Product Review: Xycod's PostworkShop
"Xycod is a Hungarian start-up company, founded by software industry veterans, working with a team of young, enthusiastic developers and professional artists. Their goal is to create innovative graphic applications and make them accessible to a wide audience by keeping their usage simple and their price affordable."
This statement from the team at Xycod really sums up what they are all about, especially in regards to their artistic image manipulation program, PostworkShop. Innovative and affordable are standout words when talking about PostworkShop, what it is capable of, and how accesible it is to artists everywhere.
I recently had the opportunity to find out firsthand what PostworkShop can do, and I was much more than pleasantly surprised. While there are three versions of PostworkShop, this review is based on the Pro Edition.
The PostworkShop interface is straightforward and very easy to use. Upon starting the program, you are faced with the main Compositing window, the object and layers areas below, and the Project/Styles window to the right. With over 350 styles and filters readily available, there is much to be experimented with right from the start. And as you work with these, you'll soon find yourself creating and saving your own unique styles for future use.
It's all very easy and very fun to use. PostworkShop is a very unique program in how it allows you to explore further possibilities with your photos or artwork...places you might not have envisioned before. There is always something new to learn, and I continually find new things each and every time I open this program.
There are many ways in which you can work, and the possibilities are always endless. The fact is, in my own explorations, I have made several different versions of the same pictures I started with, simply because I found so many wonderfully different styles to work with and the end results of every one are keepers.
You can just as easily play around with only one style to great effect, as you can by adding many more and blending them in a number of different ways for more. And like Photoshop, though I really don't want to compare the two, you do have a multitude of layer blending effects. And while you can add layers on top of each other, you can also nest them and use PostworkShop's unique Layer Mixer.
I also have to mention PostworkShop's Batch Processing feature, as I found this really nice. Say, for example, you really like how a project turned out and you would like to see how the same effect will work on other similar images. Just set your source and destination folders, the template (project/style), and the output format and let it run.
Out of the available styles and filters within PostworkShop, there are some which allow you more precise control, and these you can tweak to your heart's content in the properties window, as you can see by the example below.
As I mentioned that you can save your own projects/styles for future use for yourself, you also have the option to publish your style for others to use. As you can see in the following images, this is a very simple process, but also one which allows you the utmost control in how the end user is able to use your unique style. You can choose to publish free or commecial styles and upload them to the postworkshop site, as well as anywhere else.
You have the all the options you could want to make your published styles your very own, including detailed descriptions and copyright info, and you can also allow for certain parameters to be controlled by the user.
I even created a style I particularly liked, which seemed to work best with scenes containing a lot of browns/reds, though I am still tweaking it a little bit at the moment.
Remember what I mentioned about endless possibilities and continually finding new things? Well, let me tell you, PostworkShop doesn't stop at style layering, effects, property slider tweaking, and such. Enter the Style Editor window. Here you have a node-based system of combining styles and filters. This is where user control gets really into the finer details. As you can see below, this can get really complex, but can also be a lot of fun.
I really have to congratulate Xycod on this wonderful product that is PostworkShop, but at the same time applaud them on an equally wonderful set of tutorials on their website. From the first steps with PostworkShop, to advanced skills and working tips, Xycod really backs their program and makes it easier to get up and running quickly with PostworkShop.
PostworkShop is currently available in three editions: Basic, Artist, and Pro. The Basic Edition was originally $19.00 (USD), but is now available for free. Though limited in functionality, such as max render size, available styles, and the ability to modify styles, it does offer a lot to the first-time user, and would be a shame to pass on at least trying it out. You can download a copy here.
The Artist and Pro editions add more readily available styles, as well as increased output render sizes and the ability to create and publish your very own styles. More info on version comparisons can be found here.
PostworkShop is currently in version 1.1, and while it is a very robust package at present, I spoke with Rita Foldi, Xycod's Marketing Manager, concerning a mention of an Image Publishing Wizard coming soon on the Xycod website: "The other software, the Image Publishing Wizard will be released with the 1.2. With this software - as written in its banner on the Xycod site - people will be able to add a frame, a signature to their works and create different size thumbnails automatically; so that you do not have to resize and crop with 100 clicks to fit all the different thumbnails requirements on different sites."
This would surely be a nice addition to the next version of this already wonderful program.
Introduction to PostworkShop
Whether my words and images here are enough to convince or not on the merits of PostworkShop, there are a number of Renderosity artists currently using this software in the galleries here at Renderosity, and PostworkShop's popularity is growing. PostworkShop is truly a unique piece of software that not only offers more creative expression to digital artists, but also a great way to have fun doing it. I highly recommend checking it out.
Basic Edition - Free
Artist Edition - $49.99 (USD)
Pro Edition - $99.99 (USD)
PostworkShop is now available in the Renderosity MarketPlace!
Be sure to check out the PostworkShop Portrait Contest
Nick C. Sorbin is a digital artist, sculptor, writer, and Managing Editor for Renderosity's Front Page News.
March 15, 2010
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