Art Text 4 is a veritable amusement park for typographic creativity. Every digital publisher, whether a confirmed typophile or casual user of display typography, will find this program deeply captivating. It provides an inexhaustible supply of attractive eye-catching headlines, unique logos, stunning lettering, and distinctive shapes.
Using easy-to-use slider controls, the user can provide an endless variety of 2- and 3-dimensional effects, including shadows, glows, embosses and strokes with an extensive array of functional controls for adjusting color, shape and light. Also included are several libraries of textures, backgrounds, and additional graphic elements, as well as additional-cost text design template collections (https://text.design/gallery/).
The opening screen shows the main design canvas in the center, with design option elements on the left, and controls on the right. The user can proceed immediately, or change the document size using the diagonal two-headed button in the lower portion of the canvas. To begin the user double-clicks on the word “Text” in the canvas and then types the word(s) they want to compose. The user can select a font, apply relative sizes, and adjust the linespacing and kerning. From this point on the user is provided with an array of tools and settings to creative multifarious multi-layered variations, including the option to split the text into individual letters and deal with them independently, or operate on them collectively.
The user can easily change the layer stacking order by dragging a particular layer in the list to a new position. Layers can be named, locked, displayed by name or thumbnail, merged using Boolean operations (union, subtract, intersect and join), and more.
The Vector Shape Editor provides tools to modify shapes and icons, and create new vector images. The editor appears by double-clicking on a shape or icon on the canvas, or by creating a custom shape. Elements created in the editor can be added to the Custom Shapes library by clicking on the plus button below the list of custom shapes.
There are many other features, such as masks, transformations, 3D effects, materials, textures, and more that make this program a particularly valuable digital publishing asset. See the nearly 100-page manual at https://www.belightsoft.com/resources/Art%20Tetx%203%20Users%20Manual.pdf, and the tutorials at https://text.design/tutorials/. A free trial version is available at https://text.design/art-text/. $29.99
Contact: Belight Software, http://belightsoft.com, Headquarters: BeLight Software, Ltd., Melnitskaya str. 26/2, of. 305, 65005, Odessa Ukraine. US Office: BeLight Software 3D USA, 444 West Lake Street, Suite 1700, Chicago, IL 60606.
Aiseesoft Mac Video Converter Ultimate (https://www.aiseesoft.com/mac-video-converter-ultimate/) has achieved a best-in-class status in the category of converting and editing video files. Its Blu-Hyper CPU video encoding/decoding, and graphics card image processing, is now up to 30 times faster than previous versions, with better image and sound quality.
Videos, whether captured on a security camera, a top-end professional cinema camera, or any device in-between, often require repurposing for editing, re-sizing, trimming, enhancing, re-encoding, and other technical considerations. This program enables all of these capabilities in an easy-to-use, clean and well-organized interface. It is an essential tool for any video production workflow, prosumer to professional.
The video enhancement features include Upscaling Resolution, to play a low-resolution video on a computer or TV screen, i.e. converting SD to HD; Optimizing Brightness and Contrast, to automatically adjust for the best possible visual settings; Removing Video Noise, to remove unwanted colors, grain and artifacts; and Stabilizing Shaky Video, to automatically reduce shaky and blurry video images. Up to eight simultaneous running processes can be conducted at one time, including batch conversions.
Videos can be trimmed into clips, each of which can be cropped, rotated, watermarked (with text of an image), and visually enriched with separate controls for Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Hue, and Volume level.
A rather unique capability is the conversion of a two-dimensional movie into 3D, with rather remarkable results. The process is relatively simple, with easy-to-use controls which produce rather impressive output.
The program provides a wide selection of Profiles for various TVs, game consoles, phones and other mobile devices, video editing platforms, and various manufacturers.
Existing videos, stored on DVD, can be ripped and converted into formats such as MP4, AVI, MPEG. MOV, and more, to allow viewing on a Mac and portable devices.
At launch, the Mac version lacks a few features released with the Windows version. These include: A selection of Filters, such as pixelate and sketch; Subtitles, to sync with displayed images; and Addition of a single or multiple audio track. These features are scheduled to be added to the Mac version soon.
Free downloads of both the Mac and Windows versions are available. Pricing is $49 for one year, $69 for a lifetime license for one computer, and $345 for a multi-user lifetime license covering five computers. Check online for current pricing.
Logoist 4 for Macintosh is the best low-priced logo design application we have seen, and has a generous set of easy-to-use features for those who are inexperienced, but need to produce a presentable logo quickly.
