1. Technology

What is Hornil StylePix?

Introduction to the Free Image Editor StylePix

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StylePix interface

StylePix has a modern and clear user interface with a strong range of tools and features.

StylePix is a free pixel-based image editor offered by the software company Hornil. While GIMP is widely regarded as the most powerful of the free image editors, that doesn't mean there isn't a lot of competition in this sector. Hornil is aiming StylePix at mid-range users and that is a sensible positioning of this application. It offers a good range of tools, but in the absence of layer masks and adjustment layers, it can't compete for advanced users.

Highlights of StylePix

StylePix has a range of features that make it of interest for a variety of users.

  • Modern application with clear and professional interface
  • All the main tools you'd expect from an image editor
  • Full range of image adjustment features
  • Reasonable range of filters
  • Batch processing tool
  • Intuitive editing of brush styles
  • Supports a range of different file types
  • Text remains editable after being added to an image

Why Use StylePix

StylePix is a pixel-based image editor that appears very well suited for mid-range users. That said, less advanced users could get a lot out of using this application and it would be a good way for them to advance their skills in this area. With several automatic image adjustment tools, these can help users to see what effects are possible and try to emulate or improve on them using the manual versions of the adjustment tools.

The inclusion of layers with blending modes opens up a range of creative possibilities, with the ability to combine layers in many artistic ways. The inclusion of layer groups, which have been available in Adobe Photoshop for many years, but remain a rarity in free image editors, makes working with a large number of layers much easier.

Beyond the good range of image adjustment tools that make this well suited as an image editor for photographers, the normal range of drawing tools are on offer and there is also a range of filters for applying further creative effects. The selection of filters isn't the most extensive, but there should be enough for most users.

Another useful feature that is absent from many other free image editors is the way that text is placed on its own layer and remains editable after being applied to an image. GIMP also has this functionality, but StylePix has the added advantage of text being applied directly to the image, rather than being typed into a separate floating dialog. It's a small thing in terms of usability but does enhance the overall user experience.

Some Limitations of StylePix

While the interface makes customizing the size, softness and spacing of brushes very easy, brushes in StylePix are limited by a lack of different brush shapes. You appear only able to specify round brushes, unlike GIMP which allows the installation of many different types of custom brushes.

As mentioned earlier, StylePix doesn't offer layer masks. While that is a shortcoming that would stop me looking on StylePix as an alternative for GIMP on my Windows laptop, if you don't use masks in your workflow, then that is something that you can easily overlook. Also, the lack of adjustment layers is a limitation that afflicts every other other free image editor that I've tried, including GIMP.

Help and Support

Refreshingly, for a free application, there is an extensive online Help manual that can be easily accessed through the Help menu within StylePix. This will help complete beginners start to use the application and develop their skills to a high level. This provision of good documentation is no doubt down to the fact that Hornil also offer StylePix Pro, a more powerful commercial version of the software.

Through Hornil's website, they also offer a community forum for users to discuss StylePix and share tutorials, though in practice this is little used, other than by Hornil staff it seems. It is, though, a way to communicate directly with the software's creators, in the event of any problems or bugs.

The free version of StylePix can be downloaded from Hornil's website.

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