Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Product Review: Grammar of Ornament

Grammar of Ornament CD Rom Collection of Clip Art for Mac and PC
by Susan Lazear, Encinitas, CA

Many of you may be familiar with a large coffee table book called The Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones.

First published in 1856, the Grammar was the first text book on ornamental design and design theory. It is a marvelous collection of designs that cover a vast range of cultures and history, from the Egyptians through modern time. The original Folio edition has over 2,300 designs on 100 color plates. It was printed using Chromolithography.

Direct Imagination (Pasadena, CA) has taken the book and reproduced it on CD ROM for use with computer graphics. They has used Adobe's Acrobat software to create a 'click and choose' format for the user, and Adobe's Acrobat Reader is included free on the CD ROM. There are two versions of the CD ROM collection: a Compact version $99.00 and a Professional version $199.00. In both versions, you have access to 2100 copyright free images and you can use a 'click and choose' approach to locate, view and read about the images. You may print an mage, move it to Photoshop (by simply clicking on a Photoshop button) or copy the image to the clipboard and transport it to the graphics application of your choice. The Professional version includes additional files (160) which are in vector format for Illustrator or Freehand. These will give professionals output that is non-jaggy. In addition, the Professional version includes greyscale, black/white and line art version of all the vector files.

What you get:

The program comes packaged in a beautiful box which will aid you in keeping things together. This box was created to simulate the original packaging of the plates. You receive two manuals; one explains the 'how to's' and the second manual is pictorial synopsis of the various plates or images found on the CD Rom. The CD Rom is multi-platfrom (as are the manuals) and can be used on either a Macintosh or a Windows computer.

To Begin:

The first thing you will need to do in order to use the Grammar of Ornament effectively, is to ensure that you have Acrobat Reader installed. Since this is included on the CD, this process is simple. Once installation is complete, take a quick tour, by clicking on the Demo icon. Finally, you may delve into the images. Walk through the tutorial, as laid out in the manual. This will teach you how to use Acrobat to view the various images.

Experiment and Enjoy:

Direct Imagination had done a wonderful job in organizing the images and creating a easy to use environment via Acrobat, so that all you need to do as the user, is click on the appropriate image to be taken to a new chapter/image/text description, etc. A pictorial index exists in the form of icons or button, and these act as 'links'. When you click on an image icon, it links you to the next image. If you click on the notepaper icon, you link to a text description. It is really wonderful! As you explore the collection, you will see that Direct Imagination has also included 'clickable button' that show you movies of morphed designs, end-use application of ornament artwork, etc.

So, how would you use this wonderful source of clip art images?

There are numerous ways you, the craft person or textile artist can work with the images. You could print them onto Heat Transfer printer paper and ultimately decorate your clothing. Or, you could take the images into a paint or image processing program, reduce the number of colors, and import the graphic into Stitch Painter. With Stitch Painter's Full Color Import Module you can take images directly from this Ornament clip art collection into Stitch Painter, which will color reduce and graph the images for you. That is when things will get wild and wonderful. Another use for this clip art, is 'ornamentation' of anything you do on your computer. Imagine creating your own letterhead or business cards, using the artwork from historical eras. Or, create party invitations and banners yourself. Your only limitation is your imagination.

This collection is a must for any designer who wants copyright free, historical ornament at there fingertips! Not all craftspeople would need the Professional version, but if one does desktop publishing in any form, this would be recommended.

~Susan Lazear

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