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Creature House Expressions
June 9, 2004 1:57 PM   Subscribe

Microsoft is giving away a nifty piece of software. It's the beta of Expressions 3 by Creature House, something I used to use back in my Mac days but hadn't heard anything about in a long time. Apparently MS bought Creature House last year. I downloaded it (after filling out a somewhat arduous survey/profile thingy) and think it a nice drawing program. Both Mac and Win versions are posted.
posted by bz (30 comments total)

 
Also, there is a Newsgroup (Web) for Expressions. One other thing, even though it says the download is for existing users, I was able to install it w/o problems on Win. It's about a 60MB download which took a few minutes on DSL.
posted by bz at 2:03 PM on June 9, 2004


As for the "somewhat arduous survey/profile thingy"...

To view this specialized content, you are required to sign in with a Microsoft .NET Passport.
posted by jaronson at 2:26 PM on June 9, 2004


Well I supplied it with one of my throwaway hotmail accounts and skipped the survey but I had to perform a mail back verification.

Who does this program compete with?
posted by Mitheral at 2:33 PM on June 9, 2004


You can get directly to the download link for the Mac version via MacUpdate. The user interface is almost unbelievably ugly, but it's pretty capable and would definitely come in handy if you don't have Illustrator or Freehand.
posted by bcwinters at 2:44 PM on June 9, 2004


Oh, I guess the profile thingy was passport. Sorry for the inaccuracy.

Expressions competes with other vector drawing programs like Illustrator, Freehand and CorelDraw but is, in my opinion, most similar to Painter.
posted by bz at 2:45 PM on June 9, 2004


As for the "somewhat arduous survey/profile thingy"...

To view this specialized content, you are required to sign in with a Microsoft .NET Passport.

Skip the survey/Passport requirements by downloading via VersionTracker instead. [OS X] [Windows] (On preview, sorta what bcwinters said)
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 2:48 PM on June 9, 2004


Hey! I remember this program! I think I have an old Expression users guide somewhere in the Big Box o' Software Stuff™ hiding in my basement.

Thanks for the links!
posted by jazon at 2:55 PM on June 9, 2004


I can't find a download link. I fill out this damn survey (so i'm expecting more spam now) and now what?
posted by Evstar at 3:05 PM on June 9, 2004


The executable's called CreatureHouseExpression3_3.exe. I'm sure it'll turn up somewhere soon enough.

It's kinda fun, but I'm a programmer. Not sure how to put it beyond that.

You can draw sqiggly lines of crackers.
posted by Flat Feet Pete at 3:32 PM on June 9, 2004


I think i understand what .Net is -- but whats this passport and why do some progams require a passport to run?
posted by Satapher at 3:35 PM on June 9, 2004


go to bugmenot for a publicly available passport login, if you don't want to sign up (and who could blame you?).
posted by o2b at 3:41 PM on June 9, 2004


Satapher: I think you're confusing Microsoft's two .NETs. The first .NET is a programming framework. This .NET -- ".NET passport" is just the new name for Microsoft Passport. It basically means that you need to have a Hotmail address, or have registered at passport.com, the idea being that it's a kind of unified sign-in mechanism across websites. The program doesn't require the .NET passport to run, but the Microsoft website requires it to let you download the setup program. Hope that made sense.
posted by reklaw at 3:43 PM on June 9, 2004


You can register any email address as a MS Passport, you just have to respond to an email, and it really is spam free.
posted by tiamat at 4:22 PM on June 9, 2004


I think you're confusing Microsoft's two .NETs.

A legitimate confusion. Why those dimwit marketrons at MS every thought slapping a .net on everything -- 'hey! it's a brand! and brands are gooooood!' *high fives all around* -- would do anything but confuse and annoy the average consumer is beyond me. More evidence of the steady senescence of the company, I guess.

Mercifully, as with many of their most egregious stupidities, they've backed away from that 'strategy'.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:39 PM on June 9, 2004


*cough*
posted by armoured-ant at 5:28 PM on June 9, 2004


Wow! Even with free software, Microsoft's the bad guy...
posted by FormlessOne at 5:47 PM on June 9, 2004


I had version 1, but it ran like a dog on Classic. I didn't bother to upgrade to 2 since I use vectors so very little. Expression was much more like Painter. Scriptable with emulated natural media "brushstrokes". I believe Corel, Adobe and Macromedia have adopted some of the same things into their apps. But I don't have the latest versions of those either.
posted by infowar at 5:52 PM on June 9, 2004


armoured-ant: "You 'da ma...uh, ant!"
posted by jaronson at 6:22 PM on June 9, 2004


