Photoline 17.51 is out with Multi-layer EXR support!


The new version now opens EXR and offers enhanced 32bit depth per channel functionality. SVG file support is also tremendously improved in this version. The interface is also improved with the tool panel now a flexible panel.

 Photoline is an advanced image editor with 48 and 96bit depth support -  now with multi-layer EXR file opening and saving built-in. 

For other changes/features read: [](

Other highlights:

[li]RGB (8/16/32bit), CMYK (8/16/32bit), Lab (8/16/32bit), Greyscale (8/16/32bit), Monochrome, Vector per layer is supported. This means every layer can have its own image mode set! No more switching between image modes![/li][/ul]
[li]HDR support and import/export. Creation of HDR from multiple exposures[/li][li]linear workflow for 32bit supported as well[/li][li]arbitrary number of layer masks per layer(!). These can be grouped, and adjustment layers can be applied to any of these. Vector and bitmap layer masks are both supported and can be combined in almost any way[/li][li]all layer blend modes available, with an additional twist: layer opacity can be set from -200 up to +200. This means blend modes can also be applied with an inverse effect, as well as have double impact[/li][li]full array of adjustment layers[/li][li]most filters and adjustments can be applied in any bit depth mode (unlike PS)[/li][li]curves can be applied on the fly in RGB, Lab, HIS and HSV without leaving the curves dialog - no image mode switch required![/li][li]most filters and adjustments are applied as non-destructive adjustment layers[/li][li]wide selection of layer effects[/li][li]built-in non-procedural texture editor[/li][li]action editor and batch (similar to Photoshop, but this one actually does not bug out on me)[/li][li]a clouds filter with adjustable and usable settings[/li][li]all adjustments you make can be viewed with the original side by side with the adjusted version.[/li][li]adjustment layers can be applied as individual layers, and/or applied to one master adjustment layer[/li][li]full vector support[/li][li]gradients, whether applied to a bitmap or a vector layer remain editable.[/li][li]layers can be grouped, and virtual copies can be made of any group[/li][li]multi page documents are supported. Each page can have its custom settings. Text layers, boxes, linked text boxes, image text wrap, paragraph styles - not exactly Scribus, but quite competent for an image editor.[/li][li]non-destructive scaling, rotation, and so on, of layers. Lanczos 3&8, bicubic, bilinear, quick and liquid scaling of layers.[/li][li]distort (liquify) effect is applied as a non-destructive adjustment layer - opacity slider controls strength of effect.[/li][li]Photoshop compatible brushes (though no brush dynamics yet) Paint in any channel (including alpha channel). Paint with procedural textures, bitmap patterns and gradients. Photoshop brush sets can be imported.[/li][li]stamps (think full colour brushes) support up to 32bit depth brushes.[/li][li]“color filter” (blend if in Photoshop) also available for layers - with an easy option to turn this effect off or on.[/li][li]full masking toolset (including shift-click on a layer to load up luminance as a mask, or ctrl-click to load up transparency)[/li][li]Photoshop plugins are supported (as long as other apps support these - the devs are very helpful in making requested non-compatible plugins work with Photoline: for example, last month Digimarc was requested, and is now supported)[/li][/ul] Drawbacks:

[li]the website is absolutely dreadful. Really. However, a new web presence is currently being developed.[/li][li]if you are an experienced Photoshop user you will curse and scream the first week[/li][li]documentation is okay, but not great. Sometimes confusing, and hard to find information you need.[/li][li]Interface can be clunky at times[/li][li]the existing user base is very small. Almost no tutorials, or any information on the web![/li][li]no hand tool for view rotation - this is painful when painting in Photoline.[/li][li]no video support. Pure image editing.[/li][li]Some features look out of place (mail merging documents??! Calendar generator? )[/li][li]preset clipart, textures and patterns really do not do Photoline any justice.[/li][li]some of the most important features seem almost hidden.[/li][li]German translations can be off-putting: “Levels” -> “Histogram Correction”. “Selection”–> “Lasso”[/li][/ul]


I have an eye on PL for years already.
It they only moved to another GUI framework - say qt and and let a Designer replace this freaking horrible interface with something a Designer can stand looking at! It would not be done with some cosmetics - one needed to restart from scratch. If the further hired a UX-Pro to even out the greatest oddities (you mentioned some of them) …

Then I’m sure there could be a far greater market (as they also do bitdepth >8 per channel).

