Almost a year ago I reviewed Art Text by BeLight Software [ http://www.belightsoft.com ] and found it very useful. Now there is a new and completely revamped version in Art Text 2 which sports a reworked and much improved interface. While most of Art Text 2's effects can be achieved if you are a (very) proficient Photoshop user, Art Text 2 makes the same effects possible in a fraction of the time, and the application has enough controllable variations to keep even the pickiest designer happy.
Here's a quick overview of the operations.
Using OPEN from the Art Text 2 menu you will receive a window like the following in whatever default colors were last selected. You will be in the EFFECTS layer with GEOMETRY and STYLES as tabs below and not yet chosen to bring to the front.
You will notice a series of vertical lines in the first of three rectangles at the upper right. This indicates that you are primarily in a text layer to work. The other two rectangles indicate textures and preset styles, but we'll get to them in a moment.
Clicking on the small window indicated by the red box below you will activate a window (not shown) that will allow you to type your own choice of words. These will appear in the default colors.
Choosing STROKE from the lower right corner will allow you to choose a color and a width with which to stroke the chosen wording. It is also possible to set a shadow or glow and the direction of flow for the shadow or glow.
Moving to the upper right quadrant you may shift to GRADIENT and choose a second color to make that gradient. A third color can be added if desired. The intensity of the colors and the angle of the gradient may also be defined.
Now, by shifting from the EFFECTS tab to the GEOMETRY tab you will find a number of instant presets which will warp the lettering in any direction that you might choose. Barely visible in the illustration are handles which can be grabbed to warp individual catch points, or from the bottom right of the control panel a slider bar permits some symmetrical adjustments to be made.
Going to the bottom center you may choose SET SIZE and a panel appears that allows you to set the size of the image you are preparing to export for use in another program. You can also reach a similar menu under EXPORT from the Art Text 2 File Menu.
At this point you may choose to export the title or image that you have been preparing. Choosing EXPORT TO will give you the choice of exporting to a file or to the clipboard. When exporting the image you have a choice of exporting as a PDF, TIFF, JPEG, PNG, GIF, or EPS image. You may also choose the resolution (DPI), as well as name the image and choose where to save it. The finished image will have a transparent background and can be dropped onto any image or background that you choose that has the same resolution and file type.
But wait! As they say on TV, there's more. By shifting to the middle rectangle at the upper right you access a series of textures which will be used on the letter forms and shapes that you have created up to this point. The vertical slider bar accesses a wide variety of colors and textures. There are 193 textures available if I counted right.
If you would like to start the whole idea over again choose from the presets that represent particular colors and lighting reflections. That third rectangle on the top will drop you right into a mass of choices.
Here's another example.
You may reaccess the geometries if necessary.
Now here is an entirely different approach. Choose STYLES and a letter style and color. Lighting, shadow, warp, or reflection are thus prechosen.
Choosing in this case the EGG lighting and color arrangement, click on the text block space as you were previously shown and enter your own text. The lettering in the style of the sample will be automatically created. There are 55 styles to choose from. Again, geometry can be selected to warp or shape the lettering.
You may have previously noticed from the ART TEXT FILE menu that there is listed a TEMPLATE GALLERY. Choosing the TEMPLATE GALLERY brings up the first page of HEADINGS and an arrow to the right indicates that even more headings are available. At the bottom of the page you see that you have categories of HEADINGS, BUTTONS, ICONS, and LOGOS to choose from. All these templates can be edited- anywhere text appears can be manipulated and light, color, and reflections on any object can be adjusted.
Here's a bit of manipulation from a LOGO template; the template is on the left and the manipulated image is on the right. It took about three to five minutes.
Here are two variations of the "Coffee Club" LOGO produced in less than five minutes for the two of them.
Here's another less than five minutes "Quick and Dirty" design dropped on top of a stock image of dogwood flowers.
So, what has BeLight Software produced for us? Well for US $39.95 (with Academic Pricing available) BeLight has given us a program that produces images in TIFF, JPEG, PDF, PNG, or EPS. These images can then be imported in most text editing, web designing or presentation softwareallows and edited as an image. Since we can copy to the clipboard or export as a file, producing graphic images and text can be done in moments. The retail edition contains 50 Bitsteam Fonts that lend themselves for dramatic headlines or lettering, and there are more than 200 ready-made button, heading, icon and logo templates to choose from and any of these can be tweaked to the designer's needs.
The finished images are ready for Apple Pages, Apple Keynote, iWeb, Microsoft Office or BeLight documents. You are creating vector art, so there's no rough edges.
Video tutorials are on site for a quick over-view; the system requirements are for Mac OS X 10.4 or later, and Art Text 2 is available in English, German, French, and Spanish editions. All this for US $39.95. The creation of lettering and headlines can be very time-consuming, sometimes even frustrating. This is a quick and easy solution to creating type-based graphics. I highly recommend it for any artist's toolkit.