CutOut 6 Pro Review
Ever wondered how companies and professional photographers manage to capture photos, which are of mind blowing quality? Well, there is a little secret behind those pictures. They are not the direct result of a camera shot.
Most professional photographers do not take images, in normal formats like JPEG, because these are highly compressed photo formats. Such formats were originally designed, to share pictures on the internet, in a smaller size, when the interbet connections were terribly slow, like the dial-up modem days.
Now, what happens when you save an image in JPG or JPEG. You will notice that it becomes blurry. Technically speaking, it loses some of its sharpness in order to reduce the file size, and in the process the photo is prone to noise and unnatural color saturation.
So, to avoid such degradation of their photos, photographers usually snap pictures in RAW format, which is higher in file size, but offers a great deal of detail, which also gives you the potential for editing the pictures, in advanced graphics software, like Adobe Photoshop. Most smart phones these days offer a lot of manual control such as tweaking the focus, ISO settings, etc, and also saving photos in RAW format. So you don’t need a high end DSLR camera to capture stunning landscapes, and other master pieces.
Coming back to the professional photos which we see in ads, or websites, how is this done? Usually with a great deal of graphical editing, artists produce top notch photos. Sometimes, you come across a photo with 3D effects. What happened in creating such an image, is that parts of a photo are cut out and merged or stuck on another photo. This process is called photo montage. It’s usually a delicate process, and not your average photoshopping. It requires good skill and hand and eye co-ordination, or does it?
What if you could create a montage using some simple software? It is possible, with CutOut Pro 6. This is a product from FRANZIS, a German company renown for its photography enhancement software.
Let’s begin with the GUI. The primary interface of CutOut is a really unusual one, with a dark background and large icons for easy navigation. The icons are three-dimensional, which is quite stylish, and helps distinguish them from the images which are displayed as thumbnails in the right pane of the program.
There is a pane on the left for navigating through folders, but you can also do so from the right pane itself. The left sidebar however has its own advanatages, including quick switching between the system folders like the Desktop, My Documents, My Pictures where images are usually saved, but it also lets you shift between Drives and Partitions.
You can use the buttons on the top to go back, forward in navigated folders, or to a folder above (parent folder). You can also create sub folders directly, and star folders as favorites. Doing so, will let you add your own folders to the sidebar, and also give them a short name.
The top of the right pane also has a few buttons. The first is the menu button, which is basically your right-click context menu. But it does has some use, especially in folders with large numbers of photos, where it may not be able to right click, on a particular file, with precision.
Additionally, it has a few extra options as well. The photo menu has options to view the image, cut out, edit, rotate the image counter clockwise or clockwise, auto rotate all images by the EXIF tag. It also has options to rename an image or convert it into a different format like JPG, BMP or PNG. You can also perform standard file operations like deleting, copying, cutting or pasting files, view a selected file’s property, create a new folder, or refresh the current folder to make the changes visible.
Back to the main part of the Menu, there is a Program sub-menu, which allows you to switch between English, German and French, view the help documentation, the application’s settings. You can also switch between the dark interface and the bright interface from this menu.
The main menu, lets you paste images to edit (directly in the editor), load an existing project, switch between three different views: List, Thumbnails, Big thumbnails. You can also sort the files by name, EXIF time, or the date when the files were modified. There are two buttons in the top right corner, which also let you sort the files, or change the view style.
The second button, view, when clicked upon when an image is selected, opens a small photo viewer, which is built-in to CutOut Pro.
The third button, Cut out, when clicked brings three options to edit the image. These are stroke based matting (for simple backgrounds), Inside/Outside edge matting (for any background), and Chromakey. a one click matting option (for blue and green backgrounds). Selecting any of the options, brings up the editor of CutOut Projects. The same editor can also be accessed from the edit button in the toolbar of the main program.
Now, the Editor is the main part of CutOut Pro because this is where you can actually cut and paste content in and out of images. The editor’s interface is quite simple and sleek. The main screen here consists of two sidebars. The one on the left has options for selecting the matting options, and more.
When a matting option is selected, a toolbar can be found on the top left, which can be used for zooming in/out, change the view of the photo, to its original size, or to the best fir of the screen. Just above it, the program displays the album/file name of the picture, and the selected form of matting.
Below it are two buttons, one for setting the brush size, which can be done using the mouse or the + or – (or the A or Z) keys on your keyboard. However, using the mouse you can also choose the opacity of the brush, and its softness. The Reset button does what it says, resets the changes you did.
The large rectanglular pane below the toolbar, is the image viewer pane, where you work on editing/previewing the picture.
The transform button in the left sidebar, allows you to rotate the image right or left, flip the picture horizontally or vertically, or a custom (free roate) one. You can also use the free cropping, modify shape options to edit your images. This menu, also lets you change the image’s size or extend the canvas. The Exposure menu lets you adjust the gamma space level and contrast, and the linear space level and contrast, and also has options to adjust the film features (color temperature, saturation, grain, sharpness, etc), threshold, black and white.
Similarly the color menu lets you adjust color aspects and white balance. The enhancement option, lets you perform smart erase (for a slected portion), shape adjustment and brush optimization. You can also use it to sharpen an image or add a lens blur effect to the photo. It also houses options for some instant filters. The menu option on the top of the left sidebar, also has the options, which we mentioned above.
The right sidebar of CutOut Pro’s editor, has a set of tools (shape selection, color selection, free paint, crop, add text, etc), a bunch of layer selection options, areas to work on the image, and a history box. The latter has a list of changes and tool options, which you have made.
The main screen of the editor has some toolbar icons on the top of the interface. The options here let you save the image, view its properties, add another image (for montage), and also print out a copy of the photo. The album option, takes you back to the main UI (with the media browser UI), and is useful for previeng an image, before you want to add it to the current images you are working on.
We tested CutOut Pro 6 by cutting out a portion, of the following image, and for this we used the polygon selection tool, and then performed a smart erase.
The resulting image, which can be seen below, is quite brilliant, and retains the background of the selected portion well. It is unbelievable how easily it deleted the foreground object, while preserving the quality of the original image. Similarly you can also use the program to add objects to another picture, to make them blend with the background easily.
Another huge advantage, in this program is that, you can also use CutOut Pro 6, as a plugin form in Adobe Photoshop, if you don’t want it to run as a standalone program. It still works equally well.
The user friendly interface, the easy to use tools, the plethora of editing options it has, and the smooth performance of the program, even when editing large images, was definitely an impressive experience. We heartily recommend CutOut Pro 6 for your montage work.