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AV Bros. Puzzle Pro 2.0Puzzle and cutout effects filter for Adobe Photoshop
Now, beyond the effects that you can produce, Puzzle Pro 2.0 also has some pretty decent workflow features. At just about any stage in the process, you can save or recall your settings--everything from an entire effect to a basic side shape. You can also save pieces of your knife shapes to Illustrator and EPS format. And, critically, you can also save the Puzzle pieces out to a separate Photoshop file.
In that case, any puzzle pieces you have selected will be saved onto individual layers, while unselected pieces will be saved in the background. The pieces on individual layers can then, of course, be manipulated back in Photoshop, where you can rotate them, apply drop shadows or do anything else you might want to do with them.
Each individual piece that had been selected is labeled and placed on its own layer, while the unselected pieces are grouped together on a single layer called "Composite."
Other workflow niceties include undo, easy access to help in all of the windows, the ability to save and load selections (on top of the ability to save and load files, paths and settings), redundant buttons for easy access to commands and a healthy collection of keyboard shortcuts.
Whenever I'm reviewing a product, I'm conscious as I go along of anything that I might include in my ever-present "Disappointments" section. But there's so little to report here. Every time I thought I'd found something wrong or something that could be better, I'd look in the 55-page PDF manual and find the answer. So any problems I have with this plugin are so trifling that they're almost not worth mentioning. It has its own undo function, but not multiple undo. Not a huge deal. You can't import Photoshop shapes directly into the plugin for mixing and matching. It can't generate multiple layers on output to the image directly, but then again it can output a completely separate Photoshop file, which you can then open and manipulate. It would be nice if you could dislocate and transform individual pieces right within the plugin, but it's really not much of a hassle to do it after the effect has been applied and output to a layered PSD file. So, in short, nothing is really missing from this software.
The bottom line
AV Bros. Puzzle Pro 2.0 is not only the most comprehensive filter I've seen for making jigsaw puzzle and other cutout effects, but it's also the most comprehensive filter of this type that I could possibly imagine. It gives you manual and automatic control over every aspect of your cutout effect, plus an ample variety of subsidiary effects, like bevels and color overlays. If you need to turn your images into puzzles or apply other cutout effects to an image, you're going to be pretty hard pressed to find anything that can do it as well as Puzzle Pro 2.0. The documentation (both online and in PDF format) is excellent; the software is quick and well implemented; and the price is reasonable. I give it a Strong Buy recommendation.
Puzzle Pro 2.0 is available now for Mac OS X and Windows and supports Adobe Photoshop 7 and CS and compatible hosts. (See the company's Web site for tested applications.) The full version runs $49.95 for a single license, with upgrades running $24.95. For more information, visit http://www.avbros.com.
Contact the author: Dave Nagel is the editor and producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Apple DVD Studio Pro, Mac OS, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at [email protected].
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