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Auto FX Mystical Lighting

Special effects application and plugin for Adobe Photoshop By Dave Nagel
Mystical Lighting is the first graphics package I've reviewed from Auto FX, and I'm hooked. Mystical Lighting is a standalone application that also functions through a plugin interface with Adobe Photoshop. As its name suggests, the software is designed to produce lighting effects, as well as effects with a "mystical" quality--ethereal fog, vortices, fairy dust and the like. There are also some utilitarian effects, such as edge highlighting, shading and light casting.

The effects in this package range from the mundane to the fantastic, and there's such a wide degree of flexibility in the effects that you may never get tired of playing with them. These facts, along with the software's outstanding integration with Photoshop, are what have me hooked on Auto FX software. (I've also recently gotten my hands on four of their other software suites, which I'll review in the future.)

Whether used as a standalone application or as a Photoshop plugin, the software launches into its own interface, common across the entire line of Auto FX software.

Within this interface you'll find a full suite of navigation tools, edit commands, view options and other features you'd expect from a standalone graphics package. You'll also find within this interface all of the effects this software has to offer, conveniently located in one place.

The effects
There are 16 individual filters in this suite, many customizable to such a degree that it's difficult to say precisely how many effects this software can produce in total. Each one has its own set of parameters, ranging from just a few sliders and menus all the way up to cascading sets of parameters and subparameters. Many of the effects also include their own tools, such as paint brushes (with configurable size, softness, etc.), mask brushes, shape tools and the like.

There are two effects in the category of mists: WispyMist and regular, old Mist. WispyMist, seen below, creates striated mist effects and includes controls for defining a clear area. It also includes a masking brush for eliminating the mist effect from selected areas.

The regular Mist filter is a paint-on special effect. The mist is created by drawing with a brush, which is then stroked with the mist settings of your choice.

Related to the mist effects is a filter called Ethereal. This filter is used to add diffused lighting to a scene, and it includes a number of different preset diffuse styles. But it can also be used as an effect generator in itself for creating incorporeal forms composed of blurry, twinkling objects. It includes controls for the type of light cast, color, softness, distance and other parameters. It can also be used to add diffused lighting to a scene.

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