Plugin Newsletter - October 2003
VERSION 1.01 OF FOCALBLADE WAS RELEASED
DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY MAGAZINE: Sharpening Plugins
LATEST PRODUCT REVIEWS: Webmaster Series, Plugin Galaxy
THE DISCUSSION FORUMS: Apply Texture to Shape, Merging Photos for Better Contrast, Create Grid, Abstract Designs
POLL RESULTS: Your Favorite Resizing Plugins
NEW POLL: Plugin Dialog Design
FREE PLUGINS AND TOOLS: Fotomatic, FP Freebies, Various video plugins, Photoshop Album 2 SE, Avid Free DV, Compositor SE
GRAPHICS NEWS: ACDSee, FaceFilter, PS Album 2, IE Changes, Webstyle 4, combustion 3, TV Pro, Shapes
PRODUCTS FROM THE PLUGIN SITE
ABOUT THE PLUGIN SITE
After a lot of product releases in September, it has been quite silent in October. Nevertheless the Free Plugin And Tools section of this issue includes some 8bf plugins, video plugins and applications. Additionally the Reviews section of The Plugin Site will be updated more frequently in future with new product reviews and not just every few months like it was the case for the last two years. By the end of the year reviews of the most important plugins should be available. For more news read below...
Have a nice Halloween,
VERSION 1.01 OF FOCALBLADE WAS RELEASED
Version 1.01 of our most successful product so far has finally been released. We planned to include many more features in FocalBlade 1.01, but we didn't want to let you wait any longer. FocalBlade 1.01 includes some very important new features and enhancements.
FocalBlade 1.01 can process huge images with very little RAM and renders up to 10% faster at low RAM. It features better sharpening, because now it increases saturation and brightness less when sharpening. There are new Highlights and Shadows sliders on the Fix tab sheet for reducing the sharpening or blurring in the highlight and shadow areas. The White/Black Halo sliders work more precisely and also affect the surface area. Support for grayscale images (8 bit and 16 bit) has been added, too. Smaller enhancements include the usage of the Alt key to move the preview image with the left mouse button, the improvement of the Undo button to remove or restore the sample area and an expanded Tips section in the manual.
The new demo now applies small watermarks instead of a large grid as a protection, so it will be easier to judge the sharpening quality of FocalBlade especially on prints. All people who already registered FocalBlade will get the download instructions for the new version within the next 24 hours. If your email address changed in the meantime, please let us know your full name as well as your old and new email address.
For more information and downloading a demo version please go to
DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY MAGAZINE
Issue 5 of Digital Photography Techniques magazine is on sale now. It includes 60 Photoshop photo fixes, montage and still life creative projects, tips on coloring up b/w images, adding sunlight rays, coloring hair as well as tips for Paint Shop Pro and PS Elements. As usual there is also my monthly column "Essential Plugins" which focuses on sharpening plugins this time. The cover disk of the magazine includes 1 hour of Photoshop movie tutorials and a full version of Extensis Portfolio Solo 6.
For more information and subscribing see
LATEST PRODUCT REVIEWS
Due to my limited time I wasn't able to produce some more product reviews for the Reviews section of The Plugin Site. As the review section can be helpful for many people, I didn't want that it became more and more outdated. So I asked a few people to review some products for me. You can find their name at the top of each review. Kathy Becker did the first reviews of the following two products for this month:
The Plugin Site Plugin Galaxy:
"Plugin Galaxy offers filters for creating incredible textures and patterns and filters for generating effects not found in other packages. It contains so many different effect types that it takes hours and hours to explore them all."
Flaming Pear Webmaster Series:
"The Web Scrubber filter is not very useful as most graphics programs can do a better job of dithering, however, the Web Posterize and Browser Preview plugins make up for it's lack of functionality. Still, with the possibility to save GIF and JPG files these plugins would have been much more useful."
For the full reviews with screen shots please visit
THE DISCUSSION FORUMS
Graeme wrote "I wish to apply a surface texture to an irregular shape in my images. For example, applying a textured pattern to a human body. I know that there are plugins that allow me to apply to regular shapes like globes, cylinders etc but have been unable to find one that applies to an irregular shape and follows the contours of the shape. Is anyone aware of such a plugin for Photoshop?"
Richard asks "Is ther a plug-in that would enable the merging of varying contrast images of the same subject - something that would enable the production of wider range final images."
Borgtex wrote "I need a plugin to draw a grid over an image. I tried Richard Rosenman's Grid Generator and others, but they don't work the way I want, because I need to create fixed squared grids, i.e. 200x200 px, even if that cuts some squares. Also, you must be able to specify the color/width of the lines. I've used the site search, but no luck. Any suggestions?"
Pinkie asks "I use Photoshop 7s pattern maker to create abstract designs from a small section of an image. But as one reviewer stated, the results are mostly vertical fractal-like slices that all look very similar after awhile. Any suggestions for a free program to create abstract designs?"
