Follow Us

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

Apps

Digital photo software

Acorn 3 review

Article comments

After decades of Photoshop’s domination of the image editing market, it’s been surprising to see that, over the last couple of years, a lot of small companies have decided to make image editing programs, and have done a surprisingly good job! Joining affordable image editing applicaitons like Pixelmator, Flare, and Adobe's own Photoshop Elements 9, is Flying Meat Software’s Acorn, which just received an update to version 3.0.

Acorn 3 is a full featured image editor with a lot of high end features, including raw conversion, multiple layers and vector graphics. What’s not entirely clear is who it’s aimed at.

My, what a big tool palette you have

Acorn offers an interface that is very streamlined, particularly when compared to Photoshop and Photoshop Element’s large assortment of palettes and toolbars. In Acorn, your document appears in one window, and your tools appear in a palette. All your tools. One palette. While, conceptually, this is a nice idea, it makes for a rather inefficient use of screen space. You always know where to find a tool, but the tool palette is very wide and kind of squat.

In that tool palette you’ll find navigation tools, a crop tool, a text tool, drawing, gradient, paint bucket, shape tools, a clone tool and a colour picker. When you click on a tool, the right half of the toolbox fills with parameters and tool variants. Basically, it’s Photoshop’s tool palette and control bar combined into one box.

At the bottom of the tool palette sit layer controls. Acorn offers fairly sophisticated layering controls, with the ability to easily duplicate layers, and change their blending mode and opacity.

Good compositing requires good selection tools. The usual lasso, marquee and magic wand tools are provided and, as in most image editors, these are largely useless for creating the types of subtle, smoothly blended masks that you need for sophisticated photo compositing. Fortunately, the program now offers a QuickMask feature, which lets you define a selection by painting.

You can create Layer Masks in the Layers palette, for more sophisticated, non-destructive compositing operations. Be aware though that some essential commands, such as Add Layer Mask, are only available from a popup menu in the Layers palette, not from the Layers menu.

Special effects and new features

Acorn includes a huge assortment of image editing effect filters. Everything from distortions to colour and tone alterations, to stylised effects such as comic book-like edges and kaleidoscopic effects. New to version 3 is the ability to assign many of these to a layer as a Layer Style. What’s nice about Layer Styles is that they’re non-destructive, they can be altered or removed later and controlled with a Layer Mask.

Other new features include more sophisticated gradients, the ability to rotate text and shape objects and the ability to convert shapes to Bezier objects, with all the editing abilities you expect from a fully fledged vector illustration program.

Photoshop support has been improved, and layered files are supported, though I found that importing a complex layered Photoshop document didn’t always work properly, with the resulting image being muddled and garbled.

Raw files are supported, and Acorn offers a very basic assortment of raw conversion controls. However, the program bogs down if you hand it a very large image. Trying to work with images from my Canon 5D Mark II on my 2.1 GHz MacBook Air was an exercise in frustration, as every click led to some quality time with a spinning rainbow cursor.



Share:

More from Techworld

More relevant IT news

Comments

Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:

PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.


Techworld White Papers

Choose – and Choose Wisely – the Right MSP for Your SMB

End users need a technology partner that provides transparency, enables productivity, delivers...

Download Whitepaper

10 Effective Habits of Indispensable IT Departments

It’s no secret that responsibilities are growing while budgets continue to shrink. Download this...

Download Whitepaper

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Information Archiving

Enterprise information archiving is contributing to organisational needs for e-discovery and...

Download Whitepaper

Advancing the state of virtualised backups

Dell Software’s vRanger is a veteran of the virtualisation specific backup market. It was the...

Download Whitepaper

Techworld UK - Technology - Business

Innovation, productivity, agility and profit

Watch this on demand webinar which explores IT innovation, managed print services and business agility.

Techworld Mobile Site

Access Techworld's content on the move

Get the latest news, product reviews and downloads on your mobile device with Techworld's mobile site.

Find out more...

From Wow to How : Making mobile and cloud work for you

On demand Biztech Briefing - Learn how to effectively deliver mobile work styles and cloud services together.

Watch now...

Site Map

* *