Synthetic Arts

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This software was initially intended for commercialization, but given the increasing quality of public domain products like NEOCHROME MASTER, we decided to release it freely once it was usable. This explains its imperfections, which should be corrected in future improvements. In case you encounter problems, bugs, or other issues, you can submit your feedback or suggestions to:

BP 247



- The overall concept of Synthetic Arts is similar to that of Neochrome, with the screen divided into two parts: the screen page and the icon panel. You can still switch to full screen mode. Full-screen mode is activated by pressing the corresponding icon. From that moment on, whenever you move to the screen to draw on the half-screen page, you enter full-screen mode. To return from full screen to the icon panel, use the TAB key. When you are not in full screen mode, a dynamic magnifying glass appears with the cursor coordinates, the name of the image, and the name of the selected tool in place of the main icon panel.



The icons between CRAYON and TEXTE, between AutoENTOURAGE and AutoDEGRADE, are tool selection icons. The corresponding parameter table for each tool appears when it is selected under the main icon panel.
Note that for the tools - RECTANGLE CERCLE ELLIPSE POLYGONE -:
- Selection by left-click activates them in line mode.
- Selection by right-click activates them in fill mode (in this case, a small LED appears on the corresponding icon).
Pressing the eraser icon with the right-click does not select that tool but erases the screen. If full-screen mode is activated, the entire screen is cleared; otherwise, only the portion of the image displayed on the half-screen is erased.

The icons between DISQUE and SOURIS allow access to various software functions:
- Disk access
- Fullscreen
- Image scrolling
- Brush editor
- Pattern editor
- Screen management
- Mouse settings (not available in this software version).

The six screen selection icons.

The OPTIONS icon.



  It allows freehand drawing. Drawing with the left button uses the color selected by the cursor in the palette. Drawing with the right button uses the color from the arrow-shaped palette "<".

- Line Drawing:
  The settings allow you to choose the endpoints and thickness of the first line. The other two lines can be redefined by clicking on them with the right mouse button, which opens a line editor; however, you cannot define their thickness. Once defined, you select one of the three lines by clicking on it with the left button. To draw a line, select one endpoint while holding down the left-click. Then simply move the other endpoint to the desired location. If the first chosen endpoint is not satisfactory, press the other click while still holding the first one (note that, unlike Neochrome, this action does not refresh the UNDO). If the drawing is triggered with the left-click, the line will be drawn in the style selected on the parameter table. If the drawing is triggered with the right-click, the line will be drawn with the color gradient between the two palette arrows "<" & ">" (in this mode, the line style is not taken into account).

  You can choose between a solid fill pattern (the default selection) or one of the twelve redefinable patterns. In monochrome mode, Synthetic Arts considers the shade of the selected pattern, and you can choose its color from the palette. In color mode, patterns can be multicolored; they are displayed as they are, and you cannot choose their color. A rectangle containing the selected pattern visualizes it as it will be displayed. A click on this rectangle toggles between the FILL and PATTERN modes.
  During drawing, triggering by left-click or right-click allows drawing with the color pointed to by the cursor or with the color pointed to by the "<" arrow (similar to the CRAYON).
  Pattern editing is done using an editor described later.

- Block Management:
The parameter table provides access to:
   - Selection of the block overlay mode on the image:
   - Selection of the block capture mode on the screen:
   - Selection of Cut Paste or Copy mode:
     TAKE - COPY
   - Loading and saving a block:
     LOAD - SAVE
   - Block distortions: DEFORM
   This option takes you to a page where the block is displayed with a menu at the bottom of the screen offering various distortions. You can exit this menu by clicking on the block. Once the distortion is applied, you can confirm it with the left mouse button or cancel it with the right button. Note that for rotation, you can interrupt the operation by pressing a key. For SIN x and SIN y deformations, you can adjust the frequency, amplitude, and starting point by pressing the right button, and you use the left button to deform. For ZOOM, you have the dimensions of the deformed block and the height-to-width ratio to maintain proper proportions.
   - Resizing the block that eliminates any background color outlines of the block.
   The block size is displayed at the bottom left of the table.

