Edit and manage your images like a pro with PhotoScape - a packed suite of tools designed to make your photos shine
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There are many great free image editors out there – GIMP and Paint.NET among them – so can PhotoScape differentiate itself from the crowd? The answer is a resounding yes.
Why you need PhotoScape
Given the popularity of other free photo editors, you may not have heard of PhotoScape before. But don't let that put you off, because it offers a whole plethora of useful features, plus a few that its rivals don't come close to offering.
For starters there's PhotoScape's built-in image viewer, which lets you see a stack of thumbnails so you can work with multiple images at once. PhotoScape's handy Page (make one photo by merging multiple photos at the page frame), Combine (make one photo by attaching multiple photos vertically or horizontally) and Splitter (cut up an image into several smaller pieces) options give you even more flexibility.
PhotoScape also has some brilliant features that let you save time on the basics, allowing you more time to get on with photo editing.
The Editing tab allows you to change various aspects of the image such as the brightness and size, add effects to change the way it looks, crop it, and place other objects such as text on top.
The Page tab lets you make a collage from a group of images using a preset template. Combine offers a similar service, enabling combine lots of photos onto one page and then change the style of the borders and margins.
Other features include a tool for creating animated GIFs, which is great fun, and a built-in printing suite also allows you to create sheets of photos to minimize paper wastage. There's also screen capture, a RAW-to-JPG converter, image splitter, batch editor, renaming tool and a colour picker.
Photoscape is primarily a photo editor, but this label doesn't really do it justice - there is much more to it than basic retouching. There's also an image viewer, a batch editing function, a built in screen capture tool, and a host of filters and effects to quickly liven up any image.
On top of this, PhotoScape can stitch together multiple images into a panorama or collage, work with animated GIFs, convert RAW images, create slideshows, and print photos using a number of templates - the list goes on.
When you first fire up PhotoScape, you're greeted by a strange circular menu system that provides access to all of the various tools. If you're not keen on this layout, you can opt for a more traditional grid arrangement of icon in settings.
Each of the various components that make up PhotoScape has a similar look and feel - almost like a file browser. In each instance there is a file navigator in a pane to the left of the screen, while the right is home to the editor, viewer, convertor, or whatever tool you happen to be using. After a while, it begins to feel that the permanently visible folder navigation tree is a bit of a waste of space, and should perhaps have been given over to buttons and menus instead.
While PhotoScape is no Photoshop-killer, it is highly accomplished. The editing features are what will bring most people to the program, and it does not disappoint. However, PhotoScape shuns the traditional menu and toolbar design standard used by most applications, moving settings to the bottom of the screen. There's no getting away from the fact that PhotoScape's interface is quite unusual and takes a while to get used to.
Despite the raft of extras (the RAW editing tool being a particularly welcome addition), the editing tools are PhotoScape's best feature. The editor is surprisingly powerful and all of the options are well-labeled and self-explanatory. This is clearly a tool aimed at beginners, and you are encouraged to just play around with the numerous filters to see what happens. If you take things too far, there's the ever-present 'Undo' function, or 'Undo all' if you want to wipe the slate clean.
What is particularly heartening is that even newcomers to the world of image editing will be able to create something impressive from their photos by simply tinkering - and this is the portal to trying out new things and getting more adventurous.
While there is a great deal to like about PhotoScape, you can't help but feel it all could have been slightly better organized. Some people may appreciate the fact that all of the various components of the program are to be found in different sections, but others will simply find it annoying.
PhotoScape's interface is also a little confusing. There are tabs at the top of the screen that provide access to some of the tools, while others can only be launched through the splash screen menu icons. Why, for instance, does it make sense to have the Color Picker tool singled out for inclusion in the selection screen? It's not a major issue, but it is a little odd.
With so many tools to choose from, even if you don't make full use of PhotoScape's full feature set, you're sure to get value from this remarkably versatile free program.
Latest PhotoScape updates
The latest version of PhotoScape include fixes several bugs in the Sharpen, Blur and Bloom filters, and upgrades the Blur brush.
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