Splashy new paint software
This toucan's bright plumage and crisp detail demonstrate the graphics
power of N-Vision.
Undoubtedly the name of this program is meant to be pronounced "envision," which the dictionary defines as "a picture in the mind." N-Vision, the first serious competitor to Batteries Included's DEGAS in the "painting" software category, unlocks the spectacular graphics ability of the Atari ST.
N-Vision was created by Audio Light, the same company that developed ActiVision's new Music Studio program, so files from both programs are compatible. With a program included on the disk, you can mix N-Vision graphics with Music Studio sounds to create computerized slide shows. (We will review both the ST and 8-bit Atari versions ofMusk Studio in future issues.-ANTIC ED)
N-Vision works in all three ST graphic modes and has over 70 different features you can access with a click of the mouse from drop-down menus-including paint, draw, spray paint, cut and paste, circles, boxes, loadable text fonts (five different sizes with special effects) and printer dumps for Epson-compatibles.
But that's just the beginning. N-Vision adds many new features to the
usual list of functions you'd expect in a good graphics program, including
double-screen graphics that dump to a printer as full-page pictures, pull-down
screens, and a feature that really sets it apart from the pack, a "clipboard."
On this third screen, you can try out new ideas without disturbing work
in progress. You can also create and save your own additions to the pre-drawn
"clip art" graphics supplied with the program. Audio
Light plans to release additional clip art disks at $20 each.
One feature that really sets N-Vision apart from DEGAS is "color cycling" This is the same technique that makes your RGB ST screen seem to vibrate with colors and flashing Atari fuji symbols when you first boot up TOS. With color cycling, you can "animate" objects with a spectrum of colors that flip beneath the shape, making it appear to move. It's not true animation, but an illusion that makes light seem to flash, or a clown seem to juggle balls. Audio Light uses this beautifully to make a comet flash by in an optional Halley's Comet slide show disk, available for $15.
A palette of sixteen colors is stored in a "slot." Each slot's colors
are active for an amount of time you specify. The colors are saved along
with the artwork and automatically reactivated each time the picture is
displayed. Another mode called "repeat" can help you create rudimentary
animation by allowing you to define a line or shape and quickly duplicate
it with the click of a mouse button.
color cycling, you
can animate oblects
with a spectrum of
colors, making them
appear to move.
Most paint programs have a magnification mode allowing the artist to do detailed work pixel-by-pixel. N-Vision has three "zoom" levels at 2x, 4x and 8x screen size. Even better, a split screen shows half of the graphic in normal size while the magnification mode is being used so the full effect of the changes can be seen immediately.
Pull down a screen, and you'll find what looks like a patchwork quilt checkerboarded with dozens of ready-made color patterns in almost every conceivable design. If you still cannot find exactly what you want, an easy-to-use pattern edit function helps you make your own fill patterns using all 16 colors in the ST low-resolution mode.
By blending pixels, you can generate color shadings, enabling you to produce work that appears to have even more than the sixteen colors available in the low resolution mode.
Extra features even enhance the routine task of saving and loading pictures. You can rename and delete files, format disks (single or double-sided) and see how much disk space remains. Pictures can be saved in the widely used NEOchrome 32K format, or in a space-saving compressed format that allows you to squeeze more picture files on a disk.
A sample slideshow of music and graphics is included on the disk, along with the program that enables you to create your own. To use this program, you must first create a short text file with a text editor or word processor defining which pictures to show, how long to display them, and whether or not music will play during the presentation. Several songs created with Music Studio are included on the N-Vision disk to use as soundtrack accompaniments.
But even a package as excellent as N-Vision could be improved. So many features are in this program that an alphabetized index listing them all would be most welcome. The color animation feature is powerful but complex; new users would appreciate more examples of how to use it. A bug appears when the alternate text character set is used in its smallest size and some letters are incorrectly formed. It's a minor flaw, however; as this text size is so small it won't be used often anyway.
N-Vision meets the highest standards of excellence for ST graphics software. With N-Vision in your computer, the pictures in your mind can be turned into reality more easily than ever before.
Audio Light Inc.
146 Town Terrace, #4
Los Gatos, CA 95030