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Astral takes aim at Adobe It seems as if everyone is gunning for Adobe these days. First it was Apple and Microsoft (although the former recently seems to be having second thoughts about doing so). Then Electronics for Imaging (EFI) went after Adobe in an attempt to extract royalty payments covering the former's color portability patent (Adobe sued EFI instead). And now two PC-based software publishers, Astral Development and Slidetek (see below) are offering new versions of their programs that compete with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator 3.0, respectively--and on the Mac, too.
Astral Development announced Picture Publisher in color for the Macintosh at the show. This revelation followed closely the announcement of Picture Publisher Plus, running under Windows 3.0.
The new versions offer similar functional capabilities, including an extensive suite of software tools for determining scanner and printer calibration curves. Both packages come with a Stouffer's gray wedge and a synthetic CMYK wedge, which is used to determine the appropriate correction levels for any given scanner or output device. The user can run calibration passes whenever he suspects that the scanner or output device is deviating from previously computed values.
The PC version takes advantage of the 8-bit extended VGA mode (supported on an increasing percentage of available VGA cards) to provide the minimum level of image quality necessary for retouching and painting functions at a fraction of the cost of the more expensive 32-bit Mac-based solutions. Picture Publisher provides a variable brush size for pixel editing, unlike Photoshop, which only allows you to work with a 16 X 16-pixel wedge. Picture Publisher also offers a more intuitive means of remapping an image's hues and colors, using sliding bars rather than the rotating disk used in Photoshop.
Aside from these and similar improvements, Astral now offers its full suite of interactive image manipulation functions on both platforms. The Mac program is similar to the PC version, but it allows 32-bit color manipulation as …