In particular so as Adobe causes a lot of anger in its userbase currenty by restricting updates to Creative-Cloud-Members only. I’ve seen several long time Adobe-users expressing that CS6 was the last version they had bought and that they were looking for alternatives.
If it’s now Photoline or Sagelight or any other package - it would be great if there was more choice for High-End-Image-Editors.


One of the many reasons why I jumped ship to Photoline. I have been a professional Photoshop user since v3(!) and the Adobe’s silliness is reaching extremes these days.

And I have to say: it feels good to go rogue, and leave the fold :twisted:
Gotta love the blank stares I get when I tell my colleagues and students I no longer use Photoshop for all my work. Priceless.

As for your comment about how the GUI looks: it’s quite customizable, and it can be made to look good. At least I can change the size of the tool icons, which was always a source of frustration with Photoshop on high res screens for me.


As for your comment about how the GUI looks: it’s quite customizable, and it can be made to look good. At least I can change the size of the tool icons, which was always a source of frustration with Photoshop on high res screens for me

As said: I did not mean pushing elements around or increasing ugly icons in size. :slight_smile:
That whole application visually is such a terrible flashback to 1998 in all its GUI-Elements - I can not stand it although I know that the program is capable. I would not be surprised if most PS-users reacted alike. Regardless what one thinks of Adobe - the PS-GUI is extremely well done.


Ugly icons? They can easily be switched to greyscale ones with or without shadow in the prefs, after which it is very hard to tell the difference between PL and PH CS5 and before. A nice touch: all icons are saved in a standard Photoline file, and can be easily adjusted.

And as far as the GUI looks are concerned: personal preference. I like how it looks, and on a high res screen like mine (2560*1440) the interface is easier on the eyes than PH.

I have to agree in regards to the splash screen - it is dreadful. So are some of the default settings for the interface - but they can be customized.

In the end, though, the content is more important than its cover - and I can do things faster and more efficient in PL than I ever could do in PH. A lot of things I am doing lately in PL are actually impossible to pull off in PH without some serious work-arounds!


Let’s leave it here. :slight_smile:
You are content but a lot of people probably could not touch this application.
It’s everything visible which makes an obsolete or at least very unprofessional looking appearance. Toolbars, Icons, Previews, Dialog-Boxes, Sliders and Spinners, as well as Feedback items (Control-Points). All this causes eye-cancer or works a lot poorer than in competive programs. Changing Layer-opacity by having to explicidly touch the spinner is painfully slow, change of Blendmodes is again without keyboard-support (Arrow-Keys or explicid mapping) - there’s many workflow brakes of that kind.

Something in my perception is oddly wrong when the application itself, typically used in prototyping the visual appearance of other software, websites and printed media looks so poorly designed.
My CAD-Program - made to appeal to Engineers not artists - graphically looks far more professional -heck even my tax-program does…
PL clearly deserved far more love in this respect - a a change to qt for instance would
solve some of the most nasty problems out of the box. It would also make multi-monitor-support possible which PL’s current architecture does not allow for. A must have for fine-grained work on details while having the overview visible on another screen.

Don’t get me wrong - I mean well - but I feel that some clear words here are necessary.


No, no: no need to apologize for constructive criticism. I will forward your comments to the devs - I too am aware that the interface looks clunky. On the other hand, a clunky looking GUI does not necessarily mean a bad or unusable GUI. As a matter of fact, I tend to work faster (much faster sometimes) in PL than I ever did in PH. Not always though - some interface decisions fly straight into the face of what would be viewed in UX design as standard.

And HCI research has shown that, given two choices of websites, identical content, identical usability, but one with a poor design, while the other sports a visually pleasing design, most users will automatically assume that the beautiful website is actually user-friendlier (even if this is not the case!). This is also one of Apple’s prime “directives” - and it works (again and again it has been proven users need more mouse clicks on a Mac than on a Windows machine to perform the same tasks.

Reality is: the majority of us are extremely sensitive to first impressions and visual style. Of course, whichever style is fashionable is generally preferred. I completely agree with you that PL’s interface is quaint looking, though I would disagree that is is ugly - again, this is up to personal preferences, of course. Usability-wise it is quite friendly, though.

