Head to Head: Ulead PhotoImpact vs Adobe Photoshop

The image above was composed, modelled and rendered in Strata 3D Pro, with no post work whatsoever done to it, other than to optimize it for display on this page. The 95% JPEG optimization yielded no visual loss of quality in any way.The image needed to have its detail brought out a bit, particularly the hi-lights in the materials, as well as the reflections, and then, of course, it need a border and had to be optimized for display on my Renderosity art gallery on the web.

The next image (above), is a copy of the original image above, which was first imported into Adobe PhotoShop, where a 4 step/4 layer process was performed on it to achieve the emphasis in detail that I desired. The bottom layer was the original image, with no layer effects, or filters applied to it. The next layer above that was another copy of the base image, with a Gaussian Blur applied to it, with the Layer Blend mode set to “Screen”, and the Opacity at 46%; the next layer above that was another copy of the base image, with the Blend mode set to “Screen” also, at an Opacity of 24%, and the top layer was a ”Reflected Gradient” fill, with it’s layer Blend mode set to “Exclusion”, and its Opacity set to 4%.

To complete the above image, I then flattened all layers, and saved as a .bmp image, then brought it into PhotoImpact, where it was given a border, and optimized at 95% as a .jpg.

The above image was prepared in Ulead PhotoImpact 7, in 2 steps, after importing the original rendered image into it. The first step was to select the whole image, right-cllick, and convert it to an object. From there, I applied “Effects: Blur->Gaussian Blur, and then set the object’s Merge mode in it’s properties box to “Inverse of Multiply” (the same as PS’s “Screen”) and gave it a 50% transparency, then merged all, gave it a border, and optimized just as I had done for the PS version in PI.


There is an ever-so-slight difference between the two images, however, it is almost imperceptible. Both programs did an adequate job of producing the desired effect, however, PhotoImpact required less steps to do it, due to its “Object” based approach to image editing; HOWEVER, one must understand that working with layers, while requiring more steps, does have its’ advantages... by applying affects to layers which lie over (on top of) an object, the object can have filters appied to it while it remains in tact, without detracting from its’ integrity- remove the Filter, and the object is still available for other effects, filters, etc.. a very flexible situation for any graphic designer; however, onthe other hand, that “flexibility” yeilds additional “complexity” due to managing the system that yields that flexibility.. the “Layer” system. In PI, once you apply an affect to the object itself, you lose the original object’s state as the changes are applied directly to it. Unless, of course, you made and saved a seperate copy of it in the project (always a good idea, but,it does eat up more memory and resources, which can become a performance issue with large image file sizes).

So, it all depends on how you work, but, you CAN get good professional quality results from both, and, just as I’ve shown above, frequently, it can be done easier and quicker in PhotoImpact than in Photoshop, but, it comes at the price of flexibility.

-Howard Prince


Current list of LCGuy Mini-Tutorials for
Ulead PhotoImpact and/or Strata 3D Pro:

Files for download: