Print Shop and Picture Wizard
by Alan Zisman (c)
1993. First published in Our Computer Player, April 16, 1993
You can tell that Windows is starting to become taken
for granted as the standard operating environment for PCs. Suddenly
there are a bunch of programs that clearly weren't designed for the
Even in the old days (read before Windows 3.0), some
of the nicest programs on the PC were designed to run in the Windows
environment. But PageMaker, Excel, CorelDraw... they were all great
software, but they were, well, productive. And adult. In those days,
even Solitaire didn't come with Windows, just an odd little game called
Reversi. And the only game that ran under Windows was something called
'Balance of Power', and that was more like a political simulation than
game. Again, kind of serious.
Now things have clearly changed. Computers being
marketed for small business and home users come with Windows
pre-installed. Even Microsoft's arch-rival IBM has Windows installed on
their PS-1 series (which finally has enough speed and memory to run
Windows-- another sign of the times).
And with this has come the first of a new breed of
programs-- software designed for use at home and for small businesses.
Software that can be used by kids as well as adults. Software that's a
little more loght-hearted. But using the abilities of the Windows
environment lets that same software pack more power than its DOS
I'm looking at two products in this article. They've
got some similarities, but also have two very different approaches.
are new products with a longer history behind them. Both are working in
the broad area of graphics design. Both are designed so that they can
be used by kids or beginning users, yet both are surprisingly capable.
Because of their different focuses, however, I'm not going to declare a
'winner'... they're trying to do different things.
PRINT SHOP DELUXE FOR WINDOWS is the latest of a line
of software that's almost as old as personal computers. For at least
years, there have been versions of Print Shop for Commodore 64s, and
Apple 2s, as well as plain-DOS PC's. We've all seen the results:
blocky bitmapped cards, posters, and banners, printed on 9-pin
printers, and if we're lucky, coloured in with felts. The output has
advertised school plays, day-care center garage sales, and lost
The cliched output was the trade-off for ease of use-- any one could
produce a card or poster with minimal computer smarts.
The new version, out in both DOS and Windows version
is a significant upgrade. Both provide the same set of vector fonts and
graphics, spelling an end to the fill-in the box effect from re-scaling
bit-mapped text and images in the older versions. Finally, colour
capabilities are supported on the PC (which has been true of the Apple
2GS for at least 5 years).
While the DOS version's interface will hold few
surprises for anyone who's used any of the older versions, the Windows
version manages to make use of that environment's capabilities. While
ships with 300 object oriented, scalable graphics, this version also
lets you import pictures, although only in Windows Bitmap format. (As
bitmaps, they resize less well than the clipart that comes with
PrintShop). As well, a DOS utility included in the package lets you
export PrintShops's clipart (but not your completed projects) as EPS,
CGM, PCX, or TIF graphics.
While both versions of PrintShop include the same 30
fonts, in the Windows version, they are in TrueType format. This means
that they are available to other Windows applications, and that
PrintShop can use your other Windows fonts (in TrueType, Adobe Type1
(ATM), or Bitstream Speedo formats if you have the appropriate font
managers installed). This collection of display (headline) fonts may by
itself justify the purcahse price, though I suspect yet other clones of
Times Roman and Helvetica are provided only to provide
fonts with the DOS version.
The Windows interface also means that you're using
Windows to manage printing, rather than the sometimes touchy printing
capabilities of the DOS version. Finally, the use of Windows pull-down
menus, after the first couple of screens, makes it easier to move
forward or back in your project than the DOS version's interface, which
may require half a dozen presses of the ESCAPE key to back up and re-do
an earlier portion of your work.
While early versions of this program offered only a
few page layouts for each project, PSDeluxe takes canned design to the
max-- without giving you the blank page of a desktop publishing
there are so many options for placement of text and graphics that you
can do almost anything. You can even control the darkness of varying
design elements-- useful when you overlap art or text. You also have a
variety of text effects, similar to, though less flexible than those
provided by Bitstream MakeUp or PowerUp's Text Appeal.
