Graphics programs question.


CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Jul 30, 2000
Woodland Hills, CA
By now you all know that if I really like a program I am more than happy to let everyone know about it! Now, I want some advice back!

Well, I have a dilema and would like some input on what I call a graphics program. I've been using Arts and Letters Express for some years. In it's day it was compared to Corel products and some said even better and I can still produce some pretty hot flyers and promotional items using text and clip art in a flash. One of it's big things was scalable clip art and fonts. I found it very easy to learn and preferred over the popular Corel products I'd looked at.

I still love the program but NOT their latest version (long story)...and am ready for an upgrade. I don't know where to begin....or even the correct terms to search for reviews.

Any clues?
Do you mean publishing software?

If so, I think Microsoft Publisher is very good! I have been using it since about 1986.

Oh my God! Did I just recommend a Microsoft product?

I hope Ron does not read this post! Nah it wasn't me, Ron. It must have been someone who looks like me. (poor b a s t a r d)
I've followed MS Publisher through about 15 upgrades. I probably have more invested in Publisher than I do in hardware. For the combination of power and ease-of-use, I haven't found anything better. It handles text and graphics with ease, comes loaded with templates for everything from business cards to paper airplanes (for business people who don't have access to Warped.)

I also have Adobe Pagemaker. If I ever retire and have time on my hands, I might learn to use it.


(It's okay Osgood. We'll still respect you in the morning. If you're going to love ONE MS product, Publisher would get my vote.)

If you want to optimize graphics, ie., GIF's, Jpeg's, etc., try something like Ulead's GIF Optimizer or Smart Saver, Adobe's ImageReady, or any number of other small optimizing programs. Most of them have options to downsize the file size while keeping most of the clarity. You can tweak the settings as you lower the file size and still have a viewable image for net use anyway.

If you are talking about a full blown image editing program, take a look at Jasq' Paint Shop Pro. It is fairly easy to learn and has all the bells and whistles you would ever need to manipulate images. I have yet to ring all the bells or blow all the whistles and I have used it since v. 4.0. (I have v. 7.0 now)

There are also programs like GIF Animator to make animated GIF's and thumbnail creators, ThumbsPlus4 and Batch Thumbs, to create thumbnail images which you can link to a larger image so a viewer can click on the thumbnail to see the full sized image.

It is fun to experiment with the trial versions of any of these programs until you find the one or two that suit you for your graphics needs.

Thanks for the input -- you can now see why I don't know what I want 'cause I don't know how to ask for it!

I have publisher and use it for newsletters and compiling what one makes elsewhere.

I also use Jasc Paint Shop Pro quite a bit...and highly recommend it.....and I guess I'm looking for something that is as simple as my current (Express) for working with text and clip art but also has some of the bells and whistles of Paint Shop pro.

With Express I can "deform" a font or clip art anyway I want -- stretch, squash, place on top of each other. These are now pretty common features - (and, stuff like the Word plug in that makes shaped colorful text blocks) I just don't know what the current versions are. Express is just not up to date on importing and exporting (easily) & can't scan into it....and is a bit out of date.

I guess what I want is something comparable to Paint Shop Pro that specializes in text and has a clip art library (or easy access like Publisher has).

Any clearer?
Give Print Shop and Print Shop PressWriter by Broderbund a look. They are somewhat limited in advanced features but they handle text well and you can import and export to other programs. My PrintShop has 2 Cd's full of clipart, thousands and thousands, and really nice color photos that are public domain. The PressWriter also has a large assortment of clipart and photos.

Thanks! I'm goin surfin!

If anyone else has any favorite vector graphics manipulating programs, please pass it on!
My personal favorite is Quark Express. It is a full-fledged desktop publishing program, used by people like Hobby Publicatiosn (I don't know if they use it or not, they may use Adobe Pagemaker). There is practically nothing you can't do as far as page layout and presentation of text and graphics with either of those two.

Adobe has a relatively new program out which is getting rave reviews in it's second edition. It's called InDesign, and is apparantly very full-featured and relatively easy to use. It's also considerably less expensive than Quark (somewhere around $4-500 compared to around $800 for Quark)

Having said that, you can do quite alot with a full version of the latest "word processor" applications from MS, WordPerfect, AmiPro, or even the free Sun StarOffice.

Good luck!
Several of the graphic design people I do work for swear by "Canvas" from Deneba software. They claim it's the swiss army knife of graphic design programs. I've never used it (far beyond me I'm afraid) so I can't give you any details other than the work they turn out with it looks great. I think it's running about $3-400 also so you might give it a looksee.
Originally posted by Frank:
Several of the graphic design people I do work for swear by "Canvas" from Deneba software. They claim it's the swiss army knife of graphic design programs. I've never used it (far beyond me I'm afraid) so I can't give you any details other than the work they turn out with it looks great. I think it's running about $3-400 also so you might give it a looksee.
Your design people are exactly right, Frank. I was one of the beta testers for Canvas 2.0 when Deneba first came out with the program. It cost a mere $99.00 then with a free upgrade to 3.0 when it came out. I have since gotten 5.0 and I think they are up to 7.0 or newer now.

The goal of Canvas was to integrate the text layout features in Adobe PageMaker and the graphics features in PaintShop Pro into one program. If you ask your designers about what they did 5 or 6 years ago to compile a full blown text and graphics presentation, chances are they will tell you they did the text layout in PageMaker and the graphics in PSP and exported the graphics into PageMaker.

Canvas is a very powerful and versatile program and one that has a rather steep learning curve for someone not familiar with the other two programs or text and graphics editing in general. I can assure you that I am stuck somewhere in the lower third of that curve and probably won't try to go any higher since I don't require that power anymore in my layouts for websites.

I use Publisher and it does have the ability to change the shape/size of clip art and to create fancy lettering effects. However, if I ever decide to do anything more advanced, I'll probably look at Quarkexpress. Our state photographers newsletter (magazine) is layout on it and it is awesome. It does have a high learning curve though from the people I have talked to who have used it.