Your Spectrum
Issue 8, October 1984 - Art for Art's Sake
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There are many graphics toolkits available on the market, each claiming to give the Spectrum the commands it needs to become a 'true' artist. Peter Freebrey finds out it they left the drawing board too soon ...
Many of the programs now available for the Spectrum have quite amazing title pages and graphics within the program. But, wonder not, for with a fair amount of preparation and care, you too can produce similar effects. That's where graphics toolkits come in. They appear in a number of different guises, but the main reason for our interest is that they all cut down the level of work involved in creating a picture on the screen. They fall into one of two main kinds - those that enable you to draw lines, shapes, blocks of colour and dots anywhere on the screen, and those that provide a simple way of creating your own user-defined graphics; some of these toolkits provide both within the one package.
Judging packages against one another is no easy task - because each of the better utilities offers something that the others don't. Either one has to wait for a package that includes all the facilities listed here (unlikely), or else you'll have to choose the one that offers what seems most suited to your present needs. In fact, there's a great deal to be said for having more than one toolkit; that way, with a little care, you can always SAVE from one and LOAD into another - perhaps to take advantage of a specially needed routine.
Melbourne House
Although one or two graphics toolkits had appeared before this one was launched, none ever got the widespread publicity of this particular package. Melbourne Draw has now had well over a year to make its mark and it's gained the reputation of being a most effective utility.
LOAD it and the program will auto- RUN and display the main menu. This offers several options enabling you to LOAD previously developed pictures or user-defined graphics (UDGs), edit a picture, and also to SAVE and VERIFY.


Melbourne Draw employs a unique method to add colour. The pixels and attributes are treated as separate items, so everything you draw remains in black and white until you switch into attribute mode; once in this mode, you use a larger cursor.
Another worthy feature of Melbourne Draw is its ability to magnify specific areas of the screen using two different levels of magnification ... essential for the detailed work required on the Quebec flag.
One corner of the flag complete and you can begin to see the creation of the flagpole. Notice the status menu at the bottom of the screen; this provides details of cursor co-ordinates, cursor mode, attribute states and so on.
Completed! The flagpole has been enhanced and the Fleur de Lys have been reproduced in the three remaining corners. Unfortunately, Melbourne Draw lacks a copy facility so the designs have to be redrawn each time.

Time Taken: 45 mins. Verdict: I must admit Melbourne Draw was my favourite. It seemed the most user friendly of all the packages. It lacks the very basic commands like 'draw' and 'circle', but this problem can be solved by doing all the groundwork on something like Paintbox and then moving the code over to Melbourne Draw. Peter Shaw
Select 'edit picture' and you're presented with a black screen area - plus a two-line information window at the bottom of the screen. This tells you the current 'mode' (Skip, Set, Reset, Invert, Scroll or Text); you're also told whether you are editing 'screen' or 'attributes'. Below these are two numbers representing the x and y co-ordinates of the cursor. The numbering system used is identical to that of the Basic PLOT command, even allowing access to the bottom two lines of the screen (so that the bottom left corner co-ordinates are x=0, y=-16); should you wish to use these two lines, the information window can be moved to the top of the screen. During a Fill command, the window is removed to allow complete filling of any shapes within the window area. To the right of mode and co-ordinates is a four-character block, indicating the degree of magnification you are


PAINTBOX screen 1
Paintbox's 'radical' mode - allowing lines to be drawn from a central point to the cursor - prompted me to choose the Japanese army ensign to draw. The basic construction of the drawing was really quite easy but, as soon as I started to add colour, spurious dots appeared all over the place and I ended up with this mess!
PAINTBOX screen 2
A considerable time later and, although it may not seem drastically different, the dots which shouldn't have been there have been removed. There's no actual 'delete' command in Paintbox, so the only way to take off unwanted bits is via a a rather obscure use of the OVER and PLOT commands.
PAINTBOX screen 3
Paintbox is not solely a screen designer, it's also a character designer. Here you can see the four character sets included in the package; these can be used within your screen design, as well as SAVEd separately as UDGs for use in other programs.

