Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 2, NO. 5 / AUGUST 1983

Graphics Grab Bag

The ATARI computer is well known for its outstanding graphics capabilities, and excellent graphics software is available for even the beginner to use. You could spend weeks programming your own pictures, but with the help of the following programs you can start producing colorful graphics right now. Anyone can become an artist by using Micro Painter, Graphics Master, Graphics Composer, Paint, Drawpic or Stereo 3-D Graphics.


Micro-Painter is a unique graphics program and it is so different than other graphics utilities that it's unfair to compare it to others. It is mainly an electronic coloring book.

The master disk provides nine pictures; some are partially colored and some are completely uncolored for you to fill in. It works faster than most programs, and with a wider variety of colors, because it is written in machine language.

You can color the provided pictures, then save them on a different disk. This way everyone in the family can color the same picture several times. DataSoft promises to provide more new pictures to be colored in the near future.

When you have mastered painting in the forms provided you can begin to create your own. The strange but useful "rubber band mode" lets you see the lines you are drawing before you actually place them on the screen. By pressing the spacebar, you can get a "microscope mode"--zoom view of a part of the screen--and scroll the view around the screen for accurate drawing of tiny characters or objects. You can save your pictures to disk.

My only disappointment in MicroPainter is that it does not generate circles. It also does not send your pictures to a printer. Other than these missing features, I rank this utility very high.

--Ralpt Iskaros


Another graphics utility from DataSoft, this is the most recently released and may rate even higher than Micro-Painter. Graphics Master is the most complete graphics utility on the market today and I cannot imagine improving upon it in any way. Although the software is written in BASIC, you will never notice because it has none of the problems of other programs written in BASIC.

In this utility there are many different commands (30 commands on the Quick Reference Card alone), and you alternate between the two screens which are in memory at the same time. With the [SELECT] key you move from one screen to another and can overlay patterns by moving objects from one part of the screen to another or onto the opposite screen.

I especially like this program because I can easily draw circles and various other shapes or apply text of different fonts or sizes. Graphics Master is ideal for designing layouts, compositions and graphics. You can save all your creations to disk or print them out on an Epson printer with Graftrax. If you have a NEC 8023-A printer, DataSoft includes a version of the program to be used with it.

--Ralph Iskaros


This program was originally produced for use on the Apple and you had to use it with a $300 graphics tablet. Versa Computing has made it available for ATARI users without this expensive tablet and it was one of the first quality graphics packages. It is still one of the best graphics utilities on the market.

Graphics Composer is a collection of three different programs that allow you to create pictures in high resolution (320 by 192 resolution points), medium resolution (160 by 96), and has a special program to create and modify Player/Missile graphics. You can also add text of different fonts to the pictures and generate geometric shapes. The third program is especially useful for creating circles and arcs that are impossible to do with a joystick. Like Micro-Painter, you can store your drawing to disk but cannot send it to a printer.

-- Ralph Iskaros


This graphics utility is an artistic triumph. It is easy to use yet has extensive capability for graphics expression. It is an elegant and intuitive program from a "human-computer engineering" viewpoint.

Paint works by having you point to a menu option with your cursor and/or by simple one- or two-keystroke key entries. The keystrokes are excellent mnemonics --[B] for brush, [W] for width of brush, [C] for color, etc. This dual mode allows an artist to choose the stroke that suits the need.

After booting Paint, you have a blank "canvas" and nine "pots" of paint with different colors and textures. You move the "brush" (a cursor) over the canvas with a joystick. Brushes are available in nine different shapes in nine different sizes. The four solid colors can be mixed from any of 128 different colors/shades.

A special zoom command magnifies your pictures in two steps to let you work dot-by-dot. The entire screen scrolls, creating dazzling effects as the pattern colors scroll by.

Although the program is excellent, it is not without its flaws. New GTIA modes, which allow three-dimensional shading, are not supported. Also, the boundaries of some of the colors "bleed" into one another. While this produces interesting effects, it may not be what you wanted in your drawing.

--Ken Harms


The updated version of this graphics utility includes many features that the original lacked. Drawpic has always made it possible for BASIC programmers to draw and animate full-color images, but it is now even more powerful.

The software now has full-screen graphics so you can eliminate the text window for a full-screen picture. You can also store pictures directly onto disk without intermediate string storage, which saves memory. It redefines character sets now, too.

Drawpic is menu-driven and requires one joystick. You can use any graphics mode from 3 to 7, and set the colors using the joystick. Since using BASIC to draw animated characters is too slow, the program has relocatable assembly language subroutines to put your images on the screen fast.

The commands for drawing a picture are Plot Point, Draw Line, and Rubber Band. Rubber Band is unusual in that it causes a constantly updated line to be drawn between the starting point and the cursor.

If you already own an early version of Drawpic, you can exchange it for the "new, improved" version for a nominal charge. The extra added features may well be worth it.

--Dave Plotkin


This program is not a drawing program, unlike the others mentioned above, but it offers unique graphics features that you may find valuable.

The "stereo" in the title refers to the fact that this program will generate two views of the object at once to get a true stereo effect. You can also photograph your TV screen to make double photographs that can be viewed with stereo glasses.

This APX program will draw in Graphics Mode 7 or 8, but it doesn't use artifact colors in GR.8. Since it is written in BASIC, it runs more slowly than the other programs. But it also lets you draw just a single image of an object. In this mode, you can choose an angle of view to generate perspective effects from ultra-wide-angle to telephoto. Working with lettering and grid patterns, you can create title effects like Star Wars lettering zooming off into space. Utility programs within the programs help enter data for objects and contour maps. With one of these utilities you can create a digitized picture by using game paddles with an overlay on the screen.

--Jerome O'Neill

Manufacturer Versa Computing DataSoft DataSoft Reston Artworx APX
Media Disk/Tape Disk Disk Disk Disk/Tape Disk
Ram Required 32K 48K 40K 48K 24K--Disk, 16K--Tape 32K
List Price $39.95 $34.95 $39.95 $49.95 $33.95, $29.95 $24.9S
Documentation Excellent Good Excellent Excellent Good Good
Language BASIC Machine BASIC Machine BASIC/Machine BASIC
Program Speed Medium Very Fast Fast Very Fast Very Fast Slow
P/M Generator Yes No No No Yes No
Add Text to Pic Yes No Yes(2) No Yes N/A
Load Modified Font Yes(1) No Yes No Yes N/A
User Modified Yes No No No Yes N/A
Rubber Band Mode No Yes No No Yes N/A
Geo. Shape Maker Yes No Yes Yes Yes N/A
Zoom View No Yes Yes Two Yes Yes
Editing Errors Easy Medium Easy Easy Medium Medium
Fill Command Slow Very Fast Fast Very Fast Fast N/A

(1) Choose or mix from 3 text sizes       (2) Various fonts supplied, with disk