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We’ve written before about the proliferation of apps that only do one thing, and do it very well. There’s something to be said for simplistic, minimalist tools that you bust out only when you need them, plow through the task, and close them again with blinding efficiency. One of the categories of apps that I find this to be the most true is graphics and design apps. Tools like Photoshop and Illustrator have ruled supreme as workhorse, Swiss Army Knife-style apps for some time, but innovative and well-designed apps are popping up all over that aim to replace single functions from these apps, and they often do it better than the larger programs.

Today we’re going to take a look at Spectrum, which is a beautifully designed app from developer Eigenlogik. Its designed to make it simple to create color palattes in a simple, beautiful interface. Put on your creative hat, and let’s dig in to find out more about how Spectrum works.

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It’s very frustrating to take what you think is a great photo only to find it’s blurry when viewed later. Blur can result from poor focus, focusing on an object other than the one intended, or motion. In poor light the camera shutter often must stay open longer to allow in more light and it’s easy to move your hand resulting in a blurred image. Normally after seeing a blurry photo you’d have no alternative but to trash the photo.

On TV shows, there always seems to be a magic “fix photo” button that is used whenever a character needs fix a blurry image that magically restore it to perfect clarity. In real life, there is no magic button. But, there are some programs that can restore some clarity to images, and Blurity is one of the best. It will take a blurry image and in a few clicks produce a photo with recovered detail and far less blur. Let’s see how well it works.

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QR codes are kind of ubiquitous now, but they all sort of look the same. For the most part, you can expect a QR code to be black and squarish, boring and samey. If you want something that looks really special, you’re on your own.

Until now. iQR Codes helps you create interesting and attractive QR codes that you can stick just about anywhere. That’s not all, though; iQR Codes will help you make lots of different kinds of codes. From contact cards to URLs to maps and more, iQR Codes has you covered. (more…)

When it comes to image editors, Adobe Photoshop remains the gold standard for professionals. But for students, the amateur, or anyone starting their career, the $700 price tag (or even ~$200 with a student discount) is likely prohibitive. There are cheaper apps available, such as Acorn and Pixelmator, but they offer far fewer features.

Luckily, there’s GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) a completely free and open source image editor that nearly matches Photoshop’s versatility. It’s long been available on the Mac if you had X11 installed, but never looked the part of a high quality Mac app. That’s all changed with the latest 2.8.2 release of Gimp, which shipped as a fully native Mac app. That’s what prompted us to take a closer look at the most popular Photoshop alternate.

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Image editing can be fun, but it can also be tedious and frustrating, especially if you want to make changes that require either professional apps that cost a lot or skills that only come from years of experience.

Removing unwanted objects from photos – people, power lines, trash, you name it – can be either very easy, depending on the background and general composition of the image, or a huge a pain. Snapheal can make this a breeze for you. The editing app has received a major update and we’ll take a look at what has changed and how it will affect your workflow.

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If you have an iPhone, you probably have a folder of apps dedicated to photos. If you do, it is most likely filled with photo editing apps that enable you to crop, resize, stylize, and upload your images to a few social networks. If this is true for you, you know how nice it is to be able to edit your images with cool effects, a nice frame, and then sending it to Facebook or Twitter. What if you want that same experience on your Mac, though?

Let me introduce you to PhotoMagic. PhotoMagic is exactly like one of those easy-to-use photo editing apps that you have on your iPhone, but for your Mac. With over 200 photo effects, frames and more, PhotoMagic delivers what you would expect from a photo effects app. With its high price and lack of features, however, it doesn’t stack up to competing apps.

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So, you’ve got a photo which is nice by itself, but you’d like to make it pop a little bit more. Perhaps you might want to focus someone’s attention on a part of the image, re-color other parts to change the meaning, or even blur parts as part of the artistic license.

While you would have to have had a whole laboratory ten or more years ago to achieve this with real film, digital images allow us a much easier workflow and with Color Strokes for Mac you can quickly put some unique touches on your photos.

Jump past the break to find out more!

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After years as Windows only user, I came to the Mac shortly before Lion was released last summer. I was still so new to Mac OS at that time that I failed to notice many of the changes from Snow Leopard to Lion. I did notice the removal color from the icons in the Finder sidebar, however. Like many, I found the loss of color made it more difficult for me to quickly find the icon I wanted. The icons just blended in together more than they did before.

The color is still there. If you look under the Go Menu in Finder, the icons still show in full color. Apple described the change as designed was to reduce emphasis on the interface in favor of content. While effective for that, the loss of contrast didn’t seem worth the tradeoff. As usual, developers stepped in to restore what they saw as lost functionality. SideEffects restores color to the icons Finder Sidebar. How well does it work? Let’s see. (more…)

While there’s no shortage of image editing applications for the Mac, it’s safe to say that Pixelmator is one of the top contenders when it comes to more ambitious tasks. It might be too much to say that Pixelmator is a full replacement for Photoshop, but it does offer a wide variety of features which will satisfy the needs of many.

Today, Pixelmator received an update, bumping it to version 2.1, codenamed Cherry. And if you haven’t picked up a copy yet, now’s a good time to try it out, as it’s on a summer sale for only $14.99. After the break, we’ll take a look at the changes and how they’ll affect your workflow.

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If you’ve ever been editing an image and found your eyedropper wandering outside the application window to all of the colors on your desktop and beyond, I can sympathize. You’re not the only one who’s wanted to extend the functionality of Photoshop’s color picker beyond the application and been frustrated when you just weren’t allowed to do that.

Well, be frustrated no more! Meet Frank DeLoupe, a menubar color picker that will work anywhere. Going by Frank for short, this app gives you Photoshop integration and the ability to copy a color’s code to your clipboard. With so much packed into such a tiny app, can Mr. DeLoupe really do it all, or will Frank fall on his face? (more…)

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