I enjoy photography, and mostly prefer to take full control of the final output using powerful software like Lightroom. But there are times when I just want something fast, easy and automated to create something fun for a Facebook image or similar – and that’s what PhotoMatte is all about.
The idea is a simple one: choose a template to suit the occasion, ranging from beach holidays to a wedding; drag your chosen photos onto the template; choose your output format – from Mac desktop image down to iPhone wallpaper – click Export and the job’s done …
The software got off to a good start: when you first open the app, it offers you a video tutorial showing you how to use it.
Other help is available in a menu on the left, some of which offer instructions as standard text and graphics, others of which present videos. It’s a neat approach.
When you click the Get Started button, you’re offered a choice of 48 templates. Some are highly specific, like an Easter egg hunt, while others are more general, like City Trip and Fun in the Sun. Click on any of these templates and a sidebar opens with guidelines for use of the template, and suggested photo types.
For example, with the Baby Girl template selected, it suggests one group shot, two ‘emotional detail’ shots (by which it seems to mean close-ups of expressions) and two pieces of text. It also shows the aspect ratio so you’ll know whether it would be suitable for a particular format, like a Mac desktop background.
Simply double-click on the template you want and it opens with sample photos in place. Mouseover any photo and it will prompt you to add your photo, and repeat the advice on the type of photo to choose.
You can drag-and-drop photos from both the Finder and iPhoto, or you can click the photo to open a standard file dialogue to navigate to it that way. I chose to drag-and-drop from the finder. This example is with my own photos added to the generic Trip template (no prizes for identifying the city …).
The five photos are mine, the tickets/keys, cameras, map and shell are from the template.
In the original template, the left-hand photo was angled slightly. Since the whole point of that photo was to show the steepness of the hill, contrasting the angle of the car with that of the house, I wanted to straighten it. This is trivial to do. Click on a photo and some editing tools appear. I’ve zoomed in here so you can see this more clearly.
You can resize or rotate the photo frame by dragging up/down or around the circle. If you want to edit the photo, rather than the frame, just click the small edit button bottom-right in the frame and you can then pinch-zoom and/or rotate the photo itself inside the frame.
If you don’t like any of the template content – for example, the point-and-shoot camera – you can click on this. By default, background elements are locked, but an unlock button appears when you click on one and you can then re-position, resize, rotate or remove any of these elements in exactly the same way as with a photo.
As is usual with any template software, the weakness is the limited number of templates. Although 48 sounds like a lot, some are so specific that they wouldn’t be much use for anything else – so unless you have photos of, say, a baby girl, your actual selection is more limited.
But there’s a good selection, including quite a few attractive generic ones.
Nine of the templates are specifically designed for iPhone screens, while other vertical ones can be output in the correct resolution for an iPhone.
Once you hit the Export button, you’re offered a comprehensive menu of options:
The software really couldn’t be simpler to use. If you’re happy with the standard templates in their existing forms, creating a collage really doesn’t take any longer than choosing the photos. But there’s a surprising amount of flexibility in the software if you do want to tinker.
At $30, it’s perhaps a little pricy for an app with a single function, and it’s not something you’re going to buy unless it’s the sort of thing you’ll want to do regularly. But if photo collages are your thing, this is as quick and easy as it gets. You can download a free trial from the Plum Amazing site.