Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 6, NO. 10 / FEBRUARY 1988

ST Picture Scanning Arrives

Reviewing Navarone's ST Scan

by Charles Jackson, Antic Technical Editor

Cannon IX-12
Navarone's ST Scan Image Scanner ($1,239) package vast expands the versatility of your Atari ST's graphics and animation capabilities, bringing real-world images onto your computer screen. It's the perfect add-on tool for desktop publishers and laser printer users.

The scanner will digitize a full page of almost any type of artwork hardcopies in less than 20 seconds. It produces remarkably sharp and crisp black-and-white screen images at resolutions ranging from 75 to as high as 300 dots per inch (dpi) and in 32 gray shades. The system works with either monochrome or color monitors. Final images may be saved as DEGAS pictures, in GEM ".IMG" format, or as Postscript files.

ST Scan's hardware consists of a Canon IX-12 Image Scanner with Navarone's customized high-speed ST cartridge interface and a heavy four-foot cable connecting the two. The L-shaped interface is smaller than a paperback novel and plugs into the ST's cartridge slot.

The Canon IX-12 scanner is about half the size of a standard dot-matrix printer (13 1/2 x 11 1/2 inches), but requires an additional 11 inches behind it for convenient paper-feeding and to prevent overheating. It can accommodate pages as large as 8 1/4 x 16 1/2 inches and has an adjustable feeder tray to keep your original artwork from twisting and sliding.

Figure 1 Halftone Mode Figure 2 Line Art Mode Figure 3 Combination

The software for ST Scan is menu-driven for effortless operation and contains enough features to keep you pleasantly occupied exploring new possibilities with your scanner for days.

Scanning a photo is quick, easy and fun. Slide the original, face down, into the scanner's feeder tray and click on "Scan Full Page." The original will feed through the scanner. In a few seconds, a preliminary rough "pre-scan" of your original will appear onscreen.

You'll also notice a small "window" superimposed on the image. Use the mouse to drag the window across the image and place it over an area to be scanned. Next, click on "Scan Window" and feed the original back into the scanner. The scanner will digitize the area beneath the scanning window. In a few seconds, the final image will appear onscreen, ready to save to a disk file when the entire picture is finished.

If you've chosen to save your completed image as a DEGAS picture, the size of your scanning window is determined by the resolution of the picture-low-resolution pictures provide the largest windows, high-resolution pictures yield the smallest.

If you've chosen to save your image as an .IMG or PostScript file, the size of your window is limited by the memory size of your machine. A 1040ST running ST Scan has a 714K picture buffer. This is enough RAM to digitize an 8 x 10 inch photograph at 300 dots per inch.

As you learn to harness all of the scanner's power, a hard disk becomes more of a necessity than a luxury. A large image, such as the 8 x 10 photo described above, needs more disk space than even a double-sided disk offers. A hard disk system will let you store many such pictures. Moreover, the hard disk's access speed cuts the time needed for saving an image from several minutes to several seconds.

ST Scan's Options menu lets you set the scanner's resolution (75, 150, 200 or 300 dots per inch), adjust the contrast (light, normal or dark) and set the scanning mode to either halftone or line art.

Halftone mode (Figure 1) refers to the way newspapers reproduce black-and-white photos. Line art mode (Figure 2) is used when reproducing images which lack gray shades, such as sketches and diagrams.

ST Scan adds new possibilities to your favorite ST graphics software. One reader used ST Scan to digitize the floor plans of her under-construction house.

The existing plans were a mirror-image reflection of the true design of the house. Rather than view the plans through a mirror, she loaded the scanned and digitized plans into DEGAS and used the Block and Distort funtions to turn each floor plan into its own mirror image. After flipping the image on its back, she used the Text mode to re-label each floor plan.

Finally, she made simple scale drawings of her furniture, then used the Block function to place each piece into the floor plan. By saving the blank floor plans and the furniture outlines in separate files, she can quickly create and print many different furniture arrangements.

Turn your favorite drawing or photo into a iron-on transfer for your T-shirt. Digitize your favorite photos with ST Scan and use DEGAS to create a mirror-image of the photo as described above. Next, use a heat-transfer ribbon to print the image to a sheet of paper. Finally, iron the image onto a T-shirt. See T-Shirt Construction Set (Antic, February 1986) for full information about obtaining heat-transfer ribbons to use with your printer.

Your ST SCAN images may also be used with The Catalog's Cyber Paint software to create ultra-realistic animations.

Since ST SCAN only produces medium-resolution and high-resolution images, you must convert your scanned images into low-resolution DEGAS screens before using them with Cyber Paint. DEGAS Elite and Antic's GrafCon (July 1986) are two programs which will do this for you.

After conversion to low resolution, you can use your scanned image as a background screen for your animations. Or you could use Cyber Paint's Clip function to animate any part of your digitized screen. With ST Scan, Cyber Paint and a little practice, you'll soon be producing feature-length, professional-quality animations.

At this time, DEGAS is the only widely available graphics software that works with ST Scan. At 300 dpi in DEGAS mode, the scanner can only digitize a small fraction of a page. To manipulate the larger .1MG files, you'll need to use ST LaserPaint, PostScript, Easy Draw or other graphics packages which are not widely available for the ST

Although most general hobbyists would reasonably question buying a $1,239 peripheral that costs several hundred dollars more than a 1040ST computer, ST Scan might well be a bargain for a serious ST graphics worker, a small business or a large users group.

Navarone Industries, Inc.
1043 Stierlin Road, Suite 201
Mountain View, CA 94040
(800) 654-2821-National
(415) 964-2660-California
Color or monochrome monitor