Alternatives to Adobe Photoshop

OK, the title is a lie.
All things considered there are no alternatives to PS at all.
But for working in RGB there are several options.

I made my last ‘2D graphics apps test ‘ 2 years ago, mainly focused on RAW converting (I choosed and bought ACDSee Pro), but I found a pretty usable app, called Serif PhotoPlus.
It has similar GUI and features like PS has.

Serif offers a free version of the app with limited functionality (which is still pretty usable for retouching).

Unfortunately there is no trial version of the full app, but I had a chance to take a look on it and as far as I know, this is the only 2D app on Win which has comparable  layer functions and operations to PS.
Of course it was slower than PS, but still was more usable than Corel Paint Shop Pro.
It only costs 85 EUR, which is quite acceptable.

By the way, the lack of the full app trial and the stupid way of downloading the free app (you have to register, etc.) deserved to put Serif (as a developer) to the ironic ‘How to develop an app’ posts soon.
On Mac it worth to give a try to Pixelmator (I will check it when I will have access to Macs again; I heard good things about this one), and soon I will try PS Elements again (I have an old one; I’m curious what has changed).

Maybe you are surprised that I don’t consider GIMP as a choice; well, although I use it a lot, I don’t like it at all.
It needs recoding and GUI change, too (in my opinion).

2 in 1: Particle tree in Blender + NeatVideo noise removal test

Some month ago I played with particle-based trees in Max and Unity for a more identical output result (using different vegetation for classic renders and real-time engines is not so ‘nice’).
At the end I went with another method, but it was interesting, so I decided to give a try for particle trees in Blender.
As you see, it is possible.

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Reducing render times in Cycles – Noise filtering

I just made a small comparison of rendered images in Cycles with different sample values, then I used NeatImage Standalone demo to remove noise with different settings (you can recognize that I used stronger reduction on the 300 samples image, so details are more ‘washed out’).
Although worrying too much about ‘noise’ is mostly typical for the ‘tech-maniac type’  CGI or photography guys, I think it could show the power of noise-filtering as a post-processing step and it could be useful for everybody.
It doesn’t just saves time; it also saves electricity (it has effects on your budget and on the environment both).


– download the images and compare them in 1:1 ratio (on the native resolution of your screen)
– I didn’t used any filtering on the 500 sample render; I used it as a reference
– removing the noise in NeatImage required about 15-20 sec per image (could be batched).



Filtered with NeatImage

Filtered with NeatImage

Never think in a single tool, think in a work-flow

Ok, you maybe noticed that I use too much the word ‘efficient’.

What tool is efficient?

The one what does the job within your and your client’s specifications the most effectively.

And here we go again: which car is better?

A Porsche or a Hummer?
On the asphalt or in the desert?
Should we count in the price of the fuel?
And the insurance and taxes?
The survival rate in case of an accident?
And so on…
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Moment of Inspiration – Nurbs for the artists



In every year I used to spend some time with testing applications, covering different areas of content creation. Sometimes this period is dedicated to virtual reality, sometimes it is 3D modeling, video editing and so on. It helps me to check the improvements and quality level of  apps compared to my mainly used packages. It also helps to understand different logics in work-flow. There are ‘returning  guests’ for me like Gimp and Blender, but this year my first guest was Moment of Inspiration – or as it is called shortly –  MOI. Continue reading