PhotoScape is primarily a photo editor, but this label doesn't really do it justice – there is much more to it than basic retouching. There's also an image viewer, a batch editing function, a built in screen capture tool, and a host of filters and effects to quickly liven up any image.
On top of this you can stitch together multiple images into a panorama or collage, work with animated GIFs, convert RAW images, create slideshows, and print photos using a number of templates – the list goes on.
Despite the raft of extras though, the key editing toolkit is PhotoScape's best feature. The editor is surprisingly powerful and all of the options are well-labeled and self-explanatory. This is clearly a tool aimed at beginners, and you are encouraged to just play around with the numerous filters to see what happens. If you take things too far, there's the ever-present Undo function, or Undo All if you want to wipe the slate clean.
What is particularly heartening is that even newcomers to the world of image editing will be able to create something impressive from their photos by simply tinkering with PhotoScape – and this is the portal to trying out new things and getting more adventurous.
When you first fire up the program, you're greeted by a strange circular menu system that provides access to all of the various tools. If you're not keen on this layout, you can opt for a more traditional grid arrangement of icon in settings.
Each of the various components that make up the program has a similar look and feel – almost like a file browser. In each instance there is a file navigator in a pane to the left of the screen, while the right is home to the editor, viewer, convertor, or whatever tool you happen to be using. After a while, it begins to feel that the permanently visible folder navigation tree is a bit of a waste of space, and should perhaps have been given over to buttons and menus instead.
While PhotoScape is no Photoshop-killer, it is highly accomplished. The editing features are what will bring most people to the program, and it does not disappoint. However, it shuns the traditional menu and toolbar design standard used by most applications, moving settings to the bottom of the screen. There's no getting away from the fact that the fact that the interface is quite unusual and takes a while to get used to.
With so many tools to choose from though, even if you don't make full use of PhotoScape's full feature set, you're sure to get value from this remarkably versatile free program.