ArtWorks Made Easy
15: Hints and Tips
Object-based drawing packages are of necessity complex. A package as sophisticated as ArtWorks could easily have become completely unwieldy. Computer Concepts have, however, succeeded in keeping ArtWorks commendably simple. Both its menu structure and its toolkit are smaller than those of some other drawing packages. This makes ArtWorks user friendly and less daunting to the beginner.
Inevitably, some of the tools and menu options encountered in other drawing packages have disappeared and this may leave you wondering how to perform certain operations. The absence of move and autoclose tools, for instance, were covered in Chapter 4 on drawing. This chapter deals with some of those operations that might appear at first to be impossible in ArtWorks.
Draw and other packages have a Save selection menu option which allows you to select one or more objects and then save them as a separate file. This selection can be saved to disc or into another application or it can be dragged on to the application's own icon so that it opens a new window in which the selection is present as the starting point of a new drawing.
Although ArtWorks has no Save selection facility under that name, it nevertheless does have a facility to save a selection, and indeed to do almost anything with selections. This facility works via the Clipboard. To save a selection, first make your selection in the normal manner. It may consist of one or more objects or groups. Then use the Copy option on the Edit menu to copy the selection to the clipboard. Alternatively, use the Cut option if you wish to remove the selection from the original drawing.
Your next action depends on what you want to do with the selection. If you want to transfer it into another ArtWorks window, all you need to do is to open that window and use the Paste option in the Edit menu. Hold down the Ctrl key if you wish the selection to be pasted in the same position as in the original drawing.
If you want to save the selection to disc, click MENU on the ArtWorks icon on the icon bar and move right on New view. You will find, perhaps to your surprise, that the list of ArtWorks documents currently in memory now includes a document called Clipboard. Clicking on this opens a window displaying the clipboard contents which consist, of course, of your selection. Move the pointer into this window and click MENU. This opens the standard ArtWorks main menu whose first option is File. From this sub-menu you can save the selection as an ArtWork file or export it as a Draw file, perhaps for use in a DTP document, or in any other format offered. Saving the document may result in the clipboard's name being changed, but it nevertheless remains the clipboard. You can also print the selection if you wish. Click SELECT in the clipboard window and the toolkit and info bar appear. You can now edit its contents and generally treat the clipboard almost as though it were a regular ArtWorks document. Indeed its only difference from a regular ArtWorks document is that layers and the clipboard itself (which is technically a specialised layer) are not available.
Some packages offer facilities for producing multiple copies of an object or group of objects, spaced neatly at regular intervals. This kind of facility is very useful, for example, when printing sets of labels which might be arranged in eight rows of three on an A4 sheet.
In ArtWorks you can use the Clipboard in conjunction with the grid to build up multiple copies of an object. Let us take the example of the sheet of labels. First design your label and ensure that it is the right size. Now choose a grid setting that provides points in the right places. Then group your existing label, move it to the top left-hand comer of the drawing. Copy it to the clipboard and paste two copies beside the original. Use grid lock to get the two copies neatly positioned. Group all three and copy to the clipboard. Paste a copy of the group below the top line and move it until neatly positioned below the top line. Select all the objects and copy to the clipboard yet again. Then paste again below the existing two rows of labels. Neatly align them; you now have four rows. Select all, copy to the clipboard and paste again; you now have eight rows of three, neatly aligned. The figure below illustrates this process.
Drawing Town Plans
The chances are that sooner or later you will need to send someone a town plan showing how to find your home, business, school or other rendezvous. It may seem at first that in a drawing program like ArtWorks to draw a street plan with each street represented by a double black line and the street names sandwiched between them is just too complicated. How do you allow for all the side turnings and roundabouts? In fact, it is all very simple if you set about it correctly. The trick is lateral thinking; you probably think of the streets on the map as double black lines; that is, after all, how you would draw the map with a pen. Instead, think of the streets as a pattern of single thick black lines with an identical pattern of slightly narrower white lines superimposed over them.
So begin by setting line width-14pt is generally suitable; leave line colour the default black. Select square end style and mitred corners. Create your street plan; grid lock may help if the streets in your town are on a regular grid pattern. When you have finished all the streets, merge the paths using the Join shapes menu option. Next put in any roundabouts. Use the Ellipse facility constrained to a circle; a radius of 14pt (double the street width) looks good and position these carefully over the road junctions concerned. You should now have a recognisable solid street plan like that shown below.
Now for the subtle bit. Select the merged street path and choose the Clone option from the Edit menu. There will be no visible change. But the clone is now superimposed over the original and it is selected, so change the line thickness (Lines/Shapes menu) to 12pt and change the line colour to white. Suddenly your streets spring to life as double black lines with all turnings and junctions neatly in place... except for the roundabouts which look decidedly odd. Here we need a little cunning. Set up another ellipse having a black fill colour but a white line thickness of about 8 pt. The most suitable radius may have to be determined by experiment, but if the radius of the black roundabout backgrounds was l4pt, try 9pt as a starting point. Carefully superimpose the first of these over a roundabout and you should find the effect looks right; duplicate the roundabout fill as often as needed for the other roundabouts on your map. The result should look more or less as shown below.
