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PhotoLine, a nice alternative to Photoshop, is a full featured raster graphics editor for Windows and Mac OS
X aimed at the advanced amateur or professional user. Its features include
16 bits of color depth, full color management, support of RGB, CMYK and
Lab color models, layer support, and non-destructive image manipulation.
Besides that, it is also a vector graphics editor and can also be used
for desktop publishing. It can import and export all common raster graphics
formats including camera raw image formats, as well as Photoshop PSD
files, PDF files and Adobe Flash animations.
- integrates raster
graphics editor, vector
graphics editor and basic desktop
publishing in one program
- full color
management, including Monitor
RGB, CMYK, Lab and grayscalecolor models;
color models and ICC
profiles can be chosen on a
layer by layer basis
- 8, 16 and 32 bits of colour depth per
- full layer support, including blending
modes and grouping
- non-destructive workflow by adjustment
layers, multiple layer masks per layer, and layer styles
- non-destructive scaling, rotating and
- most filters available as adjustment
- many filters, brushes and adjustment
layers can be used in Lab and HIS color modes (HIS is a variant of HSL),
independently of the color model of the underlying image layer
- vector layers and text layers including
spell checking and character and paragraph styles and text flow inside or
- multi page documents, including text
flow between pages
- supports Photoshop plugins and PSP
- support for pressure-sensitive graphics
- import and export of Photoshop PSD
files, PDF files,
animated GIFs, Adobe
Flash animations, SVG vector
graphics, and many others
- camera raw
image format support based
- macro (action) recording and batch
- supports 64 bit processors and multiprocessing
- small download and program size,
launches very quickly, can be run off an USB stick or similar device
Recently Adobe announced that most of their creative software titles such as
Photoshop, After Effects, Illustrator, Dreawmweaver, and so forth will no
longer be sold via perpetual licenses. Instead, these titles will only be
available as subscription ďrentals,Ē meaning that essentially access to your
work will require paying Adobe a fee each month.
As a creative professional
and hobbyist (why are these
terms always used as an either/or situation? Canít we be both?), I am not
alone in viewing this model as untenable. The tools I use to create my work
contribute to my creative process. However, the process and steps used are
my IP, not Adobeís. So the thought of having to pay Adobe a monthly fee
simply to access my IP is a non-starter for me.
So it is with that in mind, that I decided to start looking for alternative
solutions to the tools I use. This is the first post in what will be a
series covering this topic. I am starting with Photoshop because it is
central to my work process and creative process.
The first application is called PhotoLine.
This is a cross platform app (Win/Mac), 32 and 64 bit. When I first visited
the website, my initial impression was that this package is probably a
simple photo manipulation tool. However, donít be put off by the lack of
marketing focus, regardless of how it looks, PhotoLine does have a serious
pro focus. It does not have everything that Photoshop CS Extended hasÖ yet.
But it does have a lot in it, such as this to start:
The image processing part of PhotoLine contains all standard features
like painting, copying, filtering, color gradients and fill functions.
In order to eliminate interfering background in pictures PhotoLine
offers various lasso functions, a flexible mask handling and a magic
Layers are an important feature for professional usage. The number of
layers is only limited by the available memory.
The number of undo and redo steps can be set in a range from 0 to 500.
Not mentioned above is the fact that it
handles 16 bit images. It continues:
In PhotoLine you can create, load, edit and save CMYK pictures.
The filter section contains a large quantity of features: sharpen,
unsharp masking, soften, outline, video for correcting interlaced
pictures, relief, glow, shadow, Ö
Morphing and distortion functionality is already integrated.
If that is not enough, PhotoLine is extendable through plug-in modules
in the 8BF format.
BTW, plug-ins are a big concern, so I
tested my CS6 plugins (NIK, Magic Bullet, Akvis, Digimarc, etc.) in
PhotoLine, and they all work. Some users on the PhotoLine forums report
that their plugins donít work, so check yours in the free demo to make
sure. Photoline has a preference setting where you can specify the
location of your Photoshop plugins, making it easy to integrate.
PhotoLine supports numerous import file formats like PLD, PDF, TIF, BMP,
GIF, JPEG, CMX, PCD, PCX, PNG, PSD, EPS, PICT, TGA, IMG, ICO, ANI, XBM,
IFF, ESM, CGM, PIC, CVG, GEM, WMF. On Windows you can also import
pictures via the Aldus import interface. There are many import filters
for this interface like PS, PDF, CDR and WPG. In all formats layers and
transparency are preserved if possible.
Yes indeed, it does import PSD files. I
have not had a chance to use this extensively, but the few tests I ran
worked perfectly. This is very important because I have oodles of files
saved in PSD.
PhotoLine has special functions for saving web graphics. It can create,
import, edit, show and save transparent and animated GIF files. To save
valuable web space and bandwidth GIFs can be saved highly optimized and
interlaced. Saving of progressive JPEGs is supported, too.
There are a number of functions for
working with images to HTML. I have not had a chance to test them, but it
looks promising, and is another of those essential Photoshop items that I
Due to the various import and export drivers and its integrated batch
function PhotoLine is well suited as a file format converter. In
combination with the action recorder the batch function is a very
powerful tool. For example with one mouse click it is possible to read
all pictures from a directory, reduce them to 256 colors for usage in
the web and save the pictures to a different directory.
Pressure sensitive graphic tablets are supported, too.
Yes it works with my Wacom tablet. So
far so good.
It has other features such as vector
creation and editing, adjustment layers, Multi-Touch (on OSX only AFAICT),
a Healing Brush, a Remove Brush (which is similar to the Content-Aware
functions in Photoshop), and it comes with an extensive user manual. The
program appears to be well supported and is up to version 17, so it has
As for Camera Raw functionality,
PhotoLine does have support for it, but I have not had a chance to test
it. Nevertheless, I have several options for Camera Raw (such as
Aperture), so Iím not worried about it vis-a-vis replacing Photoshop.
The UI is one that is best described as
function over form. It isnít that the UI looks bad, but coming from
Photoshop CS6, one might find it to be a bit prosaic and dated.
Nevertheless, donít let this fool you. Photoline definitely has a lot
going for it, and personally I would rather have function over form in
terms of priorities.
What is noticeably absent for the
Photoshop CS extended user is that there are no 3d texturing tools (at
least that I could find). This isnít a deal breaker though because there
are plenty of options for that sort of work. All in all, for me PhotoLine
is a worthy challenger to Photoshop. As I work more with it, I will
update this post with findings. If I missed anything, please feel free to
comment on it.
Rating: Excellent alternative to