MacPhun Creative Kit 2016 review

Drama, beauty and bokeh are just a few mouse-clicks away. You can get rid of unwanted bystanders, too

MacPhun Creative Kit 2016

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

Focus CK gets back to the relative simplicity of the Snapheal and FX Photo Studio apps. It's designed to do a relatively simple job – creating tilt-shift and bokeh effects – as simply as possible.

Along the top of the screen is a list of typical subjects to choose from, including Portrait, Nature, Architecture, Macro, Tilt-Shift and Custom. You choose a subject type and Focus CK gets you started with the settings.

In fact, though, it's even simpler than that. Essentially, Focus CK offers three ways of adding a bokeh effect and you soon get to figure out which one you need for any given picture. The Portrait and Macro settings give you a circular focus shape, which is ideal for subjects that you're looking at head on, and that you want to separate from the background. The Nature, Architecture the Tilt shift options, however, give you a horizontal or vertical 'planar' shape, which is ideal when you have a picture with receding planes, such as when you're looking down on a city street.

MacPhun Creative Kit 2016

This is a classic 'tilt-shift' miniature effect, created using a horizontal (planar) blur with the centre of the image sharp and the top and bottom progressively more blurred.

The last option, Custom, simply gives you a masking brush and eraser to manually paint over the areas you want to keep in focus.

Once you've selected your focus area using any of these three tools, you can then use the sliders in the tools panel on the right to adjust the amount of blur and even create a motion blur effect. There's also a vignette tool for adding a little atmospheric corner shading to focus attention even more heavily on your main subject.

The circular and planar focus tools are the least precise but they are also the most flexible, because you can easily drag them around the frame, change their size (and the size of the 'feathered' region where the blur is blended in) and change the angle of rotation too.

MacPhun Creative Kit 2016

You can also paint a focus mask directly on to your pictures, which can be useful for irregularly-shaped objects like this.

Focus CK is really quick and effective at creating the impression of a wide aperture setting or a tilt-shift lens, but it can't simulate the real thing with any degree of accuracy – there aren't any image-editing tools that can because the arrangement of three dimensional planes in real world images is too complex.

But as long as you're happy with images that have the right 'look' and you're not a stickler for technical accuracy, Focus CK can produce some attractive and atmospheric bokeh effects with little effort or technical know-how required.

Rod Lawton is Head of Testing for Future Publishing’s photography magazines, including Digital Camera, N-Photo, PhotoPlus, Professional Photography, Photography Week and Practical Photoshop.