LaserSoft Imaging SilverFast 6.x has a nice feature that you rarely see mentioned in publications on scanner software: PrinTao. PrinTao is a technology that allows you to print directly from scan to printer, with some customization in-between. SilverFast Ai Studio 6.x has some hidden features that are not readily apparent when you just use the software for scanning. PrinTao is one of those. PrinTao is a sort of mini-layout program aimed at quickly creating flyers and other documents that should include scanned images. PrinTao is hidden under the Print icon in the main interface.
When you click the Print icon in the main SilverFast window, you expect a regular printing window to open, but instead you will find yourself gazing at the PrinTao interface. Yes, it's an interface proper, with a preview and manipulation window, and a tabbed control panel. The purpose of PrinTao is to save time and offer you a method for printing what is the scanner flatbed without necessarily having to save the images on there.
In a normal workflow, when you want to print a flyer, for example, what you will have to go through is this:
- Scan the images for the flyer
- Open the images in Photoshop and crop them
- Save the images to disk
- Open your layout program
- Prepare a document to accept the images
- Place the images in the document
- Add some text
- Add pages when appropriate
- Repeat the above process from step 5
- Check whether the whole document's colours are OK and everything is in its right place
Using PrinTao, the workflow becomes something like this:
- Pre-scan the images
- Open PrinTao
- Select a template
- Add text
- Add pages when appropriate
- Repeat the process from step 4
- Press the Print button
How does PrinTao work? Well, what it does is offer you an extensive set of pre-defined templates, and an engine that allows the images that have been pre-scanned to be manipulated as if they were saved to disk already.
With PrinTao you're working with low-res pre-scans of the images on the flatbed. The PrinTao engine allows you to drag images anywhere on the page or pages that you add to the PrinTao document. It also allows you to crop the images whil in the PrinTao environment. But because you're working on a pre-scan no images are cropped in reality. What will happen when you press the Print button, is that the images will be scanned according to the crop instructions in PrinTao.
Adding text is done by first adding a text box, then filling that up with text. You have some control over the text's appearance, but that control is of course nowhere near the capabilities of QuarkXpress or InDesign. PrinTao isn't competing with those heavyweights, but rather offering a solution for casual DTP'ers like the local barber shop who wants to announce a special treatment this weekend only.
What makes PrinTao special is that it is quite capable at quickly arranging the images the way you want them to appear, with or without borders, and with or without text. Then, the only thing that stands between you and a finished flyer is the Print button.
The scanner will start scanning the images to their full resolution, and the images will be colour-corrected and fine-tuned if you have edited the SilverFast settings prior to using PrinTao. The result is a document that is ready to go.
PrinTao is perhaps not aimed at professional desktop publishers, but it is a darn fast and clever way to churn out simple marketing collateral.