Doodleware for the Mac – the Seashore Project

Doodle of a seashore - created with Seashore

I was looking for some lightweight drawing software – mainly for my post doodles.

My ageing Mac Mini can’t handle a browser and Photoshop at the same time. That isn’t really a problem when I want to do some serious processing, but it’s a bit of a PITA when I just want to put together a quick scribble.

So I was delighted to discover The Seashore Project – an open source tool for the Mac, based on a much more beefy image processing tool – The Gimp.

Seashore’s got a bit more to it than the (even more simple) Paintbrush.app.

So I’m happy to use it for lightweight image processing, but it’s could also be a really good way to learn how image processing works, before you commit to a professional-level tool.

First impressions – Features

The things that sets Seashore apart from the more basic image processing tools is probably that it supports layers for .TIF files.

For each layer, you can set the opacity and blend mode – this means you can use more productive, professional techniques.

There’s functionality for making selections, alpha channel work, and a few effects (including Gaussian Blur) as well.

There are Crop, Clone, Zoom and Smudge tools.
And an Effects tool. This is so simple – it takes you through a number of clicks inside the image area, with the click being shown in the options panel.

There’s much more functionality in Photoshop of course – but that’s what you’re paying for.

Support and Ongoing Development

The documentation comes as a PDF, and is comprehensive and readable.

There’s a support forum. It looks like people do actually respond, as long as you take the time to explain your problem.

I installed version 0.5.1. This was released in 2010.
This version of Seashore is still in beta, and it has crashed on me once – so save your work regularly, and make sure you work on copies of any important files.
It looks like this is quite a mature project – the original leader left in 2009.
However, there are signs that things are starting to move forward again under a new leader.
Planned changes are support for Photoshop’s .psd format and Scaleable Vector Graphics files.

Personally, I hope the project doesn’t ‘bloat’ with extra functions too much – I like the agility of Seashore – but that’s down to the development team.

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