RISC World

Digital Creative World

Dave Bradforth takes a look at recent and forthcoming releases for those using their RISC OS computer creatively

With our series on design coming to a conclusion last issue, we're moving this issue on to 'Digital Creativity' in a truly broad sense. If you keep track of magazines such as Computer Arts and Digital Creative Arts, you'll be aware that Digital Creativity refers to potentially any artwork you produce using a computer.

Whether it's bitmap graphic editing in Photodesk, producing lineart in ArtWorks 2 or page layouts in Ovation Pro you're producing something creative on a RISC OS computer. If you've got any examples of these you'd like to share with other RISC World readers, let us know - if we can use the artwork in an issue of the magazine we'll be delighted and you may win a software prize to thank you for your contribution.

There have been a few developments lately in the digital creative field, so we thought we'd bring some of them together in one place.

XAT releases Tracer Professional

X-Ample Technology, run by Paul Reuvers over in Holland, announced the release around the Wakefield Show of Tracer Professional. Tracer will allow you to take any two-colour bitmap image (sprite format only) and trace it into a vector image (a Draw file) within a matter of seconds.

The program, originally released by DABS Press in the late 1980s, has been updated to run on the Iyonix PC. In that respect it's very useful, but the fact that it will only trace two-colour images and requires a fair degree of setting up before you'll get anything like usable results does limit its usefulness within a creative environment.

Editing a traced image within Tracer Professional

Tracer incorporates a number of facilities for fine-tuning the results, and to its credit will allow you to operate on the work in progress within the main program window. However while the tools are based on Draw, and the output is in Drawfile format, the user interface isn't as simple to follow as Draw and for those who perhaps wish to use ArtWorks or DrawWorks to speed up the editing of files this may again cause some confusion.

Features offered by the program include:

  • Convert Sprites to DrawFiles
  • A full editor that's very similar to Draw
  • You can save Sprites and DrawFiles together
  • Files can be reloaded for editing
  • A powerful zoom facility is on offer
  • The tracing algorithm can be fine-tuned by the user
  • You can set the image origin

An online manual is offered, but this is one product where it would benefit from a printed offering and given the price point of £49 it would seem to be justified. We like the product, XAT, but feel that it needs a little more work to justify the price - the ability to deal with even 16 colour sprites and a printed manual would be a definitive step in the right direction.

You can get further details at

XAT - no news on Impression X


To date, there has been no further news on the development of Impression X; the 32-bit literate version of Computer Concepts classic essential application. While the program still has a strong support base, I'm left wondering what the size of the market will be when Impression X does finally hit the shelves and what format the release will take.

Working on a principle of diminishing returns, and taking into consideration Martin Wuerthner's recent concerns about sales of ArtWorks 2 upgrades, we're left wondering just how many people will be prepared to pay for an upgrade to Impression X when many who are using it have moved onto Ovation Pro or are happy running it through AEmulor.

Perhaps strong sales of the A9home will help to stimulate sales for XAT.

RiScript 5 hits the shelves...

...virtually, anyway. Developed by Jeroen Medema and Roeland van den Bos, RiScript was first released commercially through Uniqueway in 1997. When Cerilica joined the scene and looked to have a clear focus on RISC OS design and publishing products, the product was relaunched with a printed manual through the company.

With Cerilica's team moving onto other things, Jeroen and Roeland reclaimed ownership of the product and for a while things lay dormant. People would ask occasionally what the state of play was; as Cerilica had promised on numerous occasions an Iyonix PC-friendly version of the suite. But nothing was announced.

RiScript makes a comeback - virtually...

Until the end of August when, through the website, the authors relaunched RiScript in version 5 as an electronic download product. Able to view and create PDF files (portable document format, as used in Adobe Acrobat Reader on the PC and Mac) RiScript is one of the easiest solutions available for the RISC OS platform to do so.

Priced at 39 euros the program is ideal for the majority of the needs of the average RISC OS user, but you would still run into major problems providing the files [in quantity] to a printer for commercial output. Given the current development effort being put into the program, this doesn't seem to be a problem that will last forever, and RISC World will be first in the queue to report when things do change.

In the meantime, support the development of the program by buying it - and say we sent you.

MW Software announce forthcoming ArtWorks 2.5 release

When it comes to the development of vector graphics on RISC OS, Martin Wuethner is regarded by many of us as a legend. Why? He's the man who single handedly revived ArtWorks when its previous owners Computer Concepts had long since forgotten all about it.

In the time MW Software have had ArtWorks under their wing, the application has gone from being a title current for professional use fifteen years ago to one that could very easily be used today and beyond. With graduated transparencies, CMYK sprites and much much more ArtWorks is the perfect choice for professional graphic creation on RISC OS.

PDFs from ArtWorks 2.5 - review when the release happens

Before the end of 2005, Martin is expecting to release ArtWorks 2.5. Amongst other things, the key feature in this release is to be Direct PDF export. Allowing you to bypass the RISC OS printer drivers, Direct PDF export will offer advantages including:

  • Fully vector based export of transparency effects including different transparency types and graduated transparency
  • High quality sprite export including masks, without suffering from problems caused by the RISC OS PostScript printer driver
  • High quality export of graduated fills as PDF shades, without having to approximate the graduation using a series of clipped shapes
  • Full support for CMYK colours, even in conjunction with transparency and files can be produced with full CMYK information

The advantage here is clear; you'll be able to submit illustrations for professional printing produced entirely on RISC OS after following a simple one-step export from ArtWorks 2.5 itself. The disadvantage, unfortunately, is that you'll not be able to view the PDF on a RISC OS computer as the platform currently lacks a suitably capable browser.

The MW-Software website, at, has further details on expected features.

So what would you like?

The RISC World team has strong contacts within the RISC OS market; who can often help produce or provide software to meet any need. If you've got a need for a piece of RISC OS software, let us know and we'll hopefully be able to find somebody to help. The email address - email our editor!

Dave Bradforth