The holidays are fast approaching, and that means photos aplenty. Whether you’re going on vacation or hosting family and friends, most folks end up getting a lot of mileage out of their cameras around this time of year. Now’s also a great time to get hold of and get used to a quality photo editing app, so that you can enhance your pictures for sharing online or adding to greeting cards, postcards and gifts. And that’s why we’re checking out PhotoCat.
Loaded with simple editing tools and a range of extra features perfect for adding fun and cheer to photos, this new app is perfect for home users young and old. And those of you who’re celebrating Christmas are in for a real treat, as PhotoCat has a bunch of special yuletide effects and decorations to play with! Let’s see how easy it is to edit our photos with this new kid on the block, and how it stacks up against the competition.
PhotoCat is a fun and user-friendly photo editing app available for modern browsers that run Adobe Flash and as a Facebook app. It’s free to use and works with JPG, PNG and GIF image formats. The range of tools covers most basic editing needs including tone adjustment, cropping and resizing, collage creation, retouching and framing, and allows for adding graphic elements, text and photo effects.
We’ve covered a number of photo editing apps in the past, and PhotoCat looks and feels similar to a few of them. There are separate interfaces for editing/retouching and creating collages, and tools are grouped into categories in a pane on the left. While editing, you can undo your last action, redo it, revert to the original or compare your work with the base image at any time.
At present, you don’t have to sign up to begin using PhotoCat — all you need to do to get is started is import images from your computer to begin editing.
Basic Tools and Effects
PhotoCat makes a number of useful tools available to you for working with your photos. Choosing from the Edit section, you can make adjustments to brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, hues and color balance, rotate and straighten your image, crop it to your desired size or resize leaving the content intact. These are all easy to use and allow you to preview their effect on the image before you apply the change.
If you’re looking to give your photos the creative treatment, you can go wild with 26 different effects within the app. These are grouped into Lomo, Portrait and Art. The Lomo series of effects contains 11 retro-style effects to add some age to your shots, while the Portrait series includes a great collection of subtle effects suited for pictures of people. The Art series effects mimic charcoal and pencil sketching, and work well with less-detailed images.
If you’d like to improve a portrait you’ve shot, you can take advantage of PhotoCat’s host of retouching tools, which are easy to get used to with just a little practice. This set of tools includes:
- Slimming tool: warps pixels around your brush so you can knock a few pounds off your subject or improve his/her facial structure. Use sparingly!
- Spray tan: add a touch of color to your subject’s complexion, by using a brush and eraser or by applying it to the entire image.
- Blemish removal: get rid of pimples, spots and patches with a click.
- Skin Smoothening: does what it says on the box.
- Blush: add a healthy glow to cheeks and chins.
- Eye enlarger: enlarges eyes with a click; lower the intensity for best results.
- Mascara: instant eye-liner.
- Eye color: change the color of your subject’s iris; works best with a small brush
- Red-eye removal: fix red eyes with a carefully aimed click
- Lip tint: choose several popular colors, or go with your own.
Frames, Textures and Text
PhotoCat offers several frames to add some character to your photos with, ranging from simple rounded rectangles to postcard and stamp designs to graphic stencil borders. You can also add textures for some grit or even go with an angled vignette; there’s also a nice collection of bokeh and light leak overlays in the Neon set to play around with. You can even add text, choosing from a large selection of quality fonts, and throw in a cheerful speech bubble to give your subjects a voice.
While probably the most clearly-labeled, this section contains some very useful tools to obscure and highlight details in photos with. The Blur brush does exactly what it should (with an easy-to-use circular applicator), while the Mosaic brush pixelates areas you paint over. The Adjust Color brush is supposed to help you change the color of any area in your image but works well on mostly flat-colored parts.
PhotoCat also offers three ways to create collages out of your photos: with the DIY method you can use a background image from the app’s gallery or your own collection or a flat color, and then add your photos and rotate,resize, fade and arrange them to your liking. You can also use any of the several templates provided to fit your photos into, or simply choose the Pic Strip method and have PhotoCat line up your shots horizontally or vertically.
PhotoCat for Christmas
If you’re working on photo crafts and greetings for Christmas, you’re in luck: PhotoCat comes loaded with several cool Christmassy effects and add-ons, as well as Ornaments (graphic overlays that work like stickers), specially shaped brushes (think snowflakes, mistletoe and candy canes) and illustrated frames. There are also a few Scenes which are like pre-made cards you can add your photos to.
PhotoCat is a delight to use and either makes a lot of new photo treatments possible or simpler to achieve, depending on your level of experience. The interface is easy to grasp even for first-timers, includes some impressive implementations of the Straighten tool (which also auto-crops) and Skin Smoothen tool, and makes light work of photo editing projects. The Christmas-themed tools are a lot of fun to use too, but I’d have liked to have seen some designs and templates that grown-ups could work with.
Photocat Vs the Competition
PhotoCat is up against very capable apps like PicMonkey and Fotor, but seems to be targeted squarely at families with its friendly interface and abundance of graphic add-ons. It manages to trump Fotor by including quality retouching tools but loses out to the latter in the effects department. Also, the collage tools are a tad rigid and could take a leaf out of PicMonkey’s book. Still, it’s very usable and doesn’t disappoint on most fronts.
PhotoCat is a splendid choice for a photo editing app for beginners and home users, and right now, particularly those who want to add some Christmas spirit to their pictures. It has most of the essential tools you’d expect in a good photo editor, including retouching tools (but not including a teeth whitener, strangely). Other than that, it’s easy to get used to and performs well. Give it a try this holiday season!