The start-up screen presents multiple starting points, beginning with the Showcase. The Showcase provides dozens of templates that serve as starting points and inspired ideas for creating a logo. Each element that composes a template is a vector, independently editable, and resizable without distortion or pixilation. Within the computer a vector image is composed of line segments that are defined in mathematical terms, with trajectory coordinates. Each vector image is usually constructed of two or more objects, which, although combined to form new and more complex images, maintain their individual identities so that they can be modified independently. An important characteristic of vector graphics is that because they are mathematically based, they print at the full resolution of the output device. This means that vector-based line art prints smoothly, free of jagged edges, whether printed on a business card or a billboard.
The program also provides a built-in Vectorize feature, to convert bitmap images directly into vector format, acquiring all of the benefits of the vector format.
The 1-2-3 Logo! option requires the minimum possible effort to create a gallery of designs from simply inputting a name or initials, along with an optional tagline, and instantly produces dozens of logos in categories such as frames, futuristic, stacked, font effects, emphasized letters, large initials, expanded characters, checkerboard, letter effects, initials, decorations, and symbols. Selecting one of the auto-generated logos presents another scrollable screen with that logo shown in dozens of color variations and backgrounds.
In addition to logos, the program has “take-you-by-the-hand” presets for greeting cards, business cards, simple logos, and photos. These represent starting points for producing customized versions with all of the tools available in Logoist 4.
The Logoist 4 user interface consists of five parts: The Toolbar, with access to all available objects and editing options; the List of Objects, displaying all of the composed objects and their layers; the Main View, showing the composed project on an Artboard, with buttons beneath it to adjust the view; the Properties tab showing any selected styles and effects; and the Styles Presets, listing presets that can be applied to an object.
Artboards can be duplicated to use an existing artboard as a starting point. The user can also create as many new artboards as they please. Artboards can be created in pixels, inches, centimeters, points, picas, and millimeters; in default or user-defined sizes; with or without a background color; in a variety of grid layouts (lines, center circle, Golden Ratio, etc.); with or without automatic snapping; and with or without rulers.
Logoist 4 enables the composition of logos using “objects.” Objects are typically shapes, paths, clipart, or text. Objects can be duplicated acquiring all of the properties of the original source (referred to as “instances”). Objects can also be resized, rotated, filled, layered, combined, locked, hidden, grouped, united, subtracted, intersected, differentiated, aligned, and distributed. Any object can be dealt with individually within its stacking order by using the Focus mode which isolates the selected object for further editing. Objects in Focus can have additional objects inserted, and those will appear in the correct position when re-entering editing mode.
Objects can take on a wide selection of property and style presets, quickly and easily. The user has complete control over fill colors, opacity, gradients, scaling, position, rotation, shadows, light source, and many more. Panels of suggested editing options appear for quick and easy selection, as well as an automatic generation of Color Suggestions, with the option to generate new suggested color combinations, and to replace specific colors.
Other useful features include gradient editing, brush styles, filters, object labeling, adding text (font name, font size, line height, tracking, alignment, character position and rotation, text contoured to an object), and more.
Standard image formats (.png, .jpg, .tiff, .gif, .psd, and others) can be imported, with the option to resize and position them. Images can be dragged-and-dropped, or selected using the Image icon in the toolbar. After importing, images can be vectorized, cropped, and masked. Low-resolution images can also be enhanced by selecting the Enhance Image button which will produce an optimized version according to user-selected settings for scaling and denoising. Edited images can be saved for inclusion in other designs.
Surprisingly, Logoist 4 supports the creation of vector paths and Bezier curves to create custom shapes. The user can import a photo or image to use as a background guide, and use the Path button in the toolbar to trace around it. Selected points and curves can be adjusted, such as changing the stroke width, and modified, such as symmetrical mirroring. Alternately, the user can convert the imported image directly into a path using the Convert to Path menu selection.
Logos or other graphics produced in Logoist 4 can be embedded in new designs, either as a copy or a file link. Completed designs can be exported in .jpg, .png, .psd, .svg, .eps, .heif, and .hevc. Photoshop users can export in .psd and do additional editing of the static layer arrangement, or export the layers as individual .png image files.
PDFpenPro 12 for Mac (https://smilesoftware.com/pdfpenpro/) is the best-in-class solution for viewing, editing, modifying, and distributing documents composed in the PDF file format.
