Creating simple banners using RISC OSBy Martin Hansen. Published: 15th Jul 2007, 15:34:55 | Permalink | Printable
Martin Hansen explains why he prefers RISC OS banner-making softwareAs everyone knows, an essential part of modern life is having an ability to produce a banner. By this I mean an eye catching heading at the top of a document. The document could be lecture notes for handing out to students. It could be the design on a home made birthday card, or the headline on posters about that missing cat. Maybe something with a little extra zing is needed for a website or that presentation the boss wants you to give at 9am tomorrow morning. Sharp.
We've all seen them: those posters churned out by Microsoft's Word. I've seen that pointlessly slanting text with a shadow so many, many times. Dull, dull, dull. With RISC OS we can effortlessly do so much better and have been able to do so for years. It takes surprisingly little time to produce something fresh and more exciting. For example, and I'm going to time myself, I'm now opening up !Draw. Get set, wait for it, go:
Using Draw: Click for bigger
It took me less than five minutes to type in the words "Important announcement !", select those words, select the font NewHall Bold, drag the text to an appropriate size by eye, convert the text to a path, select red as the outline colour, orange as the fill, and then underline with a couple of similarly coloured rectangles. I saved it as a Draw file, grabbed it as a sprite file, and - by pulling it across to Paint on my RiscPC - convert it to a PNG file and a JPEG file. Job done.
One of the programs in my armoury for when the call comes in to rustle up a quick banner is FontFX. It is sold by APDL for less than a tenner. I bought version 4 years ago, and then version 6. It works on the Iyonix although I had it before that gleam was in John Ballance's eye. Its key feature is that it's very simple to use. You don't need any instructions whatsoever. Essentially, it's a control panel with lots of buttons to click and play around with. Each time you want to see what your settings will produce you menu click on 'create'. I'm now opening up FontFX. Have you got the stopwatch ready? Go:
Using FontFX: Click for bigger
Again, it has taken me less than five minutes to produce Draw, Sprite, PNG, and JPEG files of my design which could now be imported into whatever the target document is.
This year began with the news that Detlef Thielsch was releasing a graphics application called Insignia for free. The package, originally developed by John Whitington and which used to cost £39, was made available for download on the a4com.de website. This program is now called TextEffx and is being actively developed.
The latest version has resolved a problem caused by certain fonts on Iyonix computers and has an improved user interface. Last week, as a part of upgrading my website, I wanted a banner for a mathematics article I was placing online. I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to give this latest banner producing piece of software a chance.
In short, I was very impressed and can see why Insignia used to retail for forty quid. Like FontFX, the best advice I can give on using it is to simply experiment and press lots of buttons. It's more sophisticated that FontFX and can produce some spectacular effects. I opted for sedate colours and subtle effects. I saved a snapshot of the resulting sprite from a 16 million colour mode as many folks are now browsing websites with that colour depth setting. On a RiscPC, you will need to adjust the screen resolution and colour depth to see it properly, unless you have a ViewFinder fitted. Times move on.
TextEffx example output: Click for bigger
In summary, there really is no excuse for not having an appropriate banner for your documents, and, under RISC OS, one that is a cut above the average.
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