[Review] Pixo

{rw_text}Software reviewed in this article:

Pixo by Bendigo Design

Version reviewed:

v3.5.6

Software description as per the developer:

Pixo was designed to act as an “Interface” between plugins and the user. Rather than traditional method of applying effects to an image, Pixo removes all the barriers and makes it a breeze to apply effects to an image anywhere you like.

What sets Pixo apart from other image effects applications is the way it applies the effects to images. You simply “Brush” the chosen effect on your image.

You can use Photoshop compatible plugins to enhance Pixo’s power and create even more breath taking works of art from your existing digital images without the use of a single drop of colour!

Supported OS:

Windows XP/Vista/Win7

Download size:

19.6 MB

Malware scan:

2/43 detections – VirusTotal scan results

Price:

$12.99 (USD)

Ashraf’s note:

This review was originally written on Pixo v1.0.5. It has now been updated for Pixo v3.5.6. I could not find an official changelog, so I can’t say exactly what are the new features. However, I can say Pixo v3.5.6 has a quite a few more features than Pixo v1.0.5.

{/rw_text} –>

{rw_good}

  • Allows users to add effects, frames, and text watermarks to images.
  • Has many, many effects.
  • Users can use as many effects and frames to one image as they like.
  • Supports all major image formats.
  • Supports drag + drop.
  • Images can be flipped horizontally/vertically and rotated 90 degrees clockwise and counterclockwise.
  • Images can be printed, e-mailed, exported to Flickr, copied to Windows Clipboard, or published to “Photoblog” after they have been edited.
  • Has built-in undo/redo/revert to original functions to help users avoid mistakes.
  • Has the ability to use Photoshop plugins, with over 40 plugins coming pre-installed.
  • Supports drag + drop.

{/rw_good} –>

{rw_bad}

  • Only has two frames users can add to images.
  • Only allows users to add text watermark in upper-left and/or bottom-left corners; does not allow users to add it in any other area of images.
  • Cumbersome method of selecting effects.
  • Not 100% bug free.

{/rw_bad} –>

{rw_score}
{for=”Ease of Use” value=”7″}Selecting which effect you want to use is fairly cumbersome, but otherwise is easy to use.
{/for}
{for=”Performance” value=”7″}Works well, except for a few annoying bugs it has.
{/for}
{for=”Usefulness” value=”5″}Hit or miss usefulness, in my opinion.
{/for}
{for=”Price” value=”9″}$12.99 is an extremely cheap price, in my opinion.
{/for}
{for=”Final Score” value=”7″}
{/for}
{/rw_score} –>

{rw_verdict}[tup]
{/rw_verdict} –>

Pixo is a software that allows users to do two mains things: Add effects and frames images.

This is what Pixo’s main program window looks like:

Using Pixo is fairly straightforward:

  • You load the image you want to add effects/frames to. You can either drag + drop it into Pixo, or you can use the “Open” button located at the top-left of the program window. Pixo supports the following input image formats:
    • .BMP
    • .GIF
    • .JPG/.JPEG
    • .PNG
    • .TIF
    • .PCX
    • .PSD (single layered)
    • .TGA
    • .J2K
    • .J2P
    • .RAW
    • .NEF
    • .CRW
    • .RAF
  • After the image has been loaded, you need to select how you want to edit the image. Pixo now has FrameZ built into it (FrameZ is another program by the same developer) and has the ability to use Photoshop plugins (with over 40 of them coming pre-installed with the program), so instead of just picking effects, you can use the features of FrameZ and Photoshop plugins, too:
  • Adding effects:

In total there are over 45 effects for you to use:

