Rock on CD. (CD-ROM collections of textures and clip art) (Buyers Guide)
by Robert Bixby
For too long we've put up with monochrome backgrounds in printouts and presentations. Or, just as tiresome, the blue-to-black gradient fill. Sure, it makes the words easy to read, but a ho-hum background has to have a yawn-inducing effect on the information being presented.
That's why I was excited when I saw Marble & Granite (ArtBeats, P.O. Box 1287, Myrtle Creek, Oregon 97457; 505-863-4429; $349), a two-CD-ROM collection of rock textures actually digitized from the rock face. They make anything set against them look as solid and respectable as old money. In the old days, before blond wood and ferns took over, bank lobbies used to be lined with marble and granite in order to give the customers a sense that the bank had permanence and durability. The collection features dozens of different kinds of rock in special files for typesetting or laser printing.
But you might be looking for some textures that weren't quarried. In that case, Pixar has what you're looking for in a single-CD-ROM product called Pixar One Twenty Eight (Pixar, 101 West Cutting Boulevard, Richmond, California 94804; 510-236-4000; $299). True to its name, the Pixar product offers 128 photographic textures, including some granite and marble, but also including many woods, bricks, fabrics, shingles, and more. Each texture is in two formats: a high-resolution (512 x 512 x 24-bit) version and a low-resolution (128 x 128 x 8-bit) version. Although they don't have the TIF extension, you can load them as TIF images into any program that can work with that format. Special soft-ware is included to ease use of the product with PhotoShop and PhotoStyler. The textures can be tiled seamlessly to fill a screen.
A similar product, Atmospheres (TechPool, 1463 Warrensville Center Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44121; 216-382-1234; $129) provides backgrounds in a vector format, along with a file conversion program that will translate the vectors into raster formats, if that is your preference. Atmospheres is available in separate packages with titles such as Geometric, Patterns, Cityscapes, Habitats, and (the package reviewed) Classics. Since the product comes in a vector format and at such a low price, Atmospheres ought to have a lot going for it. However, I found the images to be not very interesting. They have the look of vector clip art--the images are composed of simple areas of flat color. A ghosting program tones the colors down so they won't interfere with whatever is in the foreground.
If it's clip art you seek, you should look over the offerings of Masterclips, If your needs are specific, Masterclips has a series of 24 clip art collections with different themes (Masterclips, 5201 Ravenswood Road, Suite 111, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33312; 305-983-7440; $19.95 each) with titles like Humor, Business/Finance, Communications, and so forth. But if your clip art needs are general, Masterclips has a big, big collection of over 6000 clip art images on CD-ROM called, well, Masterclips, of course ($299).
All of the images are CGM-format vector drawings in full color. included is a color-to-monochrome utility and a browsing utility that makes it easier to find the perfect image for your needs.
I'm always looking for new and unusual ways to publish, and I think I've found one of the most unusual. Remember the tattoos you would occasionally find in a Cracker Jack box? The concept has come a long way since I was a kid. Nowadays, temporary tattoos let you have a realistic, colorful tattoo, even if you hate needles. They're hot among kids, and they make interesting conversation pieces.
What does this have to do with desktop publishing? J.B. Marketing (1017 Fifth Street, Coronado, California 92118; 619-435-2322) can turn your graphics into tattoos. You can put your logo or advertising message on biceps all over town.
The washable, waterproof tattoos last 3-5 days and are easily removed with baby oil or rubbing alcohol.
Have a DTP tip you'd like to share? Let me know about it by calling (900) 884-8681, extension 7010203 (sponsored by Pure Entertainment, P.O. Box 186, Hollywood, California 90078). The call costs 95 cents per minute, you must be 18 or older, and you must use a touch-tone phone. Or write to "Art Works" in care of this magazine. And if you don't have a tip, call to let me know what you're up to, what software you're using, and how I can help.