Print Artist Master Clips 202,000
David Bradforth reviews an offering from SierraHome that's equally at home being used under RISC OS as it is under Windows
In an age where all manner of images, audio files and fonts are freely available across the Internet, it's nice when every so often something not quite so run of the mill appears. By that I mean it's considerably better than anything available on the Internet, and it's also supplied in quantity, making an ideal resource collection for pretty much any and all uses.
The latest release from SierraHome, Print Artist: Masterclips, is just that - a resource collection packed with well in excess of 200,000 resources across six areas - vector art, photographs, fonts, sounds, videos and animations. Given that this is squarely marketed as a PC product, just how much of it is easily accessible to RISC OS users? In the course of this article, I have explored in a small way the offerings within each section, and highlighted how they can be used under RISC OS. This is, of course, followed by an evaluation of the quality of the offerings.
As is usually the case for a PC clipart collection - and indeed is true for Task Force - vector images within this collection are supplied in WMF format. This isn't a problem to view under RISC OS, using utilities such as MetaConverta (KeySoft). With MetaConverta all you need do is drag a metafile into the program window, and hey presto - it appears.
Drop any WMF file onto MetaConverta, and it's instantly displayed. No need for filetyping - it just works!
Other utilities such as Mr Clippy and EasyClip will allow for the cataloging of images stored on CD-ROMs such as these, and whilst it takes time it provides a quick and easy clipart catalogue from which you can find an image to suit your purposes every time.
The vector images within this pack are generally of a high quality, and have been taken from some of the best-selling clipart packages ever released for the PC. Very good start, as each image is suitable for use in most places - but a licensing requirement forbids commercial usage.
The bitmap images / photographs vary in quality. Generally, the photographic images are very good; and pretty much something is offered for any conceivable creative project. It's all supplied in JPEG format too, which makes loading into any Acorn program easy: all you need do is drop the file icon into the application window concerned, and it's loaded. The non-photographic bitmaps are generally of a very low resolution, but may be suitable for any small [credit-card sized] design work - I found that of the examples I chose very few would print at a reasonable resolution on an A4 page.
An example bitmap (I am including this picture because David sent it with his article. However we have no idea what it is, best suggestion from around the office was an Orangutan on the toilet - ED).
A large number of decorative fonts are supplied, in TrueType format. To use these under RISC OS, you'll require the TrueType Translator utility from EFF. Generally, they're reasonably well drawn, but you may suffer from some conversion hitches while using the fonts within RISC OS.
Sounds are supplied, in wave and midi format; both of which can be replayed within RISC OS via several utilities. Not really of much use unless you're producing a multimedia presentation of some sort, and even then some of them may be a little different to what you were looking for. Still a nice toy to add to the computer!
The animations are supplied in AVI file format, and are viewable using MovieFS from Warm Silence Software. There are a number of other AVI playback utilities out there, but very few are able to play the sheer diverse number of formats offered by MovieFS. Perhaps, one day, Warm Silence Software will be able to relaunch MovieFS. Anyway, the animations are generally pretty useless unless you're producing a multimedia presentation of some kind.
Finally, the WebArt collection includes a variety of backgrounds, buttons, search components and others to make designing a web page, to attract as many users as possible, as easy as possible. They're generally very well drawn, attractive and certainly worth looking at if you've run out of your own ideas.
This collection is primarily intended for PC users, but does offer a lot to the RISC OS user. The clipart (both vector and bitmap) is instantly available, with a little help, and although of varying quality is generally very good. The fonts, animations and web stuff may well come in useful depending upon your own needs. At just under £30, for 200,000 resources, you're really getting very good value for money. You'll need to put in a little work under RISC OS, but your time will pay off.