Reviews related to : Graphic software

It is that time of year when the latest version of a piece of software, which seems to have a permanent residence on my various computer systems, makes its annual appearance.
The software in question is Paint Shop Pro.  This product has developed, over the years, from a file conversion utility into a photo editing and graphics designer package.  As with the previous version, Paint Shop Pro X9 is available in either a Standard or Ultimate offering. When installing this product I was given the choice of either working with the 32 or 64-bit version or, as I finally opted for, going for both varieties.
Adding to its portfolio of graphics products, Xara has released its Designer Pro X365 offering. This product brings together elements of vector illustrations, photo editing, page layout and web design within a single WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) package.
To clear up any confusion, I should explain that the “365” part of the product’s title does not imply that Designer Pro X is a subscription type product, although there are certain online services available to which you could subscribe.  The “365” is more to do with the Xara Update Services which allows the user to access updates regarding new features and additional content immediately without waiting for the appearance of a new version.
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Crazy Talk 8

In the right hands this product can give you amazing results, it can create 3D images from photographs add cartoonish features and much more however it can also create lip sync to audio or voice so you can be there even when you are not.
In my hands it created a reasonable 3D image of me from a forward facing head and shoulders shot and a selfie side on. You just click a number of points around your head to match eyes and mouth end of nose etc. and it does the rest. In total around five minutes from importing the images. This was only rough but the image was quite good.
Following on from its popular industry leading portrait make-over software, entitled Portrait Pro, Anthropics Technology has moved its focus from the foreground to the background with its new LandscapePro software.
Described as being the industry’s first intelligent landscape photo editing package, LandscapePro from Anthropics Technology is available in either Standard or Studio edition mode.  With the latter edition, the software comes as a standalone offering or as a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Photoshop Elements.  This review is based on the Studio standalone version of the software.
As its version number of X8 indicates, CorelDRAW has been around for a good number of years. In fact this software’s first appearance was back in 1989 as it offered users full colour vector illustration and layout functionality on the Windows platform. Over the years this software product has undergone numerous changes including a metamorphosis into a suite rather than a single offering.
This latest X8 version of this package consists of CorelDRAW X8, Corel PHOTO PAINT X8, Corel Font Manager X8, Corel CONNECT X8, Corel CAPTURE X8, Corel Power Trace X8 and Corel Website Creator.  You also get bucket-loads of content with 10000 items of clipart and digital images, 2000 professional digital photos, 10000 OpenType® fonts, 350 professionally designed templates, 2000 vehicle templates and over 1000 fills, frames and patterns to use with your projects.
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CorelDRAW X8

The main problem with a product 18 versions old is when you remember the first one. Corel were one of the main reasons you got a CD drive. It was all the extra content they provided in images and fonts. Now the download needs a fast connection as its 1.8GB.
Having done the download you then need to burn a DVD so it’s not a trivial process. Once installed I had 2.3GB less hard disc space and my Desktop had five extra icons – yes Corel still give extra – apart from the CorelDRAW X8, there is also Corel PHOTO-PAINT, Corel CONNECT, Corel CAPTURE and Corel FONT MANAGER. They still do 32bit versions if that’s what you need but 64bit is what I am reviewing it on and to be frank with anything complex you need memory as well.
From its German base, MAGIX has developed the latest version of its slideshow creating software.
Now available in its 2016 Deluxe version, MAGIX Photostory offers a solution that enables you to meld your still images, video clips and music into slideshows and other types of media viewing styles.  As usual with MAGIX products, the software will require to be activated by the entry of a 31-character serial number and the registration of the product via an online link.
Corel has a number of products for the creation and editing of graphics including one that is perhaps not as high-profile as some others
In the early nineties, Roxio was a leading force in the field of developing burning software.  Many a time I have sat back to watch the company going head-to-head with Nero in a battle for the hearts and minds of users by adding extra features as they expanded into the area of video creation software and other aspects of multimedia.  Roxio then underwent a series of changes of ownership before becoming part of the Corel family.
ABBYY FineReader 12 Professional is an extremely accurate and versatile optical character recognition (OCR) package. It is easy to use for run-of-the-mill jobs with good, clean text but can also deal with less than perfect text as well as complex documents which include tables and images.
It analyses the input document and then recognises its content to produce text files in a range of commonly used formats. These include Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint as well as searchable PDF and PDF/A (archive able) formats or other options such as HTML or EPUB. The source can be from a normal computer file, a scanner or digital photos of documents. Having completed a scan or read in a file FineReader analyses the page layout and then carries out the recognition process.
Originally developed as a kitchen-table product by a jet plane enthusiast, this next title is a popular member of the Corel family and a long term favourite of mine.
Regularly featuring as part of my various computers, dating back as far as Windows 3.1, is Paint Shop Pro.  Over the years this software has expanded its range of functionality from basic file conversion capability and now can be considered as a tool for photo editing and basic graphics design work.  The latest version of this software, available in 32 and 64-bit flavours, is now up to X8 with Standard and Ultimate editions.
In a previous life this was one of the first really useful products. Corel came out with their excellent CorelDRAW product and made the purchase of PaintShop Pro an early capture and now this is a very mature product at version 18 (X8).
CorelDRAW started the ‘bonus’ software by offering lots of Clip Art and extra fonts. So when you buy anything Corel you expect ‘more’ and you get more with the Ultimate version of PaintShop Pro you get Perfect Effects 9.5, After Shot 2 and Perfectly Clear 2 SE as well as the main PaintShop Pro package all for no extra cost. If you have a qualifying earlier version you qualify for a 25% discount when purchase is made by download from the Corel website.
Not to be confused with a similarly entitled graphics product from the same company, Xara Photo & Graphics Designer 11 combines elements of creative design and photo editing software within a single package.
With this latest version of the Photo & Graphics Designer, Xara has integrated a number of new and enhanced features, which you might well expect with a new version, but, more surprisingly, has reduced the price being asked for this software by almost 30% and that is for new users.  If you are upgrading from the previous version of the product then this software is currently available, as an introductory offer, at less than half price.
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Nero 2015 Platinum

