Posts Tagged 'natural painting'

FreeFile Review – Painting For Free

This time I’m looking at two free natural painting programs. I have just recently become aware of MyPaint , while Art Weaver is an old favorite presented for comparison. Natural painting programs differ from image editing programs in that, instead of editing an existing photograph, a completely original painting is created, much like an artist paints on canvas. Artistic ability although not necessary, is helpful.

MyPaint is an open source project available for Windows, Mac and Linux. The program installed in Windows 7 with no issues. It’s interface is rather non-standard, with everything in floating pallets, similar to the GIMP. Out of the box, MyPaint’s selection of brushes is rather skimpy, with more available for download. The first issue that I found was that the canvas size cannot be set. A tutorial explains that the canvas expands to whatever size your painting needs – strange. The Brush Editor is also a problem. It is incomprehensible and overly complex for all but the hard core users – 36 different settings in one panel. The program was stable and well behaved. I’m sure that if you took the time to figure out the Brush Editor, it would be possible to create some nice work.

Art Weaver is a commercial product (Windows only) that offers a free version. The free version installed easily. Its interface is very familiar and easy to figure out. Art Weaver comes with many more and higher quality brushes installed than does MyPaint. Brush adjustments are easier with Art Weaver’s more user friendly Brush Editor. I could find nothing to not like about Art Weaver.
– – The Bottom Line – –
This was an easy one. Art Weaver is the clear winner. It is a mature product, while MyPaint is a work in progress. However, Mac and Linux users may find MyPaint quite useful.

Download Art Weaver or MyPaint

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FreeFile Review – FotoSketcher

I’ve been a fan of  FotoSketcher for a few years and version 2.0 was recently released. This free application will convert any photo into a hand-drawn or hand-painted masterpiece. Basically, it is a Photoshop type filter that runs as a stand alone application. It does one thing and it does it well.

The installation is simple, and a portable version that doesn’t require installation is also available. The interface is very slick – pleasant to look at and easy to figure out. There are nearly 20 different drawing styles available (pencil drawing, painting, cartoon, etc.). Each of the styles has a ton of adjustments in the Drawing Parameters window. The program offers some very basic photo editing options (crop, resize, rotate), but I prefer to use other software for those operations. Text can be added and batch operations are possible.

I don’t use FotoSketcher often, but when I do, I’m always pleased with the results. Sometimes the default parameters are perfect, sometimes the parameters need to be adjusted. Don’t be afraid to play around with them, and remember that certain photos will look better with different drawing styles. Experimentation is key with this program.

Some of the more complicated filters may render slowly on older, slower computers. One thing that I would like to see changed is the Drawing Parameters window. It is currently a floating window, but I think that integrating it into the main program window would be an improvement. A larger preview window would be nice.

– – The Bottom Line – –
Very few free programs do what FotoSketcher does. It gives excellent results with a minimum of fuss. If you’re feeling creative, give it a shot.

Download FotoSketcher HERE

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