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PicSketch review - ideal for occasional use

Turn your photos into sketches on paper with just a few clicks

  • Pros

    Cheap
  • good results easily attainable
  • various paper backgrounds
  • some preset sketch effects
  • blending and colouring options

Cons

  • Control for brush size is a blunt instrument
  • surround scribblings in a separate mode
  • Preset mode doesn't turn photo into a sketch
  • not enough paper stocks
  • not enough control over process.


Drawing sketches takes no little time and a certain level of skill to avoid giving the impression that it was done by a schoolchild. Why take the trouble to master that skill when there's an app that can do it for you. Say hello to PicSketch which aims to give a fast rendition of a pencil drawing. Now, there's a number of Photoshop plug-in filters that will do this, from Akvis and Topaz Labs, but PicSketch has two advantages. The first is that it's a standalone app and the second is that it's only a few quid. The big test then is whether it can do enough and well enough to make it worth even downloading.

First of all, once the photo is loaded, there are two modes to consider. Classic and Preset, though both automate the sketching. There are controls for zooming in and toggling back and forth between the sketch and the original image, then it's over to the parameters. The first is the pen size. The bigger this is, the large the outlines, and the more detail you get inside. The problem with this can come when the outline is right, but the inside lacks enough detail, or the inside has the right level of detail, but in consequence, the outline is then too thick. Unfortunately there's no additional control to help. What can do though is the Moisture control. At the left end of the slider this adds dark detail. Slide it to the right and the result gets lighter and the extra detail is blended in more. There's also a Colourize option here to add some basic toning to the image and this can be very effective. It's also slider controlled and works well. Under that we have the paper stocks, of which there are six in total. These are good, but there's no way of making them have any variation or opacity, so they get repetitive very quickly. To finish the image off the brightness and contrast controls will also help define the sketched elements.

The Preset mode adds a scribbled effect around the image without actually turning the photo into a sketch at any point.

The alternative to the Classic mode is to go for the Presets. There are four sketch modes to this, which turn the image into mono and add pencil scribbling over the top and around the edges. This is combined with one of six paper stocks. It should be noted that five of the paper stocks are from the Classic mode, with one that is different, and that this mode doesn't turn the images into sketches at all. Also, clicking on the modes swaps between the two effects which are entirely separate with no way to combine the two, which is bizarre. Still, once finished, the sketch can be saved as a TIFF, JPEG or PNG.

OUR VERDICT
PicSketch produces some good effects, but making the surrounding scribbling part of a separate mode that doesn't even turn the photo into a sketch is a little stupid. It's cheap but the sketch styles get repetitive too quickly, making this app one for the occasional conversion rather than if you need to do it all the time.

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