Plucky Ukrainian software developer, Belight, has produced some cracking packages in the past.

We've had Business Card Composer, Mail Factory and Swift Publisher, to name but three. Now those lovely people from Odessa have released Art Text 2, the latest version of the company's handy tool for producing stylised text, logos and web buttons.

If you've ever spent half a lifetime fiddling around in Photoshop trying to create Apple's glass Aqua effect or maybe producing some embossed type with realistic reflections, then you'll know how boring, tedious and downright frustrating it can be.

Hundreds of effects

Art Text 2 builds on the first release of this package and now includes an extended range of 200 effects, so you can fill your text, shapes, icons and symbols with plain colours, textures or a whole host of gorgeous Aqua effects, metallic or plastic finishes.

You can customise or make up your own combination of effects and then save them as your own preset styles to add to the 100 styles already on offer.

And once you've chosen your effect, it's a really quick and simple job to bang out a whole range of buttons and other page furniture without spending hours bogged down in Photoshop's Layer Styles.

Image layers

There's a layer feature in Art Text 2 that enables you to build up multiple objects with different styles and colours applied. In fact, the scope is there to produce artwork that could, if not restrained, make your eyes bleed, but it's up to you as the designer to exercise a modicum of taste and decency.

As well as changing the effects applied to your objects, you can also alter the geometry you want to use. There's a heap of styles – some a little over the top, but plenty of others that offer professional-looking results.

Art Text 2 doesn't possess the most intuitive interface and the inability to edit your text in-situ is a bit old-fashioned; you have to type and edit the text in a separate editing window or Layer Content, as it's called.

Another minor gripe is the time that it takes for the program to export your artwork into the choice of PDF, TIFF, JPEG, PNG, EPS or GIF files.

Software stalling

Occasionally the program would stall with a particularly complicated multi-layer graphic; the resizing of the document can be a bit long winded too, and the program runs sluggishly on anything less than an Intel Mac – a harsh requirement for what is essentially a logo creator. We'd also like to see it possible to set the type of measurement units in Art Text's preferences, along with the option of a default document size.

Those few criticisms aside, Art Text 2 is a lovely piece of software that can really speed up the process of producing attractive text, buttons and logos for websites or printed material.

In many ways, Art Text 2 is reminiscent of the old Macromedia Fireworks package but rather easier to use. It certainly offers a lot of bang for your buck.