What is it: Image Editor
Average Price: $20
Odds are if you’ve done any image editing you’ve inevitably had the need to quickly remove an object from its background. It sounds easy and many products claim to do so in a few clicks. Of course you can pull out the big guns and Photoshop the image for pixel-perfect isolation but that’s an expensive and time consuming process that’s a bit much for casual use.
PhotoScissors is a desktop app that aims to take the work and time out of separating your subject from the background in a quick and easy way. So how does it stack up?
I ran the app through a few practice cuts to see how it does. What I was aiming for were the kind of edits you might need to make for collage work, product listings online, isolated portraits and I found that app handled most of these edits pretty well. The goal was to spend a few minutes to do quick cuts rather than spending a large chunk of time on it. On average, each of these examples took 3-5 minutes to run through the app.
– Simple interface
– Easy to use
– Effective for casual uses
– Saved files were larger than source file
– Struggles with complex edges like hair
– Probably not for major professional work
Overall, I liked the app and could see myself using it for quick and easy clips. The app’s makers say the point is that it does one thing and does it well and I agree. For most users who need to quickly clip subjects from an image, this app comes in at the right amount of effort at a good price.
Let’s look at the interface.
Look at the nice clean workspace
The interface is uncluttered and it’s easy to work out what each thing does. When you open up an image, you only have a few options. You can designate what you want to keep with green and what you’re getting rid of with the red. Once an image is clipped you can also set a background color for it or leave it with a transparent background. Another option includes setting a dropshadow, but it comes across as just a touch gimmicky and you’d probably be doing yourself a favor by not using it.
Files can be saved as PNGs, JPGs, BMPs, and TIFFs, though you don’t get a lot of options in the save controls. It’s a quality scale of 0 – 100%.
One thing I didn’t care for was that saved files at 100% were often bigger than the source file which seems quite counter-intuitive.
File Original: Saved:
——— ——— ——
phone 464kb 725kb
tulip 410kb 1.3mb
woman 1.15mb 4.83mb
lion 2.59mb 39.5mb
The app also comes with a couple of options to changing the offset of the selection and edge smoothing, both of which came in handy in the clips I made.
Ex. High contrast photo with lots of colors in background
The first photo I did had a pretty obvious subject in the foreground with clear edges, but a more variable background.
You can easily see your selection next to the result.
One thing I really liked about the tool was the clearly visible yellow line that showed what pieces of the image would be carried over into the clipped image. I had to use a bit of red to get all of the various pieces of the background, but I didn’t have to draw a precise line around the subject in order to get a clean clip.
Ex. Narrow angles and gradient backgrounds
The next photo of a tulip presents a clipping challenge with it’s narrow angles where the leaves meet the stalk of the plant. The gradient background can also throw off some clipping apps.
Look at the corners where the leaves meet the stalk.
The flower example shows how tricky it can be to get fine corners cut out. I was able to use offset and smoothing to help with the edges and the purple halo around the plant but I lost a little bit of the image to do so and still had unclean corners.
Ex. Person with complicated background
This image features a person with lots of interesting lines, hair and a complicated background.
Busier images require more selection.
I was pleasantly surprised at how well the app handled this image. I had to make very few additions to the original selection in order to get a good result.
Ex. Lots of hair with a similar color background
Now here’s a tricky image. Both the lion and the background share a lot of colors. And if you’ve ever done any image clipping before you know how tricky it will be to isolate the hair of the lion’s mane. And here’s where the app had a little trouble.
I used the offset and smoothing options to get in close around the lion’s back legs but it wasn’t effective with the mane.
Not surprisingly, it had a hard time with the hair on this lion, but in the app’s defense, that’s something that can be tricky even in Photoshop. I was happy with how well it did considering the lion is pretty similarly colored to the background fence.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to pull subjects out of an image, PhotoScissors is an inexpensive app that will get the job done. If you often have intricate edges or fine details like hair to deal with, you might have to do a bit more cleanup work, but this app will get you most of the way there.