Create instant caricatures with Let's Draw

by Alan Zisman (c) 1997. First appeared in Computer Player, February 1997.

Let's Draw, Microforum, Inc. 416-656-6406,, price ???

How many of you have had secret ambitions to be a cartoonist-maybe filled your high school notebook with sketches rather than class notes?

Okay. You can put your hands down now. Let's Draw, from Toronto's Microforum, may be what you've been waiting for all those years since high school.

This Windows (3.1 or 95) software lets everyone create caricatures-whether you've got any artistic talent or not. At it's most basic, it's sort of the digitized version of Mr. Potato Head-pick a head, add a body, eyes, ears, nose, mouth. Add in a background, a voice bubble, some text, and you're ready to print out your cartoon, and pin it up on the fridge or the office bulletin board. With over 120 face-shapes alone, a vast number of cartoons are possible just using the pre-fab picture elements.

Or use one of the 50 templates, and use your cartoon for a fax cover, calendar, greeting card, wrapping paper or more. You even get about 100 ready-made caricatures of famous people... but don't expect to be able to use these to get a job as a political cartoonist for your daily newspaper-aside from Chretien, Mulroney, and Trudeau, the bulk are pop-culture figures, ranging from W.C.Fields to Madonna. (If you're not good at recognizing who's being spoofed, don't expect any help from the program... the files are identified only by number, even in the Clip-Art Reference Guide).

You can customize the pre-fab elements, distorting, changing size or colour as desired. As well, drawing tools are included, allowing you to add your own features to the clipart, or to create a picture from scratch. The program is a vector-draw program, similar to the popular Corel Draw-but simultaneously less powerful and easier to use. Lines can imitate charcoal or felt-pen, for more realistic effects. Like better-known draw programs, you can work with freehand or bezier-lines, and zoom and rotate to your heart's content. Image elements can be easily distorted, tapered, or skewed... and these effects can be applied to text as well as to the standard artwork. While the program, by default, saves files in its own format, artwork can be exported as standard BMP and WMF formats, so they can be used in word processor or desktop publishing files.

The program is a 16-bit Windows 3.1 application, but it installs nicely under Win 95 as well-even adding an uninstall option to the Win95 Control Panel list. It can be set up to run from the CD disk or from your hard drive, taking between five and 29 megs of drive space, depending on options selected.

Lets Draw is fun to use. Both novices and more sophisticated artists and computer users can quickly produce caricatures and other graphics.

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan