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|Product:||BenVista PhotoArtist 2.0|
BenVista PhotoArtist 2.0 - For decades a secret war has raged between photographers and painters and now BenVista have become mediators. "Don't fight," they say, "Everyone's a winner." Matt Grayson puts down his Semi-Automatic SLR with Laser sights and motion sensing Flash Charges to look at the second edition.
PhotoArtist 2 is a program that allows you to make interesting art style pictures from your photographs with over 50 preset effects expanded from the original 22 filters and frames as well as custom functions.
- Pentium-compatible processor
- 128Mb internal memory
- 15Mb free hard disk space
Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther) or 10.4 (Tiger)
- PowerPC G4/G5 or Intel processor
- 256Mb internal memory
- 25Mb free hard disk space
BenVista PhotoArtist 2 Specification
- Over 50 artistic and creative filters
- Use different styles, genres, and brushes
- On-screen canvas
- Paint mixers and manipulators
- Auto-effect generator
BenVista PhotoArtist 2 Installation and use
Installing the software is done by downloading from the BenVista website in the downloads section and is a file download and not a web-based installer. If you are on a trial version, the images you save will watermark until you buy an unlock code. When the application is launched, the window fills the screen and large icons dominate the top left screen. They are to Open files, Save, Undo and Redo as well as the usual Help and About. A Links button is also available for access to other BenVista products you may have on your computer.
Below these are the Brush settings for the eraser. The Brush size is first with a slider and a clicker to nudge the size up one by one. The brush has a maximum size of size 400. Two options sit next to the brush shape preset and these are for Brush or Eraser. Depending on how the image is shown on the viewing pane to the right depends on your selection at this point. If the image is completely white, the brush will brush the image onto the white canvas. If it is the image you can see, the eraser will erase the image to the white canvas below unless a filter has been applied, then it will erase the filter to the original image. The shape next to these options are the preset shapes for the way the eraser or brush do its task.
The filter settings determine the way you want your photograph to look. You may want to give it a renaissance look and scrolling down will give you this option. Other settings for the filter are the Blend mode which will adjust the overall image depending on the setting but can be a little harsh and the Opacity for how transparent your settings will be.
Three options to the right of these settings are the Fill, View Original and Preview filter. Fill shows the full image as it is and this can be done at any stage and will set the image to whatever changes have been made. The View original button will show the image in its original format and this can be done by holding the button down. The same action is performed on the Preview filter and is to take a look at the filter and settings you have performed before committing by pressing the Fill. I feel that the layout should differ with the Fill button on the bottom to give it a more flowing feel as people generally read from the top down, it seems a little weird to work from the bottom up.
Choosing a filter is done using the drop down screen and over 50 are available to choose from and range between the token Oil painting effect to the more ludicrous partial Threshold which paints in certain areas of the image in a flat base colour or the twirl which spins the photo into a whirlpool effect. If the effect is too much for you to stomach, the tolerance and threshold can be altered to a more minimal result. It needs noting that if you have filled the image with the filter and decide against it, simply choosing a new filter will only overlay the previous filter, so any erasing will reveal that one. To rectify this, I found the best way was to choose Original in the filters, Fill that and start again. The Undo button only works for this if the original image is within the Undo history. If not, it will not delete enough information.
The filters can be a little strong, but they can be subdued using the eraser with a lower opacity. Some are just stupid like the Fur filter or Partial Threshold which seems to just block out a part of the image with a base colour, but that is my opinion as I am sure they will appeal to someone who likes the kind of effect they give.
On my image, I chose the Screening filter which covers the image in lines like the picture has been badly printed. After erasing the lines over the body and face, I added an Age filter and dropping the opacity, erased some of that too.
The original image.
BenVista PhotoArtist 2 Verdict
The system is easy to use once it is figured out and there are plenty of filters to keep you entertained for a few hours. Add to that the Custom settings and the amount of settings is pretty endless.
The Undo button is rubbish. It will not reverse individual actions except the most recent one and pressing the Undo button again will reverse all actions back to the original image. Another problem is that the filters can take ages to load to the point where you can get fed up of waiting and choose something else. The Save feature is good because it will save as an original image despite previous saves. This is good for step by step projects and also for if you forget to choose Save As by accident.
It is an ok system that will provide fun and entertainment fo the type of people who like to manipulate images to a Painting or Drawing style. There are a lot of filters and an infinite amount of custom styles to be applied so don't expect to be bored. Unless you are waiting for a filter to load.
The BenVista PhotoArtist 2.0 costs around £48 and is available from the BenVista website here.