Time Taken: 1 hr 30 mins. Verdict: Paintbox on thw whole is a good product, but it lacks the commands which make creation easy, such as 'magnify', 'copy' and independent control of the attributes. Combining Paintbox and Melbourne Draw would probably provide the best drawing program on the market. Peter Shaw
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using. Finally, to the right of this is the section indicating the current INK, PAPER and attribute information.
The first step is to clear the screen ... that way you can see what you're doing! 'Clear' options (Paper, Ink, Both, Screen, All or None) are activated by Shift (either Caps or Symbol) and the 'R' key. Generally Melbourne Draw is pretty user friendly, although initially, with all the commands to remember, it may seem otherwise! But even then there is help because Melbourne has thoughtfully listed all the commands and their actions on the back cover of the instruction booklet ... yes, it's definitely user friendly.
Once you've cleared the screen you'll he left with a one-pixel flashing cursor that's roughly in the middle of the work area. This can he moved in any of eight directions using the block of keys under 'Q-W-E'. Pressing Enter will implement the Set mode and if you now move the cursor, a line will be drawn on the screen. Space activates Skip mode - no pixels set; the 'O' key lets you Reset pixels you've Set by mistake. Pressing the 'G' key puts a grid pattern over the screen, enabling you to align any shapes with attribute cells (you may wish to colour consecutive cells differently). The 'M' key magnifies your working image two times, and pressing 'M' again gives you another two-times magnification. This is particularly useful for fine detail and it's also very handy when you're designing UDGs.
Melbourne Draw has the novel facility of allowing you to convert any character square (shown by the 'grid' pattern) to a UDG (normally restricted to the Spectrum allocation of keys 'a' to 'u'). Thus, at maximum magnification you have a display of eight by five cells showing. You can create a picture on it and convert
21 cells to UDGs, either for use elsewhere in your picture or for use within other programs. You're also given the data for each, should you want to record it for future use.
The user can scroll the display in any direction and print text to any character square. The direction that the text is printed can be rotated; that means if you want a word reading down the screen with the letters on their sides, there's no awkward positioning to deal with. Just specify the direction in which text is to be written and key in your characters; UDGs can be dealt with in the same way. Finally, the display can he reversed left to right.
Side two of the cassette has several Melbourne House title pages for you to LOAD, alter and otherwise play/learn from.

Print 'n' Plotter Products
LOAD Paintbox and it'll autoRUN to display the main menu. This serves up a choice of three options: UDG Editor, Precision Plotter and Screen Planner.
Opt for UDG Editor and you're given a further menu which allows you to view existing UDGs, create new UDGs (using Paintbox's Drawing Board) or to go to Sketch Pad. Other options allow for LOAD or SAVE of UDGs from/to tape, the final one being to return to the main menu.
Option 1 - View UDG Banks - displays four sets of UDGs already in memory; you can choose one of these for use with further options. The four banks are (a) a submarine, (b) a warship, (c) aircraft and (d) buildings, trees and vehicles. Also displayed are any UDGs you've already created using option 2 - Drawing Board. This gives you an eight by eight box within which to create your own UDG characters; you can call from
one of the banks of UDGs, or you can call a keyboard character and alter that. Designs can be drawn using either the cursor keys or a Kempston Joystick. Once you've opted to call a character to create or alter, there's no return ... you must then create something, even if it's only a space; there's no way you can break out of this part of the program.
Having produced your character, you're then given the opportunity of creating an inverse copy, a mirror image - or even of rotating it through 90 degree steps; whatever it is, just file the result in the bank of UDGs you're working with. There are four banks of 21 UDGs, so it's possible to create a total of 84 different graphic designs; the instructions tell you all you need to know about using banks of UDGs within your own Basic programs.
The Sketch Pad option gives you a six by 30 cell (work area) together with a display of existing UDGs. Here you can try various combinations of UDGs (out of any bank of 21) to see what they look like; if you're planning to use several linked together, make sure they're in the same bank!
The next selection from main menu is the Precision Plotter. You're given the choice of keyboard cursor keys or, again, the Kempston Joystick, and from there you can either start from a blank screen or LOAD a previous file from tape. First choose INK and PAPER colours - then the decision is yours whether to create a new picture, or return to one held in memory. The cursor keys give movement in four directions. Key 'Q' PLOTs a single pixel point and 'W' DRAWs a line from the end of a previous line or pixel point plotted; key 'E' will Erase the last command and 'F' will Fill with the current INK colour. Fill often misses out portions of the screen so you may have to recall it to fill in the 'holes'. Paintbox also supports Circle ('H') and Arc ('A'). INK colour can be changed at any time but PAPER has to be chosen at the time you


