Aug 052014
 

PhotoDemon

PhotoDemon is a portable and relatively small – less than 17MB unzipped – image editor which happens to be open source too. Most, if not all, features expected when working with images are present here. Plus there is also a Batch process mode available via the File menu (or Ctrl+B). A film strip area shows all open images.

PhotoDemon can import directly from the clipboard, cameras and scanners and also from URLs. Mouse and keyboard shortcuts for zoom make it easy to view details. The Image menu features most of what is expected like Resize, Crop, Rotate, and Flip plus a few others like Count unique colours and Transparency. The latter is a bit different because it can make specific colours transparent and leave other parts of an image untouched.

The selection has some interesting extras. When making a selection various effects can be added to the selection instead of the whole image. For example the screenshot above, probably not the best image to illustrate this, shows a rectangular selection with a border (After making a selection click Select –>Border). The Adjustment options are Black and white, Brightness and contrast, Color Balance, Levels, Vibrance, White balance, Channel, Color, Histogram, Invert, Lighting and Monochrome. The Effects are also most of the typical ones expected like Artistic, Blur, Distort, Edge, Experimental, Natural, Noise, Sharpen and Stylize. There is also a Custom filter window which is a fun to play with if not necessarily needed for most. The Experimental and Natural filters include the likes of Underwater, Rainbow, Alien and Radioactive.

The Tools menu is where macros can be recorded and plugins added, the included plugins are Exiftool, pngnq-s9, EZTwain, zlib and FreeImage. PhottoDemon offers a good solution for image editing beyond what is mentioned above and probably belongs high on the list of downloads to keep.

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Oct 172012
 

ToolWiz Pretty Photo (Version: 1.5) is a freeware image editor with lots of features that place it very high when compared to other free, shareware and expensive editors.

ToolWiz Pretty Photo

ToolWiz Pretty Photo supports the more common picture formats and can also do screen captures. Screen captures, available from the File menu, are rectangular ones created with click and drag of the mouse. When an area is chosen a mini toolbar offers to save the capture, open or return to ToolWiz Pretty Photo’s window or add any of a collection of shapes, lines or text immediately.

ToolWiz Pretty Photo can merge layers, when objects are added to an image for example. It can rotate, crop and move layers to the back or front.

The Add Objects menu has a large collection of symbols in addition to lines and shapes such as rectangle and ellipse and others like cloud popups.

The Adjust Picture menu features the common resize, hue/saturation, color balance, curves, levels, brightness/contrast and invert. Additionally Add Frame adds a (configurable thickness) border that can be filled with a solid color or another image. A shadow can be added in a similar manner and the Picture Selection option allows the user to select and crop any part of an image. The cropped section can be a rectangle, ellipse, round rectangle or lasso (free form.)

ToolWiz Pretty Photo

The Beautify menu is the fun part of ToolWiz Pretty Photo. Available options include Add Wig, Blush, Eyebrows, Necklace, Glasses, Mask, Hat, Pupils and more. Various other effects are also available and include adding Mosaic Paint to an image. Color Paint is another which turns an image into grayscale and then allows the user to color section(s) of the image. Soft Focus Paint (shown in the image above) is another useful feature to blur out an image and then only reveal a part of it.

Image Filter includes 39 “art filters” such as Gothem, Kelvin, Nashville, Toaster, Lomo, Polaroid, Sunshine Beach, Old Photo, Early Bird, Brannan, White and Black, Closer Black and White, Emboss, Happy Tone, Color Emboss, Diabolical and others. Emboss, AntiAlias, Add Noise, Pencil, Split Blur, Motion Blur and Fill Light are here as well.

ToolWiz Pretty Photo requires Windows XP or newer, it is available in a portable version as well.

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Aug 282012
 

LazPaint (Version: 4.8) is open source and is a good and very capable alternative to any full featured image or graphics editors. Some of its features are listed below using its menu as a reference and the images attached to this review highlight a few of them.

