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March 2000
CompactDraw
Author's Description:
CompactDraw is a powerful and unique combination of vector and bitmap editing in one package. It allows creation of flexible vector graphics with natural organic feel of bitmap textures, shadows, lights, transparencies and bevels. All in real time. Use CompactDraw to design Multimedia interfaces, Web Art, Logos, Buttons, Illustrations and much, much more. Because everything is editable all the time, you don't have to recreate the graphics again and again from scratch just to change small thing.

Information
CompactDraw, version 1.0 (1.02 with patch available online)
For Windows 95, Windows NT and Window 98
Free to try 30 day trial. $45 registration fee ($38 special right now) compdraw.zip includes two files: setup.exe and readme.txt
To install, simply run setup.exe
The update patch and additional graphics for the objects and style libraries are available at: www.mediachance.com
This program does not install anything into the Windows or System directory.

*CompactDraw combines features you can find in different vector and bitmap editors and some you can hardly find elsewhere. The list of all the features would be too long so here are at least the most important:
  • Vector editing with Beziers and Polynomes
  • Editing shape of the text with Envelope
  • Texture Mix with hundreds of textures, Transparency texture mix
  • GenetX Procedural Textures and Colors - millions of combinations
  • Bitmap Effects from standard Saturation, Sharpen, Boost to some exotic effects
  • Arrow Line object - great for tutorials
  • Four levels of Antialiasing
  • Antialiased rotation of bitmaps - any angle
  • Style Library and Object Library
  • Effects: Smooth, Flat and Framed Bevels, Feather, Drop Shadow, Glow, Sun Shadow, Halo, Cutout and more...
  • You can apply effects on any object
  • Everything is editable all the time.
  • Nondestructive editing
  • Export with detailed preview, quality control, size image and sharpen.
  • Exported JPGs are produced with better quality on smaller size than with many of the high-priced software
  • A special Editable E-JPG export. E-JPEG is compatible with standard JPG. You can view it with web browser or any graphic application, and if you load it into CompactDraw you can again edit the objects.
  • Multimedia Export to Multimedia Builder or generic to any authoring tool
  • Smart nondestructive Crop
  • Nested Grouping
  • Fill textures can be rotated, shifted or distorted
  • Bargain Price
(*Direct quote from Mediachance.com CompactDraw website: Features Page)
Graphic Tid Bits
Graphics Information
Computer graphics come in two flavors. Vector and Raster(bitmap). A vector graphic is drawn of lines, and is easily resized and scaled with no loss of quality. Raster graphics are drawn with pixels, or dots, and when scaled up in size, the results are often undesirable. A single "dot" of color becomes a large, ugly square, and a straight line becomes "jagged" (jaggies)
Example:

Some common graphics formats are:
    Raster:
  • .BMP Windows Bitmap
  • .GIF CompuServe
  • .JPG JPEG
  • .PCX ZSoft Paintbrush
  • .TIF Tagged Information File Format
  • .WPG WordPerfect Bitmap
    Vector:
  • .CDR CorelDraw
  • .CGM Computer Graphics Metafile
  • .CMX Corel Clipart
  • .PSD PhotoShop
  • .WMF Windows MetaFile
  • .WPG WordPerfect Vector

DEFINITIONS
Bezier Curve:Curves, surfaces and lines defined by a set of points which can be moved interactively to form adjustable curves and straight lines.
Path:The Path is the basic [vector art] object. You create a path anytime you draw a line, a curve or use a basic shape such as Rectangle,Circle or Star. A path can be open (as in a line or a curve) or closed (as in a cirlce, rectangle, or star) Paths have "points" on them that you can easily move around to alter the shape.
*Polynome:Polynome is an object like Path, however Polynome can have islands in the shape (for example, holes). You can't start creating a Polynome from scratch, however you can convert any Path or Text to Polynome.
(*quoted from CompactDraw help files)
Review
CompactDraw 1.0 is a new, useful, fun, and very good little application. It packs a lot of punch in a small package. Many upper-end application features can be found in CompactDraw.

CompactDraw was designed to work with MediaBuilder, but works so well as a stand alone application that I think Oscar is going to have another hit on his hands even for those who dont use MediaBuilder. Check out both applications when you go to Mediachance.com. You wont be disappointed.

CompactDraw has a simpler learning curve than you find for most applications that do the same things. It's quick and easy to use.

For those of us who are not really very artistic, CompactDraw makes it very easy to do simple graphics and make them look very nice. For anyone with real talent, there are no limits to what you can do with CompactDraw.



Have you ever wanted to "cut out" one portion of a picture to use for something? Find it extremely hard to do with your current graphics applications?
One very wonderful feature I found extremely easy to use was the technique for using the pen to draw around the edges of a picture within an existing graphic. Using this tool, and the mask from object command, you get one of the cleanest cutouts I have found in a graphics application.

Save your own textures or graphics back into the objects or textures libraries for quick one button insertion and editing. Although Oscar does not recommend this practice for the obvious reason of hard-drive and resources use, so does not explain it in his help files, it is possible, easily done by saving the .jpg into the correct folder, then using the right mouse click to save as object to the object library, or for textures, to rename a second copy of the file to a .tmb extension in the textures library.

A .jpg editable as a vector graphic? YES! An EASY way to import a bitmap graphic and mask it for editing as you would for a vector graphic? YES! Can import *.BMP;*.JPG;*.GIF;*.PCX;*.PNG;*.TIF, Save as the propietary .idr, .jpg, .bmp, or .png.
Export as .bmp, editable .jpg, png, or .jpg.

The help manual that comes with CompactDraw is an .html help file. Although it does not have an indexed "find topic" included, the step-by-step walkthroughs for using each of the different techniques explained are very easy to follow.

Shortfalls found:

I have not yet discovered a way to export or save for the web with a transparent background, and am waiting word from MediaChance to find if this is possible.

No eyedropper for picking out individual colors from within an imported graphic, but can work around that by using mask, and "apply" techniques.

No "copy to clipboard" for copy and paste to other applications, which could be a very helpful thing to have if it is not possible to save from within CompactDraw with a transparent background. It's a real hassle saving from format to format to obtain this effect. There is a "capture" in CompactDraw to import from other applications.

Although there are still a few bugs to be worked out (such as, you cannot print from CompactDraw with some Epson printers, and rotate objects in some cases causes a crash), overall, I think you will be very pleased with this little gem.

editors note: using the CompactDraw general settings, you can set how often you would like to backup what you are working on, and how many undo steps CompactDraw will remember. These settings are left to each individual, so you can decide what is best with your system. If you do happen to "crash", loose power, or have an accident of some other sort that causes you to lose what you were working on before you had a chance to save the file, check in the CompactDraw main folder on your harddrive for a file called backup.idr. You may be able to recapture at least part of your work from the backup file.

To Learn more about this application, or to download CompactDraw visit:
www.mediachance.com/compactdraw/index.htm
Contact information:
E-mail: Arnett Services

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