There are quite a few apps available that apply hand drawn effects to photos, and most image editors include some filters that produce similar effects, so is XnSketch worth the download to your PC? Hopefully by the end of this review you'll have a good idea as to whether this is an app for you.
Below the image window is a carousel that holds all of the different drawing effects that you can apply. While the carousel doesn't include a thumbnail of your working image with the effect applied, the icons do a good job of representing the specific effects.
To the right of the screen are the image adjustment tools that allow you to tweak the appearance of your photos after applying an effect.
On the Android version of this app, I was very disappointed by the quality of the Hope effect, but it does produce much better results in this desktop version. Just how good the result that you get will depend on the base image that you're working with. The self-portrait I was using with my hand over my face worked reasonably well, though it did lack some definition around the hand which meant that it was a little indistinct. However, after quite a bit of experimentation and tweaking the different settings, I arrived at a result that I was quite happy with, as shown in the second screen shot.
The Stamp effect suffers from similar issues, but it only takes a few moments to open a photo and see how well an effect works on it and you'll soon be able to tell which types of photos are going to be most suitable for the different effects.
One aspect of using the carousel that I didn't like was the way that when you click an effect to apply it, the carousel is scrolled so that the active effect's icon is in the middle of the screen or as near to it as possible. I found this extremely counter intuitive and often resulted in me clicking effects that I hadn't intended to.
These supplemental controls offer greater control over the strength of edges, the number of colors and opacity of the effects layer, allowing more or less of the original photo to show through. There are also a few effects that allow you to select a color to tint your image with.
As pointed out earlier, experimentation will yield the best results, but unfortunately when you find a combination of settings that work particularly well, there is no option to save the settings so that you can apply the same effect to other photos.
SharingWhen you've finished producing your work of art, no doubt you'll want to share your priceless masterpiece with the world and XnSketch has tools that will allow you to do so without opening another app. There are options for sending images to Flickr, Picasa and Facebook, as well as several well known image sharing sites. You can also choose to send your pictures to friends via email.
On the downside, if you do spend the time finessing your settings, there's no option to save your settings so that you can reuse them on other images. I do think that does rather undermine the ultimate usefulness of the app, but I still think this is deserving of four stars out of five.
You can download your own free copy of XnSketch from the XnView forum.