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Inspirational Art

Xara artists are famous for their drawings of cars, but there's also a pretty impressive collection of clocks and watches. And here's an absolute classic from artist Alan Burns.

You may remember Alan's drawing of the Microscope (see the May 06 Outsider) in which case you'll know that he likes hiding things in his drawings - such as the girl in the bath in the Microscope drawing.

But few know that he's also hidden some things in this sumptuously detailed drawing of the pocket watch.

If you know the right place to zoom into, you can find this:

And zooming in even more...

And in another area of the same drawing you can see this:

You can get this file from the clipart gallery section 'Example Xtreme Drawings 1' if you want to pull it to bits and try and find these yourself (click GetClipart if you are using the trial to download the examples).

(Tip - you'll need to switch off the layer called 'removable top' and it's a lot easier and quicker to try and find these objects in outline mode.)

This ability to hide a lot of detail in images differentiates vector graphics from pixel graphics. It would be completely impossible to do this had the drawing been created in, for example, Photoshop.

The hidden man is only 0.6mm across - yes, less than 1 mm - and yet contains enough detail to include a slogan on his shirt. If you wanted to include these levels of detail in a Photoshop image, or any bitmap or painting program for that matter, the file would have to be around 180,000 pixels across! That would be approximately equivalent to an image of 32 Gigapixels - 32 billion pixels in total. That would require about 128 Gbytes of RAM (128,000 Megabytes) just to hold the image. So that's why we say this would be completely impossible in Photoshop.

So this is one good reason why vector graphics are so much better than pixel graphics - near infinite amounts of detail can be included, and yet the file sizes remain relatively tiny (in this case the whole watch drawing - with all this detail in - is just 154Kbytes).

You can see more of Alan's work in the gallery.