Thanks armoured-ant!
posted by azazello at 9:00 PM on June 9, 2004


Painter thoroughly kicks ass. Its new watercolour simulation is mindblowing.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:53 PM on June 9, 2004


Wow, I've never used a vector based drawing program before... I've been knocking myself out trying to freehand draw smooth lines for a comic strip I have in the works with photoshop. This is night and day.
Much thanks, bz.
posted by dong_resin at 3:47 AM on June 10, 2004


I didn't realise this was that: I got Expression 2 (Lite Edition) free with a Computer Arts coverdisk a few years ago, and it's a pretty nifty program - I loved the "skeletal brush strokes" I think they call it; much better than drawing in photoshop.
I couldn't afford the full version to remove the crippled export formats, so this is really great. (And thanks A-A.)
posted by Blue Stone at 8:18 AM on June 10, 2004


for anyone who's used both - how does this compare with the features illustrator has?
posted by caution live frogs at 8:41 AM on June 10, 2004


FormlessOne:Wow! Even with free software, Microsoft's the bad guy...

Of course they're the bad guy. When ever MS is giving something away, especially something that used to cost, it usually means they are trying to take over another market.

The list is long and varied eg:
IE
DoubleSpace
IIS
Media Player
Outlook Express

The only decent, free, no strings attached thing I've seen come out of MS that I actually use is the Powertoys for their operating systems.
posted by Mitheral at 10:32 AM on June 10, 2004


This is really cool - I remember seeing the introduction of Expressions (originally from Fractal, same guys who been jonesin' for Painter since it utterly fails to work right in Classic and I don't feel like rebooting my Mac everytime I wanna use it...

MS isn't gonna take over the market of Illustrator tho. Too originated Painter, so that's why it's similar) at a trade show in New York. I'm a Painter advocate, I've done a bunch of comic books in Painter. I haven't updated to the latest version but fff's review means I need to do it soon. I well-entrenched, and Expression is more of an arty toy than a serious design and prepress tool.

I've also done a bunch of comics in Illustrator, to export to SWF files for the web. A typical SWF of one of my "pages" is only about 40K, as opposed to the same art averaging 130K as a JPEG and not looking so good. Save a lotta bandwidth that way... :) Wonder if Expression exports direct to SWF?
posted by zoogleplex at 10:51 AM on June 10, 2004


This is really cool - I remember seeing the introduction of Expressions (originally from Fractal, same guys who originated Painter, so that's why it's similar) at a trade show in New York. I'm a Painter advocate, I've done a bunch of comic books in Painter. I haven't updated to the latest version but fff's review means I need to do it soon. I been jonesin' for Painter since it utterly fails to work right in Classic and I don't feel like rebooting my Mac everytime I wanna use it...

MS isn't gonna take over the market of Illustrator tho. Too well-entrenched, and Expression is more of an arty toy than a serious design and prepress tool.

I've also done a bunch of comics in Illustrator, to export to SWF files for the web. A typical SWF of one of my "pages" is only about 40K, as opposed to the same art averaging 130K as a JPEG and not looking so good. Save a lotta bandwidth that way... :) Wonder if Expression exports direct to SWF?
posted by zoogleplex at 10:52 AM on June 10, 2004


caution live frogs: This is much more closely comparable to Painter than to Illustrator: Illustrator has many different types of vector shapes, while Expression wants to treat everything as a brush stroke of one kind or another. The interface and functionality is very similar to Painter (though much, much uglier, in a very Windows-esque way. And I was never much of a fan of Painter's UI to begin with).

zoogleplex, based on the (deeply weird) sample files that come with the download, there is some sort of SWF export built in -- but I'm damned if I can figure out how it works.
posted by ook at 10:53 AM on June 10, 2004


Wow, what a strange accidental double-post... the server hiccuped back at me and the sentences got scrambled. The second one is coherent... sorry about that!
posted by zoogleplex at 10:54 AM on June 10, 2004


The original Painter programmers were retained by Corel to continue updating it. The UI has been substantially changed as of the latest (two?) versions, to much distress for some users.

Fire away if you've got questions about its functionality.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:42 PM on June 10, 2004


Ah. There is substantial difference between Painter and Expressions.

Painter is a natural media simulation, which means it's best for doing watercolours, pastels, oils, and the like. There are some vector tools, but they are not the emphasis. It's a painting program.

Expressions is a vector art program. It's best for doing line-art style drawing.

Painter kicks ass when doing, say, the Mona Lisa. Expression kicks ass when doing, say, Superman comics.

Very cool, both.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:06 PM on June 10, 2004


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