Rare Commodore 64 (C-64, C64) pixel art unearthed!

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Bill Loguidice's picture

While not exactly as monumental or groundbreaking as my tongue-in-cheek title would imply, in my small world it's something fun that I wanted to share--original pixel art (much like AA staffer Mark Vasier's wonderful icons that we often use on blog posting headers, like the C-64 icon to the upper left) not seen since the mid-1980's. Without further ado, here's the public unveiling of original artwork done by myself and late friend, Ed Beck, done back in our youth on the Commodore 64, armed only with lots of time, a joystick and crude, but effective art programs.

[NOTE: All of this was captured directly from my Commodore 128D using a USB video capture device and my laptop.]

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The above was by Ed Beck in DOODLE with a joystick (apologies for my not remembering how to remove the cursor when viewing images). He had utilized a neat technique to get a more striking visual effect in things like the planetary continents by essentially skipping drawn lines. It's similar to color techniques (which we also used) to get more than the allowable sixteen colors on-screen by placing certain colors in proximity to each other and the display essentially blending them for free. Ah, the beauty that can come from needing to work around limitations...

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The above were inspired by the cover of the original 1950's version of one of my favorite books of all time, Half Magic. The colored one below, while to some maybe not as nice as the black and white one, was as close as I was able to get to the original coloring (which is pretty close considering the pallete options).

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This was supposed to be a futuristic front page newspaper. I was in seventh grade at the time and one of the very first kids to use a computer for this type of thing. I seem to recall a version where I added text (in fact, I definitely did and that's what I turned in as my report on the book), but don't see it at the moment. You Star Blazers fans should recognize the spaceship...

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Why would I create this you ask? Well, back in the "old days", there weren't necessarily computerized systems to keep score. There was also a version I did where I pasted some Print Shop clip art of a bowler on the bottom and photocopied the whole thing to make a seamless layout.

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If I recall correctly, I created this as a character sheet for some paper role-playing game whose name slips my mind at the moment.

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This is a color version of Big Pig. Again, I think I may prefer the black and white version.

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I drew this from a tiny toy I got in a gumball machine. The proportions are actually about right to what the toy looked like.

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Just like today, I was always hatching up schemes with my friends, which is probably what that was for.

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I loved the original art of this, so I decided to make my own version. Again, the non-color version may do it more justice...

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A marginal attempt at a disk title screen. I still occasionally do work under "Nu-Wave", though now it's "Nu-Wave Innovation, Inc.", officially.

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Just a design. I'm not sure if this was me or Ed, though since it's unsigned and mediocre, it was almost certainly me. (this also looks a bit different on the monitor than it does here in the direct screen capture, interestingly (there's more color bleed on the monitor))

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The above are shots of my drawing of Doctor Who's TARDIS, which I created in geoPaint, which was part of GEOS (by this time the 2.0 version). As with my lack of memory regarding how to get rid of the cursor when viewing pictures in DOODLE, I don't know how to get a full screen shot other than by doing a print preview, which isn't very helpful in this case. Still, you get the idea (and I don't recall if I used a mouse or stuck with a joystick, but the technique would have been the same). (By the way, I forgot how impressive looking the GeoPaint interface is - it's rather like a modern title)

Of course, there was plenty of other stuff I drew (more DOODLE stuff, Print Shop icons, etc.), but it's not handy at the moment. At the very least, though, you get the idea of what we did as kids/teenagers.

By the way, you might be wondering why we didn't use light pens or another alternative to a joystick. Well, these options (which we had available), simply weren't as accurate as doing the work pixel-by-pixel, click-by-click, zoomed in (and in 10 feet of snow).

We were obviously not professional artists by any means (though Ed's stuff was darn good!), but we sure had fun. I don't think you can have the same type of fun on a modern computer with modern art packages today since you really do need to be an artist to make decent use of the amazing tools available. Sadly, my computer art and drawing skills deteriorated after college due to lack of use (and more focus than ever on writing), much like my handwriting.

