Asian symbolism

Get Chinese translations of tattoo-appropriate words with this basic program.

Chinese characters have become popular fodder for tattoos, but we've all heard the stories of foreign-language tattoos gone awry. Chinese Symbol Studio provides translations of many tattoo-appropriate words and phrases, but be careful; we can't vouch for their accuracy.

The program seems to be designed specifically for those seeking tattoo ideas, although a more general translation feature is included as well. Along the left side of the interface there's a nested list of words and phrases, including names, numbers, and words relating to topics like family, religion, animals, the zodiac, and more. There's also a long, somewhat random list of alphabetized words, which the program refers to as "symbols from our Web site." The translation tool allows users to enter English words and get the Chinese translation. All of the characters are displayed in the center of the interface, where users can customize their appearance by adjusting shadows, spray, noise, blur, and other characteristics. Users can also select from three different styles of characters and change the size, color, and angles of the symbols. The characters can be saved as a BMP, PNG, or EPS file. The built-in Help file is decidedly brief. Overall, we think that Chinese Symbol Studio is an OK choice for users who are interested in the artistic uses of Chinese characters, but it's definitely not a tool for seriously studying the language.

Chinese Symbol Studio is free to try. The program comes as a ZIP file and installs politely, but leaves a folder behind upon removal. We recommend this program to all users.

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