AKVIS Sketch v.8.5
by Robert Du Vernay

AKVIS SketchThis is a neat program toy which works as advertised and what it does, it does exceptionally well! Exceptionally! And I don’t get to say that about all of the products that I review. Sketch converts your digital image into a pencil or charcoal drawing (a rendition of your picture – color or b&w) ... with the press of one button. Preview is equally extraordinary. There is a before and after so you can preview in real time.

You may or may not decide to add some of the color back to it; if you don’t like the pencil sketch, then make it a charcoal picture. It works with Windows and MAC platforms and can be a standalone or operate with w/Adobe CSx, Adobe Elements or Corel's Paint Shop Pro as a plug in.

Select a section (rectangle within the original rectangle) of the original and press the button. I have done this in the past using Paint Shop Pro or Adobe CSx, and it can be done. However, it takes time and a bit of patience and some practice. When you do a lot of Power Point presentations and need props, time is not always on your side. Akvis Sketch is fast and so easy.

Want a watercolor effect on your output? You work backwards. Make the b&w, then you can colorize by percentage-degrees, using a slider bar. A tutorial is provided to take you thru this process and a series of steps. Results can be interesting and very creative. Tutorials are on the AKVIS home page and fairly comprehensive.

Both the b&w and watercolor effects can be enhanced by applying one or more of the background textural effects. This is the part where a little talent comes in... and I come up short. But what makes this so handy is that you don’t have to invest more than a few minutes to see the effect. Put the new Quad core processor to work! Each effect can be adjusted to a fine or coarse texture. Choose from a variety of textures or just plain paper.

Suppose you want to make some background stuff for a summer trip video? Use the Batch convert feature and make up a bunch of b&w’s, and turn them into a comic strip bits to be inserted! Your kids in the comics, or as stick characters on the title screen of the movie! Your video will impress the locals.

Sketch is very simple to operate; primary control is achieved by moving slider bars of the characteristic you wish to incorporate and press one button! There is a progress bar at the top of the main frame to change the size of your original. Like any graphics program, the bigger the CPU, the better. It handles all the common digital formats. If you have ever needed a prop to make an exhibit work, take the time and give Sketch a run. You will be impressed with the speed, simplicity and results.

AKVIS offers you a free 10 day trial and then registration with bankcard is required. A 10 day trial is really much too short for a proper evaluation period; 21 days would be a more respectable trial period. Remember, Sketch is an Internet download software; go check out the web site, well done. Also, the price is 55 Euros (75 USD plus). AKVIS Sketch is on the expensive side, but certainly deserves to be looked at and taken seriously. You will be impressed, it does work as advertised. The learning curve won't leave you bloodied either and you can do it in Russian if you want! Help is by email or through a forum. From Russia with love, www.akvis.com. (Sorry, just couldn’t resist.)

Robert Du Vernay is a HAL-PC member who instructs the Digital Basic 101 series on the 1st Saturdays. You can contact him at rpd @hal-pc.org.