ACDSee has released Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 for Windows and is the new update for their photo editing software. They have given it a new name, introduced new features, and made improvements to others. With so many people looking for other software packages that you don’t have to pay a monthly subscription for, this makes it a very attractive program for people to use.
I recently wrote an article, Photo Editing Alternative – An Overview of ACDSee Ultimate 10, that will guide you through the different modes and what they do. If you are new to this software, it would be best if you read that first. This review goes into more detail about Edit mode and what is possible. It will also look at some of the features that are now available in this new release.
It would be easy to expect it to look like Photoshop when you first open it up. However, there are many similarities that can help make it more familiar to use. You can work in layers for your images, which enables you to go back and make adjustments to particular ones or delete them if you no longer want them. Many of the adjustments and tools have similar names which make it easier for you to learn. You can use the History function to go back to see what you have done. You can work nondestructively so your original images are always protected.
There are also many differences. Some of the tools may have the same name, but to get the same results you have to use them in a different way. When you click on one of the tools and adjustments in the Edit mode menu, located on the left side of the workspace, you are taken to a different screen to make the changes. When you are done, you click either Done or Cancel, and you are taken back to the main Edit mode window.
New and Improved
As you start using Photo Studio Ultimate, you will find many new tools and adjustments to help you work on your images. The latest release features many new tools that work really well and will be mentioned soon. It also includes older tools, which have been developed over decades, yet still, stand up to today’s demand. The software is becoming very sophisticated and should suit the needs of most.
There are so many improvements, it would be hard to do them all in one article. So, this overview is focused on the ones that ACDSee is the most excited about and those that I really like.
There is a new feature in the software that gives you more opportunities to be creative with your work. You can select a specific color to apply adjustments to, for example, you may want to make the reds brighter, or tone them down. You may want to sharpen only the greens. Or you can decide to change all the yellow tones to purple. With Pixel Targeting, you can do so as you please. You can also apply masks to specific colors or brightness ranges.
One application that a lot of people may use this feature for is to convert an image to black and white and have just one color coming through. By selecting your image and then going to Select to choose Pixel Targeting, you can decide which color you want to select. Once you click OK, you will see your selection and when you add the Black and White adjustment layer, the selection is turned into the mask. You will have your image in monochrome, except for the one chosen color.
It is easy to use, although, you may have to play around with it a little. Remember that all colors are made of other colors. You may also need to do more work on the mask to get the look you really want. Overall, it does a decent job of the task, and there will be many people who will like this function.
Smart Erase Tool
Along the top of the toolbar in Edit mode you will find the Smart Erase tool. This tool allows you to remove objects in your image that you don’t like, or don’t want. You often find unwanted subjects in your images, and being able to remove them is important. This has always been one of the best things about digital photography.
The tool is easy to use; you simply click on the image and start painting over what you want to be removed. You can set it to show up as a red overlay so that you can see what you’re doing.
The Smart Erase tool seems to work best on small areas and on images with a plain background. Think about what you want to remove and look at the size of it, and the background. If you don’t get the results you’re looking for, you can always run the Smart Erase command again and again until you get a natural look. Play around and see what you can achieve.
The Liquify tool is what they use in the fashion industry to make models thinner. It is easy to use, however, should always be done with caution and used subtly. This tool allows you to move the pixels around to where you want them.
You can turn objects in your images into funny shapes with the Liquify tool. However, common sense and what works best for the image always must be the first consideration.
Inside the tool, there is a Restore setting, which allows you to brush or push the moved pixels back into place without losing image quality. Even after you press Done in the Liquify tool, you can still undo while still in Edit mode. That said, since the Liquify tool is not a non-destructive adjustment layer, you cannot exit out of Edit mode and then later undo what you did.
Why would you use it? It is usually used to change parts of people, to remove a double chin, or a bit of overhanging skin. You can make people thinner, as previously noted. You can pull the waist in, or make legs that look a little less chunky, or make clothes fit better. Every time you use it, remember you are moving all the pixels in the area, and that includes the background.
