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Squizz 4 Pro Revisited

Warp and distortion effects for Adobe Photoshop and compatible hosts By Dave Nagel
Just last week we reviewed Human Software's Squizz 4 Pro. In this review, I commented on several shortcomings that I thought were holding it back as a viable plugin for creating warp and distortion effects in Adobe Photoshop. I also commented that I'd happily revise my assessment if Human Software would release an update to this plugin that addressed my concerns. Well, guess what....

Actually, the update for Squizz 4 Pro had been out--along with a few intermediate updates--at the time of my review, and I had missed them. (Human Software e-mails its registered users with updates and also posts links on a third-party site, a fact I was not aware of.) At any rate, the update fixes two issues with the software that I thought were critical: the plugin's rendering time and a flaw in one of its features (called "freeze") that allows users to mask off areas of the image so that they will not be affected by the warp. (In fact, rendering time has not just improved; its been eliminated. I'll get to this below.)

And so, in the interest of accuracy, here, without further ado, is my revised review of Human Software's Squizz 4 Pro (version 4.05).

What it does
Squizz 4 Pro is a plugin for Adobe Photoshop and other image-editing applications that allows you to apply a variety of warp styles to images. These include brush-style warps, a la Photoshop's built-in "Liquify" effect; grid warps, similar to what you have probably encountered in vector illustration programs; envelope distortions, related somewhat to Adobe Illustrator's Envelope Distort function; and path warps.

The brush-style effects you're familiar with if you've ever taken a peek at Photoshop's "Liquify" tool. It works along the same lines; that is, you choose your brush size and speed and paint your warp effects onto the image, watching them develop as you brush. There are some differences though. First, brush sizes are unlimited. Second, the brushes take advantage of Human Software's internal algorithms that allow the effect to be drawn with equal speed regardless of image size; and, third, it includes a few different warp brush tools.

The first of these is the Squizz brush (seen above), which is sort of an interactive spherize/pinch/twirl/jitter brush. The second and, I think, more important is a Displacement brush. Like Photoshop's Displace filter, the Displacement Brush in Squizz allows you to load an image as a displacement map. Unlike the Displace filter, Squizz allows you to paint the displacement onto the image interactively, so you can avoid areas you don't want to displace. This can be a tremendous boon for those who use displacement for lighting effects. For example, let's say you want to apply a light effect to a scene, like the one below.

And then you displace it interactively using Squizz. This will allow you to achieve the displacement effect on the areas you're concerned with, while leaving others untouched.

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