Imagine a fully specified image editor, supported by lots of tutorials, examples and wizards. Now add more than 10,000 royalty free images, 250 fonts and a lot more besides. This is what Picture Publisher offers.
Judging by specifications alone this is a very comprehensive package, but to do so would be to miss out on some of the subsidiary features that make this an excellent value for money package for both the beginner and intermediate user.
The default interface is pretty standard Windows fayre, comprising toolbar to the left, button bar (aping Microsoft's Office) to the top and an Options bar (where tool settings can be adjusted immediately below this. It leaves a commendably large area available for images.
Some of the features that we especially like include: 'infinite' Undo/Redo - be recording every action you perform onscreen, lets you retrace your steps (backwards or forwards) to correct mistakes or alter effects; comprehensive Object Layers - ideal for composite images; excellent paint effects using custom brushes.
But the extensive specification doesn't stop there. There are some impressive features that are more powerful than their description initially suggests. LowRez Post Processing, for example. Using this you can perform a series of image edits on a low-resolution image and then 'replay' and re-enact those actions on a high-resolution image. This is an excellent way to work in real time on an image: low resolution images are small in size and more easily handled by computers with modest tranches of memory. Sometimes working on the high-resolution image can be slow with a certain time lag between using the tool and the application of the effect.
Picture Publisher's masking tools also deserve mention. Masks provide an alternative (and precise) method of selecting or deselecting parts of an image. The tool set lets you paint masks on an image or use freehand tools. Those masks can be adjusted and fine-tuned where appropriate; you can even convert the mask to a path for exporting to Postscript files.
Media Manager is a useful addition that provides storage and cataloguing of your digital images. Digital - more so than conventional - images tend to expand in number at almost uncontrollable rates. You'll soon appreciate the worth of a good management system (and bearing in mind how many images come with this program, you'll need good management from day one).
Picture Publisher is a very comprehensive program that in some ways is almost too clever. In appealing to the beginner and to the more intensive user it risks falling between two stools. Those intensive and advanced users are unlikely to be impressed by some of the basic functionality and the many, apparently esoteric, features on offer may intimidate the beginner.
Nonetheless the price makes it extremely attractive; we'd recommend it for the beginner and intermediate use for whom it is likely to provide all the functions that you need and quite a few that you might aspire too.
OVERALL RATING: 7/10
These are based on our experience of the respective programs and do not necessarily agree with the manufacturers' recommendations.
Pentium 266, 64MB RAM
250MB hard disc space
Windows 95 or higher, NT4.0 (SP4) or higher.