    • Grayscale
    • Sepia
    • Black & White
    • Black & White Dithered
    • Noise
    • Antialias
    • Blend
      • Blend has different “styles” users can use: “Average”, Burn, Darken, Difference, Dodge, Exclusion, Hardlight, Lighten, Multiply, Overlap, Screen, Softlight, and Subtractive.
    • Blobs
    • Blur 1
    • Blur 2
    • Blur 3
    • Brightness 1
    • Brightness 2
    • Contrast
    • Color Gradient
    • Color Correction
    • Color Emboss
    • Colorize
    • False Color
    • Enhance Edges
    • Emboss
    • Erode Borders
    • Explode
    • Fade Borders
    • Fish Eye
    • High Pass
    • Implode
    • Irregular Borders
    • Maximum
    • Minimum
      • Previously this effect was named “Minimum”. However, in Pixo v3.5.6 is is named “Scramble”. I think this is a bug because 1) It is the same effect as before and 2) There is a different “Scramble” effect.
    • Melt
    • Mosaic
    • Negative
    • Oil Painting
    • Posterize
    • Reverse
    • Saturation 1
    • Saturation 2
    • Scramble
    • Solarize
    • Special Filter
      • Special Filter consists of Gradient East, Gradient North, Gradient South, Gradient West, Laplace 1, Laplace 2, Laplace 3, Laplace Horizontal, Laplace Vertical, Prewitt Horizontal, Prewitt Veritcal, Shift & Difference Diagnol, Shift & Difference Horizontal, Shift & Difference Vertical, Sobel Horizontal, and Sobel Vertical.
    • Sketch
    • Spray
    • Swap Colors
    • Tile
    • Tint
    • Freeze
    • Wind
    • Neon
    • Texture
    • Remove Red Eye

Each effect has its own settings…

…so you can modify those settings after you pick the effect you want. When ready, hit the Apply button and apply the effect. Pixo works by allowing you to “paint” effects on your images (similar to how you would use a paintbrush in Microsoft Paint, except you aren’t painting in colors – you are painting in effects). So, to apply effects after selecting them, simply start “painting” the image. You can paint as much as you want, or as little as you want.

  • Using FrameZ features (adding frames, and some other effects). To use FrameZ features, you need to click on the rectangle icon at the top…

…which then gives you access to FrameZ features:

You can revert back to Pixo features by clicking on the star icon:

FrameZ features include adding a rectangular frame around images…

…a Vignette frame around images…

…aging images (grayscale, sepia, grayscale 2, sepia 2, grayscale 3, grayscale 4, sepia 4)…

(NOTE: Above screenshot does not show any aging effects applied; it just shows the aging options available.)

…adding a “PopArt” effect…

(NOTE: Above screenshot does not show the PopArt effect applied; it just shows the PopArt effect options available.)

…color the photo…

…and adding text watermarks and/or text calendars to images:

Where as with the previously mentioned 45+ effects you had to “paint in”, all the features of FrameZ – aside from the coloring in – occur automatically when you either click on the feature or click on Apply. In other words, there is no “painting” required. The coloring in feature, however, does require the same “painting”, although there is no Apply button that needs to be clicked before you can paint.

Take note that with text watermarks you can add one watermark in the top-left corner and one in the bottom-left corner. (You can add two separate watermarks – both watermarks need not be the same.)

Also note the text calendar can show the current month only, or can also previous/next months, and can be put in the top-left, bottom-left, top-right, bottom-right, and center of images:

  • Using Photoshop plugins. Pixo now comes with the ability to use Photoshop plugins. Photoshop plugins are accessible via the effects scroll menu; they are the second-to-last option in the menu:

There are over 40 plugins that come preinstalled, with users having the ability to install their own:

The plugins are not created by Pixo’s developer, so they do not function similar to the other features. They function however the plugin creators made them function, such as showing a popup window and having users set settings from that popup window.

Also note not all Photoshop plugins will work with Pixo; some will work while others won’t. Officially, Alien Skin, AV Bros, Virtual Paint 5, Filter Meister, and RedField Plugins plugins have been tested with Pixo and are “100% compatible”. Xero Graphics plugins are the ones that come pre-installed, so I assume those are “100% compatible” also.

