Photoline 19.50 released!

Photoline 19.50 is now available on
For existing users this is a free update.

This is a release with a focus on mainly many smaller and bigger workflow improvements and improved export and import.

  • greatly improved SVG import and export. Even clipped masks work correctly now. Users have sent in various files for testing in the past months.

  • vastly improved Photoshop PSD file import. I dare say Photoline now offers one of the best PSD importers:

  • Smart objects are now retained, and converted to embedded placeholder layers in Photoline. These can be edited directly in Photoline. Even Illustrator Smart Objects are editable in Photoline (something impossible in Photoshop!). A vector Smart Object can either be edited in Photoline, or be sent to an external app such as InkScape. When editing in the external app, any change is automatically updated in the Photoline document.

  • The content of Smart Objects can be sent back to the original application.

  • Improved support for text objects. These are imported as both rasterized and text object versions.

  • I sent the developers test files with all colour adjustment layers, and all of them (except one) are supported now, and converted to Photoline equivalents. Only the Photo Filter remains unsupported.

  • Vector masks are supported now.

  • Fill layers are supported now.

  • Vector shapes are supported now (loaded up as two versions: one rasterized, one vector layer).

  • Art Boards are supported and converted to groups.

  • And so on. Layer effects are converted.

Obviously there will always be some differences, but still very, very impressive. I know of no other application (except for Photoshop) which will open and retain the original Smart Objects AND being able to edit them. Even Photoshop is unable to edit an Illustrator Smart Object (there are, of course, some restrictions in regards to the original Illustrator object complexity).

Seeing the responses below, I must add that Photoline’s PSD import is NOT perfect - nor will it ever be. It is impossible seeing that certain features are Photoshop dependent, and are nigh-on impossible to emulate in other image editors. PSD import cannot be perfect: Adobe made sure to obscure the documentation of the PSD format - many features are just not documented at all. Please read the answer regarding SOs I posted below as well in this regard.

  • Important improvements for game, mobile and web creators:

  • Automatic Pixel snap (“Align to Pixels”) for bitmap and vector layers.

  • Automatic Pixel snap is controllable on a document level, as well as on a per layer basis!

  • a new alignment option to align object to the pixel grid

  • gradients now include a new Cubic interpolation for smoother transitions. With <ALT> the gradient can be moved more easily.

  • Improved import and export:

  • improved HDR import

  • improved EXR import (btw, multi-layered full-float EXR files are supported, unlike Photoshop’s half-float limited single layer import)

  • added APNG import

  • PNG, JPG, WebP libraries updated.

  • PDF import and export has been greatly enhanced.

  • Placeholder layers:

  • The data of placeholder layer can now optionally be embedded in the document.

  • If a placeholder layer is edited with an external application, PhotoLine will - if possible - transfer the original data of the placeholder layer to the external application.

  • Dragging several files onto an empty placeholder layer will insert the remaining files to the following empty placeholder layers.

  • Many workflow improvements. These make life much easier:

  • define vector fill and line style before creating a vector shape

  • many functions have been extended so that they can be applied to multiple selected layers. For example: layer styles can be applied to multiple layers now (Photoshop is unable to do this, btw), anti-aliasing settings, and other layer properties.

  • Multiple selected objects can be simultaneously rotated, skewed, and scaled individually (with the layer properties panel) as well as a group.

  • Zoom in up to 25600%. Zoom out to 0.1% (I believe).

  • Layer selection can now be controlled with the cursor keys (similar to Gimp, Corel, and others), or the “Adobe” way. This is a simple toggle in the preferences which caters to users’ individual workflow preference.

  • <ALT>-double-click on the layer’s thumbnail turns a layer’s transparency on or off.

  • Selection of layers is enhanced.

  • The modal curve editor dialog can now be scaled as the user sees fit, which allows for more precise editing. If you want that dialog to be screen size: it is now possible. (Photoshop’s tiny unresponsive curve editor is a joke compared).

  • when formulas are used in fields, the context menu will display a “Fix” command to convert to a static value.

