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AV Bros. Puzzle Pro 2.0

Puzzle and cutout effects filter for Adobe Photoshop By Dave Nagel
There's no shortage of software available for creating jigsaw puzzle effects on images. You'll find freeware, shareware and commercial software designed for this purpose in abundance. But the folks at AV Bros. have brought this otherwise simple and straightforward effect up to a new level of functionality with Puzzle Pro 2.0 for Adobe Photoshop, providing a wealth of customizable controls and the ability to use the technologies behind puzzle creation for generating all sorts of cutout effects.

The basics
AV Bros. is almost doing itself a disservice by naming this software "Puzzle Pro." Obviously its main purpose is to create jigsaw-style effects, but really the range of capabilities of this program goes well beyond that simple purpose. It's good for any kind of effect that would require you to cut out or otherwise segment your image, including mosaics, stained glass and the like. But let's start with the basics.

When you launch Puzzle Pro 2.0, you're presented with two windows for interacting with your effect. The first, the main window, provides you with a preview of your image, along with a variety of options for manipulating your individual cut pieces, such as random flips, interleaving, selection options (including cutting and pasting individual sides of pieces), etc. It also presents you with the ability to manipulate geometry manually, as you would, say, with a warp grid, by grabbing and dragging points on the puzzle grid.

At the same time, you also have a Cutter window, which is where you define your basic shapes for your puzzle.

This includes, for example, the ability to add points to the path of your puzzle piece shape and manipulate it manually, set the number of rows and columns, randomize various parameters, adjust the size of the puzzle knobs, adjust the thickness of the splitter (the area between pieces) and mutate the pieces.

It also presents you with the ability to load a preset library, which contains several different puzzle styles, from traditional jigsaw pieces to more bizarre, complex shapes like spirals, starbursts, dovetails and others.

Of course, you can also save and load your own presets, which are easy enough to create the the simple path manipulation features in the Shaper section of the Cutter window. By clicking on any part of the path, you can add new points automatically, then simply drag them to form your shape. It also includes "smoothness" controls for rounding off the curves from individual points or creating hard edges.

And, again, any shape can be applied to the puzzle as a whole or to any individual side of a puzzle piece or anything in between. (You can select groups of sides by dragging, Shift-clicking for capturing entire rows and columns or Command-clicking for non-contiguous selections.)

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