Serif PhotoPlus 6.0

Like PagePlus, PhotoPlus is targeted at the hobbyist rather than the professional, but the program's uncluttered interface hides real power.

High-end features such as vector tools or clipping paths are absent, so it was a pleasant surprise to see complete support for layers. PhotoPlus 6.0 allows you to mix standard, mask and text layers together to create professional looking graphics. Serif has ignored the temptation to include a wacky selection of filters. Instead, the restrained and productive examples - including a red-eye filter - are perfectly suited to image enhancement. There's also support for Adobe Photoshop plug-ins, so you have access to an almost limitless range of third-party filters.

PhotoPlus boasts a variety of export formats, including EPS and Photoshop. If you regularly create JPEGs or GIFs for the web, you'll also appreciate the export optimiser. Other nods towards web design include the basic but functional GIF animation tool and an image slicer. Usefully, you can create image maps and export them complete with HTML code.

Finally, the bundled extras include Kai's Power Show. This is an impressive image presentation app, which lets you animate image slideshows.

It won't suit the image-editing pros, but for the student of serious graphics work, PhotoPlus 6.0 is great value for money.

To see if you really want this product you can try before you buy by going to http://www.serif.com/download_now.aspPrice $TBA

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Tom Gorham

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