The notion of developing a robust method of viewing complex documents across computer platforms was first expressed by John Warnock, the co-founder and former president of Adobe Systems, Inc. The technology that he described in the early 1990s was code-named “Carousel,” and consisted of a procedure for converting PostScript files into a uniform format that could be viewed on a Windows, Macintosh, or Unix computer, regardless of its origin. The objective of such a technology was to simplify the process of sharing documents electronically, with full visual fidelity, and without the need for the recipient to possess the application or fonts that were used to create it. That goal was met with the release of Adobe Acrobat in 1993, and it’s renown and ubiquitous file format, PDF.
The format’s most compelling feature, as its name implies, is its portability. Any PDF file can be viewed, navigated, and printed by using a free PDF reader (https://get.adobe.com/reader/). Readers are available for Macintosh, Windows, and Unix computers, as well as iOS (from the iTunes App Store) and Android devices (from Google Play). Mac users can also process PDFs in Preview with limited options including viewing, annotation, password protection, file conversion, form-filling, and the combination of two or more PDFs.
PDFpenPro 12 enables a user to go far beyond the limited set of capabilities provided by the free Acrobat readers and Mac Preview. The readers are free since a PDF document would have no value at all if it couldn’t be viewed and printed. With PDFpenPro 12 a user can fill in forms, sign contracts and other legal documents (using the mouse or a scanned signature), add or block-out text, make corrections and additions, number lines, add watermarks, and more. Pages can be viewed in a variety of ways, including facing, multi-page, multiple facing pages, as well as single page. Pages can be moved, re-ordered, and deleted easily, both within a single PDF, and between two or more PDFs. PDF forms can be created, filled in, saved, and transmitted. Forms can be written on to add signatures or other data, and can accept image files. Users can also reorder pages, merge multiple PDFs, delete pages, and even create their own fillable PDF forms, bookmarks, and tables of contents. Legally recognized personal signatures can be entered using DocuSign® support.
The program can process a website into an off-line searchable PDF with active hyperlinks. The resultant PDF can be marked-up for highlighting pertinent information, or for assessing the quality and utility of a website in development.
The data collection feature provides the capability to convert a scanned document into a PDF form that can be distributed to Macintosh, Windows, and iOS/Android users. The program enables the user to add text fields, checkboxes, and radio buttons for surveys, questionnaires, polls, contracts, applications, etc.
As an image editor it can copy, delete, move, resize, and physically adjust (resolution, color depth, contrast) images. The features are extensive, and range from direct scanning and OCR of paper documents (using the OmniPage version 20.2 OCR engine); using Image Capture or TWAIN scanners; to the reordering of PDF pages, and appending multiple PDF documents. The size of a PDF document can be optimized for distribution using user-defined image quality settings and the elimination of third party metadata.
Users can listen to the text in a PDF by using the Speech option; and can add Audio Annotations for playback by the PDF recipient. Viewing of a PDF’s content is facilitated by a Magnifier window that supports viewing of a selected area at up to 2000%.
PDFpen for iPad and iPhone brings highly useful PDF editing and annotating capabilities to the mobile platform. This iOS version enables the user to view and edit their PDFs on their iOS device, store them on iCloud (or Dropbox, Evernote, Bublup, or Google Docs), and do further review and edits on their Mac version of PDFpenPro as necessary.
With their iOS device in hand, the user can now fill in forms, such as applications, contracts, and surveys, sign them, and return them by e-mail. PDFs can be edited, with changes to text and images, and annotated (with notes, comments, freehand scribbles, lines, arrows, rectangles, ellipses, polygons, highlighting, underscoring, call-outs, and proofreading marks) for collaboration with others.
PDFpenPro is essential for digital publishing workflows, enabling users to examine, edit, and approve work-in-process no matter where they are.
Supported import file formats are PDF, TIFF, JPEG, PNG, DOC, and DOCX. Supported output file formats are PDF, TIFF, JPEG, PNG, DOCX, TXT, RTF, XLSX, PPTX, and PDF/A-1b.
Complete documentation is provided, composed of an on-line manual in both HTML and PDF, an FAQ, a Knowledge Base, video tutorials, a blog, in-product help, a Welcome to PDFpenPro opening window, and a free copy of Michael E. Cohen’s “Take Control of PDFpen.”
PDFpenPro $129.95, $159.95 for the Family Pack, and a starting price of $374.95 for the Office Pack. The prices for the entry-level PDFpen are $79.95, $99.95 for the Family Pack, and a starting price for the Office Pack of $249.95. A free trial version is available at https://smilesoftware.com/pdfpenpro/.
