Product Review - Picture Collage Maker





Update: Participate in the Software GiveAway of Picture Collage Maker Pro ($39.90) prior to January 1, 2011! 20 license codes will be given away for free!


Right before the holiday break, a colleague asked me, "Do you know of a photo collage maker? I want to gift someone with a program like that." At the time, I really had nothing in mind...I don't often make photo collages...and, if I thought I needed to make a collage, my first instinct would be to find something online for free, maybe at BigHugeLabs. Fortunately, one software company sent me a free copy of Picture Collage Maker for Windows and offered to do a give-away.

THE NO-COST COMPETITION
Before reviewing Picture Collage Maker, I thought I might take a quick look at what you can do for free on the Web with photo collage tools. If you are aware of one that I don't mention here, please share it in the comments!

One of the first photo collage makers available for free via the Web that I ran across--aside from BigHugeLabs.com--was PhotoVisi. Here's what I created in about two seconds:


I didn't like this background above, more suited to a wedding or something a bit more "girly" than History Day, which is where the images above came from. There are some other options you can try for free (or purchase), such as Shape Collage (free with limited options, or $25 for a multi-platform tool (e.g. Mac, Win, GNU/Linux). Shape Collage worked quite well, producing this output:

Of course, these two examples enabled me to create a simple photo collage...and both came with watermarks. I also read about a way to use the no-cost Google's Picasa to create photo collages. There are tons of approaches for creating photo collages and working with images these days, some of which interface with Yahoo's Flickr (dump them) and Facebook (which is more useful these days). 

So, while some solutions are free, what would paying for one of these solutions mean to my photo collage? Alas, I don't know. Only one vendor sent me a free license code, which means, I'd probably be using the free stuff anyways!
;->

NOTE: You can find my complete list of photo collage makers and related links here, or subscribe to the RSS feed to keep up to date with future additions.

Via email, I received a free license code to evaluate Picture Collage Maker, which comes for Windows. In the interests of full disclosure, here is the invitation I received:
This is Shelley from Pearl Mountain Software, we have been focusing on your website which is really very useful and helpful to all the people.
We developed Picture Collage Maker Pro. It is an easy-to-use program that can turn ordinary photos and pictures into stunning photo collage, scrapbook and cards to share with family and friends, whether you are a green hand or high talented computer user.
I’m pleased to invite you to try our software and present you with a personal license worth $ 39.90, you can test it first.
If you are satisfied with our product, we hope you could recommend our Picture Collage Maker Pro 2.4.6 on your website and help us to do some giveaway, we prepared some giveaway license code for users or visitors of your website. Please contact us to get the license codes. We’re sure that your web visitors would like it and it could help your readers.
Of course, I had to test the software and see if it was worthwhile. Of course, it was...lots of additional options not even covered in some of the other tools I looked at, even when you paid for them.


Some of the features this software for Windows had include the following:
  • you can create collages, scrapbooks, posters, invitations, calendars, and greeting cards.
  • Picture Collage Maker comes with a library of professionally-drawn templates that offer you a wide variety of photo layouts and backgrounds for your collage. You have complete control over paper size and orientation.
  • Simply drag and drop pictures onto your background. It's simple to resize each picture, move it to exactly where you want it, and tilt it a little or a lot, for added impact. You can choose from a large selection of special effects to fine-tune each individual picture, from adjusting hue and brightness, to applying artistic effects.
  • Picture Collage Maker comes with a large collection of beautiful picture frames that you can add to any of your photos. In addition to traditional frames, the program also has masks that you can apply to each individual picture, allowing you to change the shape of each image.
  • It's easy to add text, in any color or size, anywhere on your collage. You can further personalize your creation by adding clipart, from team mascots and company logos, to holiday images.
  • With Picture Collage Maker, you can build a greeting card in seconds or spend more time
Some of the neat features I noticed right off upon installation included a link to tutorials, tips and tricks for using the software. This was helpful to me because I hadn't used this kind of tool before...


Starting out, you can see a few screenshots....


Not having played with the program much, I chose to take advantage of the Template Collage Wizard, which presented some fascinating options:




Creating the collage was easy after that...there were tons of choices...here are a few:






Lots of other customization options available in Picture Collage Maker:


What else would I have liked to see?


As nice a product as Picture Collage Maker Pro is, the price is pretty high. I'm not sure I'd want to pay $40 for a product, even one that had so many neat features. Of course, if I made photo collages every day or had a special need to make one, I wouldn't see this as a big expenditure.

Some neat features that appear in Shape Collage but weren't in Picture Collage Maker Pro is the ability to easily export images and place them in online storage sites, such as PicasaWeb, Flickr, as well as share via social media tools like Facebook, Plurk and Twitter. I would definitely have liked to see these capabilities within the program. Of course, creating collages is also possible using other tools like Glogster, which allow for multimedia collages. The question is, does Picture Collage Maker Pro remain a viable product in the face of online competitors? Yes, if your focus is on designing print-outs and digital images to share via the Web. Quick sharing via social media tools would make Picture Collage Maker Pro really versatile and enduring.

Aside from that, Picture Collage Maker Pro came across as an easy to use program to create photo collages and generally do quite a bit with your photos. It's ease of use reminded me of my time with Print Shop type programs where you didn't have to be an expert to create ornate arrangements and you could easily "Wow!" folks with your print-outs. Fortunately, digital images are finding expression online and Picture Collage Maker Pro is a nice digital image development tool.

Stay tuned for future give-aways of Picture Collage Maker Pro for Windows!

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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