LazPaint

LazPaint can do multiple undo and redos and paste as and paste as new image. Selections are available as rectangle, ellipse and polygon, these are complemented with curve that can create complex shapes or areas based on initial and end points. Selections can be edited, rotated and there is also the magic wand to automatically select objects within an image. Change canvas size and flip are available too as is zoom which includes a ‘Smart zoom’.

LazPaint

Shift colors (Colors—>Shift colors) and Deformation (Tool—>Deformation)

Colorize and shift colors work really well and change an image smartly. Intensity, lightness, normalize, negative, linear negative and grayscale are equal or superior to other similar programs. Pen, color picker, eraser, gradient, fill, shaded shape (many available shapes with adjustable light sources), text, deformation (image is divided into any number of grids and then any section of the grid can be dragged to distort portion(s) of an image) and texture mapping take LazPaint into more advanced territory.

Filter are mostly the common ones with different blurs (radial, motion, disk, fast, precise), sharpen, smooth, pixelate, cleartype, contour and emboss all there plus plane. The latter comes with a warning that it is a slow process (see last image for what the first image image is transformed into using plane). Finally render adds any one of various objects over a selection or the whole image.

LazPaint

Plane (Filter —>Plane)

LazPaint is multi-platform written in Lazarus, has command line support and so can take advantage of the BGRABitmap library, read more at http://wiki.lazarus.freepascal.org/LazPaint and http://wiki.freepascal.org/BGRABitmap. Input file formats supported are bmp, jpg, png, gif, ico and Paint.NET’s pdn and it can save to bmp, png and jpg.

Image in the screen shots is at http://www.flickr.com/photos/puksdesign/5896307147/in/photostream

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Apr 092012
 

PhoXo (Version: 7.1 tested) is a lightweight but capable photo or image editor. It packs a good set of features into its 4MB download. One of the ways the developer describes it is that is a  ‘mini Photoshop’ and that is not far from the truth.

PhoXo

Going through its menus it is easy to see that PhoXo is  easily adequate for most uses.

The Select menu features all, none and invert selections and options for selecting with rounded corners and expanding, shrinking a selection.

The Image menu has the brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, color tone (like sepia), black white (like grayscale), glow, self portrait (like old photo) plus options for gamma, different color palettes and auto levels. There is also size, adjust border, auto trim, flip, mirror, rotate. Finally soft edge, shadow, blur and sharpness effects are here as well.

Effects has the filters which include the usual noise, emboss, posterize, bulge, twist, wave, ripple, sunshine, glass tile, blinds, solarize, threshold, halftone, grid and the video effect, among others.

Tools menu’s interesting feature is create an ascii image and a batch watermark tool.

PhoXo also includes a clipart collection and frame library to add to images. Other tools available  – again much like Photoshop – are magic wand, shape, color picker, clone, stamp, gradient fill and others. The website has many tutorials and an additional library for use with PhoXo.

PhoXo is freeware and available in 11 languages. It runs on Windows XP and newer.

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Feb 202012
 

My ViewPad (Version: 4.1.0 build 16212 tested) is a freeware image or graphics viewer that is also available for Mac and Linux. It supports over 100 formats, many of them both read and write. These include the common .jpg, .psd, .tiff, .raw, .ico and .gif formats to less common ones like .tga (Targa), .wmf (Windows Metafile), .pict, .psp (Paint Shop Pro) and others.

My ViewPad

The interface is simple and straightforward. The image area includes right click support for Copy, Rename, Delete, Properties, and somehow oddly Open With and Preview. The latter two are for opening the images using another image viewer and Windows’ own picture viewer.

The menus on the right hand side of the program window are as follows:

File menu features Open, Reopen, Open Recent, Open Image Folder, Next Image, Previous Image, Save, Save As, Save As Wallpaper (centered, tiled, stretched, fit and clear desktop), Print, Acquire and Delete Image.

Info presents basic info like path, size, dpi, (jpg) mode, color space, compression and similar info depending on the image format.

