Way, way back in the day, back to yesteryear, back in the last century, Apple billed the Mac as ‘the computer for the rest of us.’
The implication was obvious. The Mac was simple, not complex. The Mac was all the personal computer the average person really needed. That was wrong. The Mac today is the most powerful of all personal computers (it runs Windows and Linux). It’s just as wrong to assume that a lesser photo editing app is Photoshop for the rest of us.
Suffice it to say that the Mac is no longer the computer for the rest of us– unless the rest of us want a computer that is so powerful it runs everything, costs the most, and appeals to those with discriminating tastes. The iPhone might be the computer for the rest of us. Likewise, Acorn is a Mac photo and image editor that can be bought and used for years for about what Photoshop can be rented for a few months.
Acorn is not Photoshop and doesn’t claim to be. Acorn could be describe as Photoshop Lite. Or, maybe, Photoshop mini. What you get in Acorn are familiar Photoshop-like photo and image editing tools. Non-destructive filters, masks, vector tools, a brush designer, gradients, curvets and Boolean shaper operations, shapes, a text tool and much more. Much more. But not as much as Photoshop.
Also familiar but not as pervasive are the floating tool palettes (sans the professional level ‘charcoal’ look found in Photoshop and other more expensive graphic design tools).
There’s much to like in Acorn besides the nominal price tag and don’t let the Fisher Price look fool you. There’s an awesome amount of awesomeness here.
The latest version is packed with useful new features. The shape processor makes shapes on layers; all non-destructible. Even curves and levels are non-destructible. Brushes can be imported from Photoshop with a drag and drop. Filters and blend modes have been improved and enhanced. And there are new soft brushes that paint, smudge, burn, dodge, and clone.
Like Photoshop, Acorn has a variety of built-in vector design tools for boolean operations, Bézier curves to go with all the standard image editing bit map tools and layers.
Yes, there’s even text on a circle.
The Mac’s Automator can be used to batch process images, add watermarks, scale and trip and crop, oh my. Acorn imports RAW images; 32, 64, and 128-bit. And, of course, it imports PSD images and exports images as layered PSD files.
Just remember this. Acorn isn’t Photoshop, but if you find Adobe’s flagship app daunting, intimidating, overly complex, and expensive– and you don’t need all those bells and whistles that act like barnacles and slow down the learning and usability– Acorn becomes a decent and affordable substitute which is much like Photoshop was a few years ago, but affordable. You’ll pay Adobe more in three months than Acorn’s nominal price tag.