Contact: SmileOnMyMac, LLC, PMB 278, 350 Bay Street, Suite 100, San Francisco, CA 94133, http://www.smilesoftware.com, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
GraphicConverter for Mac 11.2.1 is in a class by itself, so feature-laden that its manual exceeds 400 pages! It is one of a select number of non-destructive image manipulation tools that is truly an essential part of every digital publisher’s software arsenal. The program can import approximately 200 graphic formats, and export them to 80 different formats.
The Welcome Screen provides alternative ways to process one or more images, although a single image, or a folder of images, can be dropped on the program’s icon in the Finder, placed on the Welcome Screen Drop Zone, or opened using the menu system. As well, an image on the Clipboard can be imported directly. Pictures from digital cameras can be imported directly, including those in RAW format.
The Browser option presents several significant ways to process images; either by presenting them as a matrix of thumbnails; acting on image metadata; converting image attributes, either singly or in a batch; or renaming files. Users can easily produce custom catalogs in web, print, or picture formats.
Images can be managed in the totality of their functionality, meaning that GraphicConverter can find them, sort them, edit them, convert them, and present them, with complete user control. This flexibility enables practically any conceivable user-based workflows, any of which can be saved and incorporated into routine operations. Batch Conversion offers a wide variety of parameters, listed in several categories, that can be applied to up to 32,766 files per folder.
Not only are all operations retained with Auto Save, preventing work loss due to a crash or power failure, but the Save a Version option records all editing steps, so that the user can revert to an earlier version, much the way that Apple’s TimeMachine works.
Among the many, many features are: Facial Recognition, with an editable database; Analyze, which can detect the objects found in a picture and add them to the image’s metadata; Save As Split which enables the user to divide an image into prescribed dimensions in pixels, or a designated number of parts; a wide variety of Filters and Effects; and so much more.
The Toolbox contains an array of tools that should be familiar to anyone who has used an image editor, from MacPaint to Photoshop. Images can be improved manually, or with the capable Express Picture Enhancement function. The program supports the inclusion of ImageOptim, which makes it possible to retain image quality while removing unnecessary metadata, thus reducing the file size. The program can be downloaded for free at https://imageoptim.com/mac.
DesignCap is a free (with option to upgrade) website that enables the creation of graphic design elements easily and quickly, without the need for any skill or training. It is organized into two main categories: Marketing and Events, and Social Media Graphics, each with several sub-categories. The sub-categories include infographics, reports, flyers, cards, brochures, menus, posters, invitations, logos, e-mail headers, Tumblr banners, and many more.
Thousands of templates provide an easy starting point for customization, with literally millions of available design elements, such as fonts, shapes, backgrounds, icons, and stock photos. There is also the option to upload JPG and PNG files from the user’s computer. Completed designs can be saved on the host computer or shared on-line.
Page composition capabilities related to individual elements include moving, resizing, rotating, color-changing, horizontal/vertical flipping, adjusting opacity, changing font/size/color/style/line orientation/spacing, page aligning, layering, duplicating, grouping/ungrouping, deleting, undoing/redoing, and adding pages. For an on-line resource, DesignCap has much to offer in terms of its extensive variety of design elements, and flexible tools to manipulate them.
In addition to the vast collection of templates, which serve as guides to total customization, DesignCap also has an extraordinary library of Charts and Modules. Charts are totally interactive, not only in design, but in content. The user can import data in XLS, XLSX, or CSV, and modify the chart’s title, font parameters, axes, and more. Chart types include Line, Table & Map, Column, Bar, Pie, and Area. Quite impressive!
Modules are truly unique, with crisp, modern designs to illustrate Options, Steps, Timelines, Diagrams, Comparisons, Statistics, and SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). Each element is completely editable, providing the means to quickly portray a situation or condition in an elegant fashion. Also included are Social Icons, Icons and Text, and Images & Text.
The Free DesignCap provides limited templates, limited stock media choices, up to 5 image uploads, the option to save up to 5 designs, and JPG output only. Monthly plans remove almost all limitations, although the free plan does enable users to get a good idea of what the platform can provide. The Basic Plan for $4.99 per month ($59.88 annually), includes unlimited templates, stock icons, stock photos, modules, and high-res PNG and PDF exports. This plan is limited to 100 image uploads and storage for up to 100 designs. The Plus Plan for $5.99 per month ($71.88 annually) includes everything in the Basic Plan, as well as 1000 image uploads, and storage for up to 1000 designs.
Vivid-Pix Land & Sea Scuba is a clever and well-executed specialty application for Mac and Windows that addresses the peculiar digital imaging needs of divers. Photos taken under water have a distinctive blue/green cast that partially obscures whatever it surrounds. This program, devised by those who possess both diving and programming experience, can be used to enhance the appearance of sea life and underwater activity. As its name implies it also works with above water images, in jpg, raw, dng, and tif file formats.
