Photoshop

AutoPainter Express

If you’re interested in making your photos look like paintings, of course the long-time standard for doing this is Corel Painter, and that’s still the best way to create something that really looks painted. However, it also requires some artistic ability and a high level of skill and has quite a learning curve.

For those who prefer to let the computer do the work, by far the best solution I’ve found is Dynamic Auto Painter from MediaChance. Unfortunately, it’s only available for Windows, which has been a big disappointment to lots of Mac folks.

However, there’s good news: They’ve just come out with a sort of a kind of a version for Mac, called AutoPainter Express, as well as a version of Express for iPhone/iPod. (There’s an iPad version on the way, but it’s not out yet.)

I’m so happy to finally see a Mac version of this program, but unfortunately this one has a long way to go to get to the level of the Windows version. In Windows you have many options for customizing and controlling the result, while the Mac version is limited to four presets. You choose one, and the only other choice you have is to stop it before it’s finished, if you like your painting where it’s at right now and don’t want more work done on it. It’s not a very Mac-like application, either. For example, closing the window closes the program, just like in Windows, and there’s no way to close an image without saving it except by quitting out of the whole thing.

Still, it’s a nice start. Here are examples of what each preset came up with for this photo from a previous entry:

original photo of happyowl clutch

Using the Aquarell preset, described as “Running colors, water droplets, traces and scratches, it’s all there”:

aquarell painting of clutch
Click for larger version.

With the Benson preset, described as “a sunny palette with Mediterranean tones”:

clutch painted with benson preset
Click for larger image.

With the Cezanne preset, described as “warm reds and yellows with quick brush layers and chalk”:

clutch painted with Cezanne preset
Click for larger image.

And finally with the Van Gogh preset, “inspired by the Starry Night painting”:

clutch painted with the Van Gogh preset
Click for larger image.

There’s really quite a lot of detail in the full resolution images afterwards (WordPress won’t accept files that large), and it runs pretty quickly, even on my old C2D iMac.

Are any of these going to deceive people into thinking that you’re a brilliant painter? No, of course not, but they’re handy for created a quick illustrated look. The results vary a lot, depending on the ¬†source image, but with fussier, more detailed images you’ll often get better results if you run the photo through something like Topaz Simplify first.

While it’s a little disappointing that this app is so basic compared to the Windows version, hopefully this is just the beginning and it won’t be long before there’s parity between the two.

Available in the Mac App Store for $7.99.

Photoshop for iPad?

Well, well, who’d ¬†have thunk it? If you’ve tried Adobe’s Photoshop Express for iPad, you know that it’s not bad, but also not a shining star among the many apps available for gussying up your photos, and not much like either Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

But according to Photography Bay, Adobe just demoed a new app that’s a kind of Photoshop for iPad with layers and all. You can read more about it and watch a demo here.

Very interesting idea, but I have to wonder how they’ll work around two big problems with this kind of stuff: the white points for iPads are all over the place and there’s currently no way to calibrate one, and it’s hard to be ultra-precise for things like masking when using your finger (or a capacitive stylus). Still, I bet it would be really interesting for quickly editing an image to upload out in the field.

If you currently use PS or PSE and you find masking to be a difficult concept, it’s worth watching the video just to see their animated layers example. Very clear visual of how masking works. (Incidentally, the demo is Flash so you can’t watch it on your iPad.)