|★ APPLICATIONS ★ CREATION GRAPHIQUE ★ SKETCHPAD|8000PLUS) ★|
|Sketchpad||Applications Creation Graphique|
White the first program grandly calls itself MasterPaint. Composit Software modestly christened their product Sketchpad. And this is reflected in the range of features and the presentation of the products. While all the big boys are struggling for the flashy end of the market Composit seem to be trying to squeeze Sketch Pad into a niche that no-one else has tackled.
Sketchpad doesn't come with the option of a mouse or a light pen. Anyone who has fried to run any art package using cursor keys will know the limitations involved in this but Composit are looking for the people who aren't really interested in a full blown art-package but would still think it worthwhile investing £12.95 and a bit of time to occasionally produce graphics.
And it is on this level that Sketchpad works best. You have the ability to produce your own symbols using a 16x16 pixel grid (there are some on the disc but apart from the musical notes they are not of much practical value). Then you can quite easily place these anywhere on the screen.
Anyone wanting to produce plans for circuits, for example, could just knock out the symbols they want and reproduce them quickly and effectively. You also have the chance of redesigning any or all of a complete character set on an 8x8 grid to use as smaller symbols. You can then add text directly from the keyboard in varying sizes and in italics.
One good feature is ‘slide show' which shows four pictures you have designed every 15 seconds in a continuous display.
Straight line limit
However it would be wrong to say that this was a full blown graphics package. It has the ability to draw straight lines at any angle but if you wanted to attempt anything like freehand drawing your only choice would be to do it a pixel at a time. Even with the reasonably fast cursor speed this would be immensely complicated and time consuming.
The program has a good zoom feature which, like Master Paint , allows you to see the effect of the changes as they happen but to use this for a large area of the screen would be earth-shatteringly slow.
You can achieve some interesting effects with Sketchpad. In every corner you find unusual details that seem almost inexplicable but often interesting. For instance you can use any of the symbols that you have created as a paint brush. There is no reason given why you should have this option but it certainly is fun seeing what it can do.
As well as drawing and erasing there is an XOR mode which just reverses any pixel the cursor covers (if it was black it becomes light green and vice versa) and there are two sizes of spray paint head and five different 'nib' sizes for drawing (up to 8x4 pixels).
There is a rather crude facility for drawing circles and if you specify a filled circle the result is quite amazing - if you can think of a practical purpose to put it to. There is a 'fill' facility with a choice of eight fill types and a range of types of line.
The humble origins can be seen in the design of the program. There are none of the fancy Icons of Master Paint. Virtually everything is run using the function keys (the f-keys at the side of the keyboard). A status line' showing what is available can be constantly displayed across the top of the screen if needed although this does take up some of the screen space. The keys ‘pull-down' other LocoScript-style menus to show you all the options. You can also get most basic effects by a single key press if your memory is good.
You have the coordinates of the cursor marked at all times at the bottom of the screen and if you ever lose the tiny dot of a one pixel wide cursor, just press ? and an arrow points to it on the screen. This is not as ridiculous as it sounds when the screen is cluttered.
If you are about to do anything drastic you have the choice of taking a snap-shot' which keeps a record of it. So when you make a total mess of it you can go back and start again. Be careful though since the program itself makes use of this snap-shot (like saving the picture when you use 'zoom') and it will overwrite the last one you saved.
The printing facilities are pleasingly flexible, giving a choice of three qualities of output, normal or sideways.