The rest of the job is typing street names and positioning them and placing other landmarks such as parks, churches and public buildings. And, of course, your home, office, factory, school or whatever it was you wanted to guide people to. Incidentally, you can use the similar techniques to draw route maps of arterial roads and motorways, perhaps using red or blue instead of white in the thinner lines.
There may be occasions when you wish to trace around the outlines of areas in sprites. For example, the sprite may be a dithered image from a video digitiser or a colour scanner. These sometimes do not print satisfactorily; moreover, they are often not amenable to tracing packages (which convert sprites to Draw files). But you can still draw around the outlines and produce an ArtWorks drawing from it.
Load the sprite and scale it to a suitable size. Now change to a different layer for your tracing; ensure that Multilayer is off. This will prevent the sprite from moving during your tracing operation. Set the WYSIWYG control to 3 and select 0.25 pt black (or any bold colour) lines. The sprite's design will be clearly visible and the outlines that you trace will be visible. You can set fill colours as you go, but they will not be visible at this setting of the WYSIWYG control. That is just as well, since otherwise they would hide the sprite and hinder your tracing. It is most sensible to start by tracing items at the back of the scene and working your way to the front, otherwise you will have frantic order changing to do when your tracing is finished. Finally, select all and change line colour to none. Turn up the WYSIWYG so the fill colours become visible.
If you have ArtWorks v 1.100 or later and you load the sprite into a background layer, the sprite will be shown at 50% full intensity, but will still be clearly visible.
Rulers and Grids
You may feel that a startling omission from ArtWorks is an isometric grid, that is a grid based on a triangular pattern to help in the accurate production of the isometric (.i.e. perspective-free) drawings used by architects and engineers. Draw and other drawing packages include such a grid. In fact ArtWorks' flexible layers system allows you to import grids or rulers or any other drawing aids you fancy. The solution is to save the isometric grid you like out of Draw (or whatever) by saving the screen. You could use one of the many public-domain screen grabbing utilities or the Snapshot facility out of Paint. Then load the resulting sprite into ArtWorks and consign it to a background layer. It will now be permanently at the back of the drawing (where you want it) and it will not appear in printouts (where it is not wanted). Of course, objects will not snap on to it as they would on a real grid. But you may be able to choose a grid setting in ArtWorks in which many of the points correspond with those of the 'virtual grid'.
The same applies to rulers. You can always draw yourself a ruler and consign it to a background layer.
ArtWorks has been thoroughly tested and in general gives no problems. But you may occasionally find yourself in difficulties caused by software incompatibility. You may also find you obtain strange effects if you use some of the facilities inadvisably.
You may occasionally find that you cannot load ArtWorks if your TurboDriver is already installed. You get an error message saying, 'Another application is using ABI and will not release it'. If this happens, contact Computer Concepts regarding an update to your TurboDriver, in recent versions this problem has been overcome. In the meantime you must delete your TurboDriver from the icon bar, load ArtWorks and then reload the TurboDriver.
ArtWorks crashes on loading if the Acorn FontEd font editor (v 0.27) is loaded. You will need to delete the font editor and then reload ArtWorks. There is no reason to have these applications multitasking; ArtWorks contains the routines to convert characters from outline fonts to shapes.
Printing Graduated fills and Blends
Several problems can occur in colour printouts that employ graded fills or blends. Firstly, unsightly 'steps' can appear if the end colours of the blend or fill have been defined using different colour models, one being the CMYK model. This is because ArtWorks introduces grey component replacement (explained in Chapter 5) on colours defined using the RGB and HSV models, whereas colours defined using the CMYK model are always printed 'as is'.
Another problem occurs if you grade from two of the primary colours, e.g. from green (100% cyan plus 100% yellow) to magenta. At the mid- point of the grade 50% cyan plus 50% magenta plus 50% yellow theoretically gives mid-grey, but because of colour imbalance is likely to be an unsightly muddy colour.
A similar problem arises if you grade or blend from any colour to black. This is because black is defined as 100% key; as the black end of the grade is approached, the other colour components are negligible and the result is dark grey with no noticeable colour content; if you are trying to simulate deep shadow on a coloured object, the result is sadly unrealistic. The solution is not to use the normal 'pure' black, but to create a special black whose formulation is the same as your starting colour but with 100% key added. When this colour is printed, it will appear to be a normal black, since 100% key conceals any other inks present. But within the steps of the grade, the original colour will be present mixed with a gradually increasing black; the 'shade' effect is satisfyingly realistic,
If you are creating colour separations for commercial printing and your document employs spot colour and features graded fills or blends from the spot colours to white, you may find that the intermediate colours in the graded fill are reproduced as white and not as tints of the spot colour. This is because they are 'temporary' colours which do not appear in the colour menu. If your document uses up to four spot colours (and tints based on them) and does not use any process colour, you can overcome this problem as follows. First ensure that you have saved your document. Then, using the colour menu, redefine each of your spot colours so that it consists of 100% of one of the process inks. For instance, if your document uses a green, you might redefine this using the CMYK model so that it prints as 100% cyan. And if you have used an orange spot colour, you might redefine this to print as 100% magenta. On screen your artwork may now look awful, but in the colour separations the graded fills and blends will now be correctly rendered.