REVIEWS

Looking Good

New image-manipulation apps bring Photoshop features to NEXTSTEP

by Rick Reynolds

A year ago, image processing appeared to be NEXTSTEP's most crowded applications category. With products like Appsoft Image, Retouche, and 1VISION coming to market, a multitude of developers were vying for the lucrative niche that Photoshop occupies on the Mac-intosh platform.

Since then, as NeXT has moved away from the publishing market in favor of large corporate customers developing custom applications, some of the image-processing developers have backed off. But new programs from smaller NEXTSTEP developers have stepped in to fill the void. TIFFany II (the first version we have looked at here) from benchMark Development and WetPaint from Pinnacle overlap greatly in the middle but address significantly different users in the image-processing market.

TIFFany II

TIFFany is an image-manipulation program in the tradition of market leader Photoshop. Using it, you can do almost all the things you can do in Photoshop as well as a few things you can't do with the Adobe product.

For example, the Processes panel shows you what TIFFany is doing to your image at all times. You can pause or stop actions, perform multiple actions at once, monitor their progress, and continue working with TIFFany during the most powerful operations. You can even open and save images and perform operations on several images all at exactly the same moment.

An inspector panel shows a lot of information about your image. A toggle switch in the panel gives you the useful ability to view your image in 32-bit color, 16-bit color, 8-bit gray and 2-bit gray at the click of a button. TIFFany supports multiple levels of undo that can be set by the user. A nifty variation on image cloning brings up another view of the image useful for monitoring progress at a different resolution.

Besides these special features, TIFFany sports all of the normal things you expect in image manipulation, such as contrast control, color adjustments, unsharp mask, and airbrushing tools.

While TIFFany is no competition for Pixel Magician in image file-format conversion, there are some useful options for RGB-to-CMYK TIFF conversion that even Bcchus's Pixel Magician doesn't have. TIFFany accepts TIFF, GIF, JPG, and EPS file formats.

While NeXTWORLD reviewed TIFFany II in very late beta, we found the performance and reliability of the product to be of re-lease quality. TIFFany II will have built-in color separation like that of TIFFany 1.5 when the final version arrives in November. TIFFany II will be released in multiple-architecture-binary format and will include both paper and on-line documentation, according to the company.

WetPaint

WetPaint from Pinnacle Research is at a slightly different point in the continuum. This simpler program is less powerful than TIFFany from a workflow perspective, because you can't move as many large images through at the same time, but it is better thought out on the interface level than other image-processing products we have seen. It is even fun to work with.

WetPaint is very easy to use, with a more Photoshop-like ap-proach than TIFFany (or Appsoft Image or Unter Ecker Software's Compose In Color.) It presents a very simple, can't-get-lost interface with great icons that help you remember where everything is. While Unsharp Mask is hidden away and called Edge Enhance in WetPaint, users will find it in the Filters panel. The Zoom filter does a great job of enlarging a TIFF without jaggies. The brushes, pencils, and airbrushes were very easy to adjust and use and worked quickly. Only the most complex filter operations proved to be slow, with a meter in the filters panel to show progress.

WetPaint is accessible to those who are not experts in image retouching. Even among those who are proficient with image-editing programs, this may be the preferred tool for those who want to touch up an image rather than do serious color-correction work. While it isn't the production powerhouse of TIFFany II, it is a very comfortable tool, and you can buy two copies of WetPaint for the cost of one copy of TIFFany II.

WetPaint is shipping now. There is both on-line help and a paper manual, but the paper manual's illustrations are difficult to decipher, as the pages are merely duplicated laser output. But this is only a minor annoyance in an otherwise excellent product.

Rick Reynolds is a contributing editor to NeXTWORLD and Publish magazines.


TIFFany II

3 & 1/2 Cubes

TIFFany is a midrange image-editing application that works well with large image files. Extensive image-manipulation tools, including morphing and some animation tools. TIFFany accepts custom tools through a programmer's API.

$695; $145 upgrade for users of TIFFany 1.x; $245 educational; $75 educational upgrade

benchMark Developments, 2040 Regency Rd., Ste. C, Lexington, KY 40503.

606/255-3864; info@bmd.com.


WetPaint 1.2

3 & 1/2 Cubes

WetPaint is an easy-to-use image-editing application that should appeal especially to beginners but is suitable for many uses. WetPaint includes a large selection of filters and special effects. WetPaint accepts Compose In Color modules as well as custom tools through a programmer's API.

$295; $99 students; $220 faculty, staff, and institution Pinnacle Research, 4725 E. Sunrise Dr. #435, Tucson, AZ 85718.

602/529-1135; info@pri.com.