One can never have enough creative software. That’s why I was thrilled
to review yet another design-oriented product, this one named Photo
Impression version 4 by ArcSoft.
Touting itself as an "all inclusive application specifically designed for
the novice user" for image editing, I was intrigued. I consider myself
as having just enough desktop publishing experience to make me dangerous.
But when it comes to manipulating photos and other images, alas, I am but
Alas, once again, no instruction manual came with the software.
I had never used this program before (there were three versions preceding
this one), and I wanted a manual, darn it! What is it with these
companies? Don't they want us users to enjoy their products to the
fullest possible? But as Tony Soprano says, "whaddya gonna do?,"
and I decided to plug along anyway, telling myself I could just learn again
via trial and error.
My Pentium 4, 1.5 GHz, 256 MB PC-133 SDRAM with CD-ROM managed to make
installation easy. The opening window was quite organized and colorful.
I like colorful, especially when I'm dealing with graphics, photos, etc.
It keeps me entertained. The left side of the screen had task buttons
(such as "get photo", "edit", "create", "print", etc.) The right
side kept tools neatly ready to use, as did the photo albums conveniently
shown at the bottom of the screen. The center was saved for a large
Image editing is the core of this program. I had no problem acquiring
images from my photo albums saved on my desktop or after scanning them
on my Hewlett-Packard ScanJet. After fumbling around for a bit, I
managed to crop, resize and change the look of my picture. The beauty
of this program is the large selection of special effects it offers.
It gives you 36 effects to apply to your image: "ripple" (image takes
on a water-rippling effect), "sketch" (it turns the photo into a hand-drawn
image), stained glass, old photo, fog, etc. You may also enhance
the quality of the image in regards to brightness, contrast, clarity, etc.
I couldn't however, change the effects once I applied them to my image.
After going to the help index and finding nothing of value, I just deleted
the image and started over again.
Several tools (paint brushes, spray guns, cloning tools, etc.)
allowed me to retouch the image…I was impressed. I could delete spots
on the photo, soften a scratchy area, and even take out "red eye"…just
about anything I wanted. But unlike with the "effects" options, I could
use the undo button in the retouch mode, going back as far as 20 times,
enough for me. Text could be added in all different fonts, sizes,
and colors. Photo Impression gives you several printing options for single
or multiple photos, including the ability to print entire albums. Auto-crop
and auto-rotate features let you maximize your print area and save paper.
You can even print multiple pages at one time. Pre-defined crop templates
let you cut your picture to a specific dimension.
Once you have finished editing your image, you may then embellish it
with more selections. Creating a border for your picture is easy
with the pre-made frames. Want a star-shaped picture of your child?
Use the "cookie cutter" tool and there you have it. In fact, Photo
Impression 4 lets you take images and turn them into calendars, greeting
cards and more with its pre-fabricated designs. I thought it would
be fun to use the "funhouse" design. This is where you can put someone's
head on another's body. So of course, I took my head and attempted
to put it on a pin-up girl's body, dressed in a workout leotard.
Much to my dismay, I couldn't figure out the "layering" application needed
for my transformation. Even my tried and true "trial and error" attempts
failed. Desperate, I went to ArcSoft's
Website and looked for the instruction manual as a last resort.
I found the instruction manual and thought I had hit paydirt! I should
have known it was too good to be true, when I noticed the manual was called
Quick Start Guide. It was vague and I had already figured
out the instructions it offered by my trial and error method. Sadly,
I never figured out how to give myself the aerobics instructor body.
But I am sure once I play with the program a bit more, the dream can still
be mine. (Although if I joined Weight Watchers and worked out I might
get it quicker). Hopefully, ArcSoft gives the buyer of the store-bought
version (mine was a freebie from the company) a more-detailed instruction
manual for a newbie's full enjoyment.
System Requirements are for Windows: Pentium-based PC or
equivalent (Pentium II 300 or higher recommended), 275 MB free hard disk
space, 64 MB RAM, 16-bit color display at 800 x 600 and Macintosh:
Power PC, 275 MB free hard disk space, 64 MB RAM, 16-bit color display
at 800 x 600.
I found Photo Impression 4 available for sale on ArcSoft's Website for
$49.99. I did not find it in stock at CompUSA, e-bay or a few of
the online software Websites I visit.
46601 Fremont Blvd
Fremont, CA 94538.
510-440-9901 (Monday-Friday 8:30am-5:30pm PST)