|★ APPLICATIONS ★ DIVERS ★ COLOURDUMP 1|Amstrad Action) ★|
|Colourdump 1||Applications Divers|
One day, they said, your colour prints will come. That day has arrived, as PAT McDONALD reveals.
The display of an Amstrad CPC is far superior in terms of colour and resolution to its 8-bit cousins: you need only turn as far as The Look or. page 36 to see examples of the impressive range of subtle depth, highlighting and shade you can create on a picture.
There are programs to let your artiste bent flood out - Advanced Art Studio, Melbourne Draw and of course Robert Buckley's Smart 2 from AA37. But there is one underlying problem to all this art: how do you keep a permanent record of it? You cant really keep your monitor turned on all the time.
Most printers available on the market can handle small dots and so on: the problem is that they can't really handle the colours. Until now. With Colourdump you can produce mode 0 or 1 hard copies of screens in glorious coloui, on virtually any printer that is Epson compatible.
For the Star LC10 four colour printer (reviewed in AA32) Colourdump has a set of routines to take advantage of its capabilities. The examples on this page were mostly done using this printer.
Such routines arent commercially available - though your on-the-ball, topical, user-friendly Type Ins just happens to have a listing this month for that very purpose!
The way the program extracts colour performance from a black and white printer is quite clever: you run a sheet of paper through the printer with a particular coloured ribbon or piece of carbon paper. At the end of the page, the printer reverse feeds back to the beginning, and requests you to change the colour medium.
The program works down through the picture, splashing a colour mix that has been set up to your own specifications (there is a default setting) and eventually the whole screen area is covered.
Of course, if you get the colour mix wrong for the different ribbons - say you put a blue ribbon in when when you needed a red one -then a lot of the colours will be wrong. On the other hand, you can create diverse coloured variations on a theme simply by swapping the ribbons in a different order each time.
(Incidentally, the manual recommends HSV Supplies of Basingstoke - 0256 463*** - for supplies of different coloured ribbons for printers. Although owners of slightly obscure machines might be in trouble, mainstream dot matrix machines such as the Amstrad DMP2000 are fine.)
The theory behind the colour settings is explained competently enough by the manual, but a few more examples would have been nice. As for the results, they speak for themselves. They're bright, sharp and clean.
Bad points about the program are minimal. Each colour takes 10 minutes or so to achieve, so a mode 0 picture can take around three hours to print out. Another niggling point is the small size of the screen dump: it's approximately A5 size, and not really suitable for a poster.
Colourdump is a good, competent program that fills a hole in the CPC market. Upgrades -such as for a larger screen dump for instance - would be warmly welcomed, but Colourdump is nonetheless a worthwhile expenditure on its own.