I eventually moved on to doing work on the Amiga with a mouse in the wonderful Deluxe Paint and have long since made available the following two images, here (1989) and here (1991). I did a few others that came out pretty good, like a muscular swordswoman and Tom Baker's Doctor Who, but again, neither is handy at the moment... After the Amiga, I really never found a pixel package or the time to do any work on the PC, though I'll surely have to out of necessity when I get a chance to make a few games.

Got any classic computer art you'd like to share? Let us see it!

Comments

Bill Loguidice
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Paint programs
Mark Vasier wrote:

Bill, it was Advanced Art Studio, Deluxe Paint was only out on Amiga to my knowledge. Sorry for that.

I have the Advanced OCP Art Studio for the Atari ST, boxed/sealed, but have yet to use it. I suppose since I had so much fun with art on the Amiga, it would be logical to think I could have fun too on the ST. Besides the Amiga and PC, Deluxe Paint may have also been released on the Atari ST, but maybe only in Europe. I'd have to check on that.



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Matt Barton
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producitivity apps and fun

One thing I definitely think is important about Dpaint (and to a much lesser extent the PAINT program that comes with windows) is that it's easy to use and fun. That's one area Mac is kicking Windows arse. Anyone with a Mac can play with Garageband, the DVD authoring tools, and so on--it's easy and fun. Windows Office is NOT fun; it's strictly business. Don't get me wrong--that's important, but it's not necessarily the most stimulating and doesn't encourage you to experiment. I do think the ribbon of 2007 helped with the problem a bit, but I'd still appreciate a more layered interface. Sadly, Linux has also been a loser in this regard; GIMP is certainly no easier to use than Photoshop, and Open Office doesn't in any way strike me as more aesthetically pleasing or creatively stimulating as MS Office.

Then again, I know a lot of people avoid the more simplistic versions of stuff like Photoshop (Elements, etc.) and either download illegal pro stuff (Pro Tools, Photoshop, etc.) or actually ante up for it. Since some of those programs cost as much as a complete system, I'm guessing many home users go with the first option.

Dpaint IV seemed to offer the best mix of features with accessibility; anything more and it'd be too complex for the hobbyist to tinker with. I have Photoshop on my Mac and have never been tempted to play around with it, but I have spent hours with Garageband. On the Amiga I had a similar experience with Sonix and DMCS; lousy for "real" use, of course, but a fun way to introduce the system's capabilities and get you invested enough to bother learning the less-fun programs like MED. Hell, there's probably thousands (millions?) of graphic artists who got their first taste with Mario Paint.

I think there's a market for more of these creative apps that blend gaming and productivity. I've seen it done successfully with music (Instant Music) and graphics (Mario Paint), but have yet to see it applied to word processing or spreadsheets. Hell, it seems easy enough to make a fun game that has you working with spreadsheets.

I recently saw a blend of the two (spreadsheet & word processing) that really interested me, but I promised I wouldn't talk about it. ;-)

How can we make word processors more fun???

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Bill Loguidice
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Productivity and Fun

Well, one possible way to make word processors more "fun" is to allow for absolute positioning and automatic flow, meaning you can drag and drop anything to a specific spot and it will stay there and other elements will automatically flow around it, text included. Right now it's actually tricky getting things just the way you want them when trying to a more advanced layout. OneNote (my preferred note-taking program) works a bit like this, but it has other uses and fairly limited functionality in regards to the actual full potential of that idea.

As for fun in Windows, there's not much I can recall off the top of my hand, save for Windows Movie Maker, which is actually very competent video editing package. I suppose Microsoft is in a Catch-22 with that stuff, though, as the more stuff they add like that, the more the competition screams "monopoly/anti-competitive". Apple seems immune from that call for the most part and seem free to add in whatever they wish.



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Bill Loguidice
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Deluxe Paint

Hmm, I guess there was a Deluxe Paint V (!) on Amiga and an Apple IIgs version of Deluxe Paint. So we have Deluxe Paint confirmed for Amiga, PC and Apple IIgs at this point. Very interesting!



