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[Review] ArtStudio 1.1.2

{rw_text}Giveaway of the day for February 10, 2009 is:

ArtStudio

Version Reviewed:

1.1.2

Software description as per GOTD:

Corner-A ArtStudio is powerful animation software that can bring to life boring static images. ArtStudio has a lot of build-in filters, it has hardware acceleration support, various export possibilities and simple interface – you don’t need to be an artist or designer to use ArtStudio. There are a lot of “screen-saver-makers” on the market, there are a lot of animation programs, but who else can give you extreme realtime perfomance with simplest interface?

Ashraf’s Note:

The first half of the “full review” has been reprinted from Appitizer’s blog [1] with permission. The second half of the “full review”, “The Good”, “The Bad”, the scores and the final verdict are my own.

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{rw_good}

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{rw_bad}

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{rw_score}
{for=”Features as Described” value=”10″}Even thought I ran into an error and one bug, the features all work as described.
{/for}
{for=”Ease of Use” value=”10″}Animation has never been easier.
{/for}
{for=”Usefulness” value=”7″}I only give this a 7 instead of a 10 because it has limited animation effects.
{/for}
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{rw_verdict}[tupr]

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First Half of Full Review – Appitizer’s

[2]

Today’s program from Giveawayoftheday.com is Corner-A ArtStudio, which lets you easily create animated screensavers from photos.

Installation

I experienced no problems during installation. Do note that you need Microsoft .NET framework 2.0 and DirectX 9 installed, plus a graphics card with ‘Pixel Shader 2.0′ support. I had no problems running it on my GeForce 6200.

Ease of Use

I was a bit skeptical about what the program offers and its “extreme realtime performance with simplest interface”. I wasn’t too sure how to proceed beyond the startup screen, so I checked the online tutorials (accessible from the program window also, but requires an internet connection).

[3]

Within a minute I was ready to create my screensaver. I loaded a 1680X1050 photo from kde-look.org, and was prompted with an option to scale down the photo to enhance performance. Good idea to do so, I thought. I then added some clouds from the Add New Layer window that appears.

[4]

[5]

Painting over the upper portion of the photo, I was able to create some moving clouds. There are a couple of settings which I could adjust, though a few with names like “Base X Tiling” and “Horizontal line” were a bit cryptic-sounding. However, as previews were generated in real-time, I was able to figure out what each of them does.

You can download [6] a sample of the screensaver I created. Took me about 5 minutes, and this shows how easy ArtStudio allows even beginners to create simple yet good-looking screensavers. Check out the video at the end of the post.

Features and Performance

The program’s effects focused on nature’s elements, with tools for creating moving water, clouds, snow and smoke. These effects work well and create realistic-looking screensavers.

The screensaver I created was 1.2 Mb in size, and ran ok. I observed the clouds and noticed no jerky movements – it ran in a smooth loop.

The program allows you to export your masterpiece to an exe file, screensaver, swf, animated gif, avi and . You can set the dimensions, and add mp3/wma/wav as background music. The background music loops automatically.

If I were to nitpick a little, I would like finer control over some of the effect parameters. For example, I wanted to make the clouds move really slowly, but they were still “blown away” at the lowest setting.

I tried adding music to a photo and exporting it as a screensaver without adding effects, but the screensaver generated an error when I ran it. The same problem occurred when I tried exporting to an exe file. But since you’re more likely to USE this program to add effects, I suppose this is not a big issue.

[7]

Performance was smooth, and exporting of screensavers was quick. Even when I opted not to let the program scale down my 1680 x 1050 photo, there was no noticeable lag.

Summary

ArtStudio lets anyone easily turn static photos into animated screensavers. It is a solid program which I will recommend.

Rating: 4.5/5

Video demonstration of ArtStudio

[flashvideo file=”/images/APPitizerArtStudio.flv” /]


Second Half of Full Review – Ashraf’s

[8]

The biggest con with this program, in my opinion, is that you are limited to the above effects. Yes there are a lot, and if you get creative you can use the above effects in combination or make ad hoc effects. But I wish the developer added some way to maybe create your own effects. Or maybe add new down loadable effects from the developer’s website.

[9]

The “Images” you can export into are static PNG, JPG, or BMP images.

[10]

The error only occurred once and I was able to export into a static image after I clicked “OK” and tried to export again.

[11]

If the button is outlined in a blue box that means a mask is on.

[12]

A little window will pop up that looks like this:

[13]

This window always stays on top. Meaning even if you minimize the ArtStudio program window, this Brush/Eraser settings window will still be on top. Like for example, I am in Firefox right now, but the window is still there. You can “X” out on the window, but this is just annoying.

Personally I think this method can be improved upon. Give the user the ability to maybe manually type in a value or add something like a scroll bar.

Here are examples of what this program can do (created by the developer [14]):

[flashvideo file=”http://corner-a.com/e107_files/ArtStudio/Samples/Flash/42_480x360.swf” /]

[flashvideo file=”http://corner-a.com/e107_files/ArtStudio/Samples/Flash/Bird_480x360.swf” /]

[flashvideo file=”http://corner-a.com/e107_files/ArtStudio/Samples/Flash/Serenity_480x360.swf” /]

[flashvideo file=”http://corner-a.com/e107_files/ArtStudio/Samples/Flash/Boat_480x360.swf” /]

[flashvideo file=”http://corner-a.com/e107_files/ArtStudio/Samples/Flash/helicopter_480x360.swf” /]

{rw_verdict2}This. Program. Is. Amazing. I have never used a program before that allows you to do such easy point and click animations. Plus you can export into many different formats, including screensaver (you can make screensavers) or SWF flash video. Sure the effects are limited, but there are many effects that you can chose from. I like this program so much it got number 1 on my top ten giveaways list [15]. Two thumbs up for this program – highly recommended.  Even if you don’t think you need this program, download it anyway because it will probably come in handy later on! Lastly, in terms of videos, since you can only export to .AVI, .SWF and .EXE with ArtStudio, use FormatFactory [16] to convert to other video types (such as WMV or FLV) after you export as AVI with ArtStudio if you need to.
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