Ottawa PC Users' Group, Inc.
by Chris Taylor
photography is great! Taking pictures becomes
free. If you dont like the photo, you
can delete it. This helps encourage experimentation. I
know some of my better images have been serendipitous.
Once you decide to keep a photo, any number of image
editing programs can help you touch up your photographs.
It is a snap to straighten pictures, remove skin
blemishes in portraits, adjust colour and lighting,
remove objects, and even add textures or other special
But when it comes down to your final printing or sharing,
you are basically left with standard, old-style
techniques. Dont get me wrong
I have several
of my photographs matted and framed. I think it is a fine
way to display a finished print.
Recently, I came across a program that allows you to
treat your finished prints
a little differently
FotoFusion from LumaPix. At its heart, FotoFusion
is a program for making collages. The program makes it
marvellously simple to grab a bunch of photographs and
arrange them in various ways.
When starting, an Auto Collage feature helps you get set
up. You are prompted for the photos you want to include.
You can browse, view & select using thumbnails or a
larger browsing window. You are then presented with a
screen giving many of the broad options in FotoFusion
such as overall layout (jumbled or organized in columns
& rows), size of the page, etc. Click Finish and your
photos are imported and laid out on the Canvas.
Everything you do in AutoCollage can be modified later.
But that just gets you a starting point. From there the
fun really begins. An AutoCollage button re-arranges all
the photos on the canvas. Just keep clicking until you
get an arrangement you like, or one that is close. Then
really start to dig in.
Just some of the things
you can do with FotoFusion;
Move photos from one frame to another.
Pan photos within their frames
Rotate photos or frames
Move, resize & overlap frames
Adjust the size, colour & shape of the border
Adjust the space between frames
Adjust the drop shadow on frames
Move frames forward or backwards in a stack
FotoFusion is not a full-fledged image editor, you can
adjust images for brightness, contrast, colour, etc. It
is great to have such controls right in the program to
match characteristics of images or to add contrast
between images. You can even adjust image opacity to
allow the background or another image to show through.
You can add a texture or blur to images.
FotoFusion can also place text on your collage. As with
other objects, you have amazing control over text. You
can choose the font face, size, colour, style
(bold/italic/underline/strikeout), alignment within the
frame, opacity and degree of blur. Drop shadow options
include angle and amount of offset, colour, blur, and
One very nice effect you can get with FotoFusion is to
set one image as the background (the canvas) and lay
other images on top (see Parliament Hill
just below). And you are not limited to how FotoFusion
first lays down your background image. If you unlock the
canvas frame, you can zoom and pan the image to lay it
down exactly how you want it.
You might think you need
an enormous amount of memory to create a collage with
lots of images, but FotoFusion manages by working with a
lower-resolution version of your images. It maintains a
link to the original and when you render the final
output, it reads the originals to get the best quality
possible. This has a side-effect you need to be aware of.
Because a collage project is always tied to the original
images, if you modify an image using some other image
editor and then re-open a collage that uses the image,
you end up with the modified image.
Output options abound in
FotoFusion. You can output a web page, a graphic file
(JPeg, BMP, TIF, GIF, or PNG), or send right to the
printer. There is even a built-in email function.
Each type of output makes intelligent guesses at things
like resolution and compression. For example, when you
choose to email a collage, FotoFusion suggests settings
that will result in an image of about 130K, with a
resolution no larger than 800x800 pixels. But if you want
to produce a professional quality print, you can easily
choose to output a 300 dot-per-inch TIF file, if you
want. Parliament Hill, when processed for 300 dpi,
produced a 20 MB TIF file.
There are some oddities to FotoFusion. To start with, it
uses some of the strangest, non-standard controls I have
ever seen. When you select a frame, you get two controls
in each corner (one to crop the image in the frame and
one to resize the frame itself), and two controls along
each side (one to pan the image in the frame and one to
resize the frame). As well, there are two controls in the
middle of the frame for panning and rotating.
Add control keys (e.g. when using the rotation control,
holding down Alt snaps rotations to 45 degree increments
and holding down Ctrl rotates the image only, leaving the
frame alone) and you can begin to see why it takes a
little while to get used to using the program.
But once you get used to the controls, they are very
powerful and put a lot of capabilities right at your
fingertips. LumaPix calls this dynamic
resizing and it reduces the dependency on menu
options found in most programs. Tooltips pop up
everywhere in FotoFusion
and are greatly
All effects you apply are attached to the frame you
insert an image into, not the original photo. Lets
say you brighten an image, increase the contrast, and
apply a slight sepia tone. If you then swap photos
between two frames, the image adjustments end up applied
to the wrong photograph. I quickly learned not to swap
photos in frames. Rather drag the complete frames around
to adjust what photos appear where.
I am very impressed with FotoFusion. It is a really fun
program to use and it can really make it easy to create
attractive collages. The depths of the capabilities of
the program are quite astounding.
I reviewed FotoFusion v3. v4 is in beta and about to be
released. Those who buy v3 prior to the v4 release will
get a free upgrade. More info, including comparisons of
the features of the different versions, may be found at www.lumapix.com.
Pentium II, 350 Mhz,
3 MB free disk space,
Windows 98 or better
FotoFusion Pro v3.7
Version 4 will come in three editions:
Scrapbook Essentials - US$39.95
Web site: www.lumapix.com
The edition I reviewed (Pro) maps to v4 Enhanced.
Click here to view the
full OPCUG website with frames.
Copyright and Usage
Ottawa Personal Computer Users Group (OPCUG), Inc.
3 Thatcher Street, Ottawa, ON K2G 1S6
opinions expressed in these reviews do not necessarily
represent the views of the OPCUG or its members.
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