Graphics Software a History — My Love-Hate Relationship (July 6, 2010)

Posted: July 6, 2010 by docbabad in Software Reviews
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By Harry {doc} Babad, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved


…Almost in the beginning there was MacPaint and MacDraw. I used the two programs for creating simple graphic, the paint related documents created from clip art, which had just begun to appear.

In  the beginning…

My photography efforts, even now, mostly focused capturing images of friends, family and vacation scenes first in black and white and eventually color. I was then using a Kodak camera using 120 or 220 film (6 cm sized) but have evolved first to a 35 mm SLR and now to a digital camera. The operating modes in which I used my cameras were almost always point and shoot – all simple easy to use. The digital camera gives me several options for framing images, of which I take full advantage-still in point and shoot mode.

My computer and camera never crossed trails. Nor did I attempt to do any work on my photos to enhance their appearance. Relative to the availability of photography software, that was okay since these applications had not yet been developed. Although it took a while to see my photography results since I did not have nor want a dark room. Photo-life evolved to color film, for me in the ‘50s when prices dropped, and a point and shoot 35 mm format (slides and prints) because affordable.

So this is how my equipment evolved:

Borrowed from my Dad as I was growing up It was all mine — a Kodak brownie bullet camera It was over kill since I used it only in auto pictures mode – but I got it at a real discount.

Of course, in a variation of Moore’s law it became easier to satisfy diversification of needs – although technology got simultaneously simpler and inherently more complicated. Those were the days my friends, and I was sure I was going to join the desktop publishing and graphics related revolution.

The Photography Revolution — We morphed, or attempted to do so, into more creative, but yet professional, photographers. We became, slowly but steadily more competent at ‘photo shopping’ <enhancing> our images.  We were mostly unpaid but effectively talented amateurs tasking advance of the appearance of and growing capability of graphics software along with desktop publishing ware and zowie-wow digital cameras. It got the rest of us so much closer to the instant gratification of creating relatively good images even from moderately poor snapshots. Most of those to jump on the bandwagon were folks like me, casual photographers with shoebox collectors of the images in our daily lives.

The Graphic — However on a succession of Macintosh computers and user friendly and evolving imaging associated software, I was able to dabble in creating simple art forms, both in vector and pixel format. Easy to print too, all it took was a desktop printer so there were no days waiting to see if we blew that shot. Again, Instant gratification, at a price I was willing to afford.

Epson Stylus-C58-printer HP Color Laser Printer CLJ-3500

Diversity and the quantity of software graphic art proliferated, clip art was born again, this time with higher end images that avoided being caricatures, cartoon and cuties. All of a sudden, almost spontaneously, we hungered to share our images with friends and even strangers. A new industry was born. Graphics collections on portable media {floppies, CDs and now DVDs, and subscription services and now (more recently) service bureaus to allow you the choice of licensed use of an image at a time because available.

It Became a Choice of Them or Me — Was being creative, in the graphics area worth my time? I have also been verbally adept by graphically impaired. It’s not that I can see but rather the image in my head refuses to transfer to another media such a paper, canvas of computer documents.

I could buy software – printers, and try to release my inner artist, and roll my own graphic creations.  Alternatively, I could access clipart and have, a broader, and at times a higher quality choice in creating a look for a graphic to enhance a document or book I was writing. I could even modify clip art to better suit my specific needs.

However with a few years, I was joyful at being able to make greater use of the efforts of folks more graphically talented than I was to illustrate my at home writing efforts. At work, I had the luxury of professional artists-illustrators who I shamelessly used to make my reports and presentations graphics look great. Alas that era too soon passed, except for “C” Suite occupants. ROF-ing graphics support staff occurred as the desktop publishing revolution deepened and the accountants chose price of quality for illustrations. After all why not let engineers and scientists become graphics experts and do away with overhead chargeable service support personnel.

Back to Me — I could create a sign or do simple sketch on my Macintish SE-30 and have the results available in minutes. Thus a dichotomy was born, separated and was fused as technology as hardware and software evolved for the home and non-professional graphics creators in business.

Time moved relentless on. Graphics software {e.g., Adobe CS suite, digital cameras become affordable, even SLR models once restricted to gifted well funded amateurs and professionals. Companies like Adobe created simpler non-expert version of their software such as Photoshop Elements or Apple’s iPhoto. One very interesting story that partially demonstrates this evolution is told is in Jeff Schewe’s 10 Years of Photoshop-the birth of a killer application, as well as an fine article in the same vein in From Darkroom to Desktop—How Photoshop came to light by Derrick Story. As always there’s lot more on these subjects in Wikipedia, but you all knew that.

Check These Out:

Although these articles focus on Photoshop, it doesn’t take much to use them to gain an insight into the growth and popularity of digital photography, and the ‘do it yourself movement’ associated with creating and customizing graphics.

In closing, there is a whole lot posted and written about photography, graphics software, analog and digital photography that you can read. If attempted to provide you with a definitive biography and history, this article would become both ‘book length’ and I would inadvertently leave out something great that contributed to the present state of the art in working with images.

