Dogwaffle v1.6

Reviewed by: Mario Georgiou, February 2004
Published by: Dan Ritchie
Requires: 300MHz Pentium or better, 600MHz Pentium II/AMD K7 or better recommended, Windows 98 OSR2 recommended but not required; Dogwaffle has been optimized for K6-2 and Athlon processors; 128MB RAM, Windows 95, 98, NT4.0 and above, 2000/XP home and professional are supported; video card at 1024x768 or higher
MSRP: US$45.00, UK £28, 45 EUR

Project Dogwaffle is a truly strange and wonderful beast which came at me out of the blue. My Editor sent an e-mail asking me to review this baby. It wasn't the first time I had heard of this paint program but I really hadn't paid it much attention. Silly me. This program is quite simply a very nice tool to work with.

What is Project Dogwaffle? It is a very nicely designed and fully featured paint program, with its functional emphasis heavily on the word Paint. The author of the application emphasizes that it is not designed for photo editing or imaging (although I did have a good try). On loading the application you are presented with an options dialog that allows you to select a variety of image dimensions. These options, based on video standards, strongly reflect this program's basis in animation.

Dogwaffle's strongest features by far are to be found in its brushes, which can be customized to the finest degree. Very powerful also are the particle-based Optipustics (the name for Dogwaffle's internal digital particle physics logic) which allow you to paint organic looking elements such as grass and ferns using brushes. These brushes can also be animated to allow the creation of effects such as waterfalls and fireworks - pretty cool if you ask me. There is also an impressive engine for generating lens flares and stars.

Graphic file compatibility is quite extensive with over 60 file formats recognized by the import filter. The default file format of Targa again demonstrates the application's background in animation. Exporting of artwork is somewhat less comprehensive with only 6 file formats supported. Funny enough too, there is no support for the GIF format, but this I think is no oversight due to the ridiculously high licensing costs associated with the old CompuServe format (enforced stringently not too many years ago by Unisys). The program also supports scanners through their TWAIN driver interface.

Filter support in Dogwaffle is somewhat limited because there is no support for Adobe style plug-ins, however there is a useful range of very nice internal filters which are quite powerful, some of which are quite unique. Dogwaffle's plug-ins are also addressable through its Software Development Kit (SDK) allowing those of you who like a challenge to create your own.

Add-ons are also available in the form of Doggy Bags, of which there are two at this time. Doggy Bags 1 & 2 add the following features: Animation/timeline editor, brush manager, film grain Filter, FX Brush for creating fantasy and space art, the capability to import/export animations to/from AVI, and the use of patterns as paper textures or brushes.

Layer support in this application is virtually nonexistent, which is a little disappointing. But I'm assured that this will be enhanced in the next version of Project Dogwaffle.

Cons: There are of course a few gripes but these are really only minor nuisances. You have to open the application with a preset image buffer. Text handling needs to be enhanced, but only to round out the features. No support for Photoshop plug-ins. Navigating around your graphics needs a little work.

Pros: TWAIN driver support, intelligent brush handling, graphics tablet support, extensive online help system, Optipustics. Dogwaffle is a pleasure to use and with its support for graphics tablets provides a very nice stepping-on point for the budding artist or the established professional wanting to get solidly into the world of digital art. Its 'unnatural' paint system is very powerful and as evidenced by the level of online support, is capable of producing some very fine artwork when placed in the right hands. I highly recommend Dogwaffle. There is a free version available (version 1.1) but do yourself a favor and buy version 1.6. You won't regret it.




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