COLOR the COVER CONTEST
By JACK POWELL and MICHAEL CIRAOLO
When we invited submissions for our Color the Cover Contest, we didn't really expect a winner with the diligence, creativity and . . . uh ... compulsiveness of Paul Sedgewick. His adaptation of the January 1985 Antic cover was artistically a match for any other entry-but it was also a mind-boggling technological tour de force.
The 23-year-old electrical engineer from Northridge, California spends his days producing delicate military microwave machines. And he put in over 100 hours re-creating Antic's cover with redefined characters on two scrolling screens.
Paul decided that the black and white Antic January cover needed at least five colors, if not more. He also didn't think one video screen was large enough.
Wanting the highest resolution possible, Paul chose ANTIC Mode 4, the only mode which offers both high resolution and five colors. (Mode 4 is a five-color text mode, counting the background.)
He then photocopied the cover, enlarged it and graphed it on a grid approximately 40 squares wide and 50 down-each block representing one mode 4 character.
Next he graphed the cover in even finer detail, dividing each block into a 4x8 pixel matrix.
34 CHARACTER SETS
Having done all this preliminary paperwork, Paul finally reached for his own trusty character set editor. Using the editor, Paul redefined each character block to match the cover. However, there are only 256 characters in a character set-just enough to draw three screen rows.
Rather than re-use characters for different portions of the picture, Paul used display list interrupts (DLI) to actually change character sets while the screen was being drawn. After each three rows of characters on screen, a different set was pointed to in memory.
Paul decided that five colors really weren't sufficient, so he used a vertical blank interrupt (VBI) to draw the picture twice, thus creating extra colors by superimposing the hues. Two overlapping hues of the same luminence created a third color; two hues of different luminences created a vibrating, flickering effect.
The VBI was also used for vertical fine scrolling between two screens, which meant the display list instructions had to be continually refigured.
What began as a simple Color the Cover Contest entry ended in a four-screen phantasmagoria. The VBI alternates between two screens, and the vertical scroll switches between two more. After 100 hours of work, Paul had created the necessary 34 complete character sets. With an accompanying assembly language program, the entire binary load file occupied 316 disk sectors!
and the winner is ...
Nearly 150 readers mailed in entries to the contest. Just about half the entries used the KoalaPad or Atari Touch Tablet with accompanying Micro Illustrator (AtariArtist) software. Interestingly the second most used computer graphics tool was "Price's Picture Painter" the powerful program from Antic's September, 1984 issue.
Tim O'Connell, of Mastic Beach, New York used a KoalaPad to produce his strong head-and-shoulders close-up of Utility Man. Our distinguished panel of judges (Antic editorial and art departments) particularly liked the way this U-Man seemed to be posing for a hero portrait.
Alfred Gomez of Las Cruces, New Mexico spent several sleepless nights to produce his entry. Gomez demonstrated his good taste by depicting a miniature Antic magazine hanging from Utility Man's belt, although this is too small to see in our screen shot. Our judges were also pleased with the excellent use of contrast and color. His successful efforts "burned my rendition into the retinas of my eyes." He was the only entrant to use the Fun with Art cartridge.
Montreal's Gaston Aladin used the Atari Touch Tablet and his own software to produce his highly impressionistic entry. Aladin's work demonstrates interesting, complex background textures captured in a fluid sense of movement.
Nick Turner was "inspired to go to the limit" of his patience in recreating our cover. This programmer from Mountain View, California used AtariArtist cartridge with Atari Touch Tablet to produce a Utility Man that closely resembled our cover. Turner displayed well-balanced colors, a good sense of proportions, and well defined shapes.
When she read about the Color the Cover Contest, Marta Taylor ran out and bought a KoalaPad to produce her entry, one of the more abstract renditions we saw. Taylor, who hails from Douglasville, Georgia, depicted Utility Man surrounded by a fanciful collection of balloons. While not a true copy of the cover, the entry contains unique imagination and a charming, simplistic innocence.
Runner-up winners are not presented in any particular order on these
pages. Color The Cover Contest first prize is an Indus GT disk drive. Runner-ups
receive their choice of any single item in the Antic Arcade Catalog.
Antic Disk subscribers: You will find the winning contest entry as a bonus on your August disk NEXT month. It was too large to fit anywhere on the current issue's two-sided disk.