Review of procreates KnockOut 2

Knockout 2 by procreate is a "knockout" of a program. It was released in the fall of 2001. Procreate is a division of Corel that specializes in software applications for both the Mac and Windows platforms that are specifically geared toward creative professionals. This does not mean that these products are hard to use. Knockout 2 was not only easy to learn and use, but its results were great. Its ease of use and excellent results will be discussed in the body of the review.

What is Knockout? It is basically what the name implies. It knocks out unwanted material in a a photograph, for example. It will separate a complicated graphic from its background. It can preserve tiny bits of data on a yellow hair strand, for example, without the strand of hair appearing transparent. If it becomes transparent, color can be inserted into it.

Before I start the review, since I now write for Renderosity as well as for my own web site, I am including more Mac information than I did in the past. However, my platform is Windows and I have not used this program on a Mac. Also, I found while creating examples for this review, that I also was creating images for a mini tutorial. I decided to integrate into the review.

The minimum system requirements for Windows are:

  • Windows 98, NT4, Me, or Windows XP
  • IBM-compatible PC, Pentium 200 or higher
  • Adobe Photoshop 5 or higher or compatible host
  • 128 MB RAM [3x image size (RGB or Alpha) recommended]
  • 30 MB or greater available hard disk space
  • SVGA monitor with 24-bit color display adapter
  • 2x CD-ROM drive
  • Mouse or tablet

The minimum requirements for a Macintosh are:

  • Mac OS 8.6 or higher or Mac OS X
  • Power Macintosh (150 MHz or faster)
  • Adobe Photoshop 5 or higher (or compatible host)
  • 128 MB Ram [3X image size (RGB+Alpha) recommended]
  • 30 MB or greater available hard disk space
  • SVGA monitor with 24-bit color display adapter
  • 2X CD-ROM drive
  • Mouse or tablet

Knockout 2 has enhanced many of its features. I cannot comment on how these differ from previous versions because this is the first version of Knockout I have used. For those people who have used Knockout previously, some of the new features are:

  • Enhanced compatibility with Adobe Photoshop As a plug-in one does not have to use an external masking program. New to this version are shortcut keys, menus and, commands that have a similar interface to Photoshop. This shortens the learning curve.
  • Touchup Tools One can perform detailed touch up work from within the plug-in.
  • Mac OS X carbonization KnockOut2 is carbonized to run natively on Mac OS X and features the new Aqua interface.
  • Property Bar This bar contains commonly used features for faster access.
  • CMYK color support CMYK images can be used directly in Knockout 2.
  • Polygon Line This tool allows for the user to define a selection by points or freehand
  • Revert file options This is a great time saver because the image can be reverted in Knockout 2 plug-in itself.
  • Multiple Undo/Redo There are up to 99 levels.

AccompanyingKnockout 2 is an adequate user manual. The CD-ROM installs three tutorials and two more can be found on the procreate web site. These can be accessed via the installed tutorials. The best learning program that comes with this CD is an excellent QuickTime 5 movie called QuickTour. This movie is a great instructional tool.. When I found some problems while learning one area, this movie helped me to understand them.

I found KnockOut2 was easy to use and did an amazing job. Basically, the program works by creating an inside line (the white one) on the foreground item that you want to separate from the background and an outside line (red one) on the background. The yellow line represents the line to create to cut out an area.

The directions are easy to follow. I was relatively successful the first time I tried to separate the bird from its background. On the second try I was very satisfied. As I practiced drawing the lines a little differently each time, I saw where to place them and what color factors to take into consideration. Once one draws either an inside line or an outside line, one can automatically generate the other. I chose to do both by hand. The following show examples of the first and second images I generated. The differences are apparent. These are processed images with "KnockOut2" applied. Each was placed on a white background in Photoshop so the problem areas were visible. Within the KnockOut2 plug-in, different color screens can be used so as to see the foreground image better.

1st Attempt
2nd Attempt

KnockOut2 will not only generate a selection, but it can also be used to generate masks to be brought into Photoshop. Once the lines are drawn, the image can be processed to see the results. The inner and outer lines can, also, be turned off and on. As stated above, various colors can be placed behind the image. The following three images show the final image in the middle, the image against a red background in KnockOut2 to the left, and a KnockOut2 generated mask on the right. The image on the left was cleaned up in KnockOut2 itself. I could, also, have cleaned it up in Photoshop once it was processed and the filter applied. The feathers were very well preserved in the final image.

Image Cleaned Up in Knockout 2 Itself
Finished Image
Knockout Generated Mask


Knockout can add areas to an image similar to a rubber stamp or cloning tool. One can select with a syringe color from the body of the image and place it in an area that was accidentally erased. Thus, tiny feathers or strands of hair can be added again. If one looks closely at the image on the right, the syringe tool is right above the grayed out brush on the side tool bar.

The positioning of the inside and outside lines as well as the process slider determine how the foreground and background are separated. The illustration on the right shows the four settings for the process bar which is on the lower part of the side tool bar. It is interesting to try different settings and see the variations. It is amazing how accurately the process bar strips away or knocks out background material..

The second example I tried was an image of a woman and a baby. She had long blond hair that I wanted to keep while removing the background. Since the final result was not as good as I had hoped it would be, I decided to see how I could correct the problem According to the manual, the syringe tool was what I needed, but try as I might I could not replace the lost strands of hair. I could not understand the directions in the manual for using the syringe tool. I was able to bring back the strands of hair using the pushpin tool even though that is not its purpose. However, after looking at the QuickTime 5 movie located on the CD-ROM entitled I had better luck, and was able to use the syringe tool for injecting foreground color into the transparentish areas. However, I advise using both the syringe and pushpin for preserving those wispy areas even if this process deviates from the conventional.

Original Image
Knocked-Out Image
Final Image

Another tool in Knockout 2 is the feather tool. I could feather the image in KnockOut2 even before I applied the filter and retrieved it in Photoshop. Basically, the only tool I had trouble with, at first, was the Syringe tool.

I rate this product very highly. Procreate does not state that its editing and refining capabilities are to be used in isolation. I haven't found any masking program that will do everything. By their very nature they can't. However, this is the best masking tool I have ever used and I will continue to use it in my daily work. It does the majority of the work and only a little editing is needed in Photoshop afterwards.

The three images above could be misleading. The image to the left is the "original" image. The middle image was the first one I tried in KnockOut2 and it is a little rough. The image on the right was, also created in KnockOut2 and required no touch up in Photoshop. Notice the strands of hair falling down her back. The right image is much better. The strands of hair were created using the Syringe and Pushpin tool, and the background remains from the separating were cleaned up with the Eraser tool.

For more information on Knockout, go to the Procreate web site. The purchase price Of Knockout 2 is $329 for either the Window's or the Mac platform. The upgrade price is also the same and it is $149.

While there is not a demo available, the product does come with a 30 days money back guarantee.