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The Big Box of Art, 800,000

Hemera http://www.hemera.com $149.99
User Group Discount: $25-$50 off through January 9, 2004:

If you’re a clip art junkie, Hemera has come out with your ultimate fix – The Big Box of Art 800,000, a mind-boggling 800,000 royalty-free images on eight DVDs. This mega-collection includes 300,000 vector clip art images, 60,000 professional photos, 375,000 web graphics and animations, 30,000 raster images, 10,000 textured photos (think stylish, irregular borders) and my favorite, 25,000 Photo-Objects images with transparent backgrounds, for a total of over 30 GB of images. The quality is consistently high, and the variety of formats offers a wide range of choices for your projects.

But a truckload of images would quickly become overwhelming without a reasonable way to manage it. This is where the Big Box of Art 800,000 shines. The images are corraled in a powerful and easy to use interface that allows you search for images by keyword, by image type and by category. The searchable images are contained on the first seven DVDs of the set. The eighth DVD holds a non-searchable (and comparatively uninspired) collection of web graphics and animations.

Search results display in a scrollable window as thumbnails which, when clicked, give a prompt to insert the proper DVD, then display an enlargement of the image (except for vector images). Double-clicking on the thumbnail or enlargement brings up a dialog box that lets you choose the kind of software you plan to use the image with: word processor, spreadsheet, presentation or web authoring software, or a graphics application that supports 32 bit images with transparency mask. You can also choose to export to a popular graphics format (the list includes TIFF and GIF with transparency, JPEG, PICT Photoshop and Quicktime) or to insert an image into an email program. Vector images are saved directly in EPS format.

If you own other Hemera image collections, the search interface allows you to manage and search them all at once, a terrific time-saver. I was able to install Photo-Objects I and, after running an update from the Hemera website to make it compatible with OS X, Photo-Objects II. Once a collection has been added, its title appears in a list of check boxes below the search window. Checking the title of a collection includes it in all searches. With an internet connection you can also search Hemera’s website for images. The collection includes fifty sample high resolution images from AbleStock. Registering the software gives a free one month subscription and up to 150 images from ablestock.com.

My favorite part of the collection, Photo-Objects, are pre-masked photographs, which makes their backgrounds appear transparent - no rectangular frames to get in the way. Images can be combined and used with any application that supports transparency, including web design software, InDesign, Photoshop, and Apple’s Keynote. Depending on the application, importing and using Photo-Objects can be straightforward (Keynote) or more complex (InDesign 2). No matter – the results are well, well worth the effort.

The Big Box of Art 800,000 is optimized to work with access to the internet, and works most effectively with higher speed connections, though it can certainly be used with a slower connection or none at all. Missing from the box is the printed manual and catalog of image thumbnails that accompanied The Big Box of Art 215,000. Instead, the rather brief help manual is integrated into OS X’s help system. A PDF version is available for download at the Hemera website. As for the thumbnails, they’re only available on the computer now, but their size and quality makes them easier to evaluate than the necessarily tiny thumbs of past printed manuals.

The Big Box of Art 800,000 is a phenomenal value. The user group discount (through January 9) makes it a better value still. It’s an awesome holiday gift for the image and clip-art lover in your life, and a collection that no Keynote user should be without.
If your needs are more modest or if your Mac lacks a DVD drive, you might want to take a look at The Big Box of Art 215,000 collection, available on 12 CDs or 2 DVDs for $69.

– Elsa Travisano
The Big Box of Art 800,000
Minimum System Requirements: G3 (333MHz), 128 MB RAM, Mac OS 9.2 or Mac OS X 10.1.5 or higher, 298 MB hard disk space, thousands of colors or higher, DVD drive, a display adapter and monitor capable of displaying at 1024x768 screen resolution. Copyright ©2003 by Elsa Travisano. This review appeared in the December 2003 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.