Edit features Undo, Redo, Flip, Rotate, Scale, Crop, Color Corrections (Gamma, Brightness, Contrast, Auto levels and Auto contrast), Copy, Copy Full Path, Paste, Clear and Change Checksum.

View features Zoom in, Zoom out, Actual size, Best fit, Full screen and EXIF or Page options relevant to the various formats.

Tools includes settings and associations. The former features Rendering quality and Raw interpolation, among others. My ViewPad should run on all Windows versions.

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Dec 092011
 

PixBuilder Studio (Version: 2.1.1 as of this post) is a capable image editor. It has many features of those much more expensive than it.

PixBuilder Studio’s features include the typical brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, color balance, auto levels, (background and foreground) fill and more but also support for layers (including rasterize and combine), gradients, masks and even more that elevates it to Photoshop levels. Transform, flip, drop shadow and filters like Gaussian blur, sharpness, emboss and dithering are worth mentioning in terms of the Photoshop comparisons but it doesn’t end there.

Its tools are also numerous. They are pencil, line, brush (configurable type and sizes), eraser, healing brush, clone stamp, ellipse, rounded rectangle, eyedropper, 8BF plugin support and more. The select menu has many of the options one would expect. Lasso, magic wand and magnetic lasso make image and layer manipulation easy and convenient. Color selection and range make working with specific colors within images easier as well.

PixBuilder Studio
The browser panel (Tools—>Browser Panel) eases navigation, a full screen mode (View—>Full screen mode) cleans up the interface, Rulers (View—>Show Rulers) aid in image creation and sizing, multiple undo covers up mistakes, Palettes add many coloring modes and options.

Much like its expensive counterpart and lookalike there is also web preview for JPG, GIF and PNG formats. It can read JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, PCX, PSD, TGA, ICO and PBS formats and save to all except PSD. PixBuilder Studio is optionally installed in portable mode and requires Windows XP or newer.

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Oct 092011
 

Kestrel GX (Version: 1.2.1 as of this post) is an attractive photo editor that also helps organize photos into one or more databases. It supports many image formats including JPG and others but also Photoshop’s PSD format and RAW formats. Photos can be arranged into PDF albums to share easily with others. The usual edits like resize, rotate, flip, convert, remove red eye, saturation, rename and others are available but Kestrel GX lets you choose an external application (File —> Open In External Editor) for editing images.

Kestrel GX

Kestrel GX is perhaps mostly useful as a photo organizer. Not only it can be used to edit and search EXIF, IPTC and even GPS data associated with images but it can also be used divide images by rating, category and keywords and store them into their own database(s) managed by the program to view and also search for later.

Kestrel GX has print capability that includes a few ways or templates to print and also a slideshow (View —> Slideshow) with 163 transition effects. To top it all of it does both image and text watermarks (File —> Watermark Images) too. Kestrel GX is one of the most complete photo applications out there and is free for personal and educational use only. It requires Windows XP and up.

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Aug 102010
 

Hornil StylePix, Freeware Photoshop Alternative

Hornil StylePix is an impressive Photoshop replacement that is not only freeware but is only 1.5MB in size. The layout is similar to that of the expensive Adobe product. Not unlike other free Photoshop alternatives it supports a lot of the features or functions of the much bigger product and does them reasonably well.

Hornil StylePix’s features include the likes of lasso (free, polygonal and others and all with extra settings to increase, decrease, fill and generally work with the selected region), erase, spray and an easy way to draw shapes.

Walking through the program menu, the following are also available.

The file menu: Batch processing with control over output size, name, orientation and filter. Browsing, previewing and navigating folders from within the program. Setting images as wallpaper.

The edit menu: The usual series of tools like brush, clone, fill, color drop, text, zoom, transform, fix red eye and others. Here is also where one can use Hornil StylePix’s support for multiple undo levels in addition to the histogram.

The image menu: Rotate, resize, duplicate and crop.

The object menu: ‘Inserting’ images into other images and working with them as groups and then aligning, blending and layering (the image shows two pictures ‘grouped’ together)

The Filter menu features a list of filters including the likes of noise, sketch, glow, blur and others.

