RISC World

DTP Bitmaps

Dave Bradforth

With the age of the digital camera well and truly upon us, David Bradforth takes a look at the options available in terms of bitmap graphics creation and editing; and provides an update on the situation of a leading RISC OS design program.

Last time we took a look at the options available in terms of page layout software and discovered that the leading program - Ovation Pro - is still very much a favourite for those actively using RISC OS computers; but then so is Impression. Although news on Impression-X has been slim to date, we're told that an update is due shortly - if we've got it, more news will follow next time.

News update

Since the last issue, the Cerilica Limited website has disappeared from the Internet. Visitors to will, instead of the artistic Cerilica home page, find ... well ... absolutely nothing. With Simon's new job in Cambridge, and it becoming clear that he doesn't have the time to sell and support Vantage, it seems that the final nail in the Vantage coffin is complete.

It's a shame as, so far as these projects go, Vantage had a lot of potential. It suffered more from the point of view of overhype - what it should be able to do; rather than what it could. Yes, the colour preparation system is unique and actually very good, but the user interface certainly lacked the key requirement of being intuitive and magazines have featured the program in terms of starting new articles only to cease almost immediately resulting in little in the way of supporting documentation.

It's the hope of this writer - and, indeed, of the rest of the RISCWorld team - that the RISC OS market doesn't gain further products in this fashion. With the size of our market at the moment that would be truly disappointing.

Anyway, moving on from this let's take a look at bitmap graphics software available for RISC OS. Never before has the launch of a computer resulted in so much new graphic design software than with the launch of the RiscPC series in 1994. For the first time, Acorn had produced a computer that was capable of creating true-colour (24-bit) graphics, and the developers were more than eager to do their bit in supporting it.

Much of this is still available, although by no means all of it. Here we're presenting a summary of the best out there.

DA's Picture (originally from Digital Arts, Germany)

DA's Picture was a relative latecomer into the RISC OS graphic design arena. Released by German company Digital Arts, and distributed by CGS Computerbild, it brought essentially the majority of the features of the Atari ST/Falcon version of the program to the RISC OS platform.

Located on the domain, instructions are available for DA's Picture in English and German.

With a wealth of features including filters, textures, colour blends and much; much more this program certainly is worth experimenting with - especially if you've got lots of RAM. Simply put, the more memory you've got in your computer, the better and faster it will be at editing digital images.

DA's Picture is available now, from, along with a RISC OS 4 icon update.


Long regarded as a market leader for RISC OS bitmap graphics packages, Photodesk Olympic is the latest and seemingly greatest version of the package. Boasting many key features expected from the likes of Photoshop, such as layers, filters and a wide variety of tools, the latest version works with the Iyonix PC thanks to the efforts of David Ruck.

To quote directly from the CJE Micros website:

PHOTODESK OLYMPIC is a bitmap editing package on the Acorn platform that has been favourably compared with industry standard graphic tools. True studio quality is available with enhanced quality tools and effects with extensive calibration, accuracy and previewing giving much improved productivity for the professional user.

Virtual memory is highly optimised for bitmap graphic processing and extensive hardware support is provided. A great deal of development effort has gone into ensuring that this truly professional solution retains ease of use, productivity and quality. Even small but thoughtful touches, such as the provision of left - handed tools have been implemented. The professional graphics designer as well as the enthusiastic dabbler will feel equally at home with this package.

PHOTODESK OLYMPIC is the professional version, which allows your work to be assembled in LAYERS. This means that the master image can be made up of individual pictures consisting of layers of colour and transparency - very like layers of acetate or film on a light box or overhead projector. The ability to layer work means that the functionality of the software is multiplied many times. PHOTODESK OLYMPIC also includes a sophisticated Colour Management System that enables the full-time graphics professional to properly handle colour separations (CMYK).

PHOTODESK OLYMPIC is now available at less than half the price of previous versions of Photodesk, the only difference being that it is on CD-ROM with an on-line manual. It is hoped in the near future to provide a printed manual as an optional extra. What is more, the new version includes all currently published Plug-ins at no extra cost.

Plug-ins (supplied FREE with PHOTODESK OLYMPIC):

Collection FX1 contains 10 plug-in applets that perform the following tasks: * Zoom blur * 3D ripple * Diffuse Map * Lens Map * Edge sharpen * Hatch stylise * Pixelise * Crackle * Outline glow * Spin Blur

Collection FX2 contains 10 plug-in applets that perform the following tasks: * Chrome * Posterise * Colour Contour * Twirl * Glaze * Raindrops * Dimple * Channel map * Median filter * Crystallise

Yes you read that correctly - Chris 'We have it in stock' Evans has taken over distribution of the Photodesk Ltd product range. This is to allow Chris at Photodesk to focus on his other business interests. While this could be a negative sign of development for the product going into a permanent hibernation, at least it does guarantee continued availability for the range.

Photodesk Olympic is £84 from CJE Micros.

The other two titles available are Studio 24 Pro, which has a lot to offer albeit with a complex user interface (£49) and Pro Artisan 24, which does away with the concept of complexity and aims for a clear and easy to understand user interface for the very reasonable price of £39.

Both of these are described in the APDL advert on this disc.

Dave Bradforth