You can use as many effects, frames, and Photoshop plugins as you want on one image (i.e. you are not limited to only one effect/frame/plugin per image), so after you use one effect/frame/plugin, select another effect/frame/plugin and continue the process until you are happy with your image.

  • When you are happy with the image, you save it, e-mail it, upload it onto Flickr, publish it to a “Photoblog”, print it, and/or copy it to Windows Clipboard:

You can save images as .BMP, .GIF, .JPG/.JPEG, .PNG, or .PDF. E-mailing images involves creating a whole e-mail…

…and can either be done via Pixo’s servers, your default desktop e-mail client, or a G-mail account (you are allowed to select which one to use via “Settings”). For uploading onto Flickr you must first give Pixo access to your account…

…and then decide how you want to upload to Flickr:

As far as I can tell, publishing to a “Photoblog” is nothing more than posting the image on an FTP server with an HTML page…

You can preview the “blog post” before posting it by going to Blog -> Preview Blog Entry.

When printing images…

…you can select to either print portrait or landscape style.

Other features/aspects of Pixo are:

  • The ability to take an image using your computer webcamera and using that in Pixo. (Note: Windows Vista/Win7 users should run Pixo as Administator if having problems accessing the camera.)
  • The ability to import images from your scanner. (Note: Windows Vista/Win7 users should run Pixo as Administator if having problems accessing the scanner.)
  • The ability to undo/redo modifications, and “show original image”. (Clicking on “show original image” while seeing the original image allows you to revert back to the modified image.)
  • The ability to flip images horizontally/vertically, and rotate them 90 degrees clockwise and counterclockwise.
  • Pixo program settings:

That said, there are the negative aspects of Pixo:

  • Selecting effects is very cumbersome. You have to scroll throw a huge list to find the ones that you want; it takes time and is annoying, especially considering it is very easy to miss the effect you want while you are scrolling. (On the brightside, you can hold down the “up” or “down” buttons to scroll instead of having to press them constantly.) I believe the developer should reconsider this method of selecting effects and many add in a drop-down menu as a supplement.
  • There are only two frames users can pick from.
  • Text watermarks can only be added to two locations.

Lastly, when I reviewed Pixo v1.0.4 last year it was bug-free, and worked well. While Pixo v3.5.6 also works well – for the most part – I noticed it now contains a few bugs (probably an unintended consequence of adding the new features):

  • Pixo does not turn off the camera after users are done using it. The camera stays on even after a user has taken a snapshot and decided to use that snapshot, or even if the user has decided to no longer use the camera but instead import images from somewhere else. The only way to close the camera is to exist Pixo. This happens every time I go to use the camera feature.
  • Sometimes features just stop working. For example, a couple of times the “Show Original Image” feature stopped working; sometimes I cannot revert back to Pixo features after going to FrameZ features; another time the export to “Photoblog” feature stopped working; another time the save feature stopped working; another time the open/images images feature stopped. All these features usually work, but sometimes they arbitrarily stop working. I am not really sure what is causing these issues. Restarting Pixo fixes the problem(s).
  • There was this one time where the paint brush disappeared and I was no longer able to paint anything in. I had to restart Pixo to get rid of this problem. This, luckily, has only happened once so far so it may have been a one-time issue.
  • The main program window cannot be clicked + dragged from any top-edge. It appears to be only be draggable if clicked in a specific area located towards the right of the top-edge. Why, I don’t know, but I assume another bug.

This review was conducted on a laptop running Windows 7 Professional 32-bit. The specs of the laptop are as follows: 3GB of RAM, a Radeon HD 2600 512MB graphics card, and an Intel T8300 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor.

{rw_freea}

I don’t know of any specific free alternative off the top of my head, but most image editors – such as Paint.NET and Photoshop – already have the ability to add effects built-in. However, some image editors may not have as many effects as Pixo.