For more discussions and comments please visit
In October we wanted to know which tools you use for resizing. Here are the results of 360 voters:
1. Photoshop's Image Size 41%
2. Paint Shop Pro's Resize 28%
3. IrfanView's Resize/Resample 9.5%
4. Other 7.5%
5. LizardTech Genuine Fractals 4%
6. PhotoImpact's Image Size 3%
7. Photo-Paint' Resample 3%
8. Extensis SmartScale 2%
9. Shortcut S-Spline 1.5%
10. F-Soft Resize Magic 0.3%
11. HumanSoftware XFile 0%
Using Photoshop's Image Size tool for resizing images is certainly a good choice for many cases. Although 28% seem to use PSP's Resize tool, I would only recommend it for downsizing. When upsizing it creates blocky artifacts, so I can only warn of using it for upsizing. IrfanView's Resize/Resample tool is certainly an alternative if you don't own Photoshop. Especially it's Lanczos method can produce better results than Photoshop in some cases. Speaking of resizing plugins, Genuine Fractals is quite impressive, thus highly recommendable when upsizing images by 200% or more.
For more poll results please visit
The poll for November asks "Which Plugin Design Do You Prefer?". You can choose between preview on the right, left or top side of the dialog and a "It doesn't matter" item. Most plugins have the preview on the left and the controls on the right-hand side, but some companies like Alienskin and FlamingPear seem to prefer to have it vise versa, which may be more comfortable for left-handed people. Anyway, it would be nice to hear about your preference or if you like all of these dialog designs.
Please cast your votes at the bottom of the main page at
Please tell us your opinion about this topic at
FREE PLUGINS AND TOOLS
SkyGrad from the Cybia's Fotomatic package (for Windows) is a Photoshop-compatible plugin filter for tinting the sky area of photos. It is nice for changing the mood of a scene, brightening-up a dull shot or producing a dramatic overcast sky. The plugin overlays an increasingly transparent, colored gradient from top to bottom. The color can be specified with three RGB sliders.
The FlamingPear Freebies plugin collection (for Win/Mac) was again expanded with new plugins. The old "Solidify" plugin has split up into two plugins which can reveal and repair partially transparent layers. Two other new plugins "AntiGhost" for turning the alpha channel into solid grays and "Make Cube Tile" takes a square image and modifies it so that six tiles can seamlessly cover a sphere. The commercial Flexify plugin from FlamingPear can use these tiles as input. All of these plugins have no dialog and controls, so they are immediately applied to the image.
GraphicXtras.com offers GX Blend 1 Freebie plugin for After Effects (for Windows). It is a color variation of op-rings plugin from the Andrew's Video Effects package with a wide selection of color settings to create weird and interesting color effects. GraphicXtras.com also offer a Symbol Zoom plugin for Illustrator for zooming and rotating symbols from the included collection.
Fast Blur from Digital Film Tools is a free plugin for AfterEffects and Avid Express (for Win/Mac). It is now included as a part of the Composite Suite set of plug-ins.
A guy called stib offers two packages with 7 free Final Cut Pro plugins (for Macintosh) as well as many links to other free Final Cut Pro plugins on this site:
Photoshop Album 2.0 Starter Edition (for Windows) is a free limited-feature version of Photoshop Album 2.0 for finding, organizing and adding keyword tags to your photos. Photo fixing options include: Auto Color, Auto Levels, Auto Contrast , Sharpen, Crop and Red Eye Removal. But as these tools can't be adjusted, they often don't produce the best corrections. Photoshop Album SE also can be used to display slide shows, email individual photos or print them or order prints online. All in all, a nice tool if you don't have any other image cataloging software or enhanced image viewer yet.
Avid Free DV (for Windows XP / Mac OS X) is a streamlined version of Avid's award-winning video editing software with capabilities that include two video tracks, four audio tracks, basic trimming and editing functionality and up to two streams of real-time effects. Avid Free DV is an easy, free way to learn the editing interface and tool set used by many video editing professionals.
Artly There Software offer Compositor v1.9.5 SE (for Mac Classic), a free image editing and image-to-art application. It includes luminosity mapping, anti-aliased image rotation and lets you apply actions to movies and more than 120 filter and channel effects. Version 2.x of Compositor is commercial. They also offer Slide Freebie, a free image viewer (for Mac). It can convert images to other formats, rename them and demonstrate 61 filter effects.
ACD Systems Releases ACDSee 6.0
FaceFilter - Fine-tune Facial Expressions in Any Photo
Adobe Ships Photoshop Album 2.0
Macromedia Prepares Customers for Microsoft Internet Explorer Browser Changes
Xara Releases Webstyle 4
Discreet Ships combustion 3 Desktop Compositing Software
Tools for Television PRO Photoshop Plugin
Graphicxtras/Abneil Offers 50% special Deal on 8000+ Custom Shapes for Photoshop
For daily graphics news updates, visit