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10/96 Reviews SW: Canvas 5

Canvas Broadens the Graphics Spectrum

By Lynn Ginsburg

Given the recent jam-packed suite bundles offered in the Windows graphics market, most developers don't stand a chance unless they can offer seven applications for half the price of one. Deneba decided to top the field, however, by integrating every graphics category-vector, bitmap, 3-D, technical and presentations-into a single product, the new Canvas 5.

Canvas, an early innovator in graphics bundling, was one of the first to introduce vector and bitmap tools in one application. This long-awaited release beefs up the toolsets in both areas and tosses in 3-D to boot, on top of the program's original strength, technical illustration.

Canvas groups on-screen tools into logically organized tabbed palettes. The Inks palette, for example, consolidates colors, gradients, textures, hatches and symbols into a single palette. The palettes cut down the clutter common to tools-rich graphics programs, yet offer quick access.

This new setup has a second, far more important advantage: It keeps you from having to think about modes. You don't flip between modes, but remain in a single workspace, swapping tools as needed.

Being a jack of all modes sometimes means you're a master of none, of course. Canvas 5's bitmap toolsets really won't beat those of any full-featured image editing or paint programs. However, that's not to say they don't include some very useful, well-designed and powerful features.

For editing images, I was able to choose from a number of masking options such as invert, feather or fade. I could save the masks I created in a separate masks palette. The new brushes palette provides both pre-set and custom brushes, and I was able to create my own brushes by varying opacity, stroke density and fade.

Both Canvas' bitmap tools and its already excellent vector drawing tools are improved. The new dynamic blend tool allows you to change a single step in a blend sequence, automatically adjusting the entire sequence without having to manually redo the blend. The 3-D and Envelope commands can now be implemented as templates and can include custom warping options for envelopes, color light source controls and vanishing point locations for 3-D extrusion.

Overall, I thought the bitmap tools worked well and were easy to use. Canvas will accept Photoshop-compatible plug-ins, which increases its usefulness as an image editor.

Canvas 5 has also improved its type-handling capabilities. All the type attributes have been grouped into a floating tabbed palette, giving you immediate access to an ample set of controls. There's also a type styles palette for saving format options in style sheets. I especially liked Canvas' unique ability to selectively apply a style to a character, word or phrase in a paragraph.

Canvas 5 offers a new and far more integrated alternative to other suite programs like Corel, which bundle multiple tools but don't necessarily integrate them into a single desktop. It's unique in the graphics market and will probably set a trend for one-app-fits-all functionality that other programs are likely to follow.

The individual components aren't quite as robust as those found in standalone applications. But considering its competitive upgrade price of $149.95, graphic artists may reconsider their loyalties.

Info File
Canvas 5
$599.95; upgrade, $149.95
Pros: Integration; interface
Cons: Not as full-featured as specialty programs
Platforms: Windows 95, NT
Disk Space: 35MB
RAM: 8MB (Win95), 16MB (NT)
Deneba Software
800-6-CANVAS, 305-596-5644
WinMag Box Score: 4.0

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