The older 'New Print Shop' will still be marketed for
less-capable DOS machines, and is not an upgrade path to either the DOS
or Windows version of Print Shop Deluxe. The new program provides good
value for many users, not just for kids or kindergartens. Anyone who
a need to design pages now and again, but doesn't want to start with
the grim blank page of a DTP or traditional graphics program should
give it a look.
PICTURE WIZARD has almost the opposite ancestry from
PRINT SHOP DELUXE. Print Shop started life as a modest program running
on modest computers, but has grown up. Picture Wizard, however, started
out as ARTS AND LETTERS GRAPHICS EDITOR, one of the original generation
of Windows high end illustration programs, along with COREL DRAW and
MICROGRAFX DESIGNER. This powerful, but quirky program had its
adherents, but never became a big seller, and its creator, Computer
Support Corp. came up with a new marketing strategy.
Arts and Letters evolved into not one, but three
separate programs. The original Graphics Editor remains, aiming at the
high end. Still powerful, but somewhat scaled down, is the $169 A&L
APPRENTICE. This program eliminates the most sophisticated and
complicated features, while still leaving what most users need in an
Picture Wizard took the same drawing engine, but has
turned it into something unique: a powerful package taking aim
squarely at 'kids of all ages'. For half the price of APPRENTICE, it
provides the bulk of its features, but adds a kid-oriented clip-art
package, along with an innovative set of 95 'activities', just for the
young at heart.
As a drawing program, its bargain price still gives
you plenty of features: bezier curves, good text handling and effects,
and a big symbol and clipart library. Some limitations: a fixed 126
colour palette, and support for A&L's proprietary fonts only (16
included). The program only saves in A&L's format, although you can
import TIF, WMF, Lotus PIC, and text. And beware: this inexpensive kids
program makes high-end hard drive demands: 10 megs are required.
The drawing program works well, and has a reasonable
manual. It's an easy way to get kids (or adults) working with
sophisticated illustration tools. The real fun, however, comes from the
activities library. Here, the included clipart has been used to create
wide range of kid-oriented projects, ready to open, change, and print
out. There are mazes, games, treasure maps, cards, banners, and
calendars. Christmas ornaments and cut-out dolls. Music paper and 'How
things work'. The package even includes a bundle of projects already
printed out to give a taste of what's available.
When I child tested this program, there was some
disappointment, however. My 11-year old Kate though that she'd get to
make mazes and puzzles that she could actually play on screen; the
reality, that these were for printing out seemed a bit of a let-down.
Still, she quickly got over this, and happily printed out a range of
pages to give away or work on herself.
Like PrintShop, Picture Wizard comes with pre-packaged
cards, banners, and stationary. If this is all you want, go with
PrintShop; the range of canned projects is far larger. Picture Wizard,
however, is at heart a much more powerful program. Despite its move
jagged fonts and art, PrintShop only lets you make the projects that
it's preset for. Picture Wizard comes with its range of activities to
get you started; it lets your output become more sophisticated as your
Print Shop Deluxe for Windows
$79.95 (US) list
500 Redwood Blvd
2-4 meg memory
approx. 5 meg hard drive space
laser, inkjet, or 24-pin printer
$89.95 (US) list
Computer Support Co.
15926 Midway Rd.
2-4 meg memory
approx. 10 meg hard drive space
(Note from the year 2003): The above
article was originally published in 1993, as a review. A decade and
later, I've gotten a series of emails from Printshop fans hoping that I
could sell them a copy of this software or direct them to a place where
it is still available. While I have reviewed software since 1991, I am
not a vendor of r any products. I suggest to everyone looking for
of older software to check at eBay or at OldSoftware.com.If
on my Files webpages, you'll find links to a number of (mostly
freeware) downloadable software, some of which may be good replacements
for older programs.
-- AZ (September 15, 2003)