When the first two volumes of Photo-Objects appeared in mid-2001, they caused quite a stir. While the clipart market was awash with products boasting hundreds of thousands of images, nobody had brought out a set of CDs with 50,000 photo cutouts supported by 8-bit alpha channels for transparency masks. The two volumes could be combined and viewed from a single browser and even included printed 250-page reference books.
The browser, however, was incompatible with Mac OS X, even in the Classic environment. So Hemera has just released volume III which includes a native OS X browser - and 50,000 new images on seven CDs.
The new browser incorporates a Web-site search facility for Hemera's other products as well as its subscription-based service, AbleStock. You can search through installed copies of volumes I and II by making the browser aware of them via its Search for Hemera Collections feature.
Finding an image couldn't be easier - just type in a keyword, choose from the visual thumbnails, and insert the relevant CD. By following the Export Assistant's advice, the best file type can be selected. This now includes an emailable option, some basic tools such as crop and flip, and support for more file formats such as PNG and native Photoshop (PSD).
Exported files are in RGB mode with an alpha channel mask. From experience, QuarkXPress isn't the best program at handling alpha channels, but it's easy enough to copy the channel to a layer mask - so imposing the transparency characteristics.
The images are fairly small, typically being in the hundreds of pixels. This gives a useable size of up to 7cm or so at high resolution, although I've used Genuine Fractals PrintPro (above) in the past to enlarge a Hemera image to almost A4 and got away with it.
The variety of image is unbelievable. For instance, type in the word 'clown' and 281 thumbnails appear including photos of toys, figures and real clowns in almost every position imaginable. And the imagery isn't all American, either; type in 'bus' and you get 30-odd images of toy British double-decker buses.
Combining this with old versions of volumes I and II has problems, though. Each volume has to be installed and run, but the old browser won't work in OS X.
However, Hemera has made available a newer, Carbon version of the browser. The OS 9 situation is far worse. It simply isn't possible to create a combination of all three volumes.
Some images are said to be ten-a-penny. These actually cost seven a penny, and they're well worth it. It's hard to find any negative aspects to such a great idea. Thoroughly recommended.