Author: Rick Baggott
Date: February, 1994
Keywords: Aldus review paint draw program graphics software application
Text: SuperPaint v3.5 is a multilayered paint and draw program by the Aldus Corporation. The detail this company puts into their products extends even to the packaging which doubles as its storage case. It's a good thing too, because SuperPaint comes with lots of goodies in the box. Documentation --- The printed User's Manual is divided into five main parts. They are: Introduction to SuperPaint, Tutorial, Guide to Tools & Menus, Using SuperPaint, Tips & Techniques, and an ample Index. There is also substantial help available from within the program, including balloon help for System 7 users. Besides the printed manual, there is a thirty-six page addendum featuring the new enhanced tools and features of SuperPaint version 3.5 over version 3.0, a six page folding Quick Reference Card, a System Requirements and Installation pamphlet, a Services and Support pamphlet, a Product Feedback Card, a Registration Card, and even a Change of Address Card for future use. Also included with this package was an update sheet from Aldus technical support concerning some fine points and help for Radius* owners. Also, after sending in the registration card, Aldus will send you a free gift. (I like these little surprises, don't you?) Technical support --- Relax. Help is readily available. The Support pamphlet has a section covering some common problems. If your original disks become unusable, there's a phone number to call for help. If you run into other problems, you can call for technical support during business hours. They also have a fax number and an AppleLink address for online help. If you prefer to write, the form has an outline with information you fill in about your system and problems you're having. System requirements --- SuperPaint 3.5 will run on a wide range of Macs, all the way from the Macintosh Plus up to the newest color Macs with System 7 for those who want Publish & Subscribe capability, 32-bit clean compatibility and TWAIN support. The minimum system requirement is System 6.0.5 and 2MB of RAM on the Mac Plus, SE, Classic, Portable, or PowerBook 100 and a hard disk. The minimum RAM under System 7 is 4MB. The recommended system would be System 6.0.5 or later on the Macintosh SE/30, PowerBook family (except PowerBook 100), Classic II, LC family, II family, Performa family, or Quadra family; 4MB of RAM and hard drive. For systems earlier than System 7, 32-bit QuickDraw is required for color documents. The QuickTime extension is required to use QuickTime. Large, 32-bit documents will require more RAM for satisfactory performance. Upon installation on my hard drive the memory allocation had been set to 2500K. When running under MultiFinder, suggested memory allocation for color SuperPaint documents is 2500K. More memory may be needed for 16-bit and 32-bit documents, and SuperPaint's performance can be improved by increasing the memory allocation. For black-and-white documents, the suggested memory allocation is 1100K or higher. The absolute minimum allocation to run the application is 1024K. In order to let SuperPaint 3.5 really stretch it's wings and fly, a color Mac with a 68040, lots of RAM (more than 4MB) and a fast hard drive with ample space is desirable. Under System 7 the following features are available: Balloon help, Apple Events, and Publish & Subscribe. SuperPaint 3.5 is compatible with TrueType fonts, Virtual Memory, and 32-bit addressing. Installation --- The Installer, on four 800K disks, prompts you and makes the installation of SuperPaint on your hard drive as automatic and painless as possible or permits Custom installation. To install all the files, you'll need 7MB of disk space for color, or about 6MB for the black-and-white configuration. If you choose the easy install feature, the entire installation takes about 5 minutes. The installer creates a folder named ''Aldus SuperPaint 3.5'' on the hard drive and places the program and all ancillary files inside. Five sub-folders and the application SuperPaint will be inside the main folder after installation. These folders contain the plug-in-modules, tools, filters, color palettes, textures, import modules, templates, tutorial files, sample images, preference file, last minute ''Read Me'' notes from Aldus and more. I like the fact that SuperPaint places the preference file with the application and not in my system folder. I really don't like programs that put files inside the system folder, particularly without telling me, or without naming them so I know what application they go with. Do you know whether or not you need all those files in your system folder? I've