Drawmaster was a very difficult program to use. It had all sorts of mega-amazing features, but most of them seemed pretty pointless to me. For example, there's a command called 'Hop' which allows you to draw dotted lines, and pressing the 'U' key changes all the INK to black, and all the paper to 'dull' white. Wowee!
Adding colour is not as easy as it may at first seem. Drawmaster has no special features to handle the attributes (colour) alone - they have to be stuck on when you alter the display file. It makes design work difficult if you always have to bear in mind the effect of colour at the same time as creating the shapes themselves.
The finished flag - messy maybe, but I was getting more and more frustrated with a program that was getting very awkward to manipulate. If you're reading this out in Korea, please don't send in letters of complaint about the state of your flag - I did my best!

Time Taken: 2 hrs. Verdict: Drawmaster was almost painful to use, and I can't recommend it for the construction of accurate pictures. The program would have been greatly improved if all the flashy commands were removed and replaced with a 'magnify' facility and maybe a Melbourne Draw-type attribute control. Peter Shaw
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first enter Precision Plotter. Over ('N') can he useful for correcting minor mistakes and there's a choice of cursor size - cross hairs for general use and a much smaller, single pixel, for precision work. Shift plus cursor keys moves the cursor at a much slower rate - again for fine, careful positioning.
As on Melbourne Draw, the bottom two lines are used as an information window, showing the mode and x/y co-ordinates of the cursor. Here, however, the bottom two lines are not accessible. Should you return to the main menu and then back again to Precision Plotter, key '9' restores the current graphics screen to the display. This is stored
in permanent memory, while the program is held in RAM. A COPY of the screen can be printed out on a ZX Printer and the display SAVEd to tape for LOADing later.
Final option served up by the main menu is Screen Planner. This gives you the screen display created with Precision Plotter, together with the ability to call from any of the banks of UDGs. These are displayed on the screen with x and y co-ordinates (now for row and column) and INK and PAPER are available at any time; you can experiment with different attributes, although there doesn't appear to he any option to alter BRIGHT and FLASH at this point. Return to Precision Plotter (via the main menu) and you've now got your composite display to work on.
The instruction booklet gives details of
how to call on these SAVEd screens from various memory locations within your own programs. Remember, though, that each screen SAVEd under these conditions uses 6912 bytes. Print 'n' Plotter has a program - Screen Machine - that can save bytes on graphics screens; we'll be looking at that in a future issue.

Campbell Systems
Campbell Systems is probably better known for its database and filing programs, but Drawmaster certainly offers a host of features. The program autoRUNs on LOADing to display a blank work screen with a two-line information window


CAD screen 1
CAD has most of the features I would expect to see in a decent package, with the exception of 'magnify'; you can play around on a large grid and then move your work onto the main screen, but once moved you can't then remove any mistakes that may have crept in. The screen shot here shows a user-defined block (UDB) of the star in the US flag; once defined, a UDB can be copied onto the screen as many times as required.
CAD screen 2
On to the picture itself, and notice the liberal sprinkling of UDBs in the top left-hand corner of the flag. The easiest way I found of adding stripes to the flag was to fill the area in white INK and then paint in red INK over the desired parts. I couldn't get the right numer of stripes or stars exactly but, with time and careful planning, it's possible.
CAD screen 3
I was really pleased with the end result - certainly a lot better than I thought the program deserved. The final flag may not be completely kosher, but the program proved too dofficult to use with any accuracy in the time I'd allotted. The main problem with CAD was the cursor (spelt 'Kursor') commands. The process was slower than it could have been [as] the cursor had to be redrawn every second.

Time Taken: 1 hr 45 mins. Verdict: CAD was not one of the better programs from the selection I looked at. It was also the only package mostly written in Basic - and it showed. Peter Shaw

