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By Daniel Will-Harris
Gary David Bouton's Pengiuns

Illustration by Gary David Bouton

12-8-97 - Last week I recommended some items that would make good holiday gifts for your designer friends, or yourself. This week I have a few more suggestions, plus a plethora (bless you) of suggestions from other design professionals.

Xara 3D graphic (it's a >Xara3D

I don’t use a lot of 3D type--but when I need it, there’s no faster, easier way to create it than Xara3D. Like CorelXara, it’s fast, well-designed, and produces beautiful, slick results, from sharp still images to smooth animations. If you need 3D type, go to www.xara.com and get this program for under $30.

>Bitstream Font Navigator

If you want the latest, greatest way to manage your fonts, get Bitstream’s new Font Navigator. Written by the same brilliant guys who gave us FontMinder (which was taken off the market when Adobe bought Ares), this program is actually even better. It makes grouping, installing, previewing, copying, moving and managing your fonts easy. It’s fast, reliable, intuitive, and inexpensive. Buy it on-line at www.bitstream.com.

>Gary Priester Recommends...

Gary Priester, great designer and host of i/us’s Trompe L’oeil Room recommends The Epson Stylus 800. It prints brilliant color in resolutions up to 720 x 1440 dpi on Epson’s coated photographic paper. Even at 720 dpi on regular paper the color is pretty terrific. The main benefit of the 800 vs. the 600 or 400 is the 800’s ability to work with Windows as well as Macintosh computers. Epson includes software for both.

Gary says: Setting up the Epson on my Gateway Pentium Pro 200 couldn’t have been easier. I plugged in the printer, turned it on, then turned on the computer. Windows 95 sensed the printer through the plug and play settings and asked for the manufacturer’s disc to install the software. The entire process took under 15 minutes and I was printing right away with no further tweaking. The output is crisp and the colors saturated. The detail is astounding. Printing times were reasonably fast. A 5 x 7 inch image took about 2 ˝ minutes from start to finish in 1440 x 720 mode, which is no faster or slower than my Tektronix 220i thermal wax printer.

Epson is currently developing software to enable PostScript 2 capabilities, though the Epson person I spoke with could not give me a date when it might be available. For a street price of $399.95 ($US) the Epson is a perfect Christmas gift. I highly recommend you give yourself one!

Gary Priester, CorelDRAW Studio Techniques, Osborne (Jan 98)Looking Good in Color, Ventana Press. Visit Gary’s superb tutorial site at: http://trompe.i-us.com

>Mary Carter Recommends

Mary Carter, a wonderful illustrator, designer, writer and copyright expert says, “For the writers, how about a vertical monitor?” Portrait Display Labs used to sell excellent models that work with your existing graphics card. They no longer sell monitors (you can still buy them at places like PCConnection), just software, but other companies sell the monitors. Just one thing--check their compatibility list to make sure your graphics chip is compatible. Mary E. Carter.

>Gary David Bouton recommends...

Gary has a special way with 3D graphics and PhotoShop.

‘Twas the night before Christmas
and all through the ‘net
We were shopping, not sleeping.
11th hour? You bet!

If it’s the spirit that counts and the wallet is as lean as the Christmas goose this season, there are still a lot of high-tech, low budget toys you can stuff other PC users’ stockings with. First, get a near-ubiquitous Zip drive. Zip drives have become the replacement standard for the 3.5” floppy drives. Each cart holds 100MB of information, more than enough to get those pre-press files and even an application shuffled between you and your client. The carts are as low as $15, you can slip the drive, the cable, the installation disks, and a cart or two in a fanny pack, so you can easily convince a client of the gift’s worth through show and tell!

Next stop: Santa’s T-shirt factory. If you or a friend has popped for one of the low-cost inkjet printers (my Epson Color Stylus went from $550 to $300 in a single year), you can make some swell T-shirts for giftees this season, or better yet, give ‘em some T-shirt transfer paper and let them get creative themselves! Conde (http://www.conde.com or 1-800-826-6332) is the best value per buck I’ve found in a long time. Instead of spending $$$ on a variety pack of inkjet papers at the computer store that only contain 3 sheets of fabric transfer paper, ring these folks up--they specialize in only fabric transfer paper. And to top it off, Conde transfer paper peels off that T-shirt, sweatshirt, or other fabric to leave one of two different types of finish on the garment. If you peel it while the transfer is warm, you have a dull finish, but if you wait 5 minutes for the shirt to cool, then peel, you have a wonderful glossy, professional silk-screen style finish on the fabric. Washing instructions? Guess what? Conde transfer do not require a pre-wash in vinegar; you simply turn the shirt inside out, warm wash with a colorfast detergent, then tumble dry.