We are visual animals after all.


I think one can see the phenomen in all deep and feature-rich programs which are just done by less than a handful programmers. The coders do an awesome job, but there’s no time left to fine-tune the user-experience. Or they rather get tempted to implement something new.
That certainly can be a lot more interesting than spending countless hours of tweaking and polishing of what some even might consider superficial fluff. Another example which comes to my mind is 3DCoat. Although it at first glance looks a lot more slick than PL it suffers from many many detail-weaknesses too. Maybe such firms should share a gifted UX professional, then it got cheaper ;).


I see another big problem with all those low budget solutions like Photoline, Photofiltre, Photoplus and what they are all called. The plugins. They all may support some old 8bf filters, if even. But behind that you are lost. Even finding a working normalmap plugin is already a challenge. And thats what always leads me back to Gimp. But yeah, im a hobbyist. I can live with this beast :slight_smile:


I’d love to see an option for a node based interface, keep layers since the majority will use them, but having the power of nodes would make it a pro solution.


Please test this assertion in Photoline before arguing “may support some old 8bf filters” - Topaz works, Digimarc works, NoiseNinja works, the beta of FilterForge 4 works without a hitch… I would not call these “some old filters” - the Photoline devs strive to support modern plugins as much as they can, and PL users can suggest other plugins that do not function properly (yet), so they can try to add support (and they in most cases do if it is feasible).

Any Photoshop plugin tied into its interface is, in my book, no longer a simple “plugin” but an extension to Photoshop’s interface. These type of “plugins” (like nDo2) rely on PH’s GUI API, and can therefore only ever function as expected in Photoshop. I do not think we can expect “low budget solutions” (or any other image editor) to support these, since that would prove to be an almost impossible task. I also think it is generally a mistake by those developers not to support other image editors - but, for example, in nDo’s case they had to make a conscious decision, and are using PH as a framework to base their application on. Beyond that they would have had to write a complete painting application :wink:

And a Photoline / Gimp combo also gives me access to all the plugins I would ever need or want - but for those rare instances like nDo.

Tiles: for you as a hobbyist Photoshop is outside your league, and Photoline would give you access to a high number of otherwise inaccessible Photoshop plugins, and access to an image editor with powerful image editing features that are on par with Photoshop. Gimp is just so incredibly limited in regards to 48/96 bit images, and, outside “decomposing channels” does not support Lab very well either, and its CMYK workflow is also very clunky. No such problems in Photoline - a linear workflow is even supported. All HDR files I tried work flawlessly (which is also a non-destructive workflow), and this new version supports multi-layered EXR files as well - Photoshop requires a plugin that is more expensive than one Photoline license to be able to do this!

Seems to me Photoline is the perfect partner app for Gimp in your case :wink: nudge nudge wink wink?

By the way, I switched from PH to Photoline not because of budgetary reasons, but because Photoshop’s core image editing was/is limiting my workflow, and I do not like where Adobe is going with Photoshop in general, their DRM model, and their management’s heads seem to be in the “clouds” :wink: Photoline does a better job in my book. Obviously, if someone is dependent on the entire Adobe line of products this may not at all be the case for him/her. Photoshop is a great program.


Its not that i haventried Photoline. And Photoline wasnt the only low budget software i tried. Thats why i know about the problems with the plugins.

Last time i tried Photoline it declined to work with Nvidias Normalmap plugin. A normalmap plugin is something that i really need in my workflow. And i was of course trapped by the clumsy UI too. But i went back to Gimp because of the plugin problem. On the other hand, Gimp lacks of course of colourdepth. No question. Thats why i´m always in search for a substitute. But now Higher bitdepth is already available in the developer builds. Finally, after ten years, yay. So i hope that this problem gets fixed soon. And then i dont have a need to switch anymore anyways.

As you say, the new plugin generation isnt this simple to integrate. Most of them are no simple 8bf anymore. And i see this as a problem. This generation will in some cases not really or even not work at all with other software besides Photoshop . Thats why i have mentioned it :slight_smile:


Yes, the interface is klunky in places - I am hoping the devs will begin to address some of these issues in the upcoming versions.

Btw, Nvidia’s normalmap plugin works for me? Weird, that was one of the first I tested. I use it in the 64bit version, and even works in 16bit mode last I checked.


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