Flaming Pear’s BladePro
A commercial-grade Photoshop plugin at a shareware price

by Dave Nagel
Executive Producer

We're going to take a look today at a Photoshop filter that, though not new, I've only discovered in the last week. The company is Flaming Pear Software. The filter is BladePro. It, like so many other filters from Flaming Pear, is both relatively unknown and shockingly feature-rich. It's also shockingly affordable: For a $49 shareware fee, you get a filter worthy of more praise than many a commercial offering. Combined with other packages from Flaming Pear, you have a suite of filters to rival anything on the market for value and performance. Let's take a look at what this thing can do.

What it does
BladePro is primarily a tool for creating 3D effects on images. It includes 13 bevel shapes for creating button and relief effects and 12 preset textures. Any PICT file can also be used as a texture and can be easily imported with a few mouse clicks. It also ships with 128 spare environments and bump maps. More are available for download from the Flaming Pear Web site. Bump maps can be scaled, and environments can be rotated and flipped.

BladePro's interface offers numerous controls, including 12 sliders. Click image for a full view.

Each one of these is controllable through 12 sliders that allow you to adjust the intensity of each filter. These include radius of the bevel, height of the bevel, smoothness, texture, gloss, glare, reflection of the environment, glassiness, caustic effect, iridescence, iris colors and tarnish. The tarnish effect also allows you to select the tarnish color, though the default works well. You can also change the effect from normal to procedural +, procedural -, difference, lighten, darken, add, subtract, multiply, screen, tarnish and caustic.

On top of all this, you get two fully controllable, color-selectable lights, a random button and the ability to save and load your favorite settings—plus a scalable preview.

But what's just as impressive as the controls are the results you can achieve using BladePro. And, just in case you're not the kind to experiment, Flaming Pear provides good documentation, along with some easy to follow tutorials. Click here for a screenshot of the BladePro interface.

The effects
One of the great way's BladePro can be used is to apply effects to text. Effects can be applied to the text itself to create a bevel effect that follows the contours of the text. It can also be applied to the area around and including the text, which provides a flatter effect, since the filter will only apply areas of the bevel that overlap the text (as in the C in the image below).