REVIEW MARCH 28 , 2001
Creature House Expression 2

[Page 2 of 3]

Text strokes with a 30 point bitmap stroke. Strokes over text can be adjusted as
easily as those on a path, including width, color, opacity, slant, joint sty;e. etc.
This text has not yet been converted to paths and is still fully editable.

Here the text is filled, and the fill has a solid transparency. The stroke has a
gradient transparency based on the alpha channel imported with
the bitmap. Again, the text remains fully editable.

Strokes, incidentally, are organized in their own palette, which can display all existing strokes or just list strokes by category (folder). Strokes can be defined and added to the palette with a simple menu selection.

Other significant tools and features include:

  • Warp, which using a grid to warp bitmap and vector data. You can import bitmaps into the program, place a grid over them and then stretch coordinates for warps within and without the objects' bounding boxes.
  • Onion skin, for showing previous and next documents for cell animation.
  • Support for Photoshop filters (on bitmap objects).
  • Paper textures for strokes and fills, whose resolution can be controlled independently.
  • Soft edges and embossed fills.
  • Masks with strokes and fills.

Import and Export
Expression 2 supports a number of file formats for importing and exporting, including the ability to export to Adobe Illustrator 8 format and EPS. It can also output Flash (SWF) files. The Flash export is probably unique in graphic design. I've certainly never seen anything like it. You don't actually animate an object in a timeline as you would in Macromedia Flash or Adobe LiveMotion (or any number of the other programs that export SWF). Rather, animation is handled on an object by object basis. The program allows you to pick an object and then set that object's normal, over and click states from a series of pulldown menus.

Expression's Flash settings dialog. All Flash animation settings
are made here, and no timeline is involved.

You can choose between motion and color settings, cycle type, cycle time and duration of the effect. There are no interactive features other than hyperlinks. Motion effects include pulsate, horizontal pulsate, vertical pulsate, rock, X vibrate, Y vibrate, rotate, enlarge and shrink. Color effects include fade, blink, brighten and darken.

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