You select a block on the screen in BLOCK or CUTTER mode: this selection is done by pressing and holding down the left click (you can cancel in the same way as for drawing lines). The block is captured or copied according to the selected mode and is stored in memory. You can move it by clicking on it with the left button and moving the mouse. During movement, pressing the ALTERNATE key removes the border around the block. You can place the block on the image as many times as you like by clicking on it with both buttons. You can close it by clicking next to it with the left button. You can close it without fixing it by clicking next to it with the right button. Note that in these last two cases, the block is closed but remains in memory: you can reopen it at any time by clicking on the right button. If you change tools without closing the block, it remains open and will reappear in the same place when you re-select block management. Similarly, a block remains open when you change screens, allowing you to use some screens as clipboards for your blocks. UNDO closes the block when executed. Note about UNDO: when you close the block by fixing it, UNDO is refreshed (this can be confusing at first). So if you are unsure of your action, I recommend doing it in two steps: fix your block by clicking on it with both buttons, then close it by clicking next to it with the right button. (It's best to do some testing to get used to this feature).

In addition to the dynamic magnifier like Neochrome's, Synthetic Arts offers a Static Magnifier similar to Degas's.
You move a box over the image representing the portion of the image to enlarge. You go under the magnifier by clicking the left button. At the top of the screen, you have a menu and the currently enlarged image on the left. This menu is modified in version 2.025. A click on this image while holding down the right button allows you to move the magnifier without exiting it. You can exit the magnifier by clicking on this image. The color palette is displayed and allows you to select working colors: by clicking on a color with the left button, you select the color that will be used by the tools with the left button (note that this color corresponds to the one managed in the main icon table). Similarly, a right-click selects the color that will be used with the right button by the magnifier tools only. Starting from version 2.025, you can also directly pick the color from the drawing using the ("<" or ">") key. Text icons allow you to select magnifier tools. The tools work similarly to those in the main menu except that you:
   - cannot choose a line type
   - do not have gradient lines
   - do not have fill patterns
If you press the CAPS LOCK key, you enter a mode where the cursor on the magnifier is replaced by the intersection of a vertical line and a horizontal line. In this mode, the cursor coordinates relative to the entire image are displayed at the top right in the menu. The "X: x" icon allows you to access a dropdown menu to choose the magnification factor of the magnifier. UNDO functions under the magnifier have three levels:
   - an UNDO when you are on the image outside the magnifier that cancels all operations performed under the magnifier.
   - an UNDO when you are under the magnifier that cancels the last action performed. WARNING if you change the magnification, move the magnifier, or change the GRID mode, this UNDO is refreshed.
   - an UNDO by pressing ALTERNATE when exiting the magnifier: it allows you to ignore your latest actions since you arrived under the magnifier, moved the magnifier, or changed the magnification. WARNING if you use this option, you will not be able to recover what you had done if you change your mind.

The airbrush can work in monochrome or color mode. In color mode, you can determine the colors that will be sprayed by activating them or not through the parameter table. The airbrush can be round or rectangular. You can adjust the flow rate with the counter. You can give it any size: once on the drawing area, press CAPS LOCK to enter the size parameterization mode. Once determined, press CAPS LOCK again to exit this mode. Note that when the airbrush is active, the dynamic magnifier is inactive.

- Brushes:
They have a maximum size of 16x16. They can be multicolored or monochrome, and this works in the same way as patterns. The brush editor will be described later. By pressing ALTERNATE during drawing, you get a kind of airbrush similar to the one found in NEOCHROME under the name NOZZLES.
Starting from version 2.02: by selecting the "BLEND" mode, you get a brush type familiar to DELUXE PAINT users: The brush enters the NOZZLES mode as described earlier, but instead of drawing with a defined color, it decrements or increments (depending on the triggering click) the color register of the points where it traces. This decrement (or increment) is limited by the left (or right) color ARROW. This mode allows you to easily create texture effects like stone (to fully understand how this mode works, it is recommended to conduct some experiments).

- Rectangle:
It can be filled or outlined depending on the mode in which it was selected (see Icon Table). It can be customized through a parameter table for filling or lines, as applicable. It works in a standard way. You can cancel a trace in the same way as for lines. The working colors (left or right click) follow the same principle as that used for the pencil and filling. In the filled mode, you can obtain an outline of the rectangle during drawing by pressing the ALTERNATE key.

