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Nova Development's Print Explosion

By Steven Kiepe

Washington Apple Pi Journal, January/February 2000, reprint information

Every once in a very great while a program comes along that is so feature filled, solidly written and fairly priced that you have to question why others software vendors can't compete. Nova Development's home craft-graphic program Print Explosion is one such application. Designed to empower computer novices with the ability to quickly and easily create greeting cards, signs, banners, calendars, business cards and more, it has broken the code on how to be both powerful and user friendly. Print Explosion is brought to us by the same folks who package some of the most popular bundles of computerized graphic art clips, Art Explosion.

For those of you who have already dabbled with other seemingly related products such as Sierra's Print Artist for Windows and Mac, you might disregard Print Explosion as just another in a series of inexpensive applications for home use. Don't make that assumption until you take a look at the product. True, there are many similarities between Print Explosion and other products oriented toward the novice computer user. It has a simple interface, comes with thousands of pre-constructed templates for cards, banners and the like, and is bundled with a fairly significant collection of clip art and fonts. On the other hand, Print Explosion has features that would normally require separate applications costing potentially hundreds of more dollars.

The first step in creating a new masterpiece is the project type selection. The user can pick from general categories including cards, signs and posters, banners, certificates, calendars, labels, letterhead, invitations and many more. Once a general category is chosen, another menu opens up with a host of pre-built templates, ready for immediate use. Nova Development states that there are more than 4,000 professionally crafted templates ready to use and after having scrolled through a few of the categories, I believe it. The clip art and fonts are already pre-chosen and they do a pretty fair job, ranging from comic to more professional work.

If the pre-built templates aren't quite what you're looking for, it is very easy to add clip art from an included selection of over 50,000 graphics clips, 1,200 photos and 1,000 fine art images. The included graphic arts clips are in a fully scalable proprietary vector format, currently exclusive to Print Explosion. The photos and fine art images are in more familiar raster formats. Of course, the program also allows the import of your own TIFF, EPS, PICT, GIF and JPEG graphics. Even more impressive is the built in support for Twain-compliant scanners.

The Print Explosion clip art selection is fairly typical of what you find on the market; a significant percentage of it is made up of caricatures, usually humorous, with a smaller percentage more "professional" in nature. The included photographs and fine art images are generally landscapes and plants with a handful of abstract art works thrown in for good measure.

All of the included clip art is catalogued in a 500 page softbound volume that averages 132 preview grayscale image clips per page. Also displayed in the manual is a representation of the 500 true type fonts included with the package. I counted closer to 140 type families, which then grow to 500 font styles when you add in font weighting and style modifications to each typeface. Regardless, the selection is excellent and there are more than enough fonts to meet the needs of all but the most fanatical of typesetters.

A very nice feature of the program is the ability to create special text shape effects, similar to that found in programs like Adobe's Type Twister. Print Explosion's type shifting capabilities far surpass Type Twister's and don't require cutting and pasting the finished product from a separate application.

One of the features I most liked about Print Explosion is its built in postscript interpreter which automatically converts vector graphics, both it's own proprietary images as well as standard encapsulated postscript (EPS) images to raster (bitmap) images when printing to non-postscript printers. This capability alone makes Print Explosion a bargain as otherwise the non-postscript inkjet printer user would be constrained to printing EPS previews on (usually 72 dots per inch &emdash; low resolution) or investing in conversion products like Art Age's EPS-to-PICT or Birmy's PowerRIP. Print Explosion enables vector clip art to be placed, scaled, manipulated and then printed at the maximum resolution of the output device without loss of print quality. It really produces beautiful output on today's very affordable ink-jet printers.

Print Explosion was designed for the Macintosh. It makes extensive use of the AppleGuide help system which means it will lead you step by step through whatever actions are required to get the results you desire.

Just when you think there couldn't be any more, well hang on a bit longer. Print Explosion has a feature which will print catalogs of your favorite clip art (both Nova's and your own collection) and it will also print catalogs of your installed fonts. This feature just made two more utilities unnecessary.

I've had the opportunity to run Print Explosion through the wringer and I couldn't break it. It never bombed, crashed, froze up or even slowed down. The screen renderings are fast, conversion to print very quick, and installation and use exceptionally simple. The program comes with a total satisfaction guarantee but I'm pretty sure Nova isn't getting many returned! Print Explosion is a winner and I highly recommend adding it to your core application list, even if you own high-end applications such as PageMaker or Quark, PhotoShop and Illustrator. Nova is currently offering a user group discount price of $39.95, a $10 discount. To get your copy, call customer service at 1-800-395-NOVA and mention code 636. You will not be disappointed.

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Revised January 9, 2000 Lawrence I. Charters
Washington Apple Pi
URL: http://www.wap.org/journal/