Let me be frank. Full, up-front disclosure: I’m not a graphic designer or a photographer. I know very little–all things considered–about light, exposure, hue, saturation and filters and all of those other things that prolific users of Photoshop concern themselves with.
What’s interesting is that it ended up seeming as though it were these precise qualities (or lack there of) that made my reviewing Imagerie rather fitting. App4Mac set out design an image editor for every day use–for people without the expertise needed for professional grade image editing software. For people like me.
But is Imagerie the tool for the lay-persons image editing needs?
Visual Appeal of a Visual App
It would stand to reason that an image editor–primarily concerned with improving the aesthetic quality of visual media–would likely have a slick interface. Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily hold true; at least not to the extent to which you might expect.
The interface is not what I would call unattractive, but certainly not slick. It seems a bit unbalanced and cluttered with unnecessary buttons and functions; mostly awkward in general.
For example, the app has three different ways to rotate a selected image that are all visible at once (buttons on the toolbar, a rotation dial in the inspector, and a draggable rotation handle on the image itself.) As an unversed image manipulator, that’s even too many controls for me.
Unfortunately, Imagerie falls short in the areas where intuitiveness matter–especially in an app designed for people otherwise untrained in visual media manipulation.
Jack of All Trades, Master of None
Imagerie has a little bit of functionality for everyone. There’s a built in bitmap editor, vector tools, filters, color control panels, and layers. While I appreciate the functionality, I can’t help but feel like the app misses the mark here. While my everyday image editing needs certainly aren’t voluminous, Imagerie appears to be a case of too many features that aren’t as powerful as they should be.
The vector tools (quantitatively) are pretty standard. You can place polygons, text, arrows, and draw with a pen tool. You can fill objects with patterns, linear and radial gradients, and solid colors.
The bitmap editor, on the other hand, leaves me longing for MS Paint. You can pencil, brush, and paintbucket, change the color, and zoom in and out. You can’t, however, draw shapes. (I suppose this is covered by the vector tools, since they don’t seem to provide infinite scalability. Isn’t that a major advantage of vector?)
Without the raw power that the big guns like Photoshop and Illustrator have, these tools seem to be mostly capable of providing “cutesy” results.
One exception is the Quick Edit Module. This pop up window allows you to change settings of your image in real time. The feature seems robust, which is more than I can say for the other features. However, if this is what you end up using most, there’s probably a free, more lightweight app that can get the job done just as well.
Beyond the specifics of image editing, there are several features that I absolutely must commend. First and foremost would have to be the history navigator, which is brilliant in its simplicity. A toolbar button activates an unobtrusive panel in the bottom of the window, and you can drag the slider back through the edits you’ve made to the image.
I’ve used the professional grade software before (Photoshop, Illustrator), and I must say that this implementation of the standard “undo” feature is fantastic, in comparison.
I’m sure other users will agree that it can be infuriating to continuously click “undo”, or use the drop down menu to determine which “brush stroke” you want to go back to. With Imagerie’s slider, you simply drag backward until you see the image you want to work with.
The other features that I really enjoyed (and that I feel are appropriate for an everyday image editor) are more meta than the previously discuss features. Imagerie includes toolbar buttons that allow you to email your image directly to someone (without having to save or render–pretty neat) and to export your image or upload it to an FTP client. The app can also take direct input from a webcam.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, I’d like to say Imagerie is great. I think the reality is, however, that the idea is great, the audience is great, and a few of the features are great, while the overall execution unfortunately misses the mark.
This app’s utility could be dramatically improved by narrowing the scope, solidifying the target market, and implementing a successful execution. Imagerie is designed (at least ideologically) around the concept of simplicity. The interface and functionality should mirror that.
I admitted at the beginning of this post that my knowledge of, and experience with, image editing is relatively limited, so I’m curious to know what features you’d look for in a lightweight, everyday image editor.
What functions do you want your “express” editor to handle, and what can be left to the big boys like Photoshop?