The view menu : Grid, ruler, and zoom. Also full screen mode and slideshow for the current image’s folder. This is also where the program options reside where the slideshow, interface grid, program skin and other settings are configured.

The Window menu arranges windows and preserves or saves the layout for future sessions.

A pro version with layer styles such as emboss, shadow and glow is also available. Hornil StylePix runs on Windows XP and newer PCs.

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Jul 302010
 

Fotografix

Fotografix is very much a mini version of Photoshop with its similar menu structure and a good number of (perhaps more basic) features familiar to Photoshop users. It even supports Photoshop’s PSD image format and of course imports them with layers intact.

Looking at its menu Fotografix’s features are as follows:

The File menu contains the usual open, save and other operations with the addition of an icon extractor.

The Edit menu includes the likes of cut, paste, purge (current session’s history for example) and fill color with a choice of background and foreground colors plus black, white and gray.

The Image menu contains adjustments for image and canvas and also commands like crop, flip and rotate images or layers.

The Adjustments menu contains the brightness, contrast, color balance, levels, desaturate, invert, posterize, and threshold options.

The Layer menu is for adding new layers and layer masks, also duplicating, renaming, rasterizing and deleting layers.

The Filters menu contains a set including blur, emboss, offset, noise and others.

The Select menu is for selecting and working with specific regions within an image or layer or or inverting a selection.

The View menu is for zooming in and out or activating full screen mode.

The Window menu is for activating the colors, layers, tools and scripts ‘palettes’ within the program window and toggling the status bar on and off.

Fotografix also features the likes of magic wand, clone, color dropper and also a few gradient options.

All of the above work like Photoshop in a 355KB download. Advanced features may be missing and the result of the existing features may not always be the same but Fotografix is easily worth a download.

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Apr 242009
 

A relative unknown amongst the image editing freeware choices RealWorld Paint.COM is a surprisingly powerful and useful application. It is described by its author simply as

Web-graphic-master’s tool of choice

RealWorld Paint.COM makes it easy, barring the advanced functions used by
RealWorld Paint.COM
true graphics professionals, to scale the heights of the standard Photoshop. RealWorld Paint.COM is more than sufficient for most purposes. On launch the options are to create a new raster image, open an existing image, capture the desktop or open the clipboard stored image.
Going through the program one finds the usual requirements in crop, cut, zoom, rotate, mirror but also grid of various sizes that can be superimposed on images to make working on regions easier. Other necessities like border, transparency, color and brightness adjustment and not to mention bevel, drop shadow, fill, border, blur are all present and so is a good text editor with features like gradient text effects. The ability to import, export and use masks can be useful for organizing image editing tasks. Of course it is also possible to create layers with various filters and effect and import or export them. Of some importance is the multiple undo and redo available. Perhaps more notably it is also possible to work with photoshop compatible 8bf plugins (see images) and the ability to define, using an included editor (see images), plugins via the use of javascript. One can also use one of the few available or the one already included that takes screenshots. Perhaps a more unique feature to RealWorld is that 
RealWorld Paint.COM
by right clicking an image the user can define mouse gestures (up, down, cross, circle, arrow, hourglass and many more) to automate everything from saving a file to shifting its hue.

More details can be read, discovered and seen by using this less than 7MB download and checking the software author’s wiki. Resulting images can be saved in the usual formats like JPG, GIF, BMP, PNG and others called ‘Layered image files’ and ‘RealWorld image files’ for images to be worked on later while preserving layers and effects much like other porfessional editors allow. RealWorld Paint.COM is compatible with Windows 2000, XP, Vista, or 7 and is also available in a very convenient portable download. It is not to be confused with the better known PAINT.Net application however. On the DonationCoder forums RealWorld’s author explains the choice of the name in the following way

Yes, the Paint.COM name is controversial, a bit of a joke and something to counterweight the flood of .net apps. I am old school C++.

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