  • “Align all” option in the Window menu to adjust the visible area and zoom of all opened documents to the active one. This simplifies the comparing of similar images.

Photoline is shaping up to become one of the best and most efficient image editors on the market. It outperforms Photoshop in a number of areas, and I can already reveal to you that the latest betas already include other features which are quite unique, and will become available in version 20.

Photoline is an image editor which provides a mostly non-destructive professional workflow. Full vector editing is also integrated. Its image editing is on par with Photoshop.

Photoline is compatible with most common Photoshop plugins, such as Topaz, NIK, and FilterForge, and loads Photoshop compatible brush and gradient libraries.

For a fraction of the cost (€59 new license or €29 update) of Photoshop, creatives and photographers receive a wide range of professional image editing and design features.

  • 32 & 64bit versions, Mac and Windows. Fully Linux WINE compatible.
  • 8/16/32bit per channel / RGB, CMYK, Lab, greyscale & monochrome
  • Color management with ICC profiles and linear workflow
  • all functions, adjustments, effects, filters, layers and masks work with 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit images (full 16bit support unlike Photoshop which operates in 15bit)
  • 47 available adjustment layers
  • 18 available layer styles
  • a layer in the layer stack can be any image mode and bit depth
  • layer masks are regular layers, and may consist of multiple combined layers & groups(!)
  • layer opacity from -200 up to +200 for easy inversion of blend effects or doubling an effect
  • convert bitmaps to vector layers
  • vector layers can be anti-aliased, and be aligned to the pixel grid. Photoline also offers a pixel view
  • develop photos with a non-destructive RAW workflow
  • retouching tools such as a remove brush, clone stamp tool, liquify, and many more
  • PSD import retains most common adjustment layers & layer effects
  • Import & export multi-layered 32bpc EXR files
  • non-destructive rotate & scale
  • external app link for easy round tripping
  • rename images and create catalogs
  • powerful image management: search, edit IPTC & EXIF data
  • true PDF import & export with /x1a & /x3
  • multi-page documents
  • rich text & DTP functionality, spot colors
  • web export, including WebP, image maps & GIF animations
  • batch conversion
  • record actions
  • print multi-page documents, flyers & labels
  • portable app on a USB-Stick support
  • multiprocessor support
  • Linux WINE compatible with LittleCMS colour management option for improved compatibility; tested and supported by the developers

It’s too bad they don’t make a video demonstrating this stuff. Seems pretty promising now with this update.

it all sounds amazing,
hopefully some tutorials and showcasing videos are being prepared and made.

can Photoline work with the first version of NDO?
Is alpha channel editing possible?

Herbert, may I ask how this Placeholder Layer feature with Smart Objects works exactly?

Say I have a Photoshop composition of several images and text on page. All images are Smart Objects and encapsule full RAW images and its various non-destructive edits in ACR (a doubleclick brings me back to ACR again). The images can appear small in the psd but can be transformed to appear very large, without ever having to think about resolution. The same document may get printed at stamp size or at facade poster scale: With the resolution headroom provided by the embedded RAWs the behavior is almost like Vector.

I’ve now downloaded PL 19.5 and opened such a Photoshop made composition. While it’s unrealistic to expect proprietary ACR RAW development tools being supported I sure had expected to get flat 16 bit end-result of all embedded images, at full native pixel size, stored within the file. What I see however is 16 bit images with the pixel size they had when the psd was saved, the resolution headroom however – for me clearly the strongest point of the Smart Objects concept – seems to be gone. Gone, although all Smart Object information should be available inside the psd.

I’m unexperienced with PL though, forgive me if I just didn’t get how this works. Is there a way to retain source data of Smart Objects at full size?

Ok, I have experimented a little more and set up a simple test file which indeed gave me a few placeholder layers, which either may get edited within PL or externally, nice! Simple text seems to transfer from CS6 and looks ok in the raster version, the actual editable text is there but 100% transparent – pretty difficult to figure out and likely a bug. With any more complex file however I get no placeholders and also no editable text, just raster + a few adjustment layers.

