Sibelius7 music programme. However, I do very much admire the layout of the toolboxes in view that do not use much screen space, I do realize that Zoom will help overcome the small amount of space occupied by the toolboxes anyway. All we need now is 3D features like in the WebFX3D programme. ;-)

Martin's reply comment at 9.47am: There may be a few features in some other platform graphics packages that compete better with !Artwork (see "sascott" comments), but the ease of using !Artworks (& RISC OS) and image conversion options seem greater? The WMF format of clipart for PC is quite pitiful and so much more difficult and near impossible for the average PC user that I know, to alter in any way like we do in our !Draw or !Artworks. The PC WMF cliparts, especially the bundled clipart in the computer (including the word headings and title designs), look so commonly ugly. All professional DTP people advise never to use these bundled cliparts, yet our schools teach and encourage our PC user children to do so. It was a shame Windows took their Draw programme out many, many, years ago... so be a shame an advantage to !Artworks and RISC OS! :smile: Regards, Steve.

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 29/7/04 9:52AM
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hzn: wuerthne: I'm not sure whether I understand your description of "group transparency" feature correctly but isn't this the "knockout group" option in Adobe's tranparency model (PDF 1.4 and Illustrator 9 onwards) ? Cfr [link] for an example.

 is a RISC OS Userjoty on 29/7/04 12:47PM
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The user interface in ArtWorks is fairly clutter-free, and the tools are pretty unobtrusive. You can hide any/all info bars, tools, etc. The 'standard' hotkeys are supported, i.e. Ctrl-A for Select All, Ctrl-G for Group. In addition, with the latest versions of ArtWorks 2 (2.2+), the user can define their own shortcuts for tools. This is done in combination with the Tab key, i.e. I've defined Tab-T for Transparency (Crystal), Tab-H for Hatch. This can be made case sensitive, if you want extra variety, adding Shift to the mix (nostalgia value for veterans of ancient wordpros).

One *very* neat touch, is that whichever tool you are using, holding down Alt temporarily switches to the Select tool. Wonderfully flexible and a very fast way to switch tools.

Keep saving (auto-save on 10 mins?) up, it's really worth it ;-)

 is a RISC OS UserStewy on 29/7/04 1:11PM
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Yes, that sounds like it. The PDF specification was the first place where I read about the two different types of transparent groups. In ArtWorks you can have both: Groups in which each individual object is transparent, so the grouped objects are visually indistinguishable from the ungrouped objects, and what PDF calls "knockout groups", i.e., the objects in the group can overlap each other and the final result of rendering them is then made transparent.


 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 20/8/04 12:11AM
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