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Human Software Classic Frames 1

Frame creation plugin for Photoshop, PhotoPaint and PaintShop By Dave Nagel
This is the first plugin I've reviewed for this site that borders a bit on the consumer level. Human Software, maker of a number of higher-end image editing and effects plugins, publishes a filter called Classic Frames 1, which is designed exclusively to add frame edges to images. This is, of course, a one-trick filter, but it has several variations and a few pretty decent professional applications as well.

For magazine layout, the possibility of adding frames to images can have a certain appeal, depending on the theme of a particular story. You know, if it's a story about elderly people going in for higher education, you can composite a fancy-looking frame over a fake diploma. Or for another story you could do one of those endless variations on American Gothic. Whatever.

Web designers can also use it for adding a little variation to pages containing thumbnails or, in the case of gallery pages, to beef up the metaphor a bit by adding actual frames to images.

One of the 60 frame styles that ships with
Classic Frames 1 from Human Software.

But for me, the appeal actually lies somewhere else, where the impact can be a bit more significant, namely in the area of bump, texture and displacement maps for 3D animation.

The Load Effect window in Classic Frames 1 allows you to select frame styles, which can then be tweaked in the effects editor (seen below).

We've discussed before that 3D is becoming an essential tool for designers who work in Flash or need to create animations for the Web. And what goes hand in hand with 3D design? A hunger for texture maps.

So let's say you're designing an interior scene. You populate the room with furniture, rugs and knick knacks, but what do you do with the wall? Leave it bare? Well here comes an incredibly easy and effective way to add detail to your 3D interior scenes.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking: Frames are easy to make in 3D programs. Yes, true, but not frames that come out with the kind of detail you'll find in Human Software's plugin. Let's take a look at how it works and what it can output.

What it does
Classic Frames 1 is not the kind of frame-creation tool we've seen in the past, where you have to manually composite the image of a frame over your current layer. It works just like any other plugin, in that it's accessed through the Filter menu in Photoshop. The difference is that the primary effect is not an effect at all but an actual image stretched and stitched on top of your current image.

There's no drawback to this approach, since you're not limited to the selection of frames that ships with the filter, but, since it is stretching an existing image, you will, depending on the aspect ratio of your own image, see varying degrees of distortion in the final output. But if you keep the images to standard photo ratios or something close to them, you're not going to see any problems.

The first time you launch Classic Frames, you see a dialog box giving you several options, but you can't do anything with these until you've located the folder that contains your frame images. After you do this, you'll be presented with thumbnail views of the available frames (60 styles standard), which you can select through the graphic display or through a menu selection.

After you apply the effect, you're given the option of changing the parameters of the frames and each individual element of the frame. (Frames can be combined essentially as layers, and each "layer" is tweakable until you finally apply the effect to your image.)

Classic Frames 1 provides a number of effects that can be applied to each element of the frame individually.

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