MGI's PhotoSuite 4 Platinum Edition

"It Just Keeps on Getting Better & Better"

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PhotoSuite 4 Platinum Edition from MGI Software is the latest release of their software package that turns your PC into a digital-photography command center for fixing, enhancing, sharing, and being creative with your favorite snap shots, or experiencing the benefits and opportunities of Web-based photography. It is perfect for editing and manipulating photos from a variety of sources: scanner, digital camera, CD, or images downloaded from the Internet. Images can be made into a mosaic with the PhotoTapestry feature; stitched together to form a panorama; organized into an electronic album; edited with special effects such as warp, ripple, splatter, painterly, mirage, sepia, and invitationsmoonlight; and made into a slide show with transitions, sound effects, voice-overs and music. You can paint, cut, clone, crop, resize and move any part of your photo. Finished projects such as calendars or cards can be printed, e-mailed, or made into a Web page. The program includes 1,500 templates for home and business to create cards, calendars, flyers, stationery, presentations, and other projects (the image to the right was created using a template and a photo that had been enhanced with the painting effect). PhotoSuite also comes with royalty-free photos, fun props and fonts to use to customize your products. There are Print Multiples templates that are designed to work with dozens of different specialty papers from Kodak, Avery-Dennison, and Zweckform. Price of PhotoSuite 4 Platinum Edition $49.95. Also, the program is always being upgraded. New templates, photos, and other MGI PhotoSuite 4 Download Packs are available on a regular basis. Check and for upgrades, advice, hints, and tips and other information.

The easy-to-use interface, templates, and step-by-step guides make this an excellent program for beginning and intermediate PC users and photo-hobbyists. For users who don't need the guides, the program offers a higher level of manual control over effects.
  • Panoramas and Photo Stitch--you can stitch together as many as 48 photos and create 360 degree interactive Web panoramas (Enhanced);
  • Web Pages--templates help you build Web pages complete with photos, links, animated GIFs, 360 degree panoramas, slide shows, and audio files which can be posed on the Internet (New);
  • E-mail--quickly e-mail photos to friends, family and colleagues (Enhanced);
  • PhotoTapestry--PhotoSuite will automatically match up to 2,000 thumbnail images to the shape, color and texture of your original photo to create a mosaic. You can create your own library of thumbnail images (Enhanced);
  • Easy-to-use Interface--the program has step-by-step guides, easy-to-use menus, toolbars and icons that lets you get results quickly;
  • Capture Photos--easily retrieve images from just about any source: scanner, digital camera, CD-ROM, and the Web;
  • Animation--create your own animated GIF files and add them to your own Web page (New);
  • Printing--there are many new ways to print from wallet-sized shots to posters (Enhanced);
  • Editing--you can cut, clone, crop, adjust colors and resize your photos. It's easy to remove red eye, wrinkles and blemishes or restore old, torn and faded pictures;
  • Special Effects--choose from many special effects including warp, ripple, splatter, mirage, sepia, moonlight and more. (Enhanced);
  • Photo Sprayer--use the photo sprayer to paint with pictures (New);
  • Cutout--you can save and open cutouts (Enhanced);
  • Transparency Tool--there is now support for transparency--alpha channel in Prepare mode (New);
  • Multimedia Slide Shows--create multimedia slide shows with transitions, sound effects, voice-over and music. You can even turn albums into screen savers;
  • Electronic Albums--organize, store and retrieve photos in customized electronic albums. Fast, powerful keyword search makes it easy to find what you want;sports card
  • Templates--the program comes with more than 1,500 professionally designed templates for home and business (the image to the right was made with a sports card template;
  • Fast Image Viewer--the program ships with a separate image viewer that provides you with a means of very quickly viewing image content (New);
  • MP3-- the program now supports MP3 files (New);
  • Screen Savers--you can now use your albums or interactive panoramas to create screen savers (New);
  • Free Photo-Sharing Web Site--visit, a free Web service that lets you create password-protected online albums to share with family and friends.

PhotoSuite 4 is easy to install. The program guides you step by step through a Wizard-based installation. You have the option to install additional content directly on your system such as PhotoTapestry Tile collection and Jerry Down photos or using them from the CD. There are also 19 fun fonts that are installed.

Interface--The interface is fairly intuitive and is logically separated into seven activities accessed through the Navigation Bar.