I actually sympatize with Photoline and even the unpayed marketing job you make…
Making it however sound as if it was no longer an issue to losslessly hand over content authored with Adobe’s proprietary file formats is not only wrong – but also exactly what Adobe wants to hear!

For as long as Adobe sold perpetual licenses their Marketing did not even have an interest that other programs could competently handle their closed source file formats. ‘You want to properly read content authored with Adobe products? Then purchase the Original.’

Now with their Software rental model their position has changed; Adobe staff + Fanboys don’t get tired repeating the same steaming bullshit: ‘There’s practically no data loss for anyone who lets CC run out. If you really want to go, no problem – your files are all yours! There’s many other applications which open psd’s – there’s most certainly no need to give leaving customers a perpetual license!’

I sit on GB’s of cross application Adobe content which would render worthless after letting the CC contract run out (assuming I had been silly enough to subscribe). Please don’t support Adobe with overly positive statements in terms of data transfer. Cheers!

Alfred, are you on Win or Mac?

Windows. I know Affinity, if this is the real question ;o)

The PSD Smart Object import support in Photoline is capable of importing:

  • SOs which were created in Photoshop, and consist of regular layers, layer masks, shapes, clipping masks, text layers, adjustment layers. Layer effects are also supported. If the SO contains bitmap content at higher bit depths and/or canvas size/resolution, these are kept.

  • SOs with Illustrator content. But do keep in mind that the PDF information will be read by Photoline, and certain features are just not compatible. Artwork ought to be expanded when Illustrator specific functions are used in the artwork. No other application outside of Illustrator can read Illustrator files perfectly, and third-party applications rely on the PDF information to render the vectors.

  • special features which only Photoshop supports, such as smart objects with ACR processed RAW images, 3d content, video, etc. are unsupported. As are live filters which again rely on dedicated Photoshop functionality.

Text is another good example of certain limitations: Photoline will create TWO layers for the text: one rasterized layer, and one invisible layer with the actual text object. The text object can be edited as text in Photoline, and be displayed. However, due to the completely different text engines, I found that the text object is 1) generally shifted downward a bit (I suspect this might have to do with the interpretation of leading), and 2) the kerning is different (not that much, but it is different).

Photoline presents the user with a bitmap version to compare, and allows for adjustments with a real text object. Having a second invisible text layer, aside from the rasterized version, which remains editable is a feature of Photoline’s import.

Smart Objects are also loaded as a dual layer: one rasterized, and one as an embedded placeholder layer, which contains the original information. Depending on the Photoshop and Illustrator functionality used in these SOs, some things will not be retained, or look wrong. This is to be expected. Photoline is not Photoshop, and vice versa. No application will ever be able to load up a PSD perfect with all features maintained, except Photoshop itself.

Shape layers are yet again imported as two versions, just like the SOs and text layers. They remain editable (invisible version must be displayed), and generally load up correctly. But again it depends a bit on the particular effects which were applied.

Now for the good news: if a 16bpc layer with a much higher resolution, is embedded as a Smart Object in a 8bit Photoshop file, Photoline will happily load that content. The overall size may look different, but the Artboard groups will remain the identical size (compared to the original PSD). Even better, in Photoline pixel mode can be turned off, which makes it possible to display that 16bpc high resolution image at true resolution within Photoline. That means, when you zoom in, that the sharpness of that content is actually displayed in the view - unlike Photoshop, which MUST rasterize the SO to the root documents native (lower) resolution.

This is one of the advantages of Photoline, and something Photoshop just cannot do. So, it is give and take.

I am quite impressed with what IS supported - but similar to modern Photoshop specific plugins, such as NDO, those features which are dependent on Photoshop to work, cannot and will never be supported in Photoline, Affinity, or other image editors. That is just plain impossible.

If I made it read as if you would be importing PSD files with all information intact, I apologize: that is not the case. But it does a pretty good job nonetheless. As far as I am aware, Photoline is the only image editor on the market which even attempts to load up Smart Object content. The fact that it can actually open Illustrator-based SO content, and edit it, is quite amazing in my book. I can also send it to InkScape for more advanced editing (and any edit I make in InkScape, and saved, updates the content in Photoline automatically).