got files with creation or modification dates that go back to 1987! It drives me NUTS! But, I digress. Test drive --- SuperPaint loads fairly rapidly. It took about 15 seconds on my 68020 machine. That seemed comparable to other programs I run that are the size of SuperPaint. The application SuperPaint is a 1206K file. As a test, I set the memory allocation to 1100K and was able to open two compressed SuperPaint files (concurrently) with text and graphics (black & white). Their sizes totaled 54K. According to the Finder, I still had memory available. The larger file took 11 seconds to open, the smaller took 7 seconds. Also, this is while running on an ''020'' machine using MultiFinder with another application and several DAs open at the same time. I only had 56K left of unused RAM in a 4MB configuration. SuperPaint continued to operate without hanging, conflicting or complaining about the memory squeeze I had it under. Of course, when opening larger color files, much more memory would be needed, and you wouldn't want to continuously operate your Mac under the tight memory limits as I did in this test. Compared to some other programs I use that can open files containing text and graphics, SuperPaint ran quite fast. Scrolling was quick, smooth and in small increments. It can be frustrating to use programs that scroll, or lurch in large chunks, making maneuvering very difficult. Help is accessible under the Apple window, listing 169 alphabetically arranged topics. SuperPaint looks and drives like the comfortable Mac programs you're already familiar with. But, don't think it's without the power many of the higher priced graphic toolkit programs have. Three floating palettes open up when beginning SuperPaint. They are: Tools, Line & Fill and Frequent Fills. A fourth,the Coordinates window, can be opened from ''Views'' in the menu bar. You may move or close one or more of these palettes at any time. The first two palettes mentioned have a series of secondary ''pop-up'' palettes. There are plenty of palette shortcuts, over forty keyboard shortcuts, and eighteen hot-key shortcuts. Bezier editing alone allows seven different actions. Do you get the idea you really need that six page folding Quick Reference Card? There are plenty of tools, textures, patterns, fills, gradients, special effects and plug-ins available on the main or secondary palettes. As an example, on the Tools palette, when you click on the Draw & Paint plug-ins, a secondary palette opens with eight choices. This pop-up can be torn off the main palette and moved wherever you'd like. When you do that, it won't close until you click the standard close button. These plug-ins can be used in either the paint or draw layer. The choices are: ''3-D Box'', ''AllGon'' (specific grouping of symmetric polygons, including ''multigons'' and starbursts), ''Cycloid'' (generates a geometric shape based on rolling circles like the old Spirographs you had as a kid), ''Flowers'' (produces different sized and shaped patterns that look like flowers), ''Grid Tool'' (draws out a grid with either linear or logarithmically calculated lines), ''Crop Mark'' (quickly creates crop marks for the graphics you design), ''QuickShadow'' (produces a symmetric shape with a drop shadow), and ''Spiral'' (produces a spiral with the current line attributes). The pop-up palette from the Brush Tools palette (in the paint layer) has fourteen variations to select from. The following choices include support for pressure-sensitive tablets: the Calligraphy Brush, Texture Brush, Twister, Variable-size Eraser, Smudge tool, Spin tool, Charcoal and Magic Marker. The Calligraphy Brush even takes advantage of tilt sensitivity if your tablet supports it. You can simulate these pressure-sensitive features from the keyboard or with mouse speed. New features --- One of the new features for SuperPaint 3.5 is ''TWAIN'' which lets you bring image data, e.g. from scanners, directly into SuperPaint's Draw layer as a ''SuperBits'' object. The resolution of the ''SuperBits'' object is that at which the image was scanned. The ''SuperBits'' feature lets you create and edit bitmapped objects, combining the creativity and pixel-by-pixel control of the Paint layer with the smooth precision and shapes orientation of the Draw layer. Clip art and scanned images can be edited as ''SuperBits'' objects. Except in 1-bit documents, the Draw layer is always 32 bit. So, in the Draw layer of 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit documents, you can use nearly 16.8 million ''true'' colors. Did I mention that SuperPaint 3.5 lets you print up to 16.8 million colors to an ImageWriter II (or LQ) with a color ribbon? Printing can be done on