The Wang Wang Collection of Non Photorealistic Rendering (NPR) Trees and Plants; The Entourage Arts Collection of NPR Trees & Plants; The Entourage Arts Collection of NPR People

Reviewed by: Greg Carson, August 2005
Published by: Entourage Arts
Requires: Any software that can load or import PNG files
MSRP: US$139.00 per collection (bundle pricing available)

The desire to create watercolor style paintings in a digital format has been growing steadily within the digital arts community over the past few years. There are only a handful of digital illustrators out there who can consistently and accurately replicate the look of a watercolor painting. The majority of other artists and designers have experimented briefly before moving on to other styles and visual effects. The lack of high quality digital watercolor artists and digital watercolor collections have left the style unaffordable and inaccessible. Susan Sorger, the founder and president of Entourage Arts, was frustrated like many by the situation. As an illustrator in her own right she set out to fill the niche in the community by sourcing and creating a collection of affordable digitized watercolor paintings.

The three collections I reviewed contain hand painted people, trees, plants and skies that were all scanned and saved as PNG files (a highly compressed and lossless format) which is supported by most 3D modeling and rendering software and 2D illustration programs. I experimented with and analyzed the images using Photoshop CS only. The three collections together contain about 360 images of People, Trees, Skies and Plants. The Wang Wang collection of images disappointingly have a resolution of only 72DPI, although with a little tinkering can be increased to 300 dpi (obviously at the cost of creating a smaller overall print size). The illustrations in the other two collections are all saved at 300DPI at decent print sizes. Surprisingly however, all of the images in the collection are saved as RGB (suitable mainly for Web design) instead of CMYK for print.

Whoever assembled the collections deserves a tip of the hat for using some intelligent file naming conventions. Most of the files are referred to by their common names ( as opposed to just tree_1, tree_2 etc.), allowing users to more easily sort through the large collection without having to wait for image previews. The actual watercolor drawings themselves are quite good. The masking in the illustrations is great, and allows for easy insertion and overlay onto other images.

This collection I believe fills a unique and narrow niche. It is clearly useful for real estate planners, landscape architects, conceptual design work and background art. The illustrations of flowers and people in particular can imbue a conceptual architecture illustration with greater depth and make it breathe with life while also blending naturally into the scene and providing perspective. That's an amiable and beneficial characteristic of any worthwhile illustration collection. The diverse selection of trees, plants and people ensure something suitable for any perspective and style. The trees are very well suited for watercolor backgrounds, and the flower illustrations can easily be mixed together to create beautiful flowerbeds and large gardens surrounding a building or landscape layout.

There are a couple of concerns with the collections. I'd like to see higher resolution versions (300DPI) of the Wang Wang collection as well as CMYK versions of every file in all of the collections. I'd also like to see more illustrations of people engaged in energetic activities such as cycling, rollerblading and jogging along with the still poses in the current collections.

Overall, with these collections Entourage Arts is offering more than anything else out there at the moment. It is affordable, higher in quality and quantity than any other NPR commercial clip art package or artist package availble right now. Recommended.

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