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Alien Skin Image Doctor

Image repair filters for Adobe Photoshop By Dave Nagel
Alien Skin has made a name for itself over the years with effects plugins for Adobe Photoshop and After Effects, including Eye Candy, Xenofex and, most recently, Splat! In fact, you might even say the company itself has become something of a cult figure among Photoshop enthusiasts, particularly those masses out there (including myself) who are avid Photoshop filter collectors and flash their Alien Skin memorabilia as if they were collector items, which, hopefully for me, they will be some day....

The reasons for Alien Skin's popularity are simple: flash and substance. By "flash," I'm not just referring to Alien Skin's Employee's hairdos, but the striking effects made possible by filters in Eye Candy and Splat! And by substance, I mean the overall quality and functionality of the filters Alien Skin produces.

But while the latest offering from Alien Skin--Image Doctor--does have substance, it certainly does not have a whole lot of flash, at least not on the surface. This is because their latest filter collection isn't in the effects category at all, but in the category of image repair.

Image Doctor is a suite of four Photoshop filters designed to enhance digital images and scanned film and remove defects in these images. These tools range from artifact and blemish removal all the way up to the removal of large objects from a scene. Allow me to break it down for you.

Smart Fill
By far, my favorite filter in the Image Doctor collection is the Smart Fill filter, or, as I refer to it, the Miracle filter. What's so miraculous about it? Well, take a look at the before and after images below.

As you might have inferred from these images, Smart Fill allows you to extract unwanted objects in your image--even whole subjects--and replace them with interpolated data. In the case of the images above, it replaced the image's subject with foliage extracted from the background. And it did it with about two clicks.

You begin by selecting the portion of your image you want removed. As you can see from the interface shot below, you then simply play around with the texture size, regularity and feathering, and then move around the big rectangle over the portion of your image from which you want Smart Fill to extract the replacement texture.

Simple enough. And very effective, though you might not get such excellent results from every image. t helps to have a large background are from which to sample your interpolation data, and, of course, it helps to have a busy background where interpolation will not be obvious. But even with these restrictions, the software is simply incredible.

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