REVIEW SEPTEMBER 13, 2000
CValley FILTERiT 3 for Adobe Illustrator
54 effects to make your life a whole lot easier
I gave this set of Adobe Illustrator plugins a Best of Show award for this year's Seybold convention. That was before I had a chance to play with it in the comfort of my own Mac. Now that I have had the chance, I must say I'm more impressed than ever.
FILTERiT 3 is the first American version of this Macintosh-only set of plugins for Illustrator 8/9. It comes with 22 plugins that generate a total of 54 effects (plus about 30 sub effects), each one customizable through its own palette that only pops up when the tool is active. Each effect falls into one of seven categories: warps, waves, lenses, metabrushes, fades, point alignment, roughening, sweeps and "live" effects.
This last category, "live" effects, includes 11 customizable settings for working with text without converting it to outlines. Effects are updated on the fly as changes are made to text. They can also be used on objects, which are also updated on the fly as changes are made to the object.
I can't say enough good things about this set of plugins. It does what no other set of plugins has ever done, namely make me want to work in Illustrator. This might sound a little snotty, but I don't like applications that require more numerical input than artistic talent. FILTERiT 3, while supplying all the level of control the most anal designer could ever desire, frees me from the technical restraints of illustration programs and offers the kind of freedom I expect from a paint program, while offering the functionality most paint programs can't match.
Simply put, I love this thing. So let's take a look at what FILTERiT 3 can do.
FILTERiT 3 adds several new icons to your Illustrator tool palette. These are the filters you'd use on objects and text outlines. They don't offer live updating, but they can produce some outstanding results. Of course, if you apply a filter style to an object that also has a live filter applied to it, the object and all its clones will be updated as usual. We'll look at them one by one, beginning with warps.
When you click on the Warp tool, a palette of 22 warp styles pops up. (You can see the Warp palette in the margin on the left of this page.) These range from curves and spheres to sharp convex and concave shapes. To apply a warp, you select your object, select the style you like and click your mouse on the canvas, moving it around to adjust the strength of the warp. Select any number of objects, and FILTERiT automatically determines how to apply the warp across all the objects, as if they were a singe object, as in the example below.
To this with one mouse click:
Holding the Shift key provides symmetry to the warp. Holding the Option key changes the warp into a horizontal distortion rather than a vertical one. Shift-Option adds symmetry to the horizontal warp. Within the Warp palette, you also have the option of applying perspective and adjusting the margin. A live preview shows the effect of the filter in real time as the mouse is moved around.
And, as with all the tools in this set, a small help icon appears on the palette to provide the user with quick access to tips for using the tool.
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