Easy and Powerful Photo Enhancement with PhotoWorks

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Photo editing is a hot topic at present, especially as so many people have social media accounts full of photos. Hordes of artfully-taken selfies litter the Internet – plates of food, cats in woolly jumpers – everyone has a social media presence of some kind. The problem with this is that most people require some kind of photo-editing software to make their continuous photographic output look as professional as possible.

The problem is, of course, that true professional photo-editing comes at a high price, and the skills you need to use that software can be time-consuming to acquire. They aren’t quite as time-consuming anymore, as a new breed of utilities like the PhotoWorks photo editor for PC are making it easy to get professional results at the touch of a button.

This is a sponsored article and was made possible by PhotoWorks. The actual contents and opinions are the sole views of the author who maintains editorial independence even when a post is sponsored.

Clean and Simple

PhotoWorks is an easy-to-use photo software for PC. With it, you can take your source photos and improve them, all within a neat push-button interface. The strength of the app is that while, on the face of it, it looks quite simple, there are hidden depths to give you precise slider control over many different image parameters.

Photoworks Main Screen

The program sets out to be easy to use and yet be powerful enough to turn average photos into great ones. There are pages of presets and “looks” for you to choose from which give excellent results right out of the box. But there are also deeper controls for fine tuning the looks to get them exactly the way you want them. The interface is not cluttered and has everything neatly stored away in tabs.

The program is very well-organized and has tabs across the top for Enhancement (the manual controls), then Tools (cropping, distortion, background replacement etc.), Retouch (adding glamor, making things perfect), Effects (for drama and art) and Text and Frames (self explanatory). Then down the right side you have buttons for all the tools in that tab. It’s all very easy to figure out at a glance.

More Power Under the Hood

My opinion of an “easy” photo editor for computers is usually that they are flashy and awful, mostly because they all have the same presets as the other apps. It’s easy to make photos look striking or colorful, less easy to get subtle, artistic effects, and most of these apps lack any kind of real manual controls.

PhotoWorks is a different animal altogether. It’s more akin to Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom in its treatment of your images but much less resource-hungry. You can run PhotoWorks on any machine, and it won’t clog your memory. It scales down but also scales up. If you have a fast machine with a GPU, it will use that, too, making it fast and easy, even for professional users. The things you can do range from global changes, which affect everything, to precise alterations which only affect a small brush area.

Photoworks Jane Before
Photoworks Jane Glamourous

First, you have the Enhancement tab, which contains all the manual controls. I like that they lead with the manual controls, as it almost encourages you to get your hands dirty before you lean on canned effects. There are sliders for almost every aspect of an image’s appearance: color rendition, color temperature, clarity, sharpness, everything you could think of. It has a lot in common with more pro photo-editing software for PC – like Adobe’s Lightroom – in the way it deals with image control.

Photoworks Precise Controls

The color-grading tools in particular are wonderful, as you can choose to saturate or desaturate individual colors, like all the reds or blues or purples, or change exposure on the shadows or highlights. It’s simple and yet rather powerful. It’s also subtle, and the sliders have enough throw that these changes can be very small for almost surgical precision.

But along with the usual type of color grading and framing effects, you get a suite of AI-enhanced morphing tools in the form of the Face Sculpt and Body Sculpt buttons. These tools allow you to do things like make the face thinner, the nose bigger, the smile wider, and the hips narrower or bigger (there’s no judgement here), and it does so using the AI to detect facial and body features and act only on them. It’s very clever. You can make subtle adjustments or distort faces and bodies in almost alarming ways. It’s a lot of fun to play with.

Photoworks Jane Before
Photoworks Jane Before Edited

You have the ability to easily replace the backgrounds, too, simply by showing the app where the foreground is and where the background is.

Photoworks Change Background

Then you have a transparent background

Photoworks Background Removed

that you can fill with another image.

Photoworks Background Replaced

Another favorite tool of mine is the color curves, which on the face of it is a boring technical tweak but on the contrary is one of the most powerful ways to add drama to your photos. What this does is adjust the color response of the image so you can mimic the very different color curves of film stock. A simple S-curve transforms your digital images into something shot with an old-style film camera. Lovely stuff.

Photoworks Colour Curves

Honorable mentions: the tone mapping give you a really great way to alter the color tint without ruining the shot. The Photo Effects button on the Effects tab collects some of the best combinations of the effects and bundles them into one click operation and has some really lovely vintage effects. Also, I love the Patch tool which lets you remove objects by selecting them and replacing them with a tonally-similar background area.

All in all, I really like this app. There is so much to talk about that it’s hard to cram it all into a relatively short review. The short version is that this is a pro quality photo editor for PC, with very easy controls for amateurs and professionals alike. If all that wasn’t enough, there are video tutorials built in for every feature to help you get the most out of it.

Find Out More

PhotoWorks is available as a free trial but costs to upgrade to save your work and open up advanced features. The basic subscription is just $19.25 annually, with the pro subscription being $39.20 per year. If you don’t like subscriptions, there’s a lifetime one-off payment option of $79.80. While that’s not exactly an impulse buy for most people, it’s still a bargain for such a rich and useful piece of software.

If you need to create/edit vector graphics instead, check out this list of the best graphics editor for creating vector images.

Phil South
Phil South

Phil South has been writing about tech subjects for over 30 years. Starting out with Your Sinclair magazine in the 80s, and then MacUser and Computer Shopper. He's designed user interfaces for groundbreaking music software, been the technical editor on film making and visual effects books for Elsevier, and helped create the MTE YouTube Channel. He lives and works in South Wales, UK.

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