Graphics app's upgrade caters to Web designers on tight budget

Pros and cons:
+ Supports most new Web graphical formats, such as PNG and progressive JPEG
+ Compatible with after-market plug-ins
– Some common operations harder than they should be


Real-life requirements:
Win95 or NT (24M RAM for NT), CD-ROM drive, 65M free on hard drive





Picture Publisher 8.0 from Micrografx Inc. represents a big upgrade for Web designers.


Standard installation of the $150 package takes up only 55M counting clip art,
tutorials and all the wizards.


The only thing I didn’t like was Picture Publisher’s insistence on installing
program shortcuts into the root of the Microsoft Windows 95 task bar’s Start/Programs
menu. I prefer installing shortcuts in the Start folder.


Instead of a manual, Picture Publisher supplies a learning guide that emphasizes doing
tasks rather than systematically learning about features and menu selections. Nearly half
the guide is devoted to hands-on tutorials.


This way of training users seems more effective than just explaining the functions. I
wish I had looked in the guide before I tried to make an object in an image transparent.
It would have been a lot faster and easier to follow the tutorial.


When you open Picture Publisher, you immediately notice its abundant support for Web
graphics and content.


There are more than 40 Web content wizards—attractive, ready-to-use page designs
to which you merely add your own titles and hyperlinks.


Picture Publisher supports the latest Web file formats including transparent and
interlaced GIFs, animated GIFs, progressive Joint Photographic Experts Group images,
Portable Network Graphics images and FlashPix.


The Advanced File Options selection previews download time, adjustable compression
levels and transparency. Before saving, you also see a side-by-side comparison of the
current image on the left and what it will look like if changes are applied.


The Button Maker wizard creates beveled, shadowed buttons with integrated text. You can
select Netscape Communicator or Microsoft Internet Explorer color palettes.


To make instant image maps, just assign a uniform resource locator to any object in an
image. There are enough Web enhancements in this upgrade to make Picture Publisher the
favorite of anyone who produces graphics for the Web.


If you need to edit graphics, Picture Publisher effectively controls the individual
elements that make up an image, treating each item as a separate object. The Object
Manager palette lists all objects added to the base image, much like the Layers Palette in
other image editing programs. It can group, delete, hide or move objects.


The Light Studio controls intensity, light color, gloss and absorbency, and it adds
preset or user-selected bump maps.


I was pleased to find that leading plug-ins, such as Kai’s Power Tools from
MetaCreations Corp. of Carpinteria, Calif., worked flawlessly with Picture Publisher.


If you like effects, you’ll love Picture Publisher. The Lens Flare dialog box has
controls for nearly every aspect of the effect, from size, position and halo to number,
rotation and color of the rays.


My favorite tool was the Bevel Factory. You can apply bevels to text or geometric
objects. Combining it with other simple operations such as gradient fills, you can make
colorful, complex objects that would be hard to duplicate in other programs.


Picture Publisher has at least 140 effects, wizards and compound macros in all.
Micrografx throws in a Media Manager to view thumbnail images of 10,000 royalty-free stock
images.


There are Internet background textures and TrueType fonts, too.


If you’re used to working with a different image editor, it takes a little time
and retraining to get comfortable using Picture Publisher. But once you’re up to
speed, the program is a time-saver. And it won’t break your budget.  


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


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