But yes: it is not perfect. Nor can it ever be. PSD is native to Photoshop, not to other applications. It is not an exchange format - if we wish to use PSD as an exchange format, we must abide to certain rules, i.e. remove Photoshop-specific features from the file before exporting.

I hope this clarifies the Smart Object support in Photoline a tad more.

No, NDO is utterly Photoshop specific. “Standard” Photoshop plugins do work for the most part in Photoline - when they do not, users ask the Photoline devs to fix this, and it generally is fixed in the next beta. For example, I run FilterForge, Topaz, and many other Photoshop plugins in Photoline. Unfortunately, NDO, NDO 2, and other Photoshop specific plugins rely on the Photoshop framework to function. That type of plugin will never work in any other software, except Photoshop.

By the way, Photoline can send a layer/layer group, a flattened version, the original document, or the content of an embedded placeholder layer to any external application which can deal with the data (data is sent across as PNG, PDF, SVG, TIFF, or the original data in the case of the embedded place holder layer.

Which effectively means I am running Gimp as a “plugin”: I send a layer to Gimp, apply a Gimp-only effect, save, and the layer is automatically updated in Photoline. Or I can send a vector layer to Inkscape for editing. Or send a layer group to Color Quantizer or RIOT for web optimization (Photoline also includes a “save for web” dialog, btw.

The painting options in Photoline are rather basic compared to Krita. If I need to paint a layer in Krita, I send that layer to Krita, paint, and save. The layer updates in Photoline.

Interestingly enough it is even possible to run older 32bit only Photoshop plugins in Photoline 64bit this way: send the bitmap layer to the 32bit version of Photoline, apply the plugin, and save the result. Voila: the 32bit plugin effect is applied. Pretty nifty.

Alpha channel editing:
Channels work differently in Photoline compared to Photoshop. This has its good and bad points, depending. For one, every paint and just about every bitmap manipulation tool (adjustments, for example) can be applied directly to a specific channel with a simple switch of a button. Alpha is also included.

Although in my opinion this is also the part in Photoline which needs more refinement: for example, working on multiple alpha channels is a bit of a pain at the moment.

On the other hand, layer masking in Photoline completely destroys Photoshop, if you ask me. A layer’s transparency can be easily converted to a layer mask (similar to Photohop), but the options for editing and combining multiple layer masks, as well as being able to clone/instantiate layers (including layer mask layers and adjustment layers) which update in realtime when edited, do give Photoline the upper hand in layer mask management.

I am still trying to convince the developers to expand the channels panel with more direct editing options. Currently it is not possible to work directly in the channels panel - it is more of a preview. The workflow is just different.

thank you very much for the detailed informations. :slight_smile:

It’s a very nice software but I’m having troubles to understand how it works the alpha channels, the masks and the clipping layers. Apparently all these ones are very similar but different and they can interact together in some form and sometimes is even a contradiction. It’s quite difficult to understand this behavior. In Photoshop it’s easier to understand what are you doing and what to expect. Any tips?

In Photoline layer masks behave like regular layers, and can also behave as clipping layers. It depends on the eye icon “mode”. Right-mouse click on the eye icon to convert any layer to a clipping mask (“clip”). When you drag a clipping layer on another layer, it is converted to a layer mask. Anything can become a layer mask (or part of a layer mask group) in Photoline: vector and text layers, bitmaps, etc.

Layer masks / clipping masks can also consist of a layer group. Just setup a group of layers, and group these. Then use the group as a clipping mask or layer mask.

Layer masks in Photoline are far more powerful than the ones in Photoshop: for example, adjustment layers and layer effects may be applied to layer masks. And layer masks can have their own layer masks. This is in theory limitless.

Layer masks may be virtually cloned, and re-used in the layer stack. Changes to the source layer mask cascade in realtime through the layer stack.

Channels work differently in Photoline. Channels in the Channels panel can be directly edited, but it is more effective and simpler to do this with the channel buttons in the various tools. Channels can also be copied to the layer stack (button at the bottom of the channels panel).

