Virtual Mirror Introduces Vector Studio
Macworld debut for cross-platform Adobe Illustrator plugins
Man About Town
Macworld marks the debut of Virtual Mirror's Vector Studio, a suite of
plugins for Adobe Illustrator. Compatible with versions 8 and 9 of Illustrator,
Vector Studio is available for both Macintosh and Windows.
I spoke with Michael Perani, Virtual Mirror's Vice President of Product
Development about what he was hoping to accomplish with Vector Studio. "All
of us at Virtual Mirror are artists," he said, "so naturally our product
development flows directly from the kinds of tasks we want to do better.
"That tends to go in two directions at once. Some tasks, like the
creation of gradients or making selections, we wanted to make faster and easier.
Others, like morphing and texture creation, we wanted to make more powerful, even
add features that are missing from the core of Illustrator's core tools.
"We tried to summarize both directions in the slogan for Vector
Studio, which is: 'For the jobs you do everyday, and drawings you've never been
able to make before.'
"Our goal with our Illustrator plugins has been to recapture the
vitality and gestural quality of hand-drawn illustrations," Perani said.
"Vector Studio goes a long way towards achieving that goal."
Following a demonstration by Virtual Mirror's Yong Kil, I have to agree.
I'll go even further and say that these six plugins reflect an artist's sensibilities
in their elegance and are a delight to use. Look for a full review of Vector Studio
very soon, but for now I'd like to introduce some of its features.
Envelope Mesh is the most powerful enveloping tool available in any vector drawing
environment. Envelope Mesh allows users to create and edit shape shifting objects
based on the familiar and easy to use tools of Adobe Illustrators Gradient Mesh.
Envelope Mesh comes packaged with over eighty presets and allows users to save
and recall their own envelope libraries.
Morph Brushes is truly a product within a product, offering illustrators seven
new and simple shape editing tools that go well beyond the capabilities of typical
point editors. It offers a collection of seven brushes that allow you to "paint"
detail and distortions to vector outlines. Morph Brushes lets you perform shape
edits, without ever having to touch a control handle, simply by dragging the mouse!
The Morph tools lineup includes: Swirl Brush, Sculpt Brush, Inhale Brush, Exhale
Brush, Scallop Brush, Crystallize Brush and Wrinkle Brush.
Name and save selections, and recall them when you need to. The named selections
created with Selection Hat are saved with your document, so you can set up complicated
selections once and for all! Gone are the days of carefully selecting a collection
of shapes or control points, only to lose the selection when the user must work
on something else. Selection Hat lets users name and save selections and recall
them when they need to. Selection Hat also comes packaged with 10 artboard navigation
utilities for getting around complicated illustrations and getting the most out
of Adobe Illustrator 9.0's new transparency feature.
Gradient Factory is to gradients as a color picker is to colors. Gradient Factory
allows users to specify color shifts in a variety of color spaces and methods
for automatically inserting color stops. Gradient Factory creates a collection
of gradients based on the users specifications in a floating palette. These gradients,
regardless of their complexity, can be applied to an object with a single mouse
Gradient Textures exhibit the subtle shading characteristics of image-based texturing
techniques but are fully resolution-independent. Users can create their designs
at a rapid 72 DPI and get the same results when they go out to print at 300 DPI.
Gradient Textures ships with 170 preset textures and can simulate the shading
and dispersion characteristics of traditional watercolors, as well as a broad
range of organic-looking textures.
GlassWorks objects behave like glass lenses as they apply texturing operations
to the artwork that lies behind them. It allows users to create lenses that texture
areas of a design that lie underneath them with Adobe Photoshop filters. The lenses
are live and respond to all the shape editing controls of Illustrator and automatically
recreate their textures whenever an underlying object is modified
Vector Studio is now shipping,
with a suggested list price of $129. Several of the component products are available
individually at $79 for Morph Brushes, $39 for Envelope Mesh, $59 for Grrradient!
and $39 for Selection Hat. The Morph Brushes stand-alone product includes all
seven morph brushes. Grrradient! includes the Gradient Factory and Gradient Textures
plugins For more information, visit http://www.virtualmirror.com.
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