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Alien Skin Splat!

Filter effects for Adobe Photoshop By Dave Nagel
You're probably aware of Alien Skin by virtue of Eye Candy 4000, the company's suite of effects for Adobe Photoshop. The strength of the Eye Candy collections throughout their various incarnations has always been in the range and versatility of the effects. With Splat!, Alien Skin's latest venture into Photoshop effects, we find a more limited selection of filters with a fairly narrow range of application, but with tremendous variation and, of course, the solid, professional interface we've come to expect from Alien Skin.

What it does
Splat! is a collection of six effect filters for Photoshop (including Photoshop 7 for Mac OS X). They fall into two broad categories--edges and textures--though it's difficult to categorize them like this without some specific explanation.

So here's what they do.

Border Stamp
The Border Stamp, as its name implies, "stamps" a "border" onto your image. The border consists of sampled images, such as buttons, hearts, candy, toys, flowers and the like. The filter provides options for the size of the images sampled, the margin (inset of the border from the edge of the image or selection), the border width and the density of the sampled images. It also provides random settings and options for adding drop shadows to the sampled images--including color, blur, distance, direction and opacity.

Fill stamp
Like Border Stamp, the Fill Stamp filter samples images and places them onto your main image. Unlike Border Stamp, the Fill Stamp effect can be used to create something like a photomosaic--that is, the objects used on the image can be colorized to match the image, as in the examples below.

The filter can also be used to generate seamless tiles, and the fill itself can replace the original image or sit on top of it.

Like several filters from Photoshop's past, the Edges filter creates edge effects on an image, such as torn paper, halftone dots, rough edges and the like. Unlike similar filters from the past (and unlike other filters in the Splat! collection), this one does not include an expansive library of edge effects. There are six total, along with options for edge width, margin, color, direction, fill and feature size.

Now this seems like a real missed opportunity. Edge effects can be simple to employ using nothing more than black and white images as masks, but the edges in Splat! are data-based, so they don't lend themselves to easy editing. Alien Skin could have easily included 100 edges with the collection, if the edge effects were image-based rather than computational.

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