PhotoForge2: My First App Review

8 Nov

I’ve used plenty of iPhone apps, reviewing none. PhotoForge2 changes this. For anyone familiar with Photoshop, here’s your app. It’s as good as Photoshop for photo manipulation, and as a graphic designer of 15 years, I would know. It’s nearly all here: layers, masks, blending modes, undo, curves, HSL, freaking Unsharp Mask!?!? Yep, that, too.

Photoforge2 Screen Shot

Screen capture of PhotoForge 2 (credit: GhostBird): Layers, and masks, and tools... oh my!

If you’re a Photoshop user, you already know how to use PhotoForge2. It accomplishes in minutes with your thumb and iDevice what would otherwise require $1000+ in computer & software investment, certainly well enough for things like Instagram, and possibly even commercial work. It’s fast, stable, intuitive, and a steal at anything less than a full-on editing setup. As of this writing it’s on sale for 60% off and will set you back a whopping $1.99. That’s less than a beer.

Do note that PhotoForge2 is more for adjustments rather than painting or illustrating, (emphasis is on filters vs.  pen or brush drawing, for example), but so many of the built-in goods like vignette and frame effects should more than satisfy for basic edits, and set you up nicely for some pro-level results, even from a point-and-shoot camera.

You should also be aware that PhotoForge2 does not offer tools like clone or magic wand (hint-hint… next version maybe?), but you will still be able to execute your vision with what’s available fairly easily. I’ll often do workarounds that get me by, or use it in combination with other apps. The omission of some things like a free rotate or straightening seem glaringly odd, but these are very minor quibbles with an app of this one’s obvious prowess. (UPDATE, MARCH 2012: And, now it has this tool. Proof that Ghostbird Software is awesome)

I gave it 5 stars, but edited some out!

My PhotoForge work on app review. Click for full size.

Other apps specialize in color isolation and light effects, which is fine if that’s all you’ll ever want, but PhotoForge2 is The Mother Lode. Wired magazine says you’ll get $2 worth of entertainment out of it in the first ten minutes. I say two minutes. And they aren’t paying me to say that.

Funny, I remember with the iPad’s debut, all the sudden talk of tablets taking over for PCs. I thought, sure, but not for serious things like image editing. Um… yeah.

If you find this useful, share it on Twitter — thanks!

What’s your favorite photo editing app and why? Do you already use PhotoForge2? What’s your experience been, and what features would you like to see in the next version? Let us hear from you in the comments!

13 Responses to “PhotoForge2: My First App Review”

  1. kevynbashore November 11, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    Good review, buddy. I love combing Photoforge2 with other apps like Dynamic Light, Photo fx, Picture Show, Camera+, and Tilt Shift Generator.

    You can see my samples of these combos here:

    Nice to see this blog. I’ll keep checking in.

  2. Patrick Gervais November 9, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    Hey there, I have to agree, PhotoForge2 is awesome! I also use Filterstorm and Snapseed a lot. Photoforge is a big app with lots to learn, I am still blown away knowing we have layers on an iPhone, crazy! I do find masking difficult sometimes with Photoforge but that may be me. I also use many other apps for certain things like cropping, borders, noise etc… Cheers 🙂

    • rsmithing November 9, 2011 at 11:04 am #

      Yeah, man. I wish PhotoForge (PF) had Filterstorm’s (FS) straightening function. I use FS almost exclusively for that. Snapseed exceeds PF for ease of use, and is especially great at making grungy textures. The more I use it, the more I like it (not as much as PF, though). Also good: Noir. Thanks for commenting!

    • rsmithing June 28, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

      Patrick, any thoughts on what you would use instead of Photoforge2 now that Ghostbird has been snapped up by Yahoo?


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