BeLight seeks odoo delight with this software, and largely succeeds. Art Text 3 is a display text editor that comes with a variety of presets (22 – Cheese, Chocolate, Donut, Lava, Fire, Metal, Road for example) and while it has enough of a selection to get you started (in fact, to get your mouth watering) and even a Sample Browser of more complex products.
The effected type is displayed centrally and you can spin it through space in 3D mode by selecting it and dragging up, down and around – you can’t edit this directly, you click the central display text to edit and a little notepad area appears at top right.
A fine typographer’s tool this is not – it’s for large-point-size display text, and while that might seem like a gimmicky approach, it’s refreshingly well done with a huge range of possible transformations once you have chosen a preset. But you can kern (manipulate the space between the letters) to some extent, make text left- or right-flush or centred, although to change a type attribute (font, size of a word etc) you have to select it at top right and invoke the OS Fonts dialogue (Command T).
Patience — With some patience, it’s possible to get really sophisticated visuals thanks to layering and a great depth of tools and features. The presets might amount to populist blunt instruments, but since their creations are almost infinitely customisable, they’re handy starting points.
Choosing the right typeface for a look is important, and the presets manage to combine typefaces very well with the effects – that’s good design. And just changing the typeface on a preset display text is interesting, although I managed to crash Art Text doing this. Fonts have long been a potential source of crashing, and repeated changes (through the Mac OS Type dialogue that appears with Command T).
A few glitches — My MacBook Pro is three years old now, but still a mean machine with a fast i7 CPU and 16GB RAM, plus SSD storage. Despite that, there were a few staggers when Art Text tried do something – it could hang for a second or two. Another one was after my screen went to sleep, Art Text did something odd to the selected text when I woke it up, and this happened repeatedly. If I closed the window or quit and reopened it, all was good; this may have been something to do with it not handling my two-monitor setup. An update, during the review process, to 3.0.1 solved some of the lagginess, but perhaps even the display problem as I couldn’t get that to replicate. So good work, there, BeLight.
Interface-wise this software could do with some streamlining, though. To get to the Sample Browser, you have to click the button on the launch screen – but if you tick the box to no longer show that dialogue at startup, it’s in the Window menu. Making layers is via a menu (the Layers menu) and you can make them 2D or 3D, and then to manipulate them you have to choose the right Content panel from the View menu; these four options (Templates, Images, Shapes and Layers) are also represented as icons you can activate at the top of the right-hand area. Then you get the layers showing up in a list on the right. Also, you only get to set the resolution of the artwork when you export; I suggest in the meantime making the artwork as big as possible in the central artboard area until that point, for maximum flexibility with your finished art.
Conclusion — It might be a bit of a mission, but this software rewards exploration and the results can be very slick, thanks to layers and an impressive array of tools and textures.
What’s great — Persevere and you’ll end up with some amazing headlines and logos.
What’s not — Quirky interface needs some patience. Slightly buggy; save as you work.
Needs — Those who make headlines, logos and display text.
What — Art Text 3, US49.99 (NZ$74.99 in the Mac App Store) upgrade from a previous version for US$29.99 (about NZ$48)
System — Mac OS X 10.10 or higher.
Available from — Online only, from BeLight Software and from the Mac App Store.