Re: [artworks] Ideas for new version

  • From: Martin Wuerthner <lists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: artworks@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 08 Jan 2007 16:42:53 +0100

In message <4ea1120a67rkp@xxxxxxxxx>
          Richard Partridge <rkp@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> - We often have to produce separations for the printer, but PDF
> export of separations is not possible, though printer's marks can be
> set.

I am surprised that any printer that accepts PDF files cannot do the 
colour separation themselves. The process of creating good separations 
very much depends on the final output device, so they are best done as 
late as possible in the workflow.

If you supply a PDF file to your printer, they will either have to 
print it from some application or maybe their RIP understands PDF 
files. In either case, printing separations will just be a matter of 
enabling a single option at their end. Are you absolutely certain that 
they are not willing/able to do that? The results using ArtWorks's 
separations mechanism are bound to be inferior to any separations done 
at your printer's end.

If I understand correctly, print offices move towards preferring 
composite colour input from clients rather than requiring them to mess 
about with colour separation.

> Bitmap export of separations is possible, but not with printer's
> marks, and deep sprites don't separate. It would be good to get at
> least one system working fully.

I am not aware of any problems with deep sprite colour separation in 
ArtWorks. Maybe you confuse that with AWRender, which cannot do that 
(for good reasons, but I still hope to add that on day), which means 
that deep sprites do not separate in ArtWorks files you embed in other 
applications' documents, which is an entirely different matter.

> - Graduated transparency would be even more useful if it could be
> rectangular, to produce a soft edge to (e.g.) a sprite or a
> semi-transparent text box.

Unfortunately, rectangular transparency would be a rather special 
thing and of limited use, so I do not think it would make too much 
sense to add that. Currently, we have linear and radial fills and in 
analogy to that linear and radial transparency and the user interfaces 
are similar. As far as I can see there is no straightforward user 
interface to set up any more complex fill/transparency types.

> Or is there a way of doing this which I've missed?

No, at the moment I do not think you can do that.

One feature I am considering that would allow what you want is alpha 
masking. This is a more general transparency option allowin 
transparency graduations of any shape (and even more than that, e.g., 
transparency levels as defined by a bitmap, e.g., a texture). The idea 
of alpha masking is that you can apply any kind of object as an alpha 
mask to another object and the colours of the first object control the 
amount of transparency applied to the second. E.g., if the alpha mask 
object was a circle with a radial fill from black to white, then this 
would be the same as applying radial transparency to the second 
object. By using a blend you can construct an alpha mask that fades 
out along arbitrary edges. By using a bitmap as an alpha mask, each 
pixel's darkness would specify the transparency to be used for the 
second object.

Alpha masks are available as graphics operators in various file 
formats, e.g., SVG and PDF (and they are actually used by ArtWorks to 
represent graduated transparency in exported SVG and PDF files) but I 
do not think I have seen them offered as an explicit feature in a 
program. Maybe because this is just a bit too complex to handle for 
the user, so I am not certain whether it will make sense to add that.

Maybe it would be better to have a way to fade out the edges of an 
arbitrary object (Xara calls this "feathering"). That would give you 
less control but it would be far easier for the user to handle.

Martin Wuerthner           MW Software          lists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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