RasterWave 2.4 is nearing release. A few minor items still need addressing, and some language files are incomplete, but the core program is 99% ready.
The biggest change in this version is new support for image layers. As part of implementing layers, many program elements were rewritten from scratch, so this development cycle as been an arduous one. Hopefully the improvements have been worth the wait!
For users upgrading from 2.2, here is are all the new features and improvements you’ll find in version 2.4.
Each image now supports an unlimited number of layers
Layers can be reordered using drag-drop, or navigation buttons
Variable opacity and 24 blend modes are supported
Layered images can be resized, rotated, flipped and mirrored without flattening the image.
A new Layers menu provides all the same options as the Layers toolbox, plus aditional options like Flatten Image, Merge Visible Layers, adding/removing individual layer transparency, and adjusting layer orientation.
Layers can be moved around the canvas in real-time using the new “Move” tool.
The new “Move” tool also allows you to non-destructively resize layers.
When moving and sizing layers, you can simply click the relevant layers in the canvas without using the Layer toolbox.
Layered images can be now be saved in RasterWave’s own native format (.RWD, “RasterWave Document”).
New layer options are available in the Edit menu, including Cut and Copy From Layer, and Paste as New Layer.
NON-DESTRUCTIVE EDIT OPTIONS
These live in the new “quick fix” menu on the toolbar (marked by a lightbulb). Non-destructive means that these changes are not permanently applied to the image. If you wish to undo any edit, simply set the slider back to zero, or use the “reset: button on the quick fix panel. This allows you to customize these parameters whenever you like, without harming image quality.
NUMEROUS INTERFACE IMPROVEMENTS
New slider, radio button, and check box controls have been created specifically for RasterWave. Besides looking prettier, they are also much more usable. The sliders in particular now provide much more feedback than the terrible old scroll bars they replaced.
NEW TOOLS GALORE
New Fade tool. After applying an action to an image or layer, you can use Edit > Fade to fade the effect after the fact. Blend mode can also be adjusted.
New Straighen tool, for more nuanced control than Arbitrary Rotate.
New auto correct options for one-click color, contrast, and lighting fixes.
New auto-enhance options for color, contrast, and lighting. These provide an easy way to make a photo more dramatic or colorful, without fiddling with a dialog.
Colored pencil artistic effect, with four pencil modes.
Bilateral Smoothing (noise removal)
IMPROVEMENTS TO EXISTING TOOLS
Many of RasterWave’s existing tools have received performance, quality, and other improvements. Some of the notable updates include:
Improved Curves dialog, with new per-channel support and an improved interface (including live display of parameters).
Overhauled Levels dialog, including per-channel support, click-to-set color options, and a new best-in-class Auto Levels option.
Color Balance now allows you to limit color adjustments by tonal range.
Overhauled comic book filter, with new options for ink density and color smoothing.
Overhauled Relief filter, with new options for angle, thickness, and relief depth.
Overhauled Emboss/Engrave filter, with new options for angle, thickness, and depth.
Overhauled Edge Enhance filter, with new options for edge detection mode, direction, and strength.
Overhauled Find Edges dialog, with new edge operators and directionality support.
Overhauled Rainbow filter, with new options for offset, angle, strength, and saturation boosting.
Overhauled Fog filter, with new options for scale, contrast, density, and render quality.
Overhauled Ignite filter (formerly Burn), with new options for intensity, flame height, and strength.
UNDO HISTORY BROWSER
The new Edit > Undo History browser allows you to jump to any point in an image’s past (or future, if you’ve already undone some changes).
NEW PERFORMANCE OPTIONS
A new Performance Options category allows you to customize how RasterWave handles certain trade-offs — for example, if you’re low on disk space, you might prefer to heavily compress Undo/Redo data, which saves space at a slight performance trade-off. Similiary, if you have an underpowered processor, you may wish to reduce the amount of on-screen effects (drop shadows, etc) in order to improve render performance.
MINOR IMPROVEMENTS WORTH NOTING
Much better drag/drop support, including improved support for dragging images from web browsers.
Improved status bar, including a clickable “resize image” button and “fit image on-screen” button.
Improved support for using arrow keys to modify various settings.
New asynchronous image metadata processing. Images with extensive metadata now load and save much faster than before.
Reduced program startup time, and greatly reduced shutdown time if many images were loaded.
Improved mousewheel zoom, with zoom now preserving cursor location.
New Select > Erase selected area option.
Many improvements to Content-Aware resizing, including faster performance, symmetrical seam removal, and ESC-to-cancel functionality.
Improved image load time, especially for large images and/or complex formats.
OFFICIAL RELEASE TIMELINE
Barring any major bugs, the official 2.4 release should happen within the next week or so. Automatic update notifications for existing installs will go live at that point.