Micrografx Inc.'s Graphics Suite 2 sheds pretender image

Formerly the ABC Graphics Suite, it used to be considered lightweight. Now it has
morphed into a contender alongside heavyweights such as Corel Corp.'s CorelDraw. And at
less than $350, it's competitive.


You'll find enough programs in Graphics Suite 2 to meet nearly all computer art
requirements. FlowCharter 7.0 draws diagrams and flowcharts.


Designer 7.0 is a vector graphics program for design and technical illustration.


Simply 3D 2.0 makes 3-D graphics and animations. Picture Publisher 7.0 does image
editing. QuickSilver 3.0 lets World Wide Web developers create interactive vector graphics
for the Web, more sophisticated than common bit-mapped images.


Also on the suite CD-ROM are thousands of clip-art and photo images and more than 250
TrueType fonts.


The setup program ran flawlessly but did not let me create a new program group or place
the suite's components in an existing group. Instead, all the programs appeared under the
Start/Programs heading of the Microsoft Windows 95 Start menu.


I liked the Micrografx documentation. Instead of reading lists of features, you learn
by doing projects. When you need information about a specific feature, the online help is
good.


The Micrografx Media Guide shows all the fonts, clip art and illustrations. Although
the guide isn't in color, it helps you identify suitable images.


Flowcharter 7.0 handles organizational and technical flowchart diagrams simply and
quickly. You create new charts by dragging and dropping items from shape palettes. Shapes
connect via Micrografx line-routing technology.


Included with the program are CoolSheets, a collection of templates to speed you on
your way. Flowcharter's multiple layers simplify working on complex charts. Each layer can
be visible, printable and locked, depending on your selections in the Layer Manager.


Designer 7.0 does the vector chores and has many technical drawing tools that set scale
and dimension or draw via keyboard coordinates. Designer can import most computer-aided
design file formats.


You can make complex objects using Boolean commands such as Join, Fragment, Contour,
Trim and Punch. New drawing tools in this version include Blend, which works dynamically
on the fly.


For simplicity, all the formatting controls for text and objects appear on a single
roll-up dialog box. You can lock interior and line-fill settings in place in the dialog
box to apply formatting to multiple objects without resetting.


Picture Publisher used to be only slightly better than Microsoft Paint, but Version 7.0
shows impressive im-provement. It has nearly as many tools, effects and plug-ins as other
leading image editors.


At first I was disappointed by Picture Publisher's single-step Undo command. That was
before I discovered the Command Center, which allows almost unlimited Undo steps. There
are more than 60 effects, filters and macros to customize images. The Preview window lets
you view the changes before you apply them.


Picture Publisher accepts Adobe Systems Inc. Photoshop-compatible plug-ins such as
Kai's Power Tools [GCN, Sept. 1, Page 36]. The Image Spray tool acts much like the Image
Hose brush in MetaTools' Fractal Painter [GCN, Sept. 29, Page 40].


Scanning a photo into Picture Publisher was a little harder than I expected. My first
attempt resulted in an error message stating that a scanner wasn't available. After
hunting through the online help, I discovered the scanner had to be enabled by selecting
Setup/Scanner from the File menu.


The fix wasn't difficult, but you'd expect the program to sense and enable the scanner.


For artists who think in three dimensions, Simply 3D is an easy, efficient program.
It's not a professional modeling application but is good for the office user who wants
impressive art without devoting time to learn a full-featured application.


Simply 3D can make 3-D animations, too. You can save them as animated .gif files or as
Virtual Reality Modeling Language 2.0 files for the Internet. I made a 45-frame text
fly-in animation on a 200-MHz Pentium Pro system with 48M RAM in about 25 minutes. The
resulting .avi file was 13M.


Although the file took time to render and was too large for practical use, the quality
was excellent. Shadows and reflections followed the path of the text as it moved across
the screen. Simply 3D has many textured 3-D objects, textures, bump maps, lighting scenes
and animation primitives to add.


Also in Graphics Suite 2 are Media Manager 2.0 and QuickSilver 3.0. Media Manager
organizes and manages all the clip art on your system. QuickSilver in conjunction with
Designer makes interactive vector graphics for the Internet.


A bonus, missing from most other suites, is the creditable flowcharting application.
And Simply 3D is the easiest 3-D program I've tried to date.


The only drawback to QuickSilver is that people who want to view your Web pages must
have QuickSilver 3.0 on their systems as a plug-in or ActiveX control, depending on their
browser.


Buyers looking for a well-priced, all-purpose graphics package should consider Graphics
Suite 2. It fills graphics need, emphasizing Internet images and animations. Individual
programs are easy to learn and use.


William M. Frazier, a PC hobbyist, is the postmaster of Ocean Shores, Wash.


inside gcn

  • IoT security

    A 'seal of approval' for IoT security?

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above