- Circle:
It functions similarly to the rectangle except for the ALTERNATE outlines which do not exist. By pressing CAPS LOCK during tracing, you can additionally configure a portion of the circle: starting angle with the left button and ending angle with the right button. You exit this mode by pressing CAPS LOCK. WARNING: If you use this additional configuration, you cannot cancel without UNDO.

- Ellipse:
It works the same way as the circle.

- Polygon:
It can be filled or outlined, just like the previous three tools. You place the vertices by clicking with the left button. You trigger the drawing of the polygon by clicking with the right button. You can cancel without using UNDO by pressing a key.

- Bezier Curves:
Synthetic Arts allows you to draw four-vertex Bezier curves. They are configured using the same parameter table as the line drawing. You place the four vertices (during this phase, you can cancel with the right key). Then, click with the left button and hold it down. The vertex closest to the cursor can then be moved by the mouse. You can cancel by pressing a key. Click with the right button to confirm the curve.

- Text:
You can customize its style and size. However, you should know that you cannot have ITALIC and SURROUND styles simultaneously. On the screen page, a click triggers a keyboard entry for text. The HELP key allows you to access special characters. Confirm your phrase with ENTER or RETURN. You can then move it on the screen. You can cancel by clicking the right button.

- Eraser:
You can redefine its size by pressing CAPS LOCK when you are on the drawing area in the same way as for the airbrush. Additionally, by pressing the icon with the right button, you erase the entire screen in full-screen mode or only the visible part in half-screen mode.

It allows you to automatically surround a portion of an image. The width of the outline is customizable. You can also determine the sides to surround. However, you cannot surround a color with itself (to achieve this, you need to surround it with another color and then use Color Replacement). You also cannot surround with the background color. In case it is selected, a warning message will alert you (starting from version 2.02). From version 2.02, you also have a customizable anti-aliasing (anti-aliasing) in power (from 1 to 12) accessible by right-click (left-click is reserved for auto-surround).

- Color Replacement:
It allows you to change the color of points from a certain color register. To do this, click on the color box of the points to be changed while holding down the click, then move the mouse horizontally to determine the color they will be replaced with (indicated by the cursor on the palette above the main icon panel). This option is difficult to describe; it is once again advisable to conduct some experiments.

Synthetic Arts allows you to perform automatic gradients like SPECTRUM 512, except that you are limited by the palette, and its management is entrusted to you. It draws an automatic gradient on a defined portion of the screen between the points of the color palette pointed by "<" and the points of the color palette pointed by ">". Therefore, the colors between these two arrows must be gradients; for this, refer to the section on palette configuration. If there are no starting or ending points, i.e., the color of one of the two arrows in the screen portion you have defined, an alert box will inform you, and the gradient cannot be launched. If the number of starting or ending points exceeds 3999 points, an alert box will inform you, and the gradient will be performed on a limited number of points. You can interrupt the gradient by pressing a key; an alert box will ask for confirmation (once stopped, the gradient cannot be resumed). If you have selected your screen portion with a left click, the gradient is performed on all points in the area. If you selected it with a right click, the gradient is only calculated for the hidden part of that same area, i.e., for points whose color is different from the background color.



