View Full Version : Photoline 17.51 is out with Multi-layer EXR support!

12-13-2012, 02:30 AM
The new version now opens EXR and offers enhanced 32bit depth per channel functionality. SVG file support is also tremendously improved in this version. The interface is also improved with the tool panel now a flexible panel.

Photoline is an advanced image editor with 48 and 96bit depth support - now with multi-layer EXR file opening and saving built-in. Blender multi layer-files are read and can be edited, painted, and saved. (depth/vector and similar passes still have issues, though).

As far as I know, Photoline is one of the only image editors (the only one?) that supports multi-layer EXR files straight out of the box, without the need for any plugins. Photoshop cannot do this without a plugin that costs more than Photoline!
For sample EXR files: http://www.openexr.com/downloads.html

(Personal raving/review starts here)
Nevertheless, as an image editor, my experience in the last three months with Photoline (coming from a Photoshop professional who started to work with Photoshop since v3.5) has been an eye opener. No fluff, advanced image editing features that for the most part are on par with Photoshop, and in a number of instances actually much superior. And very stable.

Other highlights:

RGB (8 /16/32bit), CMYK (8 /16/32bit), Lab (8 /16/32bit), Greyscale (8 /16/32bit), Monochrome, Vector per layer is supported. This means every layer can have its own image mode set! No more switching between image modes!
HDR support and import/export. Creation of HDR from multiple exposures
linear workflow for 32bit supported as well
arbitrary number of layer masks per layer(!). These can be grouped, and adjustment layers can be applied to any of these. Vector and bitmap layer masks are both supported and can be combined in almost any way
all layer blend modes available, with an additional twist: layer opacity can be set from -200 up to +200. This means blend modes can also be applied with an inverse effect, as well as have double impact
full array of adjustment layers
most filters and adjustments can be applied in any bit depth mode (unlike PS)
curves can be applied on the fly in RGB, Lab, HIS and HSV without leaving the curves dialog - no image mode switch required! Sweet!
most filters and adjustments are applied as non-destructive adjustment layers
wide selection of layer effects
built-in non-procedural texture editor
action editor and batch (similar to Photoshop, but this one actually does not bug out on me)
a clouds filter with adjustable and usable settings (unlike Ps)
all adjustments you make can be viewed with the original side by side with the adjusted version.
adjustment layers can be applied as individual layers, and/or applied to one master adjustment layer
full vector support
gradients, whether applied to a bitmap or a vector layer remain editable.
layers can be grouped, and virtual copies can be made of any group
multi page documents are supported. Each page can have its custom settings. Text layers, boxes, linked text boxes, image text wrap, paragraph styles - not exactly Scribus, but quite competent for an image editor.
non-destructive scaling, rotation, and so on, of layers. Lanczos 3&8, bicubic, bilinear, quick and liquid scaling of layers.
distort (liquify) effect is applied as a non-destructive adjustment layer - opacity slider controls strength of effect.
Photoshop compatible brushes (though no brush dynamics yet :-( ) Paint in any channel (including alpha channel). Paint with procedural textures, bitmap patterns and gradients. Photoshop brush sets can be imported.
stamps (think full colour brushes) support up to 96bit brushes.
"color filter" (blend if in Photoshop) also available for layers - with an easy option to turn this effect off or on.
full masking toolset (including shift-click on a layer to load up luminance as a mask, or ctrl-click to load up transparency - sound familiar?)
Photoshop plugins are supported (as long as other apps support these - the devs are very helpful in making requested non-compatible plugins work with Photoline: for example, last month Digimarc was requested, and is now supported)
two work modes: picture (image) mode and document mode. In document mode Photoline (almost) behaves as a full page editor.
imports pdf documents and can be used as a pdf editor :-)
interface, though sometimes clunky, is very customizable. icons can be set to three sizes, which is nice.
devs (two brothers) are very open to suggestions to make Photoline better. Heck, in the new features four or five are original requests of mine! (including multi-layer exr support :-P )
there is access to public betas, and the devs encourage all the users to assist in debugging. This has been extremely helpful, in that improvements that make sense are almost always integrated. For example: I asked for middle mouse button panning, and it was added within a week. Seems like such a no-brainer to me, yet Adobe still ignores this request from its userbase. A week!
and much, much more. Image management is also part of Photoline.

