Clip-art has a pretty bad name; mainly because it ain’t that pretty. Curiously-drawn people – looking like freakish clowns – doing sometimes impossible things (fishing with giant penguins, enjoying a barbecue on the moon, etc) populate collections that can span up to 50 CDs. Anything useful would have fitted on a floppy. Royalty-free photography, on the other hand, is much respected – as it is often of high quality, and is remarkable value compared to images available from esteemed companies such as PhotoDisc and Getty Images.
Volume II of Hemera’s Photo-Objects 50,000 features that many photos (no lousy drawings) for just £69 – that’s 0.14p per picture. Obviously, you’re highly unlikely to use all 50,000 – or anywhere near – but designers who need a ready supply of people, or object, images will find Photo-Objects saves them money and time when in desperate need of an appropriate image – be it a baby bunny or a pair of artificial arms (see right).
The tens of thousands of people and object cut-outs are good, but there’s also a fair proportion of animal and place photos that are restricted in terms of usage by having a fairly brutal silkscreen effect of scratchy edges and, well, scratchy everything (see middle picture, right). Either Hemera bought up an image library of silkscreen-esque photos, or someone in charge believes that there’s a ready market for pictures that look like jumble-sale postcards.
The other criticism of this collection is image size. At 300dpi, the maximum width or height of some images is about 6cm, which could be too small for many designers. 25,000 larger photos would have pleased more professional customers – especially if that meant a lot less niche scratchy postcards.
Alongside the 50,000 photos is PhotoFont, an application that places one of the pictures inside the text of your choosing. Simply type a word or phrase, select one of the images as a “texture”, save in the format you require (print, Web, etc), and Bob’s your uncle. Bob can even choose his own TIFF photos to fill his text with.
PhotoFont supports transparencies, so that the filled words will sit on a background, with no need to export to a program such as Adobe Photoshop. In practice, however, a letter’s bowl – the enclosed space within an ‘O’, ‘e’ or ‘d’ for instance – seems to miss the cut, and remains the selected background colour. If Hemera could sort this out, PhotoFont would be superb – especially for novices who want everything done for them. Without the transparency glitch, PhotoFont works a treat, however.
Photo-Objects has its idiosyncrasies, but, at £69, offers good value for money to art studios that require a near endless supply of people and object cut-outs, or for amateur designers who’d like to add photos to newsletters and such like. And the bundled PhotoFont is fun, too.