The Liquify tool is great to play around with to familiarize yourself with what it does. Try out the different settings within the tool to see which one will suits your needs.
This is a technique used by many portrait photographers. It allows you to soften the skin, but keep detail around the eyes, nose, and mouth. When doing close-ups of people, you often find the skin looks dry, or you may see the pores. By using Frequency Separation, you can add some blur to the skin, but leave the detail at the same time.
In other programs, you need to do the layers yourself and work it all out. But with Photo Studio Ultimate, you just click the Frequency Separation button and it works like an action, separating the high-frequency and low-frequency layers for you. It will provide the low-frequency layer for blurring and then the high-frequency layer that holds the detail. You are all set to go.
This is a great tool and anyone doing portraits will find it useful. It doesn’t require a lot of research to figure out how to use it and anyone could start playing with it. You could try and use it with other types of photography as well. I’ve tried it on images of macro flowers and have found it really good. There are possibly other ways of using it as well.
Lens Correction and Perspective Correction
It’s always good to use lens correction wherever possible. It helps fix up any distortions that your particular lens will give an image.
You can also use the Perspective Correction, which will allow you to change the perspective. If you have an image that looks strange because all the buildings are pointing in towards the center, you can correct them. You can click on the corners and move them so you get what you remember seeing, buildings with straight lines.
In some ways, the Perspective Correction is far more useful than Lens Correction. It is not something that Photoshop seems to offer. You can do it, but have to do it in a completely different way. This works really well and I use it a lot.
These are colored lines that appear around objects in your images. They seem to appear around buildings a lot but can happen anywhere. Chromatic aberration is caused by your lens, and there is nothing you can do to stop it, but you can work on this in post-production.
Photo Studio Ultimate has a special adjustment for correcting chromatic aberration. You will find it under the Repair section in the column on the left. Click it and you will get a new window where you find five sliders. Zoom into 100% on the image so you can see the edges and the aberrations. Move the sliders around and see what happens. Each image is going to be different, so you might have to try different adjustments.
Once you are happy, press Done and it will take you back to the normal workspace.
A new split tone adjustment layer has been added so that you can nondestructively tint highlights and shadows in Edit Mode. As an adjustment layer, you have the advantage of being able to apply split toning any time in your processing, and on several layers. You can also easily delete the layer if you decide you don’t like it.
Clone Tool Pressure Slider
If you go to the Edit mode menu and look under Repair, you will see the Repair Tool. When you click on it, you are taken to the work area for the tool and from there, you can see the options, Heal or Clone. If you click Clone, a new slider will appear called Pressure under the Nib Width and Feathering sliders. This allows you to control the strength of the cloning.
At the default setting, it will do a straight copy. However, as you reduce it, the strength is also decreased. This is especially useful when you want to want to clone something out, but you don’t want to lose all the detail. A perfect example is when you want to reduce the darkness under someone’s eyes. You want to reduce the dark color, but you may want to keep the lines that are there as well but soften them at the same time.
A Couple More Options to Mention
A Grain tool has been added to Edit Mode. You can add grain to your images to give it texture and create a vintage effect.
A new tool has been added to the toolkit; the Polygon Selection Tool. This selection tool and allows you to select an object in your image by pressing on the outside of it and doing like a dot to dot to get the selection you want.
Working in a Different Way
If you are used to using a program, like Photoshop, you will find that some functions don’t work the same. That is to be expected, it is different software. However, it doesn’t take you long to get your head around how you can do certain processes. In many ways, you do have to think outside the box, and so far I’ve managed to find many ways to do what I would do in Photoshop by using different tools.
It is good to see other software that makes it possible to do just about anything you want to your image. While Photo Studio Ultimate may not be as big as Photoshop, there is no doubt that it will enable you to do just about everything you want to your images. The new release will offer users more tools and adjustments to help them get the look they want. It is a great program and one of the best alternatives I’ve seen. You can download and have a free trial for 30 days. Just remember that you will have to work differently, but it is worth it.