Pocket Artist Review


If you have read any of my other reviews, you probably know that I am a photographer working with image manipulation. With that in mind you can imagine my excitement when I finally got my hands on a real image manipulation, pure pixel editing software, for my Clio...!


Pocket Artist is written by Jason Patterson of Conduits Technologies, and it works...! This is a software which handles image manipulation and have come really cool paint and sketch features, which I really have come to appreciate. But most importantly, Pocket Artist was written to run on a Palm-size PC, so you can dump all you digital images and edit them on the spot.


When I first encountered Pocket Artist, it was the 1.0 release, which Jason had aimed squarely at the PalmPC market, however while we were corresponding about it, he added a VERY complete set of keyboard shortcuts, and COOL features, like the Texture Map brush.


Pocket Artist drawing of a smiling blue blob


Pocket Artist handles image manipulation, and have such critical features as lasso or polygon selection, feather, move selection, floating selection in which you can paint and erase while it is still not attached anywhere.


There is also Curves and Brightness Contrast menus. The Curves did throw me for a loop in the beginning, because I am used to pick a point and then drag it to where I want it to be... Not so, Pocket Artist, have implemented a cool draw feature in curves, you simply draw the new curve the way you want it to look, and because it follows your pen you can have a smooth curve with a sharp cut if you like with out having to set lots of points to keep the shape in check. When talking about curves and contrast, it is worth mentioning that Pocket Artist supports 24bit color and all editing is done in 24bit. This means that you images will continue to look GREAT, if you are using a WinCE computer with less than 24 bit color (Which you probably are), the image is adjusted for your display, but the editing is still happening to a 24bit image, so you do not have to worry about dithering and stuff like that.


Pocket Artist Menus


Pocket Artist allows you to stack the menus when you work on a PPC, these menus can all be expanded on the HPC, it works well, and since the software was written first for the PPC it does not feel like a afterthought on the PPC, rather it belongs on there, but it also feels perfectly at home on my Vadem Clio's 640x480 screen, which allows me to expand the menus and pretend the software were written for my Clio, or any other keyboard WinCE computer. Naturally the wonderful set of Keyboard Shortcuts, really make Pocket Artist also shine on any keyboard computer.


Pocket Artist Crayon Style drawing of house using the Sketch feature


Pocket Artist, have all the classical draw and paint tools, like Brush, texture Brush, Paint Bucket, and Rubber Stamp. They all work just like you would expect and have a full set of features like density, and options for the application of the color. On several of the tools Jason have added a check box for "Sketch" which makes the tool "Accumulative" so that if you keep the pen to the "paper" the line will keep adding color each time it passes it self, you can hatch a area and get a wonderful crayon effect, this works best if you set the density to 10-20%. I used Sketch entirely for the illustration of the house.


There is also the three image size tools, "Image Size", "Canvas Size" and "Crop to Selection" They do just what they are supposed to. When I started writing this review, these features did not remember their settings, I mentioned this to Jason, and next morning that was fixed... They now all remember what the last value you used were.


When I discovered that there is also filters in Pocket Artist, it almost felt like a extra bonus, I really did not expect that. You can sharpen, blur, motion blur, emboss, and more. Jason put 2 levels of "sharpen" in the filter menu so that you can chose just a light sharpen if you prefer that.


Pocket Artist composite of 2 images


Since I work with image manipulation everyday, I just had to try stumbling Pocket Artist... So I grapped a picture of some of my friends from Thanks Giving, and decided to put the girl who did not make it in the picture... First I photographed KC in the hallway of her apartment, so that she would be in dark and at the same distance from the camera as the people in the big picture, this also mattered to get the flash to look the same. Then I compared the images, and did a slight scale of the image with KC to make it fit in size (I did not get the right distance when I photographed her). Then I made a rough selection of the girls I wanted to stick KC behind, pasted them in front of her where I wanted them to fit. The reason for this is that I can not erase (remove) parts of a floating selection so I wanted to know where to crop KC before moving her to the main picture. I then made a accurate selection of KC, cutting along the girls she is standing behind, feathered the edge by 2, copied and pasted her into the main group picture. moved the selection to the right place. After KC was in the right place, I inverted the selection and used the brush to add shadow behind her. finally I deselected the selection and used the rubberstamp to clean up the last few edges around KC.


Wow. I almost missed another VERY important feature.... Pocket Artist is the first WinCE software, which I know about, which allows you to save a JPEG and set the quality...! You can chose the quality you want from super compressed JPEG 3-4 files for the internet, all the way to 100% which is a way of storing your files on the computer with a virtually lossless (read almost lossless, you probably will never have a problem with it) compression, this is very useful on a WinCE computer since space is hard to get, I saved a image from my digital camera at JPEG 100, the original BMP file was 3.75meg and the JPEG was 1.25meg that is a lot of saving, if I had compressed it even more it would have come down to about 500k.


This software is probably the most complex WinCE software I have ever reviewed. Naturally there is no way to describe all the features in detail, and many have not even been mentioned. However Pocket Artist is available as a free demo on Jason's website, and $49 (The cheapest image manipulator I have ever used) will buy you a unlock code, all the features, except for save, is enabled. Go and down load the demo today, even if you are not a photographer, this is a software which is GREAT fun to play with, sit down with a cup of java, and start playing with the cool features, I am pretty positive you will have fun, just like I did.


Images in this article were created, scaled, and saved as JPEG's in Pocket Artist.


Pocket Artist 1.2


Bo Lorentzen is a full-time professional digital photographer and gadgeter, he can be reached at for coments and questions.

© 1999 by Bo Lorentzen