From the April 1996 issue of CD-ROM Today

Print Artist 3.0 and Print House

By David English

It's a banner year for print programs. New versions of Broderbund's Print Shop Deluxe II and Mindscape's PrintMaster Gold (see the reviews on page 109 in our February issue) were recently released, and now we have version 3.0 of Sierra On-Line's Print Artist and a new contender from Corel called Print House. If you haven't tasted the joys of print programs, there has never been a better time to jump in.

Both Print Artist and Print House do essentially the same thing. They let you create greeting cards, signs, banners, stationary, calendars, certificates, menus, flyers, business cards, and other printed materials. You get hundreds of predesigned layouts that can be customized for your own needs, plus thousands of clip-art images, 100 typefaces, an ample supply of useful phrases, and whatever else an artistically challenged person needs to create respectable-looking printouts. Whether your printer is a low-cost color ink jet printer, high-resolution laser, or an old dot-matrix that's so loud it drives the cat from the room, either program will draw subtleties from your printer that you never thought possible.

Of the two programs, Print Artist is the one most like Print Shop—which is not surprising, since its developers created the original Print Shop program. It offers a wide variety of layouts, including an excellent selection of cut-and-fold crafts. Children will especially enjoy the cat mask, party hat, pinwheel, baby buggy, and game sheets. There's even a cutout town with a bank, barber shop, people, trees, cars, roads, stop signs, and other pint-sized Americana.

For the artistically inclined, Print Artist offers broad customization of visual effects and colors for both text and graphics. For the novice, the interface is logically laid out. I had no problem finding the various options without having to open the manual.

Corel's Print House is aimed more at novices. Designed to run only on Windows 95, it provides Wizards for practically every feature, giving first-time users the comfort of step-by-step instructions. Print Artist, by comparison, uses pull-down menus to carry out most of its functions.

Print House includes several unusual features, such as video demos of paper folding (which are especially helpful for those who are new to this task), a collection of photo clip art (which is surprisingly useful), a spelling checker, and a coloring-book mode (which instantly converts colored graphics to black-and-white outlined graphics). A significant drawback to Print House is the tiny size of the clip art and sample layouts that you see when you browse the clip art and sample libraries. This is mitigated somewhat by the excellent reproductions in the manual, but it can still be frustrating.

Of the two programs, I would give the edge to Print Artist for features, interface, and ease-of-use, and call both CD-ROMs equal for quality of clip art, sample layouts, typefaces, and printouts. However, users can't lose, because either program is guaranteed to be a useful addition to any desktop library.

Print Artist 3.0
Windows 3.1 or Windows 95
$54.95 (estimated)
Sierra On-Line
(800) 757-7707
(206) 649-9800
PROS: Easy-to-use and customize; excellent selection of cut-and-fold printouts for kids
CONS: Can't import large vector graphics
Rating: 4 discs

Print House
Windows 95
$24.95 (estimated)
(800) 772-6735
(613) 728-8200
PROS: Unusual features such as spelling checker, photo clipart, and coloring book mode
CONS: Tiny on-screen clip art and sample layouts; interface not as intuitive as competing programs
Rating: 3 1/2 discs

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