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                         Review: Personal Paint 7
                            By:  Jason Compton 
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For the past few years, Personal Paint has been surreptitiously
establishing itself as the premier Amiga paint package for non-truecolor
(24-bit) applications.  With the release of PPaint 7, they've sealed it.

Cloanto's Personal Paint is not just distinguished by the fact that it has
outlasted the former crown princes of paint on the Amiga, DPaint and
Brilliance, although it certainly has.  It's carved out a special place by
offering a very complete set of features, putting it at a reasonable price,
and wrapping all of that in true-to-form great Cloanto packaging. :)

It's a bit of an inside joke now that any Cloanto product has to have
eye-catching packaging.  Earlier PPaints shipped in full-color
binder/manual combinations with full-color disk labels.  But PPaint 7 is a
CD-ROM, and not just any regular CD-ROM but a Mini-CD, a format usually
reserved for promotional CD audio singles.  It's a perfectly valid data
format, however, and was perfect for the space needs of PPaint 7 (just
under 60 megs, the maximum of the mini-CD format).  This, I believe, makes
it the smallest piece of Amiga software ever shipped, since a Mini-CD takes
up less area than even a single floppy disk.  The small folding holder it
comes in is quite nice, and was given out on bright red ribbons at the
Computer '96 show in Cologne.  Most CD-ROM drives have grooves in their
trays to allow for mini-CDs, if yours doesn't or you use a CD caddy system,
you can get an adapter from Cloanto or elsewhere.

But the painting's the important part.  Cloanto's PPaint 7 is fully RTG
capable, and most particularly is CyberGraphX aware and can exploit it to
the fullest, including taking advantage of CyberGraphX to make PPaint 7
totally chip-RAM free, if desired.  PPaint 7, like its predecessors, does
more than just basic image conversion, allowing you to load and save in a
variety of formats, but it provides for some image processing as well.  And
PPaint 7 allows the creation of the Latest Big Thing in Internet graphics,
namely GIF Animations.

Getting PPaint 7 installed is a snap.  Actually, you don't have to even
bother if you prefer, since PPaint 7 will load directly from CD.  If not,
there's a standard Installer program (strangely holed away in a
subdirectory on the CD) which will throw the program onto a hard drive for
you.

The documentation, as should be no surprise by now, is entirely online in
AmigaGuide format.  You can almost always pull up an index of links in the
document, making it easier to find what you're looking for.  The manual
does show some vestiges of older versions (including references to backing
up disks, etc.) but has been updated to reflect the new version's features.

PPaint's drawing interface reflects the generally accepted ways to work in
a modern paint program, so there is not a high learning curve if you are
unfamiliar with PPaint.  Some of the menu options could be more logically
laid out, but my suspicion is that they've been placed where they are to
more closely resemble DPaint than anything else.  My major complaint is
that the screenmode is not set under "Graphics", but instead in the image's
characteristics.

What impresses me most about PPaint is the its breadth.  Typically, DPaint
and Brilliance advocates expounded on one or two characteristics that they
excelled at, but without which they'd be happy to leave their program.
PPaint offers the features of image converter and processor as well as
painter and animator.  PPaint 7 has integrated ARexx support with a number
of built-in scripts.  Among other things, this means that PPaint can be
used in tandem with, say, ImageFX to create some absolutely stunning images
and animations.  IFX's strong point is image processing, not drawing,
although in a pinch it can be used as such.  Adding PPaint to the equation
opens things up much wider.

Nobody's perfect, of course.  PPaint does not have the same "power at your
fingertips" feel of Brilliance's custom GUI, which seemed to make
everything an icon click or two away.  The features are there in PPaint,
they're just t  If you're a TrueBrilliance user, you
may have to stick to your guns, or investigate XiPaint 4, since PPaint will
not indulge a desire to paint in HAM modes.

Most new Amiga owners should at least have a passing familiarity with
PPaint, as it was part of AT's bundle program.  Others may have first
encountered PPaint in the Personal Suite CD-ROM.  For these users, PPaint
is worth the upgrade for the added RTG capabilities and the added animation
capabilities.  PPaint is fully 060 compatible, and the chip RAM
independence means it will work properly on Dracos.

If you've not yet used PPaint, it would be worth your while to investigate
your options.  PPaint is actively and aggressively supported by Cloanto,
not a product at the end of its lifecycle, unsupported by a disinterested
company.  For the US$75 or so it will run you, you'll gain a lot in power,
capabilities, and peace of mind.

Cloanto Italia srl
PO Box 118
33100 Udine
Italy

+39 432 545902 voice
+39 432 545905 fax
http://www.cloanto.com
info@cloanto.com e-mail