Anthropics Smart Photo Editor Review (Pt. 3)

In part 1 of this review I looked a little at the history of Anthropics Smart Photo Editor and then started to explore the layout and general workflow. In part 2 I looked more closely at the image editing tools an now in Part 3 we approach the most exciting part of the Anthropics Smart Photo Editor: the effects. This is what the Smart Photo Editor promotes itself on and this should be where I expect the product to shine.

Smart Photo Editor effects work on a principle of community based sharing. The idea is that once an effect has been created it is published into the community and your installed version will regularly synchronise with this community to provide you with a potentially infinite array of effects. Now since I first looked at this product the way effects are managed has been overhauled. Originally, I could load an image and tell Smart Photo Editor that I have a landscape. Smart Photo Editor would then present me with effects that other users in the community thought worked well with landscapes. I could then rate them against my own image and this contributed to the effects overall suitability and categorisation. In theory the most appropriate filters float to the top while the less appropriate sink. Now they seem to simply be categorised and tagged… or so I thought after searching through the forums I found this functionality is hidden by default. Perhaps it’s been tucked into the background to simplify use?

OK, so, if I load an image into Smart Photo Editor and select from the Effects Gallery, I’m presented with 133 pages of effects and each page has 12 effects on it. That’s 1596 effects if my calculator is working properly and of course, tomorrow there might be even more. (I’m not going to review every filter!) Pretty daunting although they can be searched through or view by various categories. Artist, Realistic, by type of effect or by the type of image that an effect is being used on. I don’t have much of a clue so let’s go with portrait which reorders the effects and at the top of the list is “Improve Skin & Hair”.

Selecting the image gallery gave me 1596 effects for my portrait. The first was "Improve Skin and Hair".This does what it says on the tin although each effect has a variety of fine tuning controls which you have to guess at. They all have a fader which is likely to be the most used and the “Improve Skin and Hair” effect has sliders for colour, radius, threshold and erm… radius again. This is not an unusual in the Smart Photo Editor and often experimentation is the key to working out what these sliders actually do. I quickly acheived quite nice results and it’s possible to select any stage of the history and tweak the sliders. Beware though, remember how I said the Improve Skin and Hair had sliders for fade, colour, radius, threshold and radius; when I re-visit the step I’m offered colour, filter, merge, radius and threshold! Oh well, the results are good enough.

Selecting the image gallery gave me 1596 effects for my portrait.

You can see from my image I have a model on a plain background so after a quick bit of improvement to the skin and hair, I want to jazz it up a bit by adding a more interesting background. This is where things really get fun and interesting. Smart Photo Editor can apply effects selective on the image which is not anything too radical however by labelling the selection correctly it provides information to the filter which can then apply itself without any further messing about.  When I decide to add a selected area the first thing I need to do is label it as sky, subject, background, skin, water etc. So let’s create a selection for the background… again things start to improve.

The selection tool in Smart Photo Editor works very well. We have a lasso tool and more interestingly an edge detection tool which allows us to paint the selection in based upon a sample area. This sample area normally sits in the middle of the brush but holding down the shift as we paint allows the sample area to stick in one place. This makes it easy to create a mask around tricky areas such as the hair. Once I have created a mask for the background, I can of course create one for the subject by simply inverting the mask. Labelling the areas in this way allows the effects to target their processing on just the right part of the image.

Holding down shift while painting with the selection tool holds the sample area (the small circle) in one place while allowing the selection (big circle) to continue along an edge.

The edge detection tool work well when selecting complex areas like hair.

Having declared a background selection, effects can automatically apply themselves to the relevant area.

When you’ve reached the end of what seem an infinite array of effects and settings, not forgetting that effects can be layered on top of one another to create even more effects, the next step is to start creating your own and Smart Photo Editor comes with its own dedicated tool to allow you to do this. It’s a graphical tool that works like a flowchart allowing quite complex paths to be created with pre-defined building blocks. Here you can see that I’ve created for myself a black and white effect with a slight red tint. I can now label this and either save it for a future use or publish it and share it with the community.

My own effect created using the effects editor.

These effects can be made quite complicated although the challenge is working out how to use each of the effect “nodes” as they’re called. Documentation is not a strong point. Here’s a more complicated example that I pulled off the available filters called “Low Colour Bubbles” by “Tatiantat”. This is well beyond anything that I can build myself after a short play.

Complex effects can be built with the editor tool although some effect nodes will need some experimentation to work out.

I think I’ve touched upon most of the features of this rather unique tool so in the last post in this series I’ll sum up my final thoughts. Visit the Smart Photo Editor website to find out more about this tool.