Background magic

Create custom backgrounds and textures with this simple program.

We'll be honest with you: Imagelys Picture Styles produces the kinds of images that we used to use on our first Web site back in the mid-1990s, when we were first learning HTML and thought that having a different colorful pattern of wallpaper on every page was really cool. We're not big fans of this aesthetic anymore, but for those who are, this program can create a wide variety of customized patterns and textures.

The program's interface isn't the most intuitive we've ever seen, but the Help file contains a handy tutorial to help newbies get started, and we found the program pretty easy to use once we'd familiarized ourselves with its functions. Large graphical buttons across the top give users access to the major features, and floating palettes for tools and layers give the interface the potential for customization. Users can start with a particular image or just a plain background in the color of their choice. The program then lets users add effects to the image in individual layers, each of which can be adjusted for opacity. There are a wide variety of different effects: abstract, psychedelic, tie-dye-style patterns, water droplets, bricks, leaves, and much more. Users simply select the ones they like, adjust as needed, and save the finished result. For the most part, the program worked fine, although it often seemed to take a while to apply the effects, and at least once we had to forcibly shut the program down and restart it. Overall, we think the program produces images that have a somewhat dated look, but it works fine for what it is.

Imagelys Picture Styles installs a desktop icon without asking but uninstalls cleanly. We recommend this program to all users.

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