For other changes/features read: http://www.pl32.com/pages/rnote.php

I have switched to Photoline, and have not touched Photoshop for three months now (I forced myself to see if I could start and finish all my professional work in Photoline - once I had to open a 24gb file which only Photoshop would open - otherwise: Photoline only). Experiment successfull, and I plan to ditch Photoshop now.

So what are the drawbacks?

the website is absolutely dreadful. Really. However, a new web presence is currently being developed.
if you are an experienced Photoshop user (like I am ~17 years of professional experience) you will curse and scream the first week (hey, any other application that reminds you of this? ;-)
documentation is okay, but not great. Sometimes confusing, and hard to find information you need.
the existing user base is very small. I have no real explanation for this - it does mean: almost no tutorials, no books, no help outside the website's (good) forum. I hope this will change, and I am planning to make some video tutorials myself - time, though, is always an issue...
the one thing I miss is the refine edge feature in Photoshop. This one I really, really, really miss.
there is hardly any 3d support at all - but I use Blender, C4d and Lightwave for this, and never really used Photoshop's 3d "features".
no hand tool for view rotation - this is painful when I paint in Photoline. There is a non-destructive rotate option, but it is slow and cubersome for this type of work. Hopefully this will be integrated in an upcoming version.
no video support. Pure image editing.
the icons look campy (too colourful) until you switch them to greyscale icons with a drop shadow in the preferences. Good news is that all these icons are contained in a fully editable Photoline settings document, so they can be customized.
some features of Photoline are a bit... rough around the edges. Some features look out of place (mail merging documents??! Calendar generator? )
preset clipart, textures and patterns really do not do Photoline any justice.
some of the most important features seem almost hidden. Some examples: harmony is a colour scheme generator - to access this, right-mouse click on the colour in the tool panel. Stamps are very useful, but at first glance no visual selector seems to be available - until you open the 'Gallery" window. 32bit is not available in the new layer dialog, or the new image dialog: open the "Attributes" panel, which shows and offers all sorts of essential info and functionality. An incredible useful selection tool is hidden underneath the selection marquee tool. Double-click to add, replace or subtract selections while moving these in real-time in the view. Handy.
some translations from the original German are somewhat "different" - it took me an hour to find the equivalent to "Levels", which is "Histogram Correction" in Photoline. That said, anyone can help with the translation. Oh, and "selection" is "lasso" in Photoline - confused yet? ;-)
interface at places can be confusing - however: Photoline is NOT Photoshop and does have its own approach to image editing. Take this as an advantage or drawback. Also: shortcut keys combos rule here and there (hold down ctrl key to change opacity of layer, for example, and drag)

Overall, despite some of its clumsiness, I have finally found an affordable Photoshop alternative. It reminds me a bit of my first months with Blender ;-)

But do not take my word for it: download the 30 day trial, and check it out for yourselves:

Please, do not let yourself be fooled by the website - it confuses people about the capabilities of Photoline.

12-13-2012, 03:09 AM
I have been using photoLine since V15, and agree with nearly everything mentioned. While I still maintain my Photoshop license (because for some things, only Photoshop will do, IMO), I find photoLine a far more efficient option for many, many tasks, and in many ways, superior to Photoshop. If you've been looking for a Photoshop alternative, I highly recommend taking a look at photoLine demo... and don't let the website get you down, actually play with the demo.

12-13-2012, 05:23 AM
I too am a Photoline user, it is a great program at a reasonable low price.

12-13-2012, 12:59 PM
I have been using photoLine since V15, and agree with nearly everything mentioned. While I still maintain my Photoshop license (because for some things, only Photoshop will do, IMO), I find photoLine a far more efficient option for many, many tasks, and in many ways, superior to Photoshop. If you've been looking for a Photoshop alternative, I highly recommend taking a look at photoLine demo... and don't let the website get you down, actually play with the demo.

Agreed - the things I really do miss in Photoline are the excellent refine edge option, brush dynamics, and a rotatable canvas while painting. Otherwise it was a bit of a pleasant surprise when I first opened it about 4 months ago. What I like about the devs is their willingness to improve Photoline based on user requests.

The thing that baffles me is how few people actually know about Photoline, and its (extremely) meager web presence: it *is* very hard to gain a foothold in Adobe's ruling domain. Pixelmator, although hardly comparable in features and power, did a good job in regards to media exposure, though.