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-- by Lori L. Bloomer
One of the most-used cliches in the graphics and layout business is KISS-"Keep It Simple, Stupid." PhotoStudio goes that old saw one better by keeping graphics creation simple, and RAM, system and hard disk requirements small. All that plus the $149 price tag make this program ideal for anyone new to image editing or those wanting access to some of the tools found in more expensive applications. Advanced users, however, will be better served by a more expansive, feature-laden application like Photoshop.
The tools offered are standard fare for basic image-editing programs like Paint Shop Pro, including fills, blends, shadows and frames, as well as the typical set of sharpening and blending commands. The masking tool allows you to creatively hide parts of an image for greater visual impact.
PhotoStudio is easy to use and reasonably sophisticated. You can combine and intersect masks for new effects. A built-in photo album function lets you build catalogs of images with descriptive text.
The special effects commands include a very nifty Emboss that renders your image as if it were embossed in metal-PhotoStudio's implementation is unique in that it allows you to retain all of the original colors of the image. The app's film grain effect makes your graphics resemble analog photos with flaws-a useful feature for making digital images seem less sterile.
This set of tools is good for starters, but most of them are unremarkable for anyone who has used Photoshop 4.0, currently on our Recommended List, or Photo-Paint. Even Photo Impact, another entry-level image-creation package, has a wider selection of tools and effects-including far superior graphic-text capabilities. On the other hand, if you don't mind investing in Photoshop plug-ins, PhotoStudio can use them. It comes with Kai's Power GOO, an application that lets you rearrange someone's face digitally.
If you're used to RAM-greedy graphics software with all the speed of a sleeping slug, you'll find PhotoStudio refreshingly swift. The program processes effects so quickly that no "percentage processed" bar is necessary.
I tried PhotoStudio on a novice graphics user who found it simple to get started. As an advanced user, I hit the functionality ceiling fairly quickly.
Though it would be hard to recommend PhotoStudio as a potential tool for a sophisticated user's arsenal, its straightforward interface makes it a good bet for the nongraphics professional who needs image-editing prowess now.
Copyright (c) 1997 CMP Media Inc.