{/rw_freea} –>

{rw_verdict2}Pixo v1.x was only for adding effects. Pixo v3.x has more features than just adding effects. Pixo v1.x was a good program; Pixo v3.x is still a good program. My main problem with Pixo v1.x is that it only added effects and had no other features. Pixo v3.x has more features, but the bugs in Pixo v3.x prevent it from being a “great” program. However, at $12.99, Pixo is not a bad product, not a bad product at all.
{/rw_verdict2} –>

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26 comments

  1. commercial window tint

    Woah the following blog page is definitely superb i like understanding your posts. Continue the best works of art! You now know, loads of folks usually are hunting around with this details, you could help these people tremendously.

  2. Sunny

    Well, with the best will in the world I didn’t have much luck with Pixo. Within 3 minutes of using it the screen went blank, my picture zapped, along with some of the program window. Hmmm… much room for improvement but I think the program has good potential and if the developer can iron out all the problems I think it is worth him pursuing seeing he’s come this far with it already.

    Unfortunately I couldn’t get it registered on the small screen of the Netbook. Even at the highest resolution the OK button was offscreen and all my workarounds simply didn’t work. On the laptop it installed just fine under XP Pro.

    As for lag, in the short time I’ve had to try it I didn’t notice any lag at all, perhaps because the laptop is stoked with Ram.

    There’s a lot of competition in the market for image editors and many of them offer a range of effects and selection tools. However Pixo, if it became well-polished and bug-free, could certainly find a place as a specialty tool. Its price would need to be kept low as there are some excellent competing FREE graphics tools out there.

  3. STEPHEN HERRING

    PIXO completely bogged down my computer like a virus. It made everything stop. I had to use TASK MANAGER to stop and close the program. I could not even shut down my computer while PIXO was running. “USELESS”

  4. Peter Stern

    This is the buggiest non-free application I have ever seen. The dropdown effect menu has never worked. If by luck you can get a brush to actually do something and then try to switch to another effect, the effect remains the original, even after multiple undos. Lately, none of the effects work under any situation. You have to move the slider to even get a brush and then it does nothing. It should be allowed to set brush size and other properties from a dialog rather than a crude slider. When I first tried it, it worked to some extent, but now it is totally worthless.

  5. Sean2

    Downloaded Pixo from Giveaway of the Day — but it just keeps crashing.
    Start modifying and image … and then it just shuts down
    Can I do anything to fix this?
    Welcome your feedback on this Sean
    Thanks
     

  6. Paragon

    Have to say this is an excellent piece of software. Used in conjunction with existing software, it’s quick and easy to apply effects to a picture.
    I downloaded it from GOTD, but would have no hesitation in actually buying it – just so simple to quickly use an effect.
    Look forward to seeing how it’s developed. I’ve got other image editors, but this is unique as far as I know for applying effects. Using a brush tool is just so much more intuitive than using a selection tool.
    Glad to see there’ll be more control over the effects in later releases, as that will really add to the package.

  7. Sean

    @Orchid: Sorry Orchid, That was a oversight from my end. I have susequently fixed that in version 1.0.6 which is available from our site. This version also fixes the crashes that were reported. You have the full version (Even if you download 1.0.6). However version 2 will not work with this number.
    As I have mentioned before, Pixo is not an image editor, after reading some of the comments on the GOAD site, it was clear that some people did not actually understand the purpose of Pixo. It is really a “Concept” where one does not need to use tools such as Lasso or magic wand to apply effects.
    A few poeple suggested to have PS compatible plugins which I thought was totally pointless since my whole idea was to make things simple. Now in version 2, you can control for example the amount “Sepia” effect that you would like to apply to an image.
    I must thank you Ashraf and the rest of the users for their time/feedback as without it I would not had the will or the energy to work on this project which started life as bit of fun.
    As for the price, all the money will go towards its development. I am not here to make a quick buck and go. I want to offer something that is atleast useful to SOME people if not all. :)
    Sean

  8. Orchid

    @Sean: With any software just starting out and even those not so new….there will be things needing tweaked, changed, or improved.  Don’t get discouraged.

    Make sure you always keep the users in mind.  Never close your eyes or ears to them and they’ll help you improve the product(s) you have.

