Simple Yet Powerful Photo Collage and Greeting Card Creator

excellent
key review info
application features
  • High-resolution clipart collection
  • (4 more, see all...)

When we want to immortalize happy moments in our lives, we usually take photos, capture them using video cameras, draw pictures and so on. In this sense, photographs are gateways to special moments in the past that are worth remembering, no matter who we are.

To express how much we care about certain photos or when working on a presentation or portfolio, we frame them, annotate them and even create collages (pictures made by attaching other pictures onto a surface) out of them.

CollageFactory Pro is a cross-platform application that enables you to easily create digital photo collages and greeting cards using your Mac.

The application comes with numerous layouts, templates and options to customize your collages / greeting cards. Its price tag reads $19.99 and occupied 283.6 MB of our hard drive, a large part of which consists of many images and clipart items.

We've tested the full version, but first-time users can download its shareware version which watermarks the output collages when exporting them.

As for the RAM usage, it consumed between 150 and 250 MB when handling a few pictures. However, when working with nearly 100 images, it took over 300 MB.

The Looks

CollageFactory Pro features a straightforward user interface divided into four main areas: the upper toolbar, the image browsing pane, the collage area and the options pane.

Since the main window includes everything you need to create collages, working with the app was really easy. There are no application preferences or extra windows besides the one that lets you select templates.

The Works

At first launch, CollageFactory Pro offers two options: create a collage or a (greeting) card. The difference between them is that collages are made out only of images and cards are themed collages composed mainly of clipart illustrations, masks and frames.

You can select between 5 collage layouts (50 templates in total) and 13 greeting card styles (100 templates in total).

We've started by creating a classic collage and the first action was to import images. In our test, about 200 images were instantly imported. On the downside, CollageFactory Pro will not remember them after restarting the app, so you need to import them all over again. To add images to the collage, simply drag and drop a selection of photos to the collage.

In order to evaluate the app's stability, we've added around 100 images to a collage. As expected, its response to our actions was a little slow, but, other than that, no crashes or other issues were encountered.

Furthermore, if you want your collage to support more images, you can adjust the number from the Layout pane of the right sidebar. You can also switch to another layout and adjust the margin size from this location.

Even though it might come in handy, you cannot edit the contents of the images themselves. It would have been nice if you could apply basic black-and-white or blur effects, for instance.

More 'unconventional' collages can be created by making use of the Freestyle and Heart layouts. If you select these layouts, you'll be able to move, resize and rotate images in any way you like.

Moreover, the image borders and shadows can be customized from the Frame pane of the right sidebar (in any layout). The Classic and Focus layouts enable you to adjust even the image dimensions by dragging the red lines between the pictures.

Another advantage is that you can easily remove images (using Backspace) and select multiple photos by holding down SHIFT and clicking on the ones you want to select. The handy rectangular selection, undo (CMD + Z) and select all (CMD +A) options are also supported.

What if you want to bring certain images to the background or foreground? To do so, use the 'Move to bottom' and 'Move to top' buttons respectively, located below the collage area.

In general, collages are focused on transmitting a message through both images and text. The application offers plenty of possibilities in this respect. You can adjust the text you add in all imaginable ways: font, typeface, size and highly customizable text effects.

We haven't faced any drawbacks as we've played with more and more layouts and styles. After we've tried to create several collages and greeting cards, all the flexibility in the editing department made the application a true pleasure to work with.

Nevertheless, we've spotted a small glitch when trying to fit-to-screen a background image on our collage. Usually, when you fit-to-screen an image, it leaves out blank areas to the right or left.

When we've selected a color to fill that blank space, it wasn’t applied. Fortunately, this bug was not seen in the exported collage, but only while editing the collage within the application. This issue does not seem to occur when creating a greeting card, though.

Finally, you will be able to export your collages to any dimension. The app comes with all standard page size options (from 800x800 to 3507x2481), but you can add any size you wish.

Until now, we've talked about creating collages, but the same commentaries also apply to creating greetings cards. As mentioned before, the difference is that you can add various frames, clipart illustrations and masks.

Because these items come in high-quality resolution, you won't have to worry about the size of your greeting card and, consequently, the result will always look great and print-ready.

As a final note, you can export your collages / cards as JPEG, TIFF or PNG and even e-mail them with a single click on their respective toolbar buttons / menu items.

The Good

CollageFactory Pro provides many styles and templates for effortlessly creating beautiful collages / greeting cards via an easy-to-use user interface. You can seamlessly manipulate pictures through drag-and-drop and by using basic editing options.

It handled about 100 images quite well, the editing options are flexible and the text you can add is highly customizable.

Moreover, it includes numerous high-resolution clipart drawings and frames suitable for almost any event and project.

The Bad

CollageFactory Pro consumed a rather large amount of RAM (over 300 MB) when working with multiple collages at once.

An option to remember the imported images might really come in handy. Also, the color we chose for filling in the blank space left out when fitting-to-screen a background image (in the collage mode) was not applied.

Although you can export your results to iPhoto and email them directly from the app, it could also use Facebook and Twitter share options.

The Truth

The application is both easy and fun to use at the same time. Its straightforward design and intuitive tools are suitable for any type of user.

Additionally, its simple approach to image manipulation is definitely an advantage and, although the app itself is not really configurable, the collages / cards are.

All in all, CollageFactory Pro will certainly give you a helping hand in your collage making activities. If you are a photo collage enthusiast, then this tool is strongly recommended.

Here are some snapshots of the application in action:

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user interface 5
features 4
ease of use 5
pricing / value 4


final rating 5
Editor's review
excellent
 
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