Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 166 / JULY 1994 / PAGE 102

NeoPaint 2.2. (paint software) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Scott A. May

If you have a PC compatible and want high-quality art or image-editing software, you need Windows, right? Wrong! Before you nail the coffin lid on all DOS applications, check out NeoSoft's NeoPaint 2.2, a powerful art studio for DOS 3.1 or higher that rivals many comparable Windows products which cost five times as much. From detailed photographic work to desktop publishing and fine arts, there's little this full-featured program can't do, at a price that will astound you.

NeoPaint allows editing of multiple images in 2, 16, or 256 colors, as well as gray scale, and supports Hercules, EGA, VGA, and Super VGA cards with image resolutions up to 1024 x 768. The program reads three file formats (GIF, PCX, and TIFF) and can easily convert images between any two color palettes, video resolutions, or formats, with special dithering options for color reductions. The main screen setup is attractive and intuitively arranged with a Windows-like interface, featuring pull-down menus, tool icons, resizable image windows, a scrolling color palette, and pattern fill and line style selectors. In addition to 40 predefined fills, a simple pattern editor lets you create and save your own. Other goodies include a stand-alone screen capture utility and a clip art library of more than 100 fullcolor stamp-brush images, with a built-in editor for making and saving new stamps of your own design.

The wide array of drawing tools includes multiple brush shapes and point sizes; an airbrush with adjustable spray patterns; 2-D or 3-D scalable rectangles, circles, pyramids, ellipses, and Bezier curves; a cloner; and a color highlighter. This latest version of the program also adds some terrific natural media effects, such as charcoal, crayon, watercolor, smudge, and blend. Of special interest is the Fill tool, with its outstanding creative effects such as flood fill, picture tiling, two-color gradient, and color replacement. Image-editing tools are equally numberous, including rectangle, polygon, and freehand scissors; cut, copy, and clipboard paste; color eraser; multilevel zoom; undo; and color sampling.

Other effects, available from the top menu, can be applied to either selected areas or entire pictures. These include image flipping, rotation, distortion, skewing, adjustable contrast, and userdefined color palettes. There's even an assortment of adjustable image-processing effects, such as blur, screen, pixelize, smear, fade, lattice, and streak. The program comes with 12 highquality fonts, each available in multiple sizes and styles, although its overall text handling is limited. Also worth noting is the NeoPaint Pro Pack, available on both floppy disk and CD-ROM, that bundles this product with NeoShow Pro, an impressive DOS-based multimedia presentation program.

The product's few weaknesses include an incredibly slow halftone printing utility and a far too narrow range of image file formats. NeoPaint proves itself as a functional alternative to Windows, but that's no reason to exclude interactivity with a broader selection of image types such as BMP, WMF, RLE, DIB, or LBM. Another problem is local versus global image manipulation, limiting the range of pattern fills, color replacement, and other special effects to only the portion of a picture that's visible in the onscreen window. This forces you to scroll the image in the window manually, then repeatedly reapply the effect in order to change the entire picture. It's both tedious and frustrating, especially when the editing must be pixel perfect.

NeoPaint 2.2 dazzles your senses without denting your wallet. Programs of this caliber prove the future's still bright for quality DOS-based applications.

NeoSoft (503) 389-5489 NeoPaint 2.2--$45 NeoPaint Pro Pack--$99

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