An Introduction to Photo Editing with PhotoLine

Welcome to PhotoLine!  This tutorial is designed both for people who are coming to PhotoLine from another image editing application, as well as for people who are new to photo editing and for whom PhotoLine is their first application.  It is intended to be a “walk-through” of the main tasks associated with photo editing rather than a comprehensive reference.

Part of the need for such a tutorial is that little has been written along these lines so far.  And much of the information available appears to be oriented toward graphic arts production.  Which is fine; but my own interest is photographic image editing.  Another motivation is that PhotoLine has developed a reputation for being harder to use than some other applications.  This has happened partly because the tools and menus are in fact different in places from other widely-used applications, and people who switch to Photoline may have some initial trouble unlearning their old habits.  In this respect, PhotoLine is not more difficult per se, just different.  Hence this tutorial, to demystify the major procedures at least.  And, the default user interface is not what I would consider the best; but fortunately it is fully customizable, and I have provided an alternate layout which is explained on the next page.  An endearing feature used to be occasional German menu items; I believe that they have all been fixed.

So why use PhotoLine?  Several big reasons:  besides having everything one expects from an image editor, such as 16 and 32-bit channels, CMYK and Lab editing, and full color management, it has advanced features like layer-specific image modes (an Lab layer within an RGB image, for example), hue and saturation curves, and adjustment layers for adjustment layers; it works perfectly in Linux using Wine; it runs plugins compatible with similar applications; and last but not least, for 59 Euros it comes with a permanent license; no subscription is necessary.

PhotoLine can actually be thought of as several programs in one:  a photographic image editor, a vector graphics editor, a desktop publisher, a raw processor, and an image browser.  This tutorial concerns the former, with a page devoted to raw processing, and forays into vector graphics and text editing on the scripting page.

For more information, read about its features and what’s new.  This tutorial was originally created with version 20.02 for Windows, 64-bit, and includes updates for version 21.50.  (There are minor layout differences between the Windows and Macintosh versions.)

You may download this tutorial as a .pdf file, PhotoLineTutorial.pdf (updated 6/11/2019).  The links work but not the image rollovers.  For the latter, you may save the individual web pages.
using curves in PhotoLine New in 2022, watch the YouTube video series starting with  Using Curves in PhotoLine:
1. the curves adjustment layer
2. layer masks
3. saturation and vibrance curves
4. color filters, blend modes, and color balance
5. Lab curves

Site © 2022 by Russell Cottrell; license is personal use, free distribution.
PhotoLine is a registered trademark of Computerinsel (“Computer Island”) GmbH, Bad Gögging, Germany.  This site is not affiliated with Computerinsel.

Table of contents:


Download and install


ICC color profiles

Color Management


Basic Concepts

Document vs. picture


Adjustment layers

Layer masks

Color filters

Color vs. luminance

Bit depth

Assigning/Setting/Tagging vs. Converting Color Profiles

Opening an image

Saving an image

Undoing actions

The Toolbox

Luminance Curves

Layer Masks

RGB Curves


Hue/Saturation layers

Saturation curves

Color filters

Lab curves


Resizing, Cropping, Sharpening, Spotting



General sharpening concepts

Sharpening with PhotoLine


Raw Conversion

The Placeholder/Background layer

Sensor array interpolation/demosaicing

The Lens Correction layer


Perspective and vignetting

Chromatic aberration

The Vector layer

Correct Highlights (Raw white points)

The Raw Adjustments layer

Histogram correction

Curves, Light/Shadow

Color temperature

Noise reduction


Notes on raw conversion using .icc profiles

Advanced Selections and Masks

Selecting, copying, pasting

Color filters

Channel selections

Child adjustment layers

Black/White Conversion, Channel Mixing, and Toning

The easy ways

The old-fashioned Channel Mixer

The newfangled Gray Mixer


Miscellaneous concepts

HDR Imaging

Miscellaneous Adjustments and Techniques


Light/Shadow and Exposure


Contrast Masking

Luminosity Masks and Color Filters


Printer profiles

Display profile

Resize and sharpen

Proof mode

Output Levels

Printer profile and print options



The script libraries

Sample scripts

Custom dialogs

Scripted actions

Tips and Tricks




Get started:  setup