Streetwise Software’s Professor Franklin's Instant Photo Artist version 1.01 is a photo-editing program that allows you to “paint like a master”. You actually do make strokes with your mouse. The direction, length, and speed of your strokes make a difference. The program is particularly strong in Impressionism. It’s the one area with named artist styles: Renoir, Van Gogh, and Cezanne.
While I haven’t used any Professor Franklin programs before, I have used many different PC graphics programs since 1993. The fifteen programs I’ve used the most range from ‘greeting card’ programs such as American Greetings CreataCard, through MGI PhotoSuite to full featured drawing and painting programs such as A&L Express, Art Dabbler, and The Gimp.
What Does the Box Hold?
The software bundle I received included a User Guide, a Quick Start Guide, and a CD-ROM (no box).
The 40-page User Guide has eight sections and a Table of Contents but no index. It’s digest sized and printed in black and white with legible text.
The digest-sized Quick Start Guide is printed in full color on glossy card stock. It provides a very basic 5-step illustrated tutorial on “creating a masterpiece in minutes”.
What Makes Instant Photo Artist Different?
I use many graphics programs with art filters that change an image into artwork. However they work on the whole image at once and you can only apply one filter at a time. In Instant Photo Artist, you can make part of a picture an oil painting and part a watercolor, if you wish, or any other combination. You have the control, not the program.
Learning the Program
The Quick Start Guide states, “Getting started with Professor Franklin's Instant Photo Artist is fun and easy. By following these steps you will be creating a masterpiece in minutes.” Yes, starting a project is easy. However, you need some experience to create a masterpiece in minutes. I started five or six projects before I got savable results. Even then, my results were crude. It took me three hours to learn how to paint a photo well enough to show anyone.
Their web site says you can create a masterpiece in ten minutes. I found that it takes more than ten minutes to create a good painting although I am getting faster.
While the User Guide describes how to get started and explains all the buttons and menu items it doesn’t really tell you how to paint. The Help File has no added content. The program needs an interactive tutorial to really teach you how to paint.
Running the Program
Instant Photo Artist has two major workspaces: The Art Studio and The Design Studio. You create your artwork in The Art Studio.
First, you select your photo. The User Guide gives the following characteristics of the best images:
A single focus on a single subject
Large, well-defined subjects and shapes
Second, you select and customize a preferred painting style. Pre-set painting styles include Renaissance, Heavy oils, Airbrush, Charcoal, eight types of Impressionist, Watercolor, Colored Pencil, Chalk, plus many more. You can also create your own style by selecting natural media such as paintbrushes, crayon, pencil, airbrush and marker. You can change the brush pressure and utilize splattering paint and canvas textures to create your custom look.
Third, you start painting by moving your mouse over a blue outline of your photo. “Use large brushes to paint abstractly and smaller brushes for finer detail. You paint the size, direction, and type of brushstrokes. Your painting begins to appear before your eyes and in minutes you've become one of the masters!” It reminds me of the children’s coloring books where you paint water on the page and the picture magically appears. Using these methods allow you to blur distracting backgrounds. You can leave portions of the picture out by not painting over them.
You can combine more than one image in your painting but the instructions are difficult to follow. I made a couple of attempts. I created a usable piece although it’s not really what I wanted.
When you’ve finished painting, you enter The Design Studio.
This is where you add text, clip art, or picture frames. You can apply many special effects to your text including color, transparency, shadows, and glow. Although they only include a limited number of picture frames, they are all impressive. Or you can use a pre-designed template for cards, certificates, transfers, magazines, invitations, and other items. You can modify the templates although I found it difficult to select objects.
If you wish to use your painting in another application, you use the Export Painting command in the File menu.
Professor Franklin’s Instant Photo Album
Professor Franklin’s Instant Photo Album is a separate application that allows you to store and organize all your graphic images. You can run it on its own or from within Instant Photo Artist. It provides the Gallery photos and Clip Art images when you’re looking for images for your Instant Photo Artist project. I found it harder to add my own images than in other catalog programs I’ve used.
One of the common questions on the web site referred to getting a “Server Busy Error” when using Instant Photo Album. The solution provided says, “Just click on OK to continue. The problem is generally due to a slower machine.” I received this error several times and the solution works. However, the reason for the error isn’t always correct. I have a fast AMD processor. However the photos and clip art are on the CD-ROM and it takes a while for my DVD drive to wake up if I haven’t accessed the CD-ROM recently.
Supported file formats:
You can export your completed masterpiece in any of the following formats:
- Portable Network Graphics (*.png)
- Tirga (*.tga)
- Macintosh Pict (*.pct/*.pict)
- Seattle Film Works (*.sfw)
- Kodak FlashPix (*.fpx)
- TIF (*.tif)
- Kodak Photo CD (*.pcd)
- Windows Bitmap (*.bmp)
- Windows Metafile (*.wmf)
- JPEG (*.jpeg/*.jpg)
- GIF (*.gif)
- Photoshop (*.psd)
- PCX (*.pcs)
Instant Photo Artist version 1.01 is copyrighted 1998. I checked the web site for a newer edition. I couldn’t find a version number so I sent an e-mail to Tech Support. They replied promptly, saying, “Yes that is the most recent release of that title. We expect to have a new version later this year. I would recommend our Instant Photo Effects software (last update was 2002). You can download a trial version from PictureBuzz.com.
The program comes with 99 stock photos, 509 clip art images, and 35 True Type fonts (many unusual ones).
Instant Photo Artist is unique in my experience and a lot of fun. I think both adults and children would like this program. However, I recommend you wait for the new version before buying it.
CPU: 486- 33 MHz processor or higher
RAM: 16 MB or more
Operating system: Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT, ME, XP or higher
Free disk space: 30 MB hard disk space for minimum install, 50 MB for a Typical Install
CD-ROM Drive: 2X or faster
Monitor: SVGA with 256 colors minimum; True color 17" flat screen display recommended
Display properties: Set to 256 colors minimum; High Color (16 bit) recommended, 800 x 600 resolution settings
Interface: Mouse or pointing device
I installed Instant Photo Artist on an AllGen Computer Warehouse AMD XP 1600+ computer system with integrated S3 Graphics Pro Savage DDR 8MB display adapter, 1 GB RAM, and 3 Hard Drives totaling 240 GB. Its operating system is Windows XP Home Edition.
Streetwise Software’s Home Page for information about all their products. In addition to software, they also sell T-shirts and specialty paper.
You can read about Streetwise Software Inc. here.
Streetwise Software Inc.
Mailing Address: 2801 Ocean Park Blvd. PMB 290, Santa Monica, CA 90405
I’ve never noticed Professor Franklin's Instant Photo Artist in local retail stores. Streetwise Software sells the program on their web site for $39.99 including 10 sheets of canvas paper. When I visited 11 May 2004, they were offering several software bundles with discounts.