  1. The Navigation Bar is always present along the top of the User Interface allowing you to move quickly throughout the program. The Navigation Bar has additional buttons available for moving up a level in the Activity Panel, moving Home and also for accessing the Online Help.

    • Get is for bringing photos into PhotoSuite. You can bring photos into the software from your hard drive, digital peripheral, or the Internet within this activity.
    • Prepare is the most feature-rich activity in the program. Here you will find tasks for fixing and enhancing your photos. This activity also includes PhotoTapestry and Stitching.
    • Compose is the activity where you create collages, perform body switches or combine your photos with a variety of professionally-designed templates to make impressive home and business projects.
    • Organize allows you to sort your photos and other multimedia files into manageable albums.
    • Share is the activity that allows you to send your photos through e-mail, by preparing and posting to Web sites or by utilizing an online photo service. You also can share your photos with impressive photo slide shows within this activity.
    • Print activity provides many print options and templates for printing photos and creations at home or through an online photofinisher.
    • Browse activity enhances your experience with seamless access to the Internet allowing you to search for photo content, retrieve updates, or connect to online photo services.

  2. The Activity Panel down the left-hand side, lists the functionality available in each Activity. Once an area of functionality has been selected, the Activity Panel changes to display specific tasks. Once a specific task has been selected, the Activity Panel provides step-by-step instructions for completing that task.
  3. The Command Bar, directly above the Workspace, contains additional tools such as the unlimited undo/redo feature and zoom capabilities.
  4. The Windows Menu System contains standard Windows functions such as File, Edit, and View.
  5. The Photo Workspace is in the center part of the screen where your photo, album, slide show or project appears. For maximum workspace area, you can close the Library and Toolbar views.
  6. The Status Bar, at the bottom of the interface displays additional tips and information.
  7. The Library is on the far right of the screen and gives you a visual representation of all of the photos, projects, albums, and slide shows that are are currently open.

Workflow--The program has been designed for both the novice and advanced user. For individuals new to PC photography, PhotoSuite provides a logical workflow complete with step-by-step instructions for completing any photo task. Novice users can use the four-step workflow: (1) Select one of the seven general activities from the Navigation Bar; (2) Select the area of functionality from the Activity Panel; (3) If necessary, select a specific task from the list in the Activity Panel; and (4) Follow the step-by-step instructions in the Activity Panel to complete the task.

Toolbar--PhotoSuite also has a Toolbar to allow more experience users direct access to the program's functionality. This Tool bar is accessed in the Prepare activity.

  • Zoom--zoom free-hand, by increments, fit to page or by percentage.
  • Pan--use this tool to move around a photo that you have zoomed in on.
  • Selection Tools--includes round, square and rectangular selection tools for creating cutouts; also includes the Magic Wand and Edge Finder.
  • Eye Dropper--set foreground and background colors from your photo.
  • Touch-Up Brush--for applying touch-up effects and traditional paint styles to photos.
  • Clone Tool--replicate one part of a photo onto another part.
  • Unfilled Shapes--add lines and shapes to a photo.
  • Filled Shapes--add filled shapes to a photo with/without borders.
  • Effect Brush--selectively paint PhotoSuite 4's Special Effects and traditional paint styles on your photo.
  • Photo Sprayer--allows you to add unique photo objects such as butterflies and flowers to your photo or project.
  • Flood Fill--quickly applies effects and traditional paint styles to areas with a uniformed color.
  • Eraser--undo areas you have painted with the Eraser.

Getting Photos--You can get photos from many sources. Digital peripherals, such as scanners and get photoscameras are accessed through the industry standard TWAIN, or WIA, but PhotoSuite 4 also supports a number of Digital Cameras directly through their Application Programming Interface (API). Various models of Agfa, Epson, Kodak, Olympus and Sanyo cameras are supported directly. Direct API support provides more capabilities than standard TWAIN, such as the ability to download and delete all the images from the camera at one time, and the ability to save video files (AVI) and sound clips. PhotoSuite 4 supports eighteen image formats: BMP, GIF, JPG, PCX, TGA, TIF, EPS, PCD, PNG, STN, WMF, PIC, FPX, SFW, IMG, KQP, RAS, and PSD.prepare photos

Preparing Photos--The Prepare activity lets you make all sorts of enhancements to your photos. You can perform such functions as: rotating and cropping, touchups, making cutouts, painting, applying special effects, stitching photos together to create panoramas, and creating a Photo Tapestry. Within the Prepare module, there are four main enhancements:

