314 words

3K on disk

November 1986


Graphics Program

Macworld had an aversion to reviewing pre-release software, but the launch of SuperPaint was too big to ignore. Reviewer Erfert Neilson accurately pegged the software’s game-changing new feature: a hybrid between bitmap painting and object-oriented drawing, it combined the freestyle creativity of MacPaint with the resolution independence of MacDraw.

Of course by late 1986 the gold standard of painting programs had become FullPaint, not MacPaint, so Silicon Beach Software’s new program would be measured against that. Macworld found that SuperPaint lived up to, and indeed surpassed, Ann Arbor Softwork’s painting program. It didn’t quite do the same to the standard set by MacDraw: reviewers were unanimous that hard-core technical illustrators were better off with a dedicated drawing program such as MacDraw or MacDraft. But the genius of SuperPaint was of the course the combination of an A+ painting program and a B- drawing program in one, with clever ways to hide and show the various layers so that artists could concentrate on a specific mode at a time.

An intriguing, if short-lived, innovation was an ultra-high-res take on FatBits, MacPaint’s magnified view that inflated individual pixels to a comically-large size to enable precise editing. LaserBits, SuperPaint’s take on this feature, increased the resolution of the magnified section to 300dpi, offering those artists committed to pixel-pushing an incredibly intricate (if no doubt tedious) way of extending pixel art to laser printer resolution. (The notion of extending pixel art into the domain of laser quality was eventually proved to be a “faster horse” notion as PostScript-native software such as Adobe Illustrated introduced sophisticated new forms of drawing, such as Bezier curves, better suited to the new world of 300 dots per inch.)

Influential journal Verbum put it best when they examined five graphics programs in the winter of 1987: “For the serious artist […] There is clearly only one choice: SuperPaint.”

Nielson, Erfert. "It's a Brush! It's a Pen! It's SuperPaint!" Macworld, November 1986.
Singleton, Michael. "The Artist's Toolbox." Verbum. Journal of Personal Computer Aesthetics 1.1 (December 1987): 7.
Kind: Graphics Program
Size: 3140 bytes, accounts for 3K on disk
Where:Software, internal drive
Created:Sunday, November 23, 1986 at 6:48 PM
Modified:Sunday, January 5, 2020 at 8:31 PM