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Limited only by printer;Reviews;Arts;Cross Phase;Software

ART EXPLORER. CD-Rom for PC and Apple Mac. The Arts Council of England and Channel 4. Television pound;24.99 for one pound;5.88 for each additional CD-Rom with initial order.

This package for the nine to 14 age group has been devised to show the potential of computers in art work. The screen visuals, voice-overs and instructions are all clear and appealingly straightforward, but do not be fooled: the programme's capacity for creativity is very impressive. Simple but powerful tools allow complex, striking images to be generated in seconds, ready for printing out and use in practical work.

Children choose from more than 1,000 images in the picture library, for instance selecting by texture, shape or colour, and then manipulate them as they wish. They must elect to work on one of four projects: the puppet, building, collage or kaleidoscope sections. These projects are much less restrictive than the titles might suggest; they give access to all sorts of work not only on colour, shape and texture but also 3D, animation, pattern and design. On-screen help provides pupils and teacher with suggestions for how to make the link with classroom work, always reinforcing the point that the computer is a tool, not an end in itself. for the teacher, the only drawback might be in having to limit the printing out of more and more amazing images.

Susan Morris is a museum and gallery educator

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