TypeStyler III

When adding shadow to text was considered so cool that you called your family round to gawp, Brøderbund’s TypeStyler was a god. With TypeStyler’s headline magic at your fingertips, the whole street would visit and drop to their knees in worship. In the days before Kai’s Power Tools and affordable 3D, TypeStyler was the last word in type manipulation. And even that word was shaped like a fish… TypeStyler would take your words and fashion them into shapes you imagined only draughtsmen could handle… and some draughtsmen wouldn’t touch with an oversized T-Square. The fish didn’t swim alone. Text could be slanted, made circular, blown into a balloon, perspectivized, and twisted – as well as molded into peculiar presets, such as pennants, Cinemascope, and the Lonsdale logo. If TypeStyler had followed the upgrade course of Photoshop, it would out special-effect LucasArts and feature more animation than a Pixar DVD box-set. Instead, Brøderbund let v1.5 stagnate until even the fish got bored and swam off. Several years later and the program is back in the hands of its original developers. Strider Software’s TypeStyler III (TS3) is no longer merely the king of banners and crazy headlines. This long-awaited release (actually version 3.46) has much-enhanced print features and new Web and video-titling functionality. You can bend, squeeze, stretch, emboss, twist, and rotate text using all PostScript Type 1 and TrueType fonts, or any of the 110 provided display fonts. You can add transparency, perspective, shades, hard and soft shadows, inlines, outlines, chisel and bevel effects, and levels of blur, noise and glows; or apply bump maps, pattern, gradient, starburst, or dual blend fills. And TS3 is no klutz when it comes to kerning: the spacing between letters, letter pairs, words, and lines of type can be adjusted any time during the design process. Whatever mess you’ve fashioned from your text, all type settings remain editable whether the type is straight, distorted, or placed around arcs. You don’t have to be a craftsman to fashion type into metallic and glossy effects that simulate chrome, gold, glass, plastic, and other materials. Type can be filled with imported pictures. And, remarkably, individual style elements – such as outlines, fills, and shadows – can be blurred or filled with images independently. TS3 supports drag-&-drop with like-minded apps, and works with Photoshop, Illustrator, XPress, and FreeHand, among others. Import support encompasses EPS, GIF, Illustrator, JPEG and PICT. It can export as GIF, native Photoshop (with layers) and Illustrator, EPS and TIFF (with clipping paths), and even as complete Web pages. Yes, a product is nothing these days without some Internet aid or functionality. And TS3 is right in there. You can export your TS3 documents as Web pages – the HTML is all there for you to paste into PageMill or GoLive if you prefer. You can assign URLs to any object, as well as create (often hilarious) animated GIFs and JavaScript rollover effects. Sure, there’s better programs for making this stuff, but none are as much fun as TypeStyler.

OUR VERDICT

TypeStyler III is so easy to use and such a rib tickler that many will dismiss it as a toy. But TS3 is no mere PowerGoo. However they’re used or misused, the type effects on offer would take even design pros an age to create in Photoshop. And since when did Mac people start deriding intuitive software that occasionally raises a smile? For those of us too lazy to put together complex Photoshop Actions and brave enough to risk a few Starburst Fills, TypeStyler III is still a pretty big fish in a crowded design ocean.

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