Accessed by clicking on the floppy disk icon.
Various options are offered:
          - erase a file.
          - available space.
          - create a folder.
          - formatting: it allows formatting with 9 or 10 sectors, 80, 81, or
            82 tracks, single or double-sided. It creates the directory last and
            formats from the last track: if you realize it's the wrong disk
            during formatting, press a key to cancel; not all data may be lost.
          - rename a file.
  Synthetic Arts allows loading images in the following formats:
          - SRT: Synthetic v1.0 (Medium resolution).
          - NEO: Neochrome.
          - RGH: ZZ Rought.
          - P??: Uncompressed or compressed Degas, any resolution.
          - KID: (from version 2.025 onwards) Fullscreen Construction Kit by FMC format.
            This is an overscan image format: palette + 63KB image. The image is divided
            into four screens (see Overscan Management). If one of the screens is
            protected, a confirmation is requested. You cannot perform a chained load
            with this format.
  Synthetic Arts allows saving images in the following formats:
          - BIT: The 32KB of screen RAM images.
          - NEO: Neochrome.
          - RGH: ZZ Rought.
          - PI1: Uncompressed low-resolution Degas.
          - KID: Fullscreen Construction Kit image.
  By clicking on the extension names, you select the save or load format.
  The image formats are quite limited, but their list should quickly expand in
  future versions.
  By clicking on LOAD with the left button, you initiate the loading of the current
  By clicking on LOAD with the right button, you initiate a chained loading:
          - 6 SCREENS: loads the six screens directly accessible by screen selection icons.
            If you cancel with the object selector, the corresponding screen is not
            loaded; Synthetic Arts moves on to the next screen.
          - X SCREENS: loads X screens from the current screen until you choose CANCEL in
            the object selector or you no longer have enough screens to continue the
            operation. If a screen is protected (see Screen Management), it is not loaded
            during chained loading.
  The SAVE option works the same way as LOAD, except for protected screens, which are
  saved during a chained save.
  You can select the current screen from the Disk Management by clicking on the
  corresponding icons on the main icon panel.
  You return to the main screen by clicking on the main icon panel outside the screen
  selection icons.


- OVERSCAN MANAGEMENT (from version 2.025):

You have certainly heard of this technique used in demos that allows displaying an
image in full screen like on the Amiga (Overscan mode), which the ST's graphics
processor theoretically does not allow. This option will make it easier for those of
you who use "Overscans" to create images in this format. You will draw your Overscan
screen by distributing it as you like on four normal screens. By clicking with the
left button on the Full icon, you trigger the calculation of the Overscan screen
from the four screens and then its display (which you can exit by pressing "SPACE").
By pressing the right button on the Full icon, you access the panel that allows you to
adjust your four screens together. The left button allows you to move the boundary
between the screens. By clicking with the right button held down on one of the screens,
you can move it individually (note that this setting is reset when loading a KID
During all these operations, the boundary lines can be temporarily hidden by pressing
the "ALTERNATE" key. The data (width-height) on each screen segment that will be used
on the Overscan screen is constantly provided to you. Pressing the keys 1, 2, 3, 4
allows you to enter the numbers of the screens that will make up the Overscan screen.
You can exit this configuration panel by pressing "SPACE". It should also be noted
that when an Overscan screen is constructed, its construction starts from the leftmost
edge of screen 1 or 3 and from the uppermost edge of screen 1 or 2. For the use of this
Overscan option, it is more than ever advisable to conduct some experiments.



It allows access to the entire image to be drawn in half a screen. It corresponds to the
GRABBER option of Neochrome, except that here it is accessible from any tool without
deselecting it. If you trigger it with a right click, the scroll occurs in steps of 16
pixels: this allows you to work with frames without vertical shifting problems. The
X-coordinate of the image relative to the first line displayed on the half screen is
displayed: "BASE:X".



They are similar and differ by the display of "BRUSH" or "FRAME". At the bottom left,
the 12 brushes or frames you have are displayed. You select the one you want to work
on. The work is done fairly traditionally, as in many frame editors. You can save and
load your frames and brushes.
Taking a frame or brush from the screen is done by SCREEN PICKUP: you can take a
portion of an image as a frame, which is enlarged in real time and appears on one side
or the other of the screen. You can cancel with the right click; the left click



Under Synthetic Arts, you have as many screens as your memory allows, up to 99.
However, under the icon panel, you only have six icons to select your screens: screen
management allows you to assign a screen number to each of these six icons. Click on
the screen management icon, twelve screens are displayed (if you have enough memory)
in a reduced form. For technical reasons, the screens are represented with the palette
of the first reduced screen; however, you can view the screens with their palette in
'full size' at any time by clicking on them with the right mouse button. By clicking
on a screen with the left button, you assign its number to one of the six icons at the
bottom left. From version 2.02 onwards, by clicking on the band where it says "SCREEN X"
underlining each screen, a star appears: the corresponding screen is protected; this
means that when copying or loading on this screen, a confirmation is requested.
(see 'Disk Access' and 'Screen Selection Icons'). From version 2.025 onwards, an 'f'
appears if the screen in question is part of the group of four screens forming the
Overscan screen (see Overscan Management).
To access a screen not included in the twelve currently represented, use the counter
opened by the 'Screens ...' icon.
The 'Animate' icon takes you to a new screen: here you can scroll your screens in a
looped or forward/backward animation at a specified speed. For this, you have a track
that determines the sequence of screens: you can change the number of a box in this
track by clicking with the left button held down and moving the mouse horizontally.
By clicking on a box with the right button, you can view the corresponding screen. The
animation will be performed on the part of the track between the two arrows. You fix
these arrows anywhere by clicking with the left or right button on the band below each
box. This option has been implemented to facilitate retouching and looping work on
digitized images in real-time with digitizers such as VIDI ST.



