Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 5, NO. 3 / JULY 1986


Gallery of grand graphics


Enhance your computer artwork with intricately detailed patterns far beyond the capability of standard graphics software. ArtMaker is a menu-driven BASIC program that generates seven varied and intricate patterns in Graphics 10. You can SAVE them to disk for use with the most popular painting programs. It works on all 8-bit Atari computers with disk drive.

Submitted for your approval: the story of one Joseph T. Atari-Hacker. Through the sheer force of a sinister, subconscious, primordial urge, Joe is driven to purchase every graphics software package marketed for the Atari- sometimes several copies of each.

In the quiet of the evenings, alone in his room, Joe clutches a joystick in his fist, a touch tablet in his lap and lightpens behind his ears. One after another, he rips open software packages and stuffs the disks into his drive. "I am an artist! I am an artist!" Joe cries, struggling to draw just one decent microscreen.
Artmaker pattern   His sweaty joystick creaks as Joe battles yet another Color Selection Menu. Down the block, Joe's neighbors close their windows to his nightly pain-wracked moans of anguish. They turn up their TV sets, protecting the ears of their children from Joe's pitiful pleas for help.

You see, Joe cannot draw!

If this tale from the computer graphics Twilight Zone hits too close to home, I apologize. The truth is that Joe's story is very common. The root of the problem lies not with the user, but with advertisments that claim graphics software can bring out the art in everyone's soul.

The trouble with these painting programs is that they need artists to do them justice. If you can't paint with a brush, you'll find it hard to paint with a touch tablet, and you'll really be lost with a joystick. The software keeps your circles round and your lines straight but it doesn't make a stick-figure look any more human, or six yellow circles look like a daisy.

One reason that amateur computer artists become disappointed with their home software is the lack of detail in home-made pictures. Coloring large sections with the "dot" patterns generated by an art program is not adding detail, only shading.

How about a background textured like Grandma's braided rug, or a Grecian fresco border around the picture, or a pyramid made of hundreds of multicolored lines and blocks? How about having a Navajo "Eye of God" pattern behind the text announcing spelled T-I-M-E. And lots of it! A really detailed title page could take days to create.

This is a shame, considering that one of the best talents of the Atari is computing and plotting screen images quickly and accurately. Have you ever seen one of the moire patterns generated in Graphics 8, such as in the Screen Magic feature in Broderbund's Print Shop? There is abundant detail, all generated within the computer by a simple algorithm. Hundreds of lines, all perfectly spaced and angled to create an amazing visual pattern in less than a minute. What if you had to draw one of these with an art program? It could take weeks!

ArtMaker is the answer my son and I have created to bring some professional-level detailing to home graphics software. It creates seven detailed screens you can save to disk to use with your Micro-Illustrator (KoalaPad, Atari Touch Tablet, etc.), Micro-Painter and compatible graphic programs (Computereyes, Graphic Master, etc.). Type in Listing 1, ARTMAKER.BAS, check it with TYPO II and SAVE it to disk before you RUN it.

For most of my art hacking I use Graphics 10, a nine-color, medium-high resolution mode. The ArtMaker patterns use Graphics 10, because this mode makes it easy to generate a wealth of picture detail very quickly and with very little effort on my part.


1. The first ArtMaker pattern, Cityscape, draws a colorful urban landscape. It provides all the perspective lines and area fills which you can enhance after you move it to your paint program. Buildings in this program are randomly generated, so they will look different each time you choose the Cityscape option. You may want to redraw your city several times before finding one you want to save.

2. Eyeframe draws a border shaped like an eye.

3. Eye of God creates an elaborate Navajo ceremonial pattern.

4. Fresco places a Grecian fresco border along the top and bottom of the picture.

5. RNDcolor provides the only way I have found to get truly randomly-colored areas for your art programs.

6. Textures generates a myriad of intricate, free-flowing textures, patterns and designs. Change the value and/or placement of the variable Z, or the letters in A$, and you open the door to a breathtaking kaleidoscope of intertwined designs!

7. TVframe generates a border similar to Eye of God, but in the shape of a television screen.

When you find a picture you like, press [START] to save it to disk. Once saved, you may load it into your favorite art program

ArtMaker saves your picture to disk under the filename D:PICTURE. This is because I use Micro Illustrator for most of my artwork, and it loads any 62-sector file named PICTURE when you press the [CLEAR] key.

You may want to change this filename to suit whatever art program you use, or use the type-in Antic Rapid Graphics Converter (November, 1985, page 33) to change your picture from its present format to any other graphics software format.

I hope that this article gets those graphics programs out of the disk boxes and back into the disk drives. Art programs should be enjoyable and, above all, they should use the power of your computer to help you express the beautiful images waiting inside your mind.

Leonard Buchanan is a Computer Operations Manager in Maryland. He made his Antic debut in March, 1986 with the Digital Dilithium Dahlias simulation.

(For details about the graphics software and hardware mentioned in this article, see the Graphics Products SourceList in this issue.)

Listing 1   ARTMAKER.BAS Download