FX Photo Studio Review - an exciting and fun product by Macphun!
FX Photo Studio by Macphun (part of their amazing Creative Kit) is essentially a set of filters you can apply to your images. In simple terms, that’s it. But beyond that, you can mask in the effect selectively, which is a huge help, and you can even create and save your own versions of the effects for a specific, custom look. It’s very powerful, very interesting, and very fun.
(Note: Macphun also has an iPhone app by the same name, and the app is essentially the same, although of course you can do more with the full version which is part of their Creative Kit, and that is what we are reviewing here. If you are interested in the iPhone app, I actually reviewed that years ago, which you can read here.)
Let’s take a look!
I am starting with this waterfall photo from here in Austin, which I created and processed in Aurora HDR Pro. We will walk through some options in FX Photo Studio and show you the power and flexibility of this app.
The first thing you will notice when landing in FX Photo Studio is the familiar interface. It looks and acts just like all the other Macphun apps, which is a huge plus. If you have used any of their other products, it will instantly feel familiar.
Across the top you have your normal controls, such as Open Image, Save & Share, Zoom In, etc. Further to the right you have comparison buttons for either Before & After or a Side-by-Side comparison
Lastly, on the far right you have Effects, Crop, and Adjust. We will cover each of these individually, starting with Effects.
This section is the default landing page for your image, and it contains all the filters. This is the core of the product. You will see a film strip along the bottom which shows them, and they are listed alphabetically. You can scroll to the right to see them all, or you can open the category menu and choose a category to explore.
Here is a preview of some of the filters in the Blur category, and note that I have highlighted tilt-shift:
Click on the filter you are interested in, and it will apply to your photo. You will see that you can adjust the sliders on each filter to further refine how it impacts your photo. All you do is move the sliders until it suits your tastes, and then hit Apply. Note that depending on the filter you have chosen, the sliders may vary slightly. Some are just listed as Amount, whereas other may have Contrast and Saturation, or something like that. Regardless, it the same each time - move the sliders to get your preferred result!
Also note that you can click on that down arrow on the far right side of the filmstrip, and it will hide the filmstrip so you can view your image on the fullscreen.
In the below screenshot, I have clicked on Explosion in the Blur category and then moved the sliders a bit to refine the final result. Pretty cool, right? It's certainly something different.
Below are some previews of other filter categories, which hopefully gives you a good idea how versatile this product really is. I have left the main image untouched, but in the film strip below each screenshot you can see some of the filter options in that category.
There is so much variety that I can’t cover it all, but you can do oil painting, pencil sketches, 3-D and more. It’s really only limited by your imagination!
But of course this is Macphun, and there is always another trick or two up their sleeves!
With these filters, you can apply them selectively with the masking capability. THIS IS A BIG DEAL. You will notice next to the Apply or Cancel button (when viewing a filter) that there is a button called Edit Mask. If you click on it, it will open a new screen and you can then just mask in where you want the effect to occur.
To make it easy to see this, I have chosen a fairly extreme example. I went into the Color Fantasy category and have selected the filter entitled Color Sunlight Spots. I then dragged the slider to the right to enhance the effect. It's a little crazy.
Now, I click on the Edit Mask button and it will take me to this screen:
This is the masking studio, as they call it, and this is where the magic happens! You can see common masking tools here - Paint, Erase, Show, etc. I believe it’s pretty self-explanatory. You click on Paint, adjust the side of your brush, and then start painting.
Note that you are painting the effect ONTO your image here, not off of it. You can see the image started without the effect, so you just paint where you want to display the effect. In the below screenshot I have painted over the lower two-thirds of the image, leaving the waterfall untouched.
Here is the mask, which will display if you click on the Show button in the upper right:
And here is the image after hiding the mask (click Show again to hide it) and you can see the effect across the image, corresponding to the mask from the above screenshot:
Once you are satisfied, just click the Done button with the green check and you are all set!
One other interesting thing in the product is that you can stack filters on the same photo. You can choose a filter and apply it to your image, and then go choose another one and it will lay on top of your current version. This gives you a lot of creative options, especially considering that you can also selectively mask in effects. Go create something amazing!
You can also crop your photo in FX Photo Studio, should you want to. Just click on the Crop button in the upper right and it will take you to this screen (and you can see you have quite a few options):
Also note the Crop Proportions option, wherein you can select some pre-determined sizes to crop to. Just click on it and you will get a drop-down menu. Choose your option and then adjust the photo as needed. Below I have selected 16x9:
Just hit Apply when you are done and it will save the changes.
And of course, there is the option to make adjustments to your photo. Just click on Adjust in the upper right, and you will be taken to this screen:
You will notice all the sliders which are pretty clear about what they do. Here you can further refine your image. For example, perhaps you added a filter or two but want to enhance the colors a little bit. Just bring it into this section of FX Photo Studio and move some sliders - very easy, and quite handy to have in the product.
Once again, you will notice the Edit Mask button. It operates the same as in the Effects menu. You make all your adjustments here with the sliders, and then click on Edit Mask.
Once there, just paint over the area where you want the effect to occur, and there it is!
Here’s a crazy example, just done to make it easy to view:
As you can see, I did some wild color adjustments and then just painted them onto the bottom two-thirds of the image.
The whole idea of masking is incredibly powerful and gives you complete creative control over your final image. Unlike other programs that let you select a filter and apply it, with FX Photo Studio you can do that but the power is in the ability to apply it selectively with masks.
But there’s still more! Frame that photo!
You can also add frames to your creation. If you notice in Film Strip mode, we have been operating with Effects highlighted, but right next to that is Frames. Just click on it and you will get a wide range of frame options, all categorized by type. It’s an impressive array of options, should you want to frame your image (digitally-speaking, of course).
Once you click on one, you can adjust the width and then save it. Nice little touch!
When you have finished all your edits - filters, frames and more - just click on the little arrow in the top tool bar (it looks like a forward email button) and you will get the below screen. You have the option to save it, share it via popular online services, or open it in another Macphun product in case there are other things you would like to do with the image.
FX Photo Studio is a very powerful yet easy-to-use product from Macphun, and is part of their Creative Kit. In the Creative Kit it’s bundled with their other popular apps (Intensify, Tonality, Snapheal, etc) and they all work together seamlessly. I use the Creative Kit on all of my images (plus their other product, Aurora HDR Pro, which is not part of the Creative Kit) and absolutely love it. I have unimaginable creative expression at my fingertips while maintaining firm control over every element of my final creation. Plus, it’s a lot of fun!
If you are interested in FX Photo Studio, you can click here to download a free trial copy or just to read more about it on the Macphun website.
Thanks for stopping by and let me know if you have any questions!
If you decide to purchase this app, use the discount code JIMNIX to save 10% off your entire order - for this app and any others from Macphun!