Fo2PiX – PhotoArtMaster review

Create art without artistic ability? Nah.
Photo of Fo2PiX – PhotoArtMaster
£49.95

The marketing strapline for this product is “Know any picture-framers? They’re going to be busy”. Umm… no, they’re not. Not from what we’ve seen, anyway. PhotoArtMaster is a supposedly simple tool designed to take your scanned or digital photos and produce something artistic, something that you’d be happy to see hanging on your wall. And the key selling point is that you don’t need any artistic ability.

First, let’s crush that notion. If you don’t have any artistic ability, how do you know when you’ve created something good? Or, more likely, something horrendous? You don’t, in which case you’d be happy to see bright green pictures of your relatives hanging alongside the three plastic ducks above the gas heater. Mmm… nice.

The other problem with this product is that the user interface is so different to that of any other Windows application that it will confuse new users. The File menu has a habit of disappearing, none of the buttons looks standard (although at least there are some tool tips to help you out) and you can’t resize the image editing window; it’s stuck at full-screen. Other niggles include the fact that there’s only one level of undo (plus a full reset) and the clone brush doesn’t always line up with the source picture even when you don’t want an offset – very annoying. In addition, the zoom function either doesn’t work or is too confusing to manipulate.

But if you do persevere and learn the interface, you can produce some interesting results. The ability to blend different effects one after another and apply weightings to each one can be effective. For example, you might start with an outline of brush strokes and then apply some stylised colours, balancing the mixing of images to produce the right result. And the tabbed selection of image filters is effective, giving you a selection of each different type of output from which to choose. You can also apply the effects with a brush or flood-fill tool, so you can vary the effects across the picture.

The results, which generally look like water colours, are pretty good if you’re starting with a good ‘arty’ photograph, such as the one in our screenshot. They don’t work so well with people, so really you’re limited to still life and landscapes for the best results.

Company: Fo2PiX

Contact: 01223 701700


Verdict
Ultimately, this sort of computer-generated art isn't going to fool many people. Even on the best printer it looks too precise to be real - where are the brush marks and paint textures? That's not to say that the output from PhotoArtMaster isn't good; with a bit of perseverance, it certainly can be. But if you have no artistic ability whatsoever, you won't produce good results. Nothing that you'd want to hang on your wall, at any rate.