Feb 21

Serif Photo Plus

Photo PlusEvery so often, my PC gets a problem. This one was quite serious, however – more so than usual. Basically, the network stopped working altogether. Not good. So, as usual, out came the setup CDs. And when it came to graphics software, I thought – why not have a look what else is free?

And then I thought of this. Serif give away free Starter Editions of their graphics suites. Specifically, I’m going to look at Photo Plus, the starter edition of which is available from their site.

Essentially, it does pretty much everything that you would expect of a modern piece of graphics editing software with an interface reminiscent of my old friend, Micrografx Picture Publisher (the only piece of graphical editing software I have ever paid money for, having subsequently migrated to the free and open source alternatives).

Not only does it handle the usual tools, including layers (almost obligatory for every serious art tool), it also includes a rather nifty export optimiser that calculates the exact size of an image before you save it – essential for creating nice WordPress layouts (you can almost smell the revamp of this site coming, can’t you?)

There are reasons to like it, and reasons not to. My only quibble so far too all of five seconds to solve – I was looking in the wrong place to see what size the image would be after using the cropping tool.

If you’re new to graphics software, and it’s all a bit intimidating (even though I’ve been doing this for years, I’m no designer and it’s all a bit intimidating for me still) then this might be the one for you. There’s a nice help panel right next to the tools, with “how do I” sections, getting started, even a funky “makeover studio” (not quite Trinny and Susannah for photos, but close…)

In short, Photo Plus is really nice to have around. It’s fast, helpful, funky to look at and surprisingly quick for a 122MB download. And yes, it’s quicker to start up than GIMP, and for a beginner it has more helpful features. So if you’re just starting with graphics software, but you don’t want to go down the “paint for five year olds” route, give this one a whirl. You might find you never really need anything more complex – certainly it’s more than capable of resizing images, removing the odd spot of camera flare or red eye, or even converting those old Mac Paint or MS Paint pics you’ve found on that old floppy disc :)

Homepage: http://www.serif.com/free-photo-editing-software/.

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