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Professional Imaging Tools

(June 2011) posted on Tue Jun 07, 2011

Software for image editing, manipulation, and illustration.

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Alien Skin Software
Eye Candy 6 is a graphic-design special-effect plug-in for Adobe Photoshop. Version 6 features include: the ability to work with the 64-bit version of Photoshop; improved pre-sets that automatically adapt to image size; 30 filters; and more than 1000 presets (organized into categories). Eye Candy also offers multiple techniques for non-destructive editing in Photoshop, including Smart Filter support and rendering effects on a duplicate of the original layer; the ability to customize each effect and save those settings; “tooltips” that now appear above every control and a detailed popup manual; and connection to the Alien Skin website (which has a library of tutorial videos, example images, a knowledge base, and a discussion forum).
 Price: $249. Owners of previous Eye Candy versions can upgrade for $99.

Alien Skin’s Exposure 3 is a photography-effect plug-in for Adobe Photoshop. Designed to provide accurate film simulation and a wide range of creative effects in a simple interface, Exposure boasts a range of new features, including: a 64-bit support for Photoshop CS5 on both Macintosh and Windows; Lightroom integration that does not require Photoshop – it now works in Lightroom 2; aging effects and vintage films such as Technicolor and old Kodachrome; simulation of Lo-Fi toy camera photography; and more. 
Price: $249; $99 for upgrade.

Blow Up 2 is a Photoshop plug-in for enlarging images for print. New features designed to take the complications out of the process, include more than 100 presets for common output sizes, a built-in batch-processing tool, auto cropping, auto rotate (to match photo orientation), sharpening-to-media presets, and more. Simulated texture and film grain are designed to keep photos looking natural even in extreme enlargements; Blow Up can also clean up JPEG compression artifacts when a client insists on using a low-quality source image from the Web, reports Alien Skin.

The Image Doctor 2 plug-in restores old photos, removes unwanted objects from photos, and repairs low-quality JPEG images.

Xenofex 2, for special-effects enthusiasts, allows users to: simulate natural phenomena such as lightning and clouds; create sophisticated distortions such as Flag, Television, and the new Rip Open; transform photos into jigsaw puzzles, constellations, and mosaics with one click; and more.