Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 4, NO. 7 / NOVEMBER 1985


Now...universal picture file compatibility

by CHARLES JACKSON, Antic Program Editor

Convert your picture files between any commercial Atari graphics software format-- in less than 60 seconds. The Rapid Graphics Converter also overcomes many longstanding compatibility roadblocks. This BASIC program works on all 8-bit Atari computers with 48K and a disk drive.

Rapid Graphics Converter is a supercharged version of Easy Graphic Converter which I wrote for the September 1984 Antic. This new program lets you switch disk formats of picture files created with the 10 most popular commercial graphics programs for Atari. It does a file conversion in less than 60 seconds and with fewer compatibility hassles than ever before.

The program works with pictures created on the following software:

Micro Illustrator (all versions)
Micropainter (Datasoft)
Fun With Art (Epyx)
Paint (Atari or Reston)
Visualizer (Maximus)
Moviemaker (Reston)
Graphics Master (Datasoft)
Graphics Machine (ESI)

Note that Micro Illustrator is the software that's provided (under various names) with a wide variety of graphics products including: KoalaPad, KoalaPen, Atari Touch Tablet, Chalk Board PowerPad and Tech-Sketch Light Pen.

Now you can mix and match the best features of virtually all Atari graphics software in a single picture.

For example, you could tape a photo over your video screen and trace it with a light pen program. Then you could fill in color patterns from your touch tablet software. And you could even animate the scene with MovieMaker!


Type in Listing 1, checking it with TYPO II, and SAVE a copy to disk before you RUN it. If you have problems with lines 630, 300-360 and 1220-1250, don't bother to type them in. Listing 2 will create them for you. When RUN, Listing 2 creates a file called LINES.LST which contains these special lines. Now, type NEW, LOAD listing 1, then ENTER "D:LINES.LST" and SAVE the completed program.


After the title screen, you'll see a menu of available conversions. Find the name of the program that you used to create your Source picture, and type in its corresponding number. If you need a disk directory, type a zero.

Type in the filename of your Source picture using the "D:filename" format. To see a directory at this point, type [RETURN] without the filename.

Now type in the menu number and create a different filename for your Destination picture. The conversion begins when you press [START].


You don't need to press the [INSERT] or [CLEAR] keys when converting Micro Illustrator pictures--as is required with many "old-fashioned" converters. The Rapid Graphics Converter accepts a compressed Micro Illustrator picture as is.

Micro Illustrator files created by the converter are not compressed--they're always 63 disk sectors long. However, you can still take advantage of Illustrator's complex machine language compression routines and store many more pictures on your disk. Simply run your Micro Illustrator program, load your converted 63-sector picture and resave it under the same filename.


In some versions of Paint software, picture files cannot be accessed by DOS 2 and BASIC.

If your Paint picture files are stored this way, you can load and save them with the converter's Paint (Reston) option. Select number 5 from the menu.

After selecting 5, you can look at a Paint disk directory by typing [RETURN] at the filename prompt. The converter automatically adjusts its disk directory routines to fit your picture file category.


You can animate your favorite microscreens with the converter and MovieMaker. Just convert that favorite screen into a MovieMaker Background file. Then load it into the MovieMaker program.

MovieMaker lets you change pieces of your background screen into shapes which can be animated and used in your Movie files. For more details, see the Easy Graphics Converter article (Antic, September 1984).

Certain graphics products require special filenames, and the converter will not create pictures with illegal filenames.

For example, all Paint picture filenames must have a .PIC extender. All Graphics Machine picture filenames need .SCR extenders. MovieMaker background files must have .BKG extenders. If you forget to type in one of these special extenden, the converter will remind you to include a legal filename.


The converter works with pictures drawn in Graphics Modes 7, 8 and 15. Since the pixel size and number of colors available differ among various modes, pictures drawn in one mode may look slightly different when translated into other modes. (See Figure 1.)

When picture files are converted from mode 8 (a two color mode) to a mode with more colors, such as four-color mode 15, the converter program adds any necessary default colors. You should also remember that you'll be sacrificing some of the finer details of your high resolution microscreens when converting them to lower resolution.

Finally, feel free to experiment with the converter. If your favorite drawing program isn't mentioned in the main menu, try converting your files with one of the available options. The length of a picture file may help you decide which conversions to try first.

Picture files which are 62 disk sectors long might be loaded as MicroPainter, Graphics Master or Graphics Machine files. Try the Fun With Art option with picture files slightly longer than 62 sectors.

Micro Illustrator files vary in length from one sector to 63 sectors. Picture files which are about 31 sectors long might be loaded as Visualizer or Paint (Atari) files.

Programmers wishing to modify the converter should examine the special Break-disable routine in lines 40-70. When you RUN the program normally, the [BREAK] key is disabled. However, if you press the [SELECT] key while typing RUN [RETURN], the [BREAK] key will be enabled, allowing you to halt and examine the program at any point.

Figure 1

Graphics Mode 8 (ANTIC mode F)
One foreground color, one background color. Screen measures 320 columns by 192 rows. Software: Graphics Master, Graphics Machine.

Graphics Mode 7 (ANTIC mode D)
Three foreground colors, one background color. Screen measures 160 columns by 96 rows. Software: Paint, MovieMaker, Visualizer.

Graphics Mode 15 (ANTIC mode E)
Three foreground colors, one background color. Screen measures 160 columns by 192 rows. Software: Micro-Painter, Micro Illustrator, Fun With Art, AtariGraphics.

Listing: CONVERT.BAS Download