at the bottom (showing the current mode of the 'pen': Trans(parent), Draw, Erase or Over and the current attributes: BRIGHT, PAPER and INK (FLASH is not included - as is fairly obvious from the display). The x and y pixel co-ordinates are indicated in normal Spectrum fashion - that's 0,0 in the bottom left corner - and there's no way of using the bottom two lines of the display (which, of course, is the information window). Also shown are the current Line and Column (standard character cells) and pressing the 'Q' key gives what's called 'Menu'- in fact, a guide to which keys do what (a useful system of quick reference, and you can't lose it!).
The direction of the 'pen' movement is controlled by keys '1' to '8', normal cursor directions and keys '1' to '4' are the diagonals. Caps Shift with one of these cursor keys moves the cursor eight pixels (in the Draw mode this would give you a dot every eight pixels) and allows rapid movement of the cursor. Key 'Z' gives fine control, with the cursor moving one pixel at a time (accompanied by a beep) and with the x and y co-ordinates being updated continuously. Other movement modes update the co-ordinates only when you stop.
Drawmaster has several interesting features. You can define a particular point called 'X' (marks the spot - geddit?) on the screen and Draw lines or Arcs to it from any cursor position. You can draw from the cursor in any of the eight specified directions and they'll continue on until hitting another pixel - or, alternatively, the edge of the screen.
The Window commands are also useful. They'll let you define a rectangular window, store this for future use, recall it, paint it with current PAPER colour, or re-define its position on the screen. Drawmaster can also Rescale any image and draw it elsewhere on the screen, either larger or smaller. In fact, the program's quick reference guide was obtained by copying normal Spectrum text and reducing it to 75 per cent of normal size. It's a time-consuming process, but one that greatly enhances the scope
of the toolkit. To reduce or enlarge a portion of the screen - create a window around it, then use the Clear Window command to quickly erase the original once it's been copied.
Text can be placed on the screen, but while in 'text' mode remember not to overwrite line 22 - the screen will scroll! Circles can be drawn at a specified radius about the cursor and, of course, there's the usual Fill command. The program allows screens to be SAVEd or LOADed to or from tape, but there are no user- defined graphics facilities available.

Dream Software
Despite the 35-page booklet that accompanies CAD, there seems a notable lack of index or reference material to guide you swiftly through the functions and commands. To start with, it takes some searching just to discover (a) what it will do, and (b) how you do it. As usual, the program autoRUNs on LOADing at the same time showing the 'command' screen. The information window at the bottom displays the last command you gave, the current cursor position and the heading - the latter is selectable from a range of one to 16, and it defines the direction in which a line will he drawn ... N, NNE, NE, ENE, E, and so on. For some unspecified reason, East is Heading 1, North is 13, South is 5 - not the most obvious of choices. To change direction, key 'H' and the word 'HEADING' will appear in the information window. Now press Enter to confirm that a change is in order, then key in the new number, followed by Enter; all rather long-winded and time- consuming.
Most commands require a similar procedure. Jotter will plot (set) a pixel and here the cursor keys are used to guide your 'plot' (Shift plus keys '5' to '8'). However, to step over a pixel you have to key 'E' to end Jotter, press the 'K' key to enable cursor movement, move the cursor, and then key 'E' to end
this command ... ouch! The cursor provided is a very small square, consisting of one clear pixel at its centre. One might reasonably expect the clear pixel to represent the vital position from whence all can be drawn. Wrong! It's at the top left-hand corner!!
CAD supports a number of useful design shapes: Cube, Circle, Facet (parallelogram), Rectangle, Square, Triangle and 3D Box. There's also an option to define the position of 26 ('A' to 'Z') points on the display of all or specific points, drawing lines between two or more points, shifting the cursor to a specified point and nominating 'automatic points' (where, for example, the corners of a subsequently drawn cube are automatically specified). If you reset (clear) all previous points - remember to 'display' points twice (first displays, then un-displays!) or you'll be left with unwanted letters all over the place.
In addition to the design shapes provided above, there are routines that (a) allow the design of a shape from the display to be stored for future use and (b) UDGs (user-defined blocks), blocks of four character cells that can be created and used within your display. Both options can be SAVEd to tape - but only used thereafter with CAD. The second option, Udgs, provides a 24 by 24 grid on which to create your design. Cursor keys move the spot cursor and the Space key either 'sets' or 'resets' a cell ... and continues to 'set'/'reset' cells to the right; this happens quickly and it's not particularly easy to act on one specified cell. Quick fingers and care are called for. But, a word of warning ... a return to the main display screen ensures that all previous work is lost; remember to SAVE it first.
Text can be placed on the screen and a Fill option fills a shape with the current INK colour. Erase removes the last command you made and Grid will display a 16-pixel grid pattern around the edge of the display area.
Overall, CAD is an interesting program that's obviously been developed with specialist design work in mind; it's not a general purpose graphics toolkit.
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