The nonartist’s design kit

The nonartist’s design kit – Ray Dream’s AddDepth graphics utility, Corel Gallery clip art and Wacom’s ArtPad graphics tablet

Kellyn Betts

AS COMPUTER GRAPHICS GET BETTER, PRINTED BUSIness materials get snazzier. But how do you keep up if you’re artistically challenged? Whether you need to create an attractive drawing or spice up a newsletter with some cool graphics, there are a number of tools at your disposal that can make you look like an artist.

Transform It You’ve come around to creating your own newsletters or brochures in a low-cost DTP package, but you’re tired of the cookie-cutter look they tend to have. Some special effects would liven things up, and they’re easier to create than you think.

Ray Dream’s AddDepth is designed to pull three-dimensional images out of two-dimensional text and graphics. Called extruding, this process can transform mundane clip art into eye-grabbing graphics.

One of AddDepth’s most useful tools is the three-dimensional Wizard, especially handy if you have a good selection of fonts installed in your system. The Wizard lets you create outstanding headlines and display text in just five steps.

Clip It You can never have too many well-crafted images at your disposal to highlight a point or spruce up a text-heavy page. Besides, they’re inexpensive. The sheer depth of Corel Gallery makes this package a good place to start. KELLYN BETTS is a desktop publisher based in Portland, Oregon.

Corel now gives you two CD-ROM options that come with either 10,000 ($59) or 15,(100 ($99) images for Windows or the Mac. The larger disc features a dramatically improved interface. It also includes some fun multimedia files, in addition to 500 photo images, 500 fonts, and a font organizer called Font Master. On either platform, the program allows you to export the images into a variety of formats, so you can jazz them up (with AddDepth, for example), then easily import them into your newsletter or other DTP documents.

Sketch It You’ve probably already figured out that your mouse just doesn’t cut it as an illustration tool. Wacom’s pressure-sensitive ArtPad may be the solution you’ve been looking for. As a bonus, the tablet comes bundled with Fractal Design’s Dabbler drawing package for $239. The price may seem a bit hefty, but it’s far less than that of its competitors, not to mention a whole lot cheaper than hi ring a professional illustrator.

All you need to know about this alternate input device is that its cordless pen feels and works just like the ink-filled kind you are accustomed to using on paper. For those of us raised prior to the Digital Age, it’s a natural way to work. The ArtPad is designed to integrate with such professional-level packages as CorelDraw, FreeHand, Fractal Painter, and Photoshop, but it also works fine with more basic programs such as Windows’s Paintbrush. It’s an intuitive input device for all drawing-oriented tasks because it provides much finer control than any mouse could ever hope to. And you can doodle to your heart’s content without wasting paper.

The artwork you create with tools like AddDepth, Corel Gallery, and the ArtPad may not be considered a masterpiece, but you needn’t be Van Gogh to get your point across. With this artsy set of creative tools, you can’t lose.

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