The program provides an exceptionally easy workflow, beginning by selecting one or more images, picking the best corrective calculation from a matrix of nine images, fine-tuning the image, and then saving it as a new version, leaving the original intact.
The user can apply a variety of settings that materially reduce the underwater haze, and dramatically enrich colors and detail. Slider controls are available for setting Depth Removal, Emerald Removal, Lightness, Contrast, RGB, Vividness, and more, including cropping. The settings can be saved in user-defined sets for re-use and sharing with other users.
A free trial version, for Mac or Windows is available at https://vivid-pix.com/land-sea-plus.html. $49.99
Vivid-Pix Restore software provides a particularly simple
interface to fix JPEG and TIF images that are faded or poorly captured. Using
just a few clicks the user can make dramatic improvements to the detail and
overall appearance of an image.
With the use of patented artificial intelligence algorithms that
instantly process color, contrast, sharpness, and brightness, Restore can
produce improved pictures, documents, illustrations, and diagrams, in a
fraction of the time required in a high-end image editing program, and with
virtually no skill nor training.
The easy-to-use interface consists of three steps. First, select one or more images. Second, the program will automatically process the image and display a matrix of nine versions of the image transformed using various degrees of algorithmic parameters. An image may be a faded or exceptionally faded print or slide, a digital or cell phone image, or a faded document or text. The user identifies the type of image and selects what they consider to be the best image, which is usually, but not always, in the center. And, third, the user refines the image in split-screen (original on the left, processed image on the right) using a variety of basic controls, such as rotation/tilt, sharpening, etc. If the image needs further work the user can enter the Detail Edit mode, with control sliders for Lightness, Contrast, Vividness, Cyan/Red, Magenta/Green, and Yellow/Blue, cropping, and aspect ratio.
As each image is finished editing it is saved with the output suffix “Vivid”, leaving the original untouched. If multiple images have been selected, the next image appears automatically, and the three-step process continues. The user can also Zoom/Transcribe to manually enter information about the image or document, which is saved in the metadata of the file. The metadata includes fields for Title, Author, Comments, Tags (keywords), Copyright, and more, all of which are searchable.
Restore has been endorsed by genealogy librarians and practitioners,
as well as others who routinely work with legacy images. A free trial version,
for Mac or Windows is available at https://vivid-pix.com/restore/free-trial.html.
Max 3 is an
extraordinary program that enables strikingly beautiful modifications to
landscape images, with incredible ease yet extensive control. It works unlike
any other program, with an interface design that is clever, elegant and engaging.
Editing begins by dragging labels onto the image
to identify elements, such as sky, water, rock, tree, plant, person, etc. The
labels automatically create intelligent masks, that the user can refine using
simple editing tools, such as “Pull.” Depending on the complexity of the image,
the program may be able to identify the elements without much or any user intervention.
The next step is where the magic appears. By
selecting presets, or using precision sliders, the user can make dramatic
changes to the image, such as filling the sky with clouds, changing the
apparent time of day, making it snow, and much more. New atmospheric effects
include fog, rain, lens flare, and more, all of which react automatically to
objects and distance.
Unwanted objects can be removed using the new
Clone Brush, which involves painting over the unwanted object and replacing it
with another portion of the image. New Overlay tools can both add a dramatic
visual boost and easily apply a logo or watermark. The Perspective Warp makes
correction of poorly composed image angles comply with undistorted views.
The program plays well with Photoshop, enabling
quick and easy edits with an array of Photoshop filters and tools.
InterConneX is a game-changing app that enables a level of file manipulation that has never been possible on an iOS device. With free versions compatible with the iPhone and iPad, it provides an easy-to-use interface to freely share files and folders from a single location called a Sharespace. A sharespace is akin to a partition on a hard drive, and can be used to help organize content. Each sharespace can be password protected. Three sharespaces are provided with the free version, while unlimited sharespaces can be purchased for $9.99 per device. A user can store and manage files between iOS devices, and even Macs and cloud services.
File management includes the operations of copying, opening,
duplicating, renaming, moving, archiving, printing, importing, exporting, and emailing.
It provides a fluid workflow, integrating with other apps residing on the
Mac users running ChronoAgent (also from Econ, $14.99) can
remotely access all of the files for every user account on that computer. The
connection is easily setup for sharing files on the same WiFi network, and can
be configured for remote access via the Internet.