Review: Pocket Artist

(Originally written for Solsie.com on December 20, 2006. *click*)
Note: Unfortunately the images got lost for some reason. My apologies!

Introduction

 Commercial image editing programs (Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro) for the desktop PC are pretty expensive. But at least they exist! When it comes to Pocket PC software, there are very limited options. In fact, I have heard that there are no real competitors to Conduits Pocket Artist. There are Pencil Box Deluxe (which is the paid version of the free Pencil Box), Pocket Painter, and some more, but they indeed don’t come close to the features of Conduits Pocket Artist. There is also Photogenics which won the PocketPCMag 2006 finals for Graphic Software, but it doesn’t support WM5! The other finalist was Pocket Artist, so it’s time for a review of that software. )

I’m not a graphic expert, so if you want to see what results can be achieved, I’d like to point you to the Gallery of the Pocket Artist site (which is a rich site btw, with online documentation, some extra filters, gradients, brushes, textures, tutorials, and a user forum). For an introduction into the features of the software, read on.

The first thing that you notice when you start the software on the PPC, is that the splash screen is semi transparent, so you see part of your Today screen shining through the Loading screen. Something like this can be expected of advanced image editing software, but it’s still good to see.

When the starting screen appears, you see you have maximum space for image editing. You have two toolbars, but the rest of the screen is free for your creativity. By no means does this mean that you have limited options! The toolbars in general are one part of the interface that makes the available features easy accessable, the Menu is the other part. The toolbars are extremely useful. When you tap on one of the icons on the bottom toolbar, the top toolbar changes accordingly. Then, when you tap the icon again, you also get a popup screen, giving you the possibility to choose additional options. For example, the top toolbar in the screenshots apply to the Pencil icon of the bottom bar. When you tap that Pencil icon again, you get a popup screen with the following options: Paintbrush, Pencil, Airbrush, Clone Stamp, Pattern Stamp, Gradient, Paint Bucket. Another example: for the Selection icon, you can pick from the popup screen: Select Rect, Select Ellipse, Select Row, Select Column, Magic Wand, Lasso, Select Polygon, and Deselect.

The below screenshot shows you what happens when you press “Normal” with the arrow next to it. You expect a small popup? You’re wrong. This is an example of how powerful Pocket Artist deals with the limited screen space. Also, you can drag the opacity slider, or tap-and-hold it to set the precise value.

A final example is the color picker. You can set the pick the color from 1) a small bar with all colors. 2) a popup with 256 predefined colors, or 3) click one of the Red, Green or Blue boxes and set the value (with preview) for that color from a 16×16 (=256, all values from 0-255) popup window.

 Toolbar feature

The Menu

Take a look at the next screenshots to see which menu’s and submenu’s are available (note that the sub-sub-menu’s aren’t displayed – you have to draw a limit somewhere, right?). As you will be able to see (and hopefully understand), it’s impossible for me to cover all the little features of the software. But if you’re wondering if it really is powerful, then you will probably be convinced that the answer is defenitely YES. More info on the commands is available in the Documentation.

Menu - Image Menu - Edit Menu - View Menu - Adjust Menu - Select Menu - Filter

Preferences

When you tap Menu -> Edit -> Preferences, you’re presented with a Preferences screen with 6 tabs: General, Editing, Buttons, Guides/Grid, Memory and Association. A quick pick from each tab:

  • You can let Pocket Artist save the Tool settings by default, and reset these settings in the General tab.
  • Set the amount of available Undo’s on the Edit tab
  • You appear to be able to assign various actions to buttons on the Buttons page, but either I don’t understand how it works, or someway it fails.
  • Choose the size and colors of the Grid and Guides on the… Guides/Grid tab!
  • You can set how much memory you allow Pocket Artist to consume on the Memory tab
  • You can associate file types with Pocket Artist (convenient if you want to edit .tga images for skinnable software like SBSH PocketBreeze or Wisbar Advance).

General comments

I have played around with the program a little, and found that it was running very smoothly and could handle things with ease. I assume that different users want to use the software for different purposes, so going deeper into certain functions will only be interesting for a certain percentage of the readers. I think it’s more important to show that the software is powerful and has a lot of settings.

When you open a new file, you can set the width, height, and DPI. Also you can set the background to be Transparent (and some other settings, like Black, but for icon editing I find Transparent very useful).
When you save a file, you can choose between the following formats: .bmp, .jpg, gif, .png, .psd and .tga.

Features in the Menu -> Image -> Tools include among others Create Animation (haven’t played with that), Capture screen (with user-defined delay), and Batch Processing (with a Wizard-like interface, to quickly rotate, flip, crop, or resize one or many .jpeg file(s) without loosing any quality).

Also good to know, is that when you tap “ok” in the top, you’ll first be asked what to do with the current image, and then if you want to close or minimize the program (with an option to clear the clipboard data to release optimal memory).

Conclusion

Reviewed was Pocket Artist v. 3.2 by Conduits Technologies, installed on Storage Card (which didn’t give me any trouble by the way).

 The software is powerful and packed with features, and indeed the image programs I’ve seen and heard of don’t even come close to this. They either let you adjust the contrast and things like that (simple photo editing), or they provide just a sketch tool for quick doodling. Pocket Artist takes it to the next level for those who really want to go deeper in image editing. That does come at a price, however. $ 50 is more you pay for average Pocket PC software. On the other hand, Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro are also not available for a little pocket change. You’ll be able to get a drawing tool for 15-25 bucks if you’re not very demanding, but if you are, you are probably also willing to put some more money on the table. And honestly, you get a lot in return!

Download the 30 day trial or purchase the software from the Solsie store for $ 49,95, BUT if you enter the code SOLSIE20 you get a 20% discount!

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