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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Anonymous (not verified)
C64 Paint programs

the Advanced OCP Art Studio was about as close as you could get to "Deluxe Paint" for the C64. There was never (to my knowledge) a TRUE version of Deluxe Paint for the C64. Doodle! was somewhat of a standard, along with Koala-Painter.. with OCP Art Studio high up there in the ranks.

Of course, GeoPaint was a technological marvel back in '86. It was difficult to draw (or import) Multi-color graphics into GeoPaint. But, for Hi-Res.. it was GREAT! - I STILL like it!

Conversions going from the C64 to the PC is a piece of cake. While, going the other way (PC to C64) is kind of touchy... to say the least. 16 color GIF's seem to convert .. not too bad. Hi Res (2-color) pics from Mac or PC convert very well.

The name of the game is... FUN! If you enjoy it... DO IT! :)

JB

Phil (not verified)
So...can you do it online these days, like the LOGO Turtle?

I remember doing some art where you zoom in on such a small piece of the picture you drew that I believe you could alter a line ever so slightly. I don't remember if it were a PC or an Apple II or even that Amiga. It was probably the mid-80s.

Dave (not verified)
Hi-Res Printing

I'm looking for references or articles on a Commodore 64 hi-res print program called FinePrint.

This is *not* the modern FinePrint postscript program for PCs, but a totally separate program.

It came out in the early 1980s (1982-1985) and was a driver that did double-striking on a dot matrix printer for deep blacks and micro-linefeeds for hi-res.

Does anyopne remember this program?

Bill Loguidice
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FinePrint
Dave wrote:

I'm looking for references or articles on a Commodore 64 hi-res print program called FinePrint.

This is *not* the modern FinePrint postscript program for PCs, but a totally separate program.

It came out in the early 1980s (1982-1985) and was a driver that did double-striking on a dot matrix printer for deep blacks and micro-linefeeds for hi-res.

Does anyopne remember this program?

In my archives, I have references to FinePrint for the Commodore Amiga, not C-64, on page 17 of Robo City News magazine Vol 04 05 A, which is just a small paragraph announcing it, and a full review on page 28 of AmigoTimes Issue 1.3 April 1989.

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Dave Jones (not verified)
FinePrint

Dave wrote:
I'm looking for references or articles on a Commodore 64 hi-res print program called FinePrint.
This is *not* the modern FinePrint postscript program for PCs, but a totally separate program.
It came out in the early 1980s (1982-1985) and was a driver that did double-striking on a dot matrix printer for deep blacks and micro-linefeeds for hi-res.
Does anyone remember this program?

I know this is in a long dead thread, but I just came across it.

I'm the guy that wrote FinePrint. It was for the Amiga. It used dot matrix printers with worn out ribbons to build up true shades of gray on the paper. It could strike the same pixel on the paper up to 16 times to build up the ink. It could smoothly scale images to any scale. I made a few prints that were 12 feet long. One user group sent me a photo of one they printed that was over 20 feet wide.

I first demonstrated it at Ami-Expo NY in 1987 and released it in the spring of 1988. I sold it through my company that I had back then called Designlab. It was reviewed in most of the Amiga magazines, and sold through most distributors and dealers. Sales fell off around 1991 as laser printers started getting affordable, and as people moved away from the Amiga.

There's a picture of the packaging here, but they have the date wrong. The packaging was just a folded sheet of glossy card stock shrink wrapped with the disk, manual, and a registration card inside.

http://www.elisoftware.org/index.php?title=FinePrint_%28Amiga,_3_1/2%22_...

Bill Loguidice
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Thanks for checking in, Dave.

Thanks for checking in, Dave. It sounds like your product was really something special. I was certainly a heavy dot matrix printer user in my C-64 and Amiga days, only getting a laser printer (Okidata, though technically it was "laser class") once I fully transitioned to PC circa 1993/4. I remember very distinctly in my Freshman year in college in 1990 printing a report on Mars from my Amiga on my Star NX color dot matrix printer, and being VERY disappointed with the banding in the photo of Mars. While your technique was only black and white, it would have been quite useful to increase image quality on stuff like that. Certainly back in my C-64 days, I'd print on carbon paper to try and blend the dots better. This sounds like a more advanced, technical version of that.

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