Acorn 1.0 Review

We recently took a look at Pixen, an open-source bitmap editing tool for creating pixel art, icons and other computer masterpieces. Acorn 1.0, a new tool from delightfully named developers Flying Meat, is an art package that first appears to be in the same vein. It’s a simple, layers based bitmap graphics editor – but there are extras that justify its commercial price tag.

Simplicity is Acorn’s main selling point. There are no brush palettes and just one drawing tool – which is similar to Photoshop’s pencil. Graphics tablet compatibility means lines are pressure sensitive, while subtle anti-aliasing softens the edges to give a natural media feel. Drawing’s easy and intuitive with a tablet, with decent results.

While bitmap processing is Acorn’s schtick, Flying Meat has thrown in vector shape and text layers too. As with Photoshop these remain editable after being placed, though unfortunately there’s no support for Bezier curves. Other juicy features include a handy full screen mode (evoked with a single key click), editable text, and layer modes.

So, although Acorn looks like a simple bitmap editor, the deeper you delve into its tools the more
it seems like a fully featured image processor. A long list of built-in filters backs up this conclusion, with the usual blur, sharpen and colour adjustment tools sharing space with more advanced filter tools such as perspective transformation, composition, and distortion plug-ins. You begin to wonder how they manage to pack all this into such a reasonably priced package.

OUR VERDICT

Acorn is an impressive first foray into image editing for Flying Meat, a company with several neatly designed Mac applications now under its belt. It’s ideal for web graphics creation, doodling, and will even stretch to fairly serious photo processing. If you can’t afford Photoshop you should give Acorn a try. It’s fast, easy to use and deceptively powerful.

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