black-and-white and color PostScript and non-PostScript printers. When a document is larger than one page, SuperPaint will automatically tile the output. A number of improvements, besides the added features, have been made to SuperPaint v3.5. For instance, there's improved compatibility with TIFF and EPS files. Document file saving speed has increased, especially with documents that contain numerous draw layer objects. ''Copy Brush'' paints a pixel-by-pixel duplicate of a selected ''reference'' image or area into the same or different document. You paint the copy, stroke by stroke using whatever effect you've selected. You can also elect to paint a ''Straight Copy'' of the reference image. ''Color Clarity'' is a command found in the Paint menu that lets you control the purity and contrast of the colors in either the Paint layer, or a selection of the Paint layer. After choosing the command, a control window appears. The Purity slider affects the color saturation while the Contrast slider controls the contrast between shades of the same hue. ''QuickTime*'' is supported in SuperPaint 3.5, allowing the placement of a single frame at a time into the Draw layer as a ''SuperBits'' object. 32-bit QuickDraw is required for using QuickTime with systems earlier than 7.0. With a Photo-CD device and Apple Photo Access installed, you can place images from a Photo-CD into a SuperPaint document at a specified resolution. Aldus has included four sample textures from the Aldus ''Gallery Effects Texture Art'' collection; they are: Stone, Brick, Marble and Wall. Adding more is very simple, just drop them into the textures folder inside the main ''Aldus SuperPaint 3.5'' folder. You can create your own, or cut and paste from another program an interesting design, then ''save as'' a ''Texture File'' in SuperPaint. Textures can be bitmapped, object-oriented, SuperBits, or EPS images. The Textures palette is dynamic, as it expands or contracts depending on how many texture files you have. Compatibility --- To my amazement, SuperPaint ran without a hitch in the presence of the numerous INIT's and CDEVs I have on my Mac. It seems to be a very stable program. At no time did I experience a hang-up or frozen screen. Once, I tried to open too many documents within the tight memory constraint configuration, and SuperPaint politely displayed a message about not being able to open the last document and advised me to close a few first, then try again. In addition to SuperPaint's native file format, the following file formats can be imported: PICT and TIFF (both from 1-24 bit), EPS, MacPaint, StartupScreen, Apple Scanner, ThunderScan TIFF, earlier SuperPaint files, QuickTime, images from TWAIN-compatible scanners and additional Paint and Draw Texture files. You may choose to export
SuperPaint documents to the following formats: PICT and TIFF (both from 1-24 bit), EPS, MacPaint, StartupScreen and Texture files. Summary --- With SuperPaint 3.5 and your Mac, you can turn bitmapped paintings into high-resolution draw images that take full advantage of your printer's capabilities. You can use any paint or draw tool with any fill, and can even enhance scanned photographs. SuperPaint 3.5 has the power and simplicity to let anyone, not just skilled artists, produce attractive results. It's easy and intuitive enough to be used as a doodle pad for children, yet retains the power to be used by desktop publishers and graphic artists. I used SuperPaint version 1.0 quite a lot, and had some experience using version 2.0. It was no problem to pick up this new version 3.5 and start exploring it's new capabilities and features. I was limited only by my imagination and available time in exploring all the new goodies and power. This one's a definite ''keeper''. Considering the wide range of Macs and system setups that SuperPaint will operate in, and considering all the ''graphics horsepower'' for the money that SuperPaint offers, I rate this program a ''best buy''. Pricing --- The suggested retail price for SuperPaint 3.5 remains the same as version 3.0, which is $199. Current catalog prices are running about $99 (and some are including coupons for free pizza!) Registered users may update from version 3.0 for $25, or from version 1.0 or 2.0 for $45; prices include Federal Express shipping. Aldus has 5-user Lab Packs for nonprofit academic institutions available for $225. Single user education versions are $99. Schools can upgrade or update from version 3.0 for $40 for the Lab Pack. They can upgrade from version 1.0 or 2.0 for $72. SuperPaint is published by: The Aldus Corporation 5120 Shoreham Place San Diego, CA 92122 Consumer division (619) 558-6000.
Copyright © february, 1994 by Rick Baggott