There are a number of mammoth picture editors that can do just about anything with an image. Then there are a few very effective smaller-scale apps that have a lot of power while remaining simpler to use – a personal favourite is Acorn. But if you’re someone with only needs to work with images now and then – a blogger looking for attractive embellishments for your texts, or someone maintaining a personal website – even Acorn might seem complicated.
That’s where Acqualia software’s Picturesque comes in: it’s super-simple to use, and delivers excellent results without requiring much knowledge about design, or prior experience of working with graphics.
Working with Picturesque
When you start up Picturesque, its interface is as simple as can be:
Drop any images you want to work with into the main window, and it expands to its full size:
The top ribbon holds miniature versions of the images you’ve opened; the main part of the window displays the image currently selected from that list; and the bottom row lets you pick from the available effects. That’s right, Picturesque can only do five things with your images: adjust perspective, add a reflection, a shadow, curved corners, or an outline.
The other buttons in the bottom toolbar allow you to adjust the background colour of the main window (useful if you want to see how an image would look against the background colour you’re planning to use it with), to crop the image, and to open the presets window.
Let’s take a look at each of the available effects…
This tool lets you manipulate the rotation and elevation of an image – in other words to tilt it on its x and y axes:
You can make subtle changes here, or go to town and really twist things up! Of course you probably wouldn’t want to make so dramatic a change to an image, but I want to demonstrate the extent of the alterations possible!
Now it’s easier than ever to add lovely reflections to your images:
You’ll notice, too, that I’ve changed the background colour here so that the reflection shows more clearly. Simple slider controls let you adjust the Length, Opacity, and Offset of the reflection so that you can get it looking exactly as you want it.
Shadow lets you quickly add subtle shadows to your images, so that you can make them appear to float above the background.
As well as adjusting the Blur Radius and Opacity, you can set the shadow’s colour, and drag the shadow in that small square to set the Angle and Distance at which it falls. The ‘Glow’ checkbox lets you reverse the effect so that your image appears to float above a backlight:
Here you can quickly add curved corners to any image, simply by clicking checkboxes in the corners to which you want the effect applied, and using the slider to set the Curvature:
The final tool lets you quickly add a border to any image. You can choose whether the border is placed around or within the outside edge of the picture, or set it to be centered between these:
Putting It All Together
Add a few of these effects together, and it’s dead-simple to get some great effects. You can toggle effects on and off by clicking on their titles in the toolbar, and when you’re ready, click on ‘File’ and then ‘Save Image’ and select whether you want to save under a new title, save to the Desktop, or replace the original image (there are keyboard shortcuts for each of these options). Picturesque will then apply your effects and save the image to the location you’ve specified.
Here’s what that slinky cat looks like after just a few minutes of clicking and moving sliders:
Now, to an educated eye that might look a right mess, but my point is to demonstrate how someone without much training in working with images, and with little experience of picture-editing software, can very quickly apply some professional-looking effects.
Once you’ve set up a set of manipulations that you’re happy with, you can save them as a Preset and so apply them to future images; or you can immediately add them to any other images you’ve already opened.
Even better, using the Batch Save command, you can quickly save all the currently open images with these effects applied, as well as resizing them along the way, so that you can quickly blaze through a folder full of images in a few moments.
Even if all you wanted was to resize a number of images, applying no other effects, Picturesque would be worth having for the job…
Picturesque is one of those apps that demonstrates the power of constraints. It doesn’t try to be everything to everyone, but rather limits itself to a few functions that it does extremely well and simply.
Like Acqualia’s other great app, Soulver, Picturesque achieves its ends with elegance and simplicity.
It’s unlikely to take the place of Photoshop in a professional designer’s toolbox, but for anyone who now and then needs to improve the appearance of an image, or a bunch of images, it’s very hard to beat.