Glass Patterns Quarterly
This is a review of Glass Eye 2000 from Glass Patterns Quarterly, reprinted with their permission.
What if every pattern you had on paper could be scanned into your computer and then resized, reshaped, and colored with the glass of your choice? The latest release of Glass Eye 2000 from Dragonfly Software makes this possible. The new capabilities added to the software gave us a reason to come back for another look at one of our favorite design tools.
For those who might have missed our earlier reviews, Glass Eye 2000 is software that gives artists a way to create custom patterns that are easier to view and edit than traditional pencil-and-paper designs. You can use one of the 340 patterns in its library or design your own pattern completely from scratch. Need to draw or remove design lines, or change their shape? The computer makes it easy. Want to take a flower from your last design and use it in your new one? Just select, copy, and paste. Want to resize your pattern? You'll have it done in seconds!
Glass Eye 2000 comes with a library of 1800 glass images from the major manufacturers. Dragonfly's free update policy supplies you with new images as they become available. Using the software's clever color selector you can experiment with different glass colorations in your design before you cut a single piece.
We've always admired the software's piece labeling system. This feature automatically labels pattern pieces with either a number or a color code or both. The labels are visible on the screen and can be updated automatically or manually while the design is in progress.
Glass Eye 2000 includes a calculator that will show you your materials usage, and a handy cost estimator takes the guesswork out of pricing your design.
When it comes to printing, you need nothing more than a typical inkjet or laser printer. If the pattern is larger than your paper, the program automatically "tiles" it so that printed pages can be taped together to form a full-size pattern. Glass Eye 2000 can also print to large-format printers, and there are options for printing your patterns at Kinko's or other commercial printers.
If you're nervous about using computer-aided design (CAD) software, relax! Glass Eye 2000 was created just for the glass industry, and "geek speak" is delightfully absent. The product comes with a tutorial that guides you gently through every feature, starting with the basics and progressing to the more advanced functions. Within the software itself, a friendly help page for each command is just a click or two away. If you're still puzzled, the company offers customer support that's second to none.
In the summer of 2003, a new version of Glass Eye 2000 was released that introduced several powerful new features. The most significant is the ability to convert a design on paper to a line drawing. This is one of the most difficult tasks for CAD software, and is usually found only in programs costing thousands of dollars. The new "AutoTrace" capability in Glass Eye 2000 makes this affordable.
We experimented with AutoTrace by scanning in a line drawing of Lisa Vogt's "Heart of America." Once imported into Glass Eye 2000 we used the AutoTrace function and presto! The image was transformed into a collection of connected lines, and the conversion process took only a few seconds. Now all the functions in Glass Eye 2000 became available, meaning that we could adjust line positions, color the pieces with realistic glass images, have our pieces numbered by the program, and see our materials usage.
Our starting image was a clean black-and-white line drawing, so performing an AutoTrace was a one-button operation. If your image is fuzzy, contains imperfections, or has colors already, Glass Eye 2000 provides a simple set of controls for "cleaning" the image before using AutoTrace. For example, if the paper containing your original image has small specks that come through when you scan, the handy "speck removal" option can help. Instructions on all the advanced features are only a button click away, with every aspect of AutoTrace explained in clear, simple language.
The implications of this feature are hard to overestimate. Now every pattern that you have on paper can take on new life as a Glass Eye 2000 design. Image-processing tools like Adobe Photoshop are adequate if you need only to resize a pattern, but Glass Eye 2000 takes scanning to a new level. An AutoTraced pattern is completely flexible: lines can be moved, pieces can be colored and numbered, and the material usage can be computed. This just might be the time to take those fading paper patterns and convert them to Glass Eye 2000 designs.
Note that AutoTrace works for line drawings, not photographs. This makes sense, as a photograph can be rendered as a pattern in countless ways, and the interpretation requires an artist's touch. The conversion of a line drawing is a much simpler, unambiguous task, well suited to the computer.
AutoTrace alone is an impressive enhancement to Glass Eye 2000, but Dragonfly Software has gone even further and added in a three-dimensional lamp design package called Lamp Wizard. You pick the number of sides, the number of levels (or "tiers"), and the diameter of each tier, and Lamp Wizard will show you your lamp in glorious 3D. Use simple mouse movements to tilt and rotate the image to see it from any angle.
Once you have the desired shape, Lamp Wizard can give you the dimensions of any panel. Lamp Wizard can also generate actual-size drawings of each of the panels. And although the feature was designed for lamps, we can see how it would also make a handy jewelry box designer.
As if these two features weren't enough, the latest Glass Eye 2000 includes about two dozen other new features. One of the best is the option to see measurements as fractions instead of as decimals. For example, if a design measures 12-3/16" wide you can choose to see that measurement as "12 3/16" instead of as "12.1875". We wish more software would offer this simple but extremely useful ability.
Ready for a test drive? You can use Glass Eye 2000 for a month by downloading a trial version from their website at www.dfly.com. Just for trying it you'll get to keep the pattern library and the pattern resizer. If you decide to purchase, choose one of three versions depending on your budget and your needs. Prices range from $99 for a hobbyist's version to $395 for the full package. For complete pricing and feature information, visit their website or call 800-553-7246.
We are very pleased to see Dragonfly's commitment to the stained glass industry by continuing to enhance an already great product. The new offerings strengthen the position of Glass Eye 2000 as the industry standard for stained glass design software.
~ Darlene Welch
© Glass Patterns Quarterly, Inc.