I first came across a crippled version of Nero tied to a CD-Writer. I have used various versions ever since and I still do to write CD’s, I know how it works and it has one very useful function that other writing software does not have.
Of course writing CDs is a very minor part of what this suite of programs does. To my mind there are two heavyweights in this are Nero and Cyberlink, both have very comprehensive packages filled with added value features. A very long serial number as well as other questions need to be answered before first use. Once past the hurdles above you get a Windows 8 type interface with the options being Manage & Play, Edit & Convert, Rip & Burn plus Backup & Rescue.
While Adobe is intent on herding its business and professional clientele towards the Cloud with its Creative Cloud offering and various CS services, the more budget conscious consumer customer can opt for a product such as the company’s popular Photoshop Elements
Now up to version 13, Photoshop Elements is currently available from the company’s website as an upgrade priced at £66.43.  You could also opt for purchasing an upgrade for the combined bundle of Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements 13 for £100.61.  This review is based entirely on a copy of Photoshop Elements 13.
Although better known for its various graphics titles, some created in-house and other bought in, Corel does have another claim to fame. The company was responsible for helping kick-start the take up of the early optical drives as software quickly outgrew the available capacity of the floppy disks previously used for conveying commercial software, As a special promotion, Corel bundled a free CD drive with its CorelDRAW product. This was how I obtained my first CD drive.
Since those early days when CorelDRAW was the number one choice for both professional and amateur users, the playing field has changed with Adobe dominating the scene and relegating Corel to a more runner up position.  It is from the position of catch-up that Corel has released the latest edition of its CorelDRAW suite, namely version X7. The CorelDRAW Suite X7 is available in two versions.  There is the full commercial offering with a single installation priced at £479.
Arriving with the promise of containing “your 10 most wanted new features” is Nero’s latest version of its multimedia product. Now up to version 2015, this product is available in either Classic or Platinum editions with my review being based on the latter product.
The installation process of the Nero 2015 collection of tools is not particularly quick.  It requires the entry f a lengthy serial number as well as the acceptance or rejection of a number of options.  Firing up Nero 2015 brings up a Windows 8-like launcher with tiles grouped into specific categories that are displayed against a white background.  These categories are entitled Manage & Play, Edit & Convert, Rip & Burn plus Backup & Rescue.
As I get older, time seems to pass by at a quicker rate. This thought occurred to me with the arrival of Paint Shop Pro X7. It hardly seemed like a year had passed since I had unwrapped and reviewed Paint Shop Pro X6 and now the all new version of the Corel package was occupying space on my desktop. Actually when I took the trouble to check on the dates, rather than rely on my flaky memory, this revealed that the gap between the two products was less than 11 months so maybe my view on time passing quicker was somewhat distorted.
Now firmly entrenched as part of the Corel family of product since 2004, this latest version of Paint Shop Pro is available in Standard and Ultimate versions.  My review is based on the Ultimate offering which comes bundled with Perfectly Clear by Athentech Imaging, Reallusion’s FaceFilter 3 and a Creative Collection of extra images, brushes and textures. When installing this software, a 31-character serial number will need to be entered.
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Corel Painter 15

A product I have reviewed a couple of times in the past. The ‘15’ in this case refers to 2015 and not to the version number. So for anyone owning an earlier version what does this version have to offer that earlier versions did not?
For those new to Painter it is probably the best way to paint with a PC, in previous versions you had the ability to have Water Colour and Oil paints and even had the ability to see it dry – now you can say that watching paint dry is not interesting – and it can be fun to get effects that otherwise would need a canvas and paint to achieve. In this version there are Particle Brushes, these allow you to draw wisps and swirls and even add colour to shades.
No sooner do I reacquaint myself with the ArtRage graphics software than Ambient Design brings out a new version of this realistic art product for cross platform systems
The latest edition of ArtRage is now up to version 4.5 for Mac and Windows platforms.  Just in case you may have missed my review of the earlier ArtRage 4 product, I will recap on some of the salient points of the product before moving on to the new and enhanced features introduced in the latest version 4.5 of the software. ArtRage is a package designed to provide art enthusiasts with the digital means of putting their creative ability to good use.
If, in the early part of 1991, you were looking to purchase Desktop Publishing (DTP) software then your choice would have been limited to xPress from Quark or Adobe’s InDesign. In both cases a price tag of several hundreds of pounds would have been involved. However if you had waited a few months then a third option would have entered the marketplace in the form of Serif’s PagePlus product. The launch of this product caused quite a stir as it came with a sub £100 price point.
Now up to version X8, PagePlus continues the practice of arriving priced at a level that will appeal to those on a limited budget.  As usual with Serif software, PagePlus X8 requires the entry of a lengthy serial number as part of its installation process.  In this case the serial number consists of 25 alphanumeric characters.