Professional post-production photo effects software complete with hundreds of detailed, fine-grained controls to create virtually unlimited artistic styles for under a hundred bucks?
No way, you say.
PostworkShop is software from Xycod, a small Hungarian company that has built creative artists — of whom a number use Macs, apparently — a tool that so exceeds its cost in value, it’s nearly as breathtaking as some of the work it can be used to create.
With more than 350 built-in effects that artists can blend and chain in layers to create custom styles, PostworkShop can render almost anything, including oil paintings, watercolors, abstract art, chalk drawings and pencil sketches — from a simple photograph. All of the images in the gallery above started with the iPhone photo at top left, taken on a recent beautiful day in San Francisco. Subsequent renderings were accomplished, some with one, others with two or three of the software’s effects layered onto the base photograph. This reviewer is by no means a professional photographer or artist, but the gallery shows a range of effects that can be applied without much effort or expertise.
The UI is fast and its layout is intuitive — it will be familiar to anyone who has worked in Photoshop, Illustrator or other popular drawing software. Xycod also supports an excellent website with tutorials and forums for those who’d like more direction or wish to share their expertise with the PostworkShop community.
The effects are laid out into Drawing, Painting, Graphic Arts and Photo categories, with each category containing a dozen or more effect pre-sets, many of which can be tweaked and customized with another 6 – 10 parameters, giving the user incredibly fine control of the creative process.
The rendering engine works with industry standard file formats (GIF, JPEG, PNG, BMP, TIFF) as well as with Adobe layered PSD files and their brushes.
For the less-dedicated artiste there is a handy random style button that applies one of the program’s styles randomly, allowing a user to sit and click until something on the screen induces the requisite “Oooh” or “Aaah!”
PostworkShop is a genuine pleasure to use, software that marginally adventurous and seriously creative users alike will find valuable to have around.
The Basic edition is Free and comes with 50 built-in styles and an 800 pixel rendering limit. The Artist edition ($49) includes the entire range of 350+ built-in styles with a 2000 pixel render limit. The $99 Pro edition includes batch processing for video and animation rendering of images up to 4000 pixels. Each of those as well as a Demo version can be downloaded from Xycod’s website here.