1. Photo Sprayer--With this new tool, you can cover a photo with other small images, photo sprayersupplied by the program, such as flowers, clocks, leaves, pastry, and more. It is also possible to add your own images to the collection. You can use the cursor to drag across the screen and lay down a trail of pictures, or repeatedly click with the mouse and place images precisely where you want them. There are other options that let you choose the size, opacity, orientation or rotation, and distance between the small images. Another advanced option allows you to lay down a trail of images at various sizes or opacity, but within the range that you specify. The tool is effective for making photo borders. I used the photo sprayer to spray on leaves on the picture to the right. I then used the antique effect on the leaves.

2. Photo Stitch--PhotoSuite's stitching capabilities have been revamped. Stitching allows photo stitchyou to map together a series of photos taken while panning a subject (such as an horizon or a tower). You can use up to 48 photos (previous version limited you to 5 photos). Stitching combines these photos to form one continuous photo. It is possible to produce three stitching types, depending on your requirements: (a) Normal: several photos are stitched, producing a normal panorama; (b) Partial Interactive Panorama: a stitched photo with the warping effect applied, so that when the interactive panorama is created the panning motion appears more natural. A Partial Interactive Panorama is commonly 180-degrees, but can be any value less than 360-degrees; (c) Full Interactive Panorama: a copy of the first image is added at the end of the stitch, so it wraps into one continuous photo. This lets you see the panorama in a complete 360-degree circle when it is viewed in a browser or in PhotoSuite. The Interactive Web Panoramas allow you to zoom in and out, rotate around and move up and down.

3. Photo Tapestry--This feature has been reworked. Now you can add your own image to the tile set or create a new set from scratch. Photo Tapestry recreates any photograph using small thumbnail photo tapestryphotos drawn from a large database that comes with PhotoSuite. Photo Tapestry analyzes the original photo's hue, saturation and brightness over its entire area and then searches the photo thumbnail database, assigning the values in order to select the best photo thumbnails to replace each part of the original photograph. Thus the finished image is composed of hundreds of small tiles. I applied photo tapestry to the baby image, using 2000 images to get the finished product on the right. The image to the left shows a small enlarged section of the 2000 small images.

4. Cutouts--This new feature lets you select an area of your photo for copying, moving, cutoutor applying effects. Areas not selected remain unaffected by any effects you may apply. combine cutoutsCutouts are similar to what other image-editing programs call objects. You trace around the area to select it, with a variety of tools, ranging from rectangle, ellipse, freehand, magic wand, and edge finder), then click on Make a Cutout. Once you have a cutout, you can move it around, paste it in a different place, cut or copy it to the clipboard, or send it to the library for storage. Then you can get another image and add it to that one. Cutouts have handles so you can easily grab a corner to resize or rotate it. There is also a new transparency tool that can be used with cutouts. It allows you use alpha channels and make parts of your photo transparent. I cut out the baby from the calendar and then placed and combined cutouts to create the image to the right.

Compose--The Compose activity lets you place your photos into over 1,500 templates. In addition, you can create and save your own templates or modify most elements of existing calendar templates. Business projects include items such as signs, labels, stationary, business cards, certificates, and promotional materials, while home projects include posters, calendars, magazines, greeting cards, sports cards, and photo collages. You can also add text and props, and combine photos and cutouts into collages. You have a variety of editing elements to use, such as rotate, change order, add drop shadows and borders, or use any other editing tools found in the Prepare Activity. I used a calendar template and added the baby photo to produce the image to the left.

Organize Photos--You can organize photo collections into albums, complete with titles and organize photosindividual descriptions. There is also a Master Album that keeps track of all of your albums (an unlimited number). Albums are versatile enough to handle content like video (AVI) files, and sound (WAV & MP3) files, and their properties can be changed such as size of thumbnail and descriptions. There are also search and sort capabilities. Once your photos are organized into albums, you can use these albums as the basis for slideshows, printing and Web display.

Share Photos--The Share activity lets you save your work, send your photos through e-mail, post your photos to an online photo community, present your photos in multimedia slide shows, create an album screen saver, or create and publish your own media-rich Web site.