The color selection band above the icon panel works somewhat similarly to Neochrome: you determine the working color by selecting it with a left-click. You can slide the palette arrows by clicking on them with the right mouse button and dragging them. If you right-click on a color other than the palette arrow colors, you open the palette settings panel: you select the color to configure by clicking on it with a left-click. The operations on the arrows are available. The Gradient option performs a gradient of the palette between the two palette arrows.

The Mem option allows:
   - to save a palette with a left-click
   - to save a color with a right-click

In case of an error, an "UNDO" is available using the UNDO or SPACE key. The LUM -, LUM + keys allow you to decrease or increase the brightness of a color by acting on its three components. Palette editing is also facilitated by the use of options ROTATE > ROTATE < INVERSE SWAP (from version 2.02 onwards). From version 2.025 onwards, you can view the drawing in full page to see the result of your palette with the image. From this version, the selected color appears as the background color at the bottom of the screen: this allows you to better see the result obtained.

Depending on the palette you have (512 or 4096), you will have 8 or 16 possible intensity levels for each component.

To exit the palette configuration mode, click outside the reserved panel.



You can easily switch from one screen to another by clicking with the left button on these icons. You can assign a screen number directly without going through Screen Management by clicking with the right button while holding down the ALTERNATE key: this triggers a keyboard entry of the screen number.

You can quickly copy a screen to another: this allows you to easily keep track of the different stages of your drawing: just right-click on the screen to copy (the icon appears surrounded in red) and then click on the destination screen icon: you can cancel the copy by clicking outside the screen selection icons. If a screen is protected, a confirmation is requested.



By right-clicking, you access a drop-down GEM-like menu that allows you to use any accessories. In version 2.02, the options panel has been completely reworked. You can now change the language in use. A preference save feature has been created:

You create files in which the following preferences are saved:
   - Synchronization
   - BLITTER mode
   - Extended PALETTE mode
   - Language used
   - Image file format

To this, you can add different settings such as:
   - Animation track
   - Screen configuration (protections)
   - Frames
   - Brushes
   - Palettes (for all screens)
   - Airbrush settings
   - Color replacement settings
   - Line settings

If you load a preference file, only the validated options will be loaded.

If you want your preferences to be loaded automatically during program loading, simply save your file as "SYNTHY.INF".

When switching from Ste palette mode to Stf palette mode, the colors are converted (since version 2.02).



In drawing mode, you can lock the mouse in the X or Y axis at any time by pressing the left SHIFT and right SHIFT keys.

You can 'pick up' a color from the screen as the GRABBER tool allows under Neochrome by pressing the < (or >) key from any tool (except the eraser).

In full-screen mode, the A (or a) key allows you to control the currently used color.

You can also select it directly with the keyboard using the keys between 'ESC' and 'HELP'.

In full-screen mode, you can check the position of your cursor by triggering the enlargement of a local portion of the screen by pressing the CONTROL key.

You can change screens using the keys 1 2 3 4 5 6.

UNDO is accessible via the UNDO and SPACE keys. Note that in full-screen mode, UNDO affects the entire screen, whereas it only affects a part of the image in half-screen mode: be careful when switching modes.

The counters in Synthetic Arts have a keyboard entry: just click on the displayed number.

The "S" (or s) key allows you to save the image. However, the cursor must be on the icon panel, and a save file name must be defined for this option to be used.


The next version of Synthetic Arts should include a new mouse management system to eliminate color flickering. This development will also allow for sensitivity settings for the mouse and an overscan magnifying glass in full screen.


I hope you will use Synthetic Arts, and that the upcoming improvements will satisfy you.

See you soon in a future version.


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