|Discus 3.12, by Magic
The majority of the
disk space is taken by the art that is an integral part of the program.
Canvas is the first tab and you can choose a background graphic to get started. There are literally hundreds of high quality choices for the background pictures. Unfortunately, I can rarely find one completely appropriate to my needs (making family DVD movies from home video and burning CDs). Since I find that some of the background graphics are too busy or obscure my text, I'm grateful that Discus allows a picture to be imported for use as a background.
The next interface tab is Paint. Even though Magic Mouse touts that the interface is Mac OS X-like, the paint icons remind me of colorized versions of the original MacPaint. The interface widgets are also not native from OS X, but built into Discus. I'm sure that was easier than rewriting the program to call the OS X widgets, but the Mac OS no longer uses the style of tabs in Discus. A really good example of a program that uses Mac OS X's interface technologies and look is Delicious Monster's Delicious Library. To be fair, however, many more programs fall into the Discus end of the spectrum these days than the end at which we find Delicious Library.
Although you can select
the tabs in any order, the graphics, paint and text all stay in a fixed order: first
the background graphic, then any painted effects, any photos you import, and finally
the text. You have no option to change the layers or move one element backward or
forward like is possible in Photoshop and many other programs. Paint presents you
with the familiar paint elements, such as the brush, spray can, rubber stamp, paint
bucket, line tool and more. There are quite a few pen sizes and patterns as well.
The Paint and Text tabs present a wide spectrum of color choices as well.
Next is the Text tab. Of course you can type text and change size, color, bold, italic, spacing, centering and justification, but Discus also has options for text in horizontal and vertical directions and four different curving styles. There are also standard outline and shadow effects, but Discus adds a Glow effect as well. You can move text backward and forward in relation to other text, but not other elements such as photos. If you don't want to type, the program claims to import tune lists from iTunes, Toast, Jam and Dragon Burn or another Discus project. Import from iTunes exported playlists and Toast playlists worked perfectly although I didn't have Jam or Dragon Burn to test with. This is a very useful feature.
Finally we come to Print, a place where the program really shines. The Print tab features almost 200 label templates in the CD/DVD project alone. If you can't find your label, I can't imagine where you're buying your media. Unfortunately, if you can't find your template, the program does not allow you to add it. Some programs I have used have a plug-in type template library that will allow a user to download new templates from the company's web site, but all templates are built into Discus. After selecting a template, you should print a test page. The test page will have an outline with a calibrated scale that you can place on top of your labels. You can then adjust the printing via four directional buttons in Discus to make sure the label is centered properly when it is printed on your particular machine. This is one area in which other label printing programs that I have used disappointed me. Most have no adjustments and you can easily end up with off-centered labels, which to me significantly diminishes the quality of the look on the CD. Additionally, Discus templates "bleed" over the edges, so you don't have to worry about slight paper misalignments in the printer. Discus makes it easy to adjust to your printer, and as a result you don't waste labels trying to print them right.
While Discus is a great piece of software, there is room for improvement. Of its gigantic collection of art for CD labels, many of them I found uninteresting (e.g., bubbly ones). There are also a few functional limitations. For example, you can rotate text to any angle, but you can only rotate pictures by 90 degrees. Text rendering on the screen is poor quality, but thankfully the print quality is much better. For dual labels (2 labels per sheet), Discus did not provide a way to use two different artworks at the same time. You can turn off top or bottom printing and do them one at a time, but doing them at the same time would be much easier. While Discus does include graphics tools like stretch (which is really more of a "squish") and crop, there isn't a good way to resize images the way other graphics software does (such as Photoshop). Sound effects can really add ambience to a product, but the sound effects in Discus are mostly annoying; fortunately, they can easily be turned off.
Overall, Discus has
an easy-to-understand interface that anyone will find easy to master. The tabs walk
you through the creation of a label step by step. Each label layer has many options
that can be customized to make your label look exactly how you want it.