Hemera Photo-Objects II

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Good value collection of clip art with an edge over the competition.

The irregular shape of Hemera's Photo-Objects immediately makes them stand out.

In the world of clip art, it's generally difficult for suppliers to make their collection stand out from the crowd. That's certainly not the case for Hemera and its new volume of Photo-Objects.

What immediately distinguishes the Hemera images is that they aren't your bog-standard rectangular scans but rather irregularly-shaped photographic objects. This has three major benefits: the images are unusual so grab attention, they can become a more integrated part of your designs and they are ideal for combining in photo-compositions.

Photo-Objects has a head start but of course any collection stands or falls by its content. Sadly there's some clear padding here such as the inclusion of birthday cakes for ages 1 to 125 and over three hundred images of Ukrainian eggs! There's also been some cheating when it comes to the central idea of isolated objects with a number of roughly framed images and even pictures of slides sneaking into the collection.

The selection isn't as good as the excellent volume I but even so, whatever you're looking for from AA batteries through to the Zyerinthia butterfly, you're likely to find an image to fit the bill. In fact the sheer range of images could easily become a problem if all you had to find the right one was the printed catalogue. Thankfully there's an excellent keyword-based search program complete with thumbnails which prompts you to insert the relevant CD when you've found the image you're after. And for an extra $20 registered users can make their life even easier by upgrading the collection's eight CDs to a single DVD.

Once you've found the right image you're ready to incorporate it into your project. This isn't quite as simple as you might think as most file formats don't support transparency directly. The solution is to use the Export Wizard which walks you through saving the image either to BMP with a customizable coloured background, to GIF with a 1-bit transparency mask or to TIFF with a full 8-bit transparency alpha channel. Once you've worked out your favoured route, you can save it as a preference and then simply drag and drop your images.

As well as its supplied clip art Hemera includes a welcome bonus in the form of its PhotoFont Maker utility. This takes advantage of a range of over 200 tileable texture samples to let you fill a short amount of text with the pattern of your choice. Any installed TrueType font can be used at any size up to around 650 points and transparency in the resulting bitmap can be handled in exactly the same way as with the Photo-Objects.

The PhotoFont Maker is a welcome bonus.

So is there a catch? Well yes and no. It's important to realize that all the Photo-Objects are limited to a resolution of around 600 x 600 pixels which means that their quality will degrade if you print them at sizes larger than around three inches. In other words you can forget about using them for full page magazine covers or a billboard advertising campaign. That's understandable though when you take price into consideration especially as all the PhotoObject images are royalty free however you plan to use them.

In any case, for Hemera's target audience of primarily business users producing Web sites, Word reports and PowerPoint presentations, the resolution issue doesn't arise. For these users Photo-Objects offers quick access to a wide range of eye-catching graphical objects that can instantly help their projects stand out from the crowd.

Ease of Use
Value for Money

ratings out of 6

Tom Arah

October 2001

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