Minifinders: Graphics to Illustration

Graphics -- Consumer

  EasyShare 3.0 (free), from Kodak (www.kodak.com): The best feature of this solid alternative to iPhoto is its tight integration with Kodak's Ofoto Web site. Still, EasyShare's inability to easily create slide shows and its inability to integrate with Mac OS X's built-in screen saver give iPhoto the edge (November 2003).

  iView Media ($30), from iView Multimedia (www.iview-multimedia.com): This solid photo-cataloging program handles a wide variety of formats and often outperforms iPhoto; it's perfect for people who need to manage multiple media on a tight budget ( October 2003 ).

  Mac FlipAlbum 3.0 ($40), from E-Book Systems (www.ebooksys.com): Home users who are looking for a conceptual alternative to iPhoto may find FlipAlbum's interface refreshing, but there are still many things it can't do ( July 2003 ).

  PhotoEdit 1.3 ($30), from macXware (www.macxware.com): As an image editor -- and even as an adjunct to iPhoto -- PhotoEdit 1.3 comes up short ( February 2004 ).

  QuickImageCM (free), from Pixture Studio (www.pixture.com): This is a handy image-viewing utility that is more convenient and has better editing capabilities than Preview. And you can't beat the price ( October 2003 ).

Graphics -- Professional

  Canvas 9 Professional Edition ($400), from ACD Systems (www.deneba.com): If Illustrator and Photoshop lack the precision you want, and if a CAD program stifles your creative expression, then Canvas is the tool for you ( February 2004 ).

  Correct+Apply Color ($49), from Asiva (www.asiva.com): This Photoshop plug-in's results can be very good. If you do a lot of color-correction work, Correct+Apply Color's elegant interface might ease your chores ( January 2004 ).

  Flash MX 2004 ($499), from Macromedia (www.macromedia.com): This comprehensive update of a fantastic application has some great new features for rookies, experienced users, and ActionScript aficionados alike ( January 2004 ).

  Genuine Fractals PrintPro 3.0 ($299), from LizardTech (www.lizardtech.com): This Photoshop plug-in does an excellent job of scaling low-resolution images to high resolution. While it's very powerful, its workflow is somewhat quirky, hampered by a proprietary file format and an unintuitive user interface ( October 2003 ).

  iView MediaPro 2.0 ($160), from iView Multimedia (www.iview-multimedia.com): This media-management program is just the thing for photographers, designers, and graphics pros. It does an admirable job, and it has a justifiable price tag ( March 2004 ).

  Illustrator CS ($499), from Adobe Systems (www.adobe.com): Illustrator CS's wealth of new typography and text-formatting controls makes this upgrade a no-brainer. You'll get a few new drawing tools and improvements, as well as nice 3-D features ( February 2004 ).

  Mask Pro 3 ($200), from Extensis (www.extensis.com): This latest upgrade to Extensis's excellent masking plug-in for Photoshop offers a number of new selection tools and masking utilities, as well as Mac OS X support, making it essential for the avid Photoshop user. We recommend it to anyone who needs to make quick, accurate masks ( August 2003 ).

  Mystical Lighting ($179), from Auto FX Software (www.autofx.com): This photo-editing tool comes with 16 creative lighting and shading effects and hundreds of preset variations designed to impart a dramatic flair to your photographs ( December 2003 ).

  PhotoKit 1.1 ($50), from Pixel Genius (www.pixel genius.com): This Photoshop plug-in can perform effects that film photographers have been doing for years. Since it does its magic in a new layer, you never lose your original image ( June 2003 ).

  Photoshop CS ($649), from Adobe Systems (www.adobe.com): Photoshop CS is an awesome upgrade for every type of Photoshop user. Its slick, user-friendly new features make a huge difference in both productivity and image quality ( February 2004 ).

  Photoshop Camera Raw ($99), from Adobe Systems (www.adobe.com): Photoshop Camera Raw offers an elegant way to bring images into Photoshop. However, this plug-in isn't a substitute for an industrial-strength converter ( June 2003 ).

  hpxl SmartScale ($200), from Extensis (www.extensis.com): This Photoshop plug-in does an excellent job of scaling low-resolution images to high resolution, and with its intuitive Photoshop-esque interface, it's easy to use ( October 2003 ).

  Sharpen+Soften ($69), from Asiva (www.asiva.com): With its well-designed interface, this Photoshop plug-in provides a streamlined tool for creating targeted adjustments. However, you'll need a very fast Mac to use it ( January 2004 ).

Illustration

  EazyDraw 1.0 ($95), from EazyDraw (www.eazydraw.com): This Mac OS X-only, vector-based drawing tool is less than perfect; it buries its full and complex features beneath an unintuitive interface. Unfortunately, this, along with limited output capabilities, will slow you down ( August 2003 ).

  FreeHand MX ($400), from Macromedia (www.macromedia.com): If you're using Dreamweaver, Flash, or Fire-works, then this illustration program is an essential piece of your Web-design puzzle; it integrates with the other members of Macromedia's MX family ( July 2003 ).

  Painter 8 ($299), from Corel (see "Editors' Choice 2003: Best Natural-Media Drawing Program").

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