1. E-Mail: Photos, albums, and slide shows can be shared through e-mail. You have the choice of using your normal e-mail application such as Microsoft Outlook, or a Web-based e-mail service such as MSN Hotmail. There is the option to send your photos in their current file formats or convert them to JPEGs. You can set options depending on the file type such as color reduction, compression, and overall quality.

2. Slide Shows: Slide shows can be displayed full-screen on a computer monitor or a TV screen. You can also send slide shows, as EXE files, to your friends via e-mail. Photos which compose a slide show are sent as a single file that can be played back without any special software or PhotoSuite. The recipient double-clicks on this file to view the photos with any sound file you may have assigned to the slide show. The slide show player is an easy-to-use player with play and pause functions. To minimize the file size, the player has been kept very small and photos are automatically converted to JPEG files. Also, by saving slide shows as EXE files, you can burn them onto CD-ROMs and distribute them that way. Slide shows may also be posted on personal Web pages.

3. Kodak PhotoNet Online: If you are a subscriber to Kodak PhotoNet Online, you can send your photos to your account directly from within PhotoSuite 4's Share Activity.

4. A built-in link is provided to, a photo community site, where you can post entire photo albums to a password protected Web page. Once created, you can invite friends and family to the site to view the album, perhaps to even share comments.

5. Web Pages: Web access is important in this age of the internet, so PhotoSuite has added two new Web options: (a) Animated GIFs--there is an animated GIF command that lets you create and edit simple bitmap-based animations for inclusion on Web pages. You can select several pictures, arrange and rearrange them in the sequence you want, select the duration time for each frame, and enliven them with a clever transition.; (b) Web Page Creation--you can output image albums or selected images as Web pages, using pre-designed templates that can be customized to add titles, captions and dates. You can also add or delete any object on the page. Once the Web pages are completed, PhotoSuite will lead you through the process of posting the results.

6. Screen Savers: You can create screen savers from your albums. You can select as many albums as you wish to be included in the screen saver and adjust several settings such as timing and photo size. You can also change the properties of the screen saver from Windows. Your photo or project can also be seen as Wallpaper.

Print Photos--Realizing that it is costly to print photos on photo quality printers with photo quality paper, PhotoSuite 4 provides an extensive layout and print preview to give you complete control print photosover output. You can make changes to the layout within this print preview to avoid having to go back to make a correction. Adjustments that can be made in print preview include realignment for use with specialty papers, incremental nudging to correct for printer misfeed, and even centering. A number of print templates are included that allow you to print multiple copies of a photo or project on a single page. When printing multiples, you can choose whether to resize items so that they fit within the placeholders or to fill the placeholders. You can also choose to auto-rotate items to best fit with the placeholders. As well as generic layouts, PhotoSuite now provides layouts designed for Kodak and Avery stock, and you can even print your images on CD labels or mini stamps.

Browse--PhotoSuite 4 is built on a browser. This means that you can surf the Internet from within PhotoSuite 4 by simply typing in the URL or accessing your Favorites from the menu. The browseCommand Bar in PhotoSuite changes to include traditional Browser functions: back, forward, stop, refresh, print, and home. One of the many benefits of having a browser built into PhotoSuite 4 is the ability to drag any picture off the Web directly into the Library (following copyright laws). Using the Home Icon which is linked to the PhotoSuite Web site, you can get extra content, new project templates, additional filters, online tutorials and more..

PhotoSuite just keeps on getting better and better. The Web options, cutouts, and transparency features make this an excellent upgrade. Since its inception, the program has provided templates and props to make it a fun and easy to learn package for individuals who don't know that much about image-editing. But with each new version, additional and enhanced image-editing tools have increased the functionality of the program for those users who want to get in there and really play with their photos. There are other image-editing programs out there that are more high-powered, but they are expensive and overkill for the average home user or hobbyist. For the user who wants a program that is inexpensive, easy-to-use, fun, with both templates, and editing tools, it's the best software package out there.
Processor: Pentium 166 Mhz (266 MMX recommended)
Operating System: Windows 95/98, Windows Millennium, Windows 2000, or NT 4.0
Memory: 32MB
Hard Disk Space: 200MB
SVGA Video Card
800 x 600 Screen Area
16-bit Color

Graphics: Adobe Photoshop 5.5
Web Page Editor: Macromedia Dreamweaver 3.0

Scanner: Hewlett Packard ScanJet 6250C Professional Series