    I like the changes and updates that you’ve listed above and think it will improve the software.  I also appreciate that you’ve participated here and replied.  I have a question…..or two:

    What I don’t understand is…..why copy/paste is still disabled in the Registered version.  If that’s merely a bug that’s being fixed….and you said it would be changed in future releases…..then it’s good it was caught.

    Does that mean that the GOTD offering is only the Trial Unregistered version……even though we had to register it….?

    Or is it the Full version?

    Regards

  9. Ashok

    There is no reason to disable the paste function. If someone really wants, they can always SnagIt or use another screen capture program to lift the picture from the trial version. Why would somebody do that when the s/w price is less than a trip to Starbucks!

  10. Sean

    @Ashraf: No problems, As I have mentioned. I have pretty much addressed all the issues in V.2.0 which has the following:
    1. Copy Button
    2. Support for Shortcut keys
    3. Support for Webcams
    4. Advanced settings for almost all the effects
    5. Zoom
    6. Many performence related bug fixes.
    This should come out once it has been tested.
    Finally Pixo as been our first attempt so apologies for its shortcomings. Once again I thank you for taking time and writing the review and feedback. :)

  11. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Sean: Sean. Yes, it does indeed clarify. Thank you – I apologize for my mistake. I have fixed it now.

    That said, I agree it isn’t fair to compare this to an image editor, because this isn’t trying to me an image editor. However, it is fair to say that much of what Pixo does can already be done via image editor. But, as I said, at $12.99 Pixo is not a bad product at all.

  12. Jeffinprov

    Ashraf, I think you’re being a little too kind to this one.  I enjoy fiddling endlessly with photos, but have yet to commit myself to the learning curve of even Photoshop Elements, so I bounce around from program to program.  This thing is about as awkward a piece of software as any I’ve seen in a long, long time.  I couldn’t uninstall it fast enough.  BTW, has anyone noticed that Revo Uninstaller seems a lot slower than it used to be?

  13. Rick

    Ashraf, you are the one reviewer that I depend on 100%.  I look forward to reading your reviews EVEN when I’m not really interested in that particular program.
    You have never steered me wrong and I just wanted to post this to express my appreciation for your extensive efforts behalf of folks like me.   Thank you.

    (when is some corporate entity going to recognize your talents, offer you big bucks, and steal you away from here?  when it happens, I hope you keep your integrity.)

  14. Orchid

    Greetings All,

    Thank you Ashraf, and the others, for all the reviews and time spent in testing out the various software.  I greatly appreciate all the time you and the others take to give us all the information needed in an unbiased way.
     
    Personally…..I don’t think any software like this type should disable functions in another program. Most use multiple programs at one time while working or for entertainment. Not very good behavior IMO.
     
    Outside of that…..I doubt that a professional would really use this program….except for maybe tinkering around…… as most use programs that offer much more.  However,  I do think that anyone that’s interested in seeing what different effects can do or just learning would find it useful and enjoyable…..especially children.  My opinion is it could help open up some creativity for many.
     
    Regards,

  15. Sean

    Ashraf;
    We have purposely disabled the copy/paste feature as in the unregistered version one could apply all the effects and simply “Print Screen” the image and resue it.
    This is changed in the up coming version 2.
    Futhermore Pixo is NOT an image editor and nor is trying to be. It really is about special effects and as you pointed out regarding our tag line, it applies the effects by “Brushing” them. I don’t think Photoshop or PaintShop Pro work in the similar way.
    I hope this clarifies the issue.

  16. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Adrian: I see. And you have tried the software yourself which is why you are calling me out on this? I wouldn’t have placed the blame on Pixo if I wasn’t 100% sure it was Pixo causing the problem. Of course, it could be that Pixo is just conflicting with something on my computer so I am the only one facing the problem.

  17. OldElmerFudd

    You’re right Ashraf; any decent image editor has plenty of options/plugins/filters to do this (and much more). I kinda feel sorry for this little program…ah, no, I guess not!