As I booted up CE Software's new $99 black-and-white paint program for the Macintosh, Amazing Paint, I had to ask myself why the Mac world needs yet another 1-bit paintbox. The zillions of free copies of MacPaint and SuperPaint floating around have soured the market for competitors; NuPaint and Cricket Paint bombed in that market last year, and Studio/1 survives only on its animation capabilities. Meanwhile, many Mac artists are being lured away from 1-bit programs with ultrasexy 32-bit color paint/retouching programs such as Pixel Paint Professional, PhotoShop, ColorStudio, and Studio/32—or they're abandoning bit-mapped graphics entirely for Post-Script drawing programs such as Illustrator and Freehand. So who needs a modest little program like Amazing Paint?
There's nothing flashy or mind-expanding about Amazing Paint—no integrated draw tools, animation, image processing, talking lassos, or anything like that. This is pure black-and-white paint, pretty much the way you remember it from MacPaint. In fact, if you've used any other Macintosh paint program, you know how to use almost everything in Amazing Paint, it's so easy to learn. But the program is well named: It has all of the little enhancements that you wish MacPaint had, as well as some amazing tools that, frankly, I fell in love with.
There's all the usual stuff, of course: a variety of selection and shape tools, the pencil, eraser, fill bucket, and so on—all available from a tear-off toolbox. However, most of the tools have new options that can be called from a panel on the right of the toolbox—which is much easier than going to the menu bar for everything.
For example, pop-up windows allow the spray can to be adjusted for spray size, spray pattern, and spray speed, making it more like a real airbrush. The spray-pattern options window offers several ways to super-impose the selected pattern on your drawing (under the existing drawing, over the drawing, blended with it, and so on), with each method shown in a test window as you select it. Instant feedback like this is a timesaving feature that's typical of this program.
Other thoughtful touches include smooth autoscrolling; multiple levels of undo and redo; rotation and scaling of selections in angles and percentages; a magic wand that selects only inside a bounded region; several ways to magnify the screen, including one that follows the movement of the cursor; and a billboard-printing feature that blows up your graphic to fill multiple pages, with crop and registration marks for taping the sheets together after printing. And the program is satisfyingly fast. Effects rarely lagged behind the cursor even on my Mac Plus; on a Ilex, everything snapped to instantly.
This program has two of the nicest gadgets I've seen in any paint-box. One customizes the shape of arrowheads for use with dimensioning lines and technical-drawing callouts. By dragging just three handles, you can make any arrowhead under the sun in about two seconds, something that can't be accomplished even on many high-end CAD programs.
The other gadget is the mouse-tracking window. It tells you, in real-time, the exact (x,y) screen coordinates of the cursor, in pixels, inches, or centimeters, as well everything you'd ever want to know about how you're moving a selection—size of selection, distance moved from original position, and angle moved. I'm not sure how useful mouse tracking is (if you want exact placement of selections, there's a fully adjustable grid that's a snap to use) but I sure enjoyed playing with it.
Statement of ownership, management and circulation (Act of August 12,1970; Section 3685, Title 39, United States Code). 1. Title of publication: COMPUTE. 2. Date of filing: September 28,1990.3. Frequency of issue: Published monthly. 4. Location of known office of publication: 1965 Broadway, New York, NY 10023-5965. 5. Location of headquarters of general business offices of publisher: 1965 Broadway, New York, New York 10023-5965. 6. Names, addresses of publisher, editor, and managing editor: Publisher: R. C. Guccione, 1965 Broadway, New York, NY 10023-5965. Editor: Peter Scisco, 324 West Wendover Ave., Greensboro, NC 27408. Managing Editor: David Hensley, Jr., 324 West Wendover Ave., Greensboro, NC 27408. 7. Owner: The names and addresses of stockholders owning or holding one percent or more of total amount of stock: COMPUTE Publications Intl., Ltd., 1965 Broadway, New York, NY 10023–5965; General Media Publishing Group, Inc., 1965 Broadway, New York, NY 10023–5965; General Media International, Inc., 1965 Broadway, New York, NY 10023–5965. A trust for the benefit of the R. C. Guccione Family, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, B.W.I.; R. C. Guccione, 1965 Broadway, New York, NY 10023-5965. 8. Known bondholders, mortgagees, and other security holders owning or holding one percent or more total amounts of bonds, mortgages, or other securities: None. Average number of copies of each issue during preceding 12 months: (A) Total number of copies printed: 389,155. (B) Paid and/or requested circulation: 1. Sales through dealers and carriers, street vendors, counter sales: 47,359. 2. Mail subscriptions paid and/or requested: 209,921. (C) Total paid and/or requested circulation: 257,280. (D) Free distribution by mail, carrier, or other means, samples, complimentary, and other free copies: 3,000. (E) Total distribution: 260,280. (F) Copies not distributed: 1. Office use, left over, unaccounted, spoiled after printing: 14,000. 2. Return from News Agents: 144,875. (G) Total: 389,155. Actual number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date: (A) Total number of copies printed: 368,214. (B) Paid and/or requested circulation: 1. Sales through dealers and carriers, street vendors, counter sales: 47,280. 2. Mail subscriptions paid and/or requested: 266,854. (C) Total paid by mail, carrier, or other means, samples, complimentary, and other free copies: 3,000. (E) Total distribution: 277,134. (F) Copies not distributed: 1. Office use, left over, unaccounted, spoiled after printing: 14,000. 2. Return from news agents: 77,080. (G) Total: 368,214.1 certify that the statements made by me are correct and complete: John Prebich, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.
The feeling I got when I used Amazing Paint was, "Finally, someone took MacPaint and did it over right, at the right price." It makes you want to try 1-bit paint again, for the first time.
|Ease of Use||****|
Macintosh Plus, SE series, II series, or Portable—$99.95