Although I use such tools only when I can’t find something made to order to highlight and accent my written documents, most of you are like more talented and more driven to ‘roll your own.’ More power to you!  See Today’s Tools for Graphics Inhibited Harry

Nikon CoolPix Digital Camera Photoshop Elements for the Graphically Impaired

I’ve included, in the next section, descriptions and functions of the main types of graphics tools, Raster or Vector, oriented graphics editors – Read this or not, but enjoy looking at the world through a square ‘lens’ and adding a bit of the ‘rose’ colored to your visions and visualizations.

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Appendices and Post Scripts

Note: Some of these products and features described below have become common to both vector and raster image editing software. So ignore any repetitions of features – They indeed are real.

Copyright Notice: Product and company names and logos in this review may be registered trademarks of their respective companies.

Raster Graphics Editors

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A raster graphics editor is a computer program that allows users to paint and edit pictures interactively on the computer screen and save them in one of many popular “bitmap” or “raster” formats such as JPEG PNG, GIF and TIFF.

Usually an image viewer is preferred over a raster graphics editor for viewing images.

Some editors specialize in the editing of photographs such as the popular Adobe Photoshop, while others are more geared to artist-created illustrations, like the Adobe Fireworks.

Vector editors are often contrasted with raster graphics editors, and their capabilities complement each other. Vector editors are better for graphic design, page layout, typography, logos, sharp-edged artistic illustrations (e.g. cartoons, clip art, complex geometric patterns), technical illustrations, diagramming and flowcharting. Raster editors are more suitable for retouching, photo processing, photo-realistic illustrations, collage, and hand drawn illustrations using a pen tablet. Many contemporary illustrators use Corel Photo-Paint and Photoshop to make all kinds of illustrations. The recent versions of bitmap editors, such as GIMP and Photoshop support vector-like tools (e.g. editable paths), and vector editors such as CorelDRAW or Adobe Illustrator are gradually adopting tools and approaches that were once limited to bitmap editors (e.g. blurring).

Typical Functions

  • Select a region for editing.
  • Draw lines with brushes of different color, size, shape and pressure
  • Fill in a region with a single color, gradient of colors, or a texture.
  • Select a color using different color models (e.g. RGB, HSV), or by using a color dropper.
  • Add typed letters in different font styles.
  • Remove scratches, dirt, wrinkles, and imperfections from photo images.
  • Composite editing using layers.
  • Edit and convert between various color models.
  • Apply various filters for effects like sharpening and blurring.
  • Convert between various image formats.

For a Summary Comparison of Raster Graphics Editors First Check Out —

Vector Graphics Editors

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A vector graphics editor is a computer program that allows users to compose and edit vector graphics images interactively on a computer and save them in one of many popular vector graphics formats, such as EPS, PDF, WMF, SVG, or VML.

Vector Editors Versus Bitmap Editors — Vector editors are often contrasted with bitmap editors, and their capabilities complement each other. Vector editors are often better for page layout, typography, logos, sharp-edged artistic illustrations (e.g. cartoons, clip art, complex geometric patterns), technical illustrations, diagramming and flowcharting.

Bitmap editors are more suitable for retouching, photo processing, photorealistic illustrations, collage, and illustrations drawn by hand with a pen tablet. Many contemporary illustrators use Corel Photo-Paint and Photoshop to make all kind of illustrations. Recent versions of bitmap editors such as GIMP and Photoshop support vector tools (e.g. editable paths), and vector editors such as CorelDRAW, Adobe Illustrator, Xara Xtreme, Adobe Fireworks, Inkscape or SK1 are adopting raster effects that were once limited to bitmap editors (e.g. a blurring issue).

Specialized Vector Graphics Features

Some vector editors support animation, while others (e.g. Adobe Flash) are specifically geared towards producing animated graphics. Generally, vector graphics are more suitable for animation, though there are raster-based animation tools as well. Vector editors are closely related to desktop publishing software such as Adobe InDesign or Scribus, which also usually include some vector drawing tools (usually less powerful than those in standalone vector editors). Modern vector editors are capable of, and often preferable for, designing unique documents (like flyers or brochures) of up to a few pages; it’s only for longer or more standardized documents that the page layout programs are more suitable.

Special vector editors are used for Computer Assisted Drafting [CAD]. They are not suitable for artistic or decorative graphics, but are rich in tools and object libraries used to ensure precision and standards compliance of drawings and blueprints.

Finally, 3D computer graphics software such as Maya, Blender or 3D Studio Max can also be thought of as an extension of the traditional 2D vector editors, and they share some common concepts and tools, but you knew that!

Note that not all the listed software is available for the Macintosh but with the available windows emulators, for Intel Mac-PC’s, this is no longer an issue.

For a Summary Comparison and specific details, of Vector Graphics Editors First Check Out —

Also check out the Graphic Design and Graphics Software articles at Wikipedia. Neither is great but there are a good getting acquainted start.

There are also lists of graphics software on Wikipedia

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Walter Bernacca. Walter Bernacca said: RT @Escape_Studios: Pure nostalgia.. "A history of graphics software": Who remembers MacDraw? [From MHReviews] […]

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