Two things are not possible in Photoline’s channel panel (compared to Photoshop): custom channels, and saving alpha channels/selections. This is one of a couple of things I would like to see amended, but it is possible to work with alpha channels in the regular layer stack. When you open a TIFF file with an alpha channel, this alpha channel becomes available at the top of the layer stack. If you wish to save your own, the same setup is required.

And be careful in what way the terms “lasso” and “mask” are used in Photoline: the lasso is the visible selection border, while a mask always refers to the underlying greyscale bitmap (alpha?).

Thanks Herbert123, that information is helpful. I have another question… What’s the difference between a mask layer and a clipping layer? I found that when important a layer from Photoshop that contains a mask layer or transparency it gets imported in Photoline with some weird clipping of the size of the actual visible area. Does this has sense to you?

In Photoshop a clipping layer is created by putting the mask at the top of a layer stack or layer group, and then ALT-clicking the border between the two - the effect is similar to a “keyhole” effect.

In Photoline the a layer mask can either be a child of a layer, or be moved at the top of a layer stack or group. There is no need for <ALT> clicking in Photoline. The position in the layer stack decides whether the mask behaves as a layer mask, or a clipping mask.

Do you have a PSD example demonstrating your issue? There are differences in how Photoshop and Photoline work with layer masks, and the size of these.

Try this file, you will see what I’m talking about. The layers gets messed up all the way.

Your prayers might be heard:

You know, I have been using and testing Affinity Photo at work, and it is quite nice.

In many areas it does not (yet) hold a candle to either Photoshop or Photoline, though, for example in terms of non-destructive editing. The current version is still limited to 16bpc, although this will change soon.

But it is mostly the missing non-destructive features which hamper the workflow in places, in my opinion. For example:

  • no non-destructive RAW import. In Affinity a RAW photo, after developed in the “develop persona”/room, is then opened in the “photo” editor. But the RAW file cannot be edited again - the user must begin from scratch. This is very different compared to Photoline which imports and integrates the RAW file directly in the layer stack, or Photoshop with ACR and a smart object.

  • except for the perspective filter, any edit done to text rasterizes the text layer, removing the editability of the text itself. Again very different to both Photoline and Photoshop, where many edits to text can be done non-destructively. Same holds true for vector (shape) layers.

  • another example is the liquify “persona”: once finished, the effect is applied, with no way to edit it later again. Photoshop solves this with smart objects, while Photoline integrates the liquify filter directly in the layer stack again (which makes it easy to apply multiple liquify layers if required, and even control those with the -200 up to +200 layer opacity.

  • the layer stack is pretty nice in Affinity Photo. Strangely enough, when adjustment layers are applied to layer masks, and when those are parented again to other layers, the layer panel hides those child layers, and it is currently not possible to edit those adjustments, except by ungrouping those again.

  • no (external or embedded) smart objects (Photoshop) or (external or embedded) placeholder layers (Photoline). Layers cannot be cloned/instanced (Photoline, Krita) and the source layer edited so that the clones update in real-time.

Aside from this part, many other little things are still missing for me, but I do realize Affinity Photo and Designer are young applications. Both do have a number of unique features I have not seen in existing apps either, which is a good development. And both are rapidly developed, as is Photoline, Krita, and other alternatives. It is good to see these developments. Even Gimp looks a tad better nowadays (though not much :wink: ).

Interesting times!

YEAH Affinity for windows is great news.:eyebrowlift:
Pleasant to see all the news around Affinity Photo and -Designer.
Since they have a lot of tutorials available and its community is thriving and bursting out tutorials,
I am looking very much forward to the planned releases.

For Photoline which so far severely lacks tutorials, has seemingly a minuscule userbase? and the short time I tried it,
confusing and strange workflows, the future won´t look so good…

lossless scaling is possible in Affinity Photo (smart objects is needed in PS for that).

Photoline is a pretty solid application.
But sofar I mainly saw it as a photo editor Photoshop should be and less also a layouting tool.

The layouting is more where the affinity apps will go towards.

Did you guys actually ever like Photoshops smart layers? I never liked the concept and how it works.

Something I likes more in A Photo.