RISC World

ArtWorks Made Easy


1: Introduction

What is Artworks?

You are probably familiar with the !Draw application supplied with RISC OS. Draw is an object-based drawing application. ArtWorks is also an object-based drawing application, but its facilities are far more comprehensive than those of !Draw. Almost anything that you can do in Draw you can also do in Artworks, but ArtWorks allows many other operations which are not available in Draw and some which are not currently available in any other software for the Acorn 32-bit machines.

ArtWorks is primarily a package for the professional illustrator or graphic designer, containing many sophisticated facilities. It was designed to provide illustrators and designers using the Acorn 32-bit machines with a package having a similar level of sophistication to that which CorelDraw provides for users of IBM PC-compatible machines and Adobe Illustrator and Aldus Freehand for users of the Apple Macintosh. Indeed, with some limitations, it can exchange files with those applications, making it especially useful to those who use one of those packages at work and who may sometimes wish to bring work home where they have an Acorn machine. But it could also serve to open up the graphic design market for Acorn computers; an A5000 with ArtWorks offers both a price advantage over and a better performance than a 486-based PC plus Windows CorelDraw.

ArtWorks is, nevertheless, so user-friendly and intuitive that it can be used to advantage by anyone, including children and beginners to computer-aided art and design. It will certainly find a ready market in the education establishment that has been Acorn's mainstay.

What ArtWorks Can Do

As its name suggests, ArtWorks is intended for the production of artwork. That artwork may be of many different kinds, ranging from engineering drawings and isometric views to artist's impressions of proposed new products or layouts for posters or display advertisements.

It allows you to create drawings consisting of lines and shapes with an almost infinite range of line styles (such as line thickness and colour) and fill styles. In addition to 'flat' fill colours, that is uniform fill colours, linear and radial graduated fills are provided; these simulate natural shading on flat or curved surfaces and are described in more detail in Chapter 5. A very versatile Blend tool (also described in Chapter 5) creates intermediate shapes from two 'parent' shapes; this can be used as a more complex form of graduated fill, but can also be used to build up large numbers of objects or to create intricate patterns or 'morphing' from one shape to another; an interesting example applied to text is shown later.

Lines and shapes can be distorted in a controlled manner by the Envelope and Perspective tools described in Chapter 8. The Envelope tool simply impresses a new shape on the object to which it is applied; it could take a 'straight' picture of a flag, for instance, and make it appear to billow in the wind. The Perspective tool is similar, but especially designed to simulate the effect of perspective on a flat object. It makes an object appear to recede into the page (or screen).

Drawings need not consist only of lines and shapes. Text in any RISC OS-compatible outline font can be added to the drawing for use as titling or labels. A built-in font manager allows you to give text separate outline colours and fill colours, making possible a variety of startling effects, including fitting text to a line. Text can also be converted to graphics and subjected to all of the same transformations, including those available from the Blend, Envelope and Perspective tools. ArtWorks offers graphic designers unlimited possibilities. A collection of 220 outline fonts is included with the package. Paragraph text can also be included; if it requires frequent changes of style it is probably simplest to create it in another package such as Impression and import it as an EPS (encapsulated PostScript) file; this is described in Chapter 10.

Sprites (bitmap or pixel images) can also be included in ArtWorks documents. These may be images obtained from a scanner, video digitiser or ray-tracing package or pictures created in Paint or some other painting software. Although ArtWorks itself does not provide facilities for editing sprites, they can be moved, scaled or rotated. Among the facilities included in ArtWorks are layers. Each object is assigned to a layer and individual layers can be made unselectable or invisible. Background layers appear on screen, but not in printouts and are useful for guidelines or annotations. Whole layers can also be repositioned from back to front (layers in ArtWorks do not work in quite the same way as in some other drawing software for the Acorn machines). You will find more about layers in Chapter 6. As it is intended to be suitable for professional artists and designers, ArtWorks provides full support for commercial colour printing. Individual colour separations can be viewed and printed out, complete with printers' marks. You will find more about this in Chapter 14.

What You Need to Run ArtWorks

To use ArtWorks you must have one of the Acorn 32-bit computers fitted with RISC OS. At the time of writing these include the Archimedes A300 and A400 series, A3000, A5010, A3020, A4000, A5000, A540 and A4 laptop, Because ArtWorks (v 1.000) requires 736 Kbytes of user RAM. your computer must be fitted with at least 2 MBytes of RAM.

Since ArtWorks provides many of its own modules (for font handling and colours for example), it does not matter whether you have RISC OS 2 or RISC OS 3. But if you still have RISC OS 2, you should consider upgrading to RISC OS 3 as soon as possible because of its superior video, printing and filing facilities. If you need to exchange files with IBM PC-compatible machines, you will find the upgrade to RISC OS 3 makes such transfers very simple, since DOS-format discs are accepted almost as though they were native Acorn-format discs. And since recent Apple Macintoshes can also use DOS-format discs, file exchange with these is simple as well.

If you have RISC OS version 3.0 (fitted in early A5000 machines) you should upgrade to RISC OS version 3.1 (or later). ArtWorks v 1.1 has some features that are not compatible with RISC OS version 3.0 and you may encounter problems.

While ArtWorks conforms to the conventions of the RISC OS desktop in that it can be used in any desktop-compatible screen mode, you will find it far easier to use and less tiring on the eyes if you use the multisync modes 18-21 or, better still, the VGA modes 25-28 or SVGA modes 29-31. For these you will need a multisync or VGA (or better) monitor. Not only will the higher screen resolution make attention to fine detail simpler, but the faster frame rate of the VGA and SVGA modes reduces flicker and minimises fatigue.