XAOS has long been a firm that only made Photoshop plug-ins for the Macintosh. This season, we finally have Windows versions of Paint Alchemy, Terrazzo, and the new TypeCaster plug-ins. If you or a friend own Photoshop, Painter 4 or later, or other programs that accept 32-bit Photoshop plug-ins, you can’t top these exciting new additions. Paint Alchemy turns ordinary doodles into high art, the Terrazzo filter makes kaleidoscopic tiling patterns from anything you draw, and TypeCaster extrudes text to make 3D logos for web sites and so on. TypeCaster will also render to a blank layer in a Photoshop image. For around $149 SMRP, this is a welcome suite of classy, innovative plug-ins that are fun to use!

Gary David Bouton, author “Inside Adobe Photoshop 4,” http://www.TheBoutons.com

>Jill Bell recommends...

Jill is a brilliant type designer and lettering artist who’s designed many great faces--including a number for ITC/Letraset, such as Gigi, Hollyweird, and her latest, ITC Clover.

“I would like to sign up for a digital camera! That would be my first choice. I loved that great Olympus at the Publish party. If I only had a rich friend or relative!

I am getting my current beau a new hard drive. His Mac has 350 mg and for about $200 at Fryes I can get a Quantum SCSI with 2 gigs. He’s a graphic designer and really needs the space. How practical, huh? Guess I’ll have to throw in a bottle of Kama Sutra Oil or something to balance that out.” You can see some of Jill’s work on her web site.

>Don Barnett recommends…

Don is an amazing designer--make sure to visit his site.

When I was asked to recommend a piece of hardware or software for the holiday season I thought first of kids, then I instantly remembered a great little new CD-ROM “Stella & the Startones.” The small time CD-ROM that even managed to get recognized by Communications Arts Magazine. Its like one of those children’s books you see these days. When you look through them, you think to yourself “sure the kids will like it but its so beautiful I want one.” To describe the CD itself I think its best said by the creator Bonnie Lebesch: “The CD-ROM that plays like finger-painting with music.” It contains 21 musical scenarios, each with whimsical animated constellations that play music as you move the mouse around the screen. Designed to encourage play, Stella has no words, no goals, just discovery and a chance to be creative. Abstracted artistic make-believe constellations come to musical life. “Stella” features original music scores in many styles such as blues, jazz, samba, polka and marching band. Each constellation is presented in delightful visual compositions of stars, spirals and squiggles that animate when played. Includes planisphere poster with original Star-Tone constellations.

The creator Bonnie Lebesch is currently being published in this month’s Tidbits online, “How and Why I Built My CD-ROM” To order the CD-ROM you can get the info through the website at: http://www.bohem-int.com

Don Barnett, www.donbarnett.com

>Chris Dickman recommends:

Chris is one of the two men behind i/us--he really knows what he’s talking about!

At the risk of sounding antediluvian, I can remember only too well when mainstream graphics applications not only weren’t packed with Web-specific features, as they are now, but didn’t even support the meat and potatoes GIF89A file format. This necessitated the use of third-party utilities for conversation, transparency creation and color reduction, to minimize file sizes. The result was endless hours of donkey work, pursuing the holy grail of fast-loading, good-looking images. But that was 1995.

Today we’re blessed with not only Web-savvy graphics apps, but a plethora of third-party products designed to help us optimize Web graphics without the need for a propeller on our heads. Auto F/X, the well-known plug-in developer, has taken dead aim at this space with the recent release of its WebVise Totality, a suite of six plug-ins and standalone apps. What you’ll probably use most often are the JPEG and GIF optimization modules, which you can switch between with a couple of clicks. Put simply, if you’re using a Photoshop-compatible app for creating Web graphics, these two plug-ins will soon become an essential part of your toolkit. And some of the other goodies are pretty handy as well.

You can download a demo of WebVise from the Auto F/X site or read a transcript of a recent live discussion event on i/us about WebVise with Auto F/X CEO Cliff Weems. A discussion about if from the perspective of a Corel PHOTO-PAINT user is also available in Plugged Artistries .

Chris Dickman Director of Community Development, i/us Corp. Your graphics community.

 

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Daniel Will-Harris is a designer and author whose work can be found at http://www.will-harris.com. His site features TypoFile Magazine and Esperfonto, the web’s only typeface selection system. He may be reached via e-mail.

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