Extensis PhotoFrame 2.0

"Be Creative; Use a Frame!

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Extensis PhotoFrame 2.0 is a second generation plug-in for Adobe Photoshop that allows you to create frames and borders. With Version 2.0, you can create and customize brand new frames with the Instant Frames feature. There is even an added Instant Edges, giving you the ability to apply and combine custom edge distortions to either frame files or Instant Frames. The new version also Catsupports multiple frames (up to 32 at once). There is a new interface complete with docking palettes and full-screen interactive previews. You can get more creative with this version and apply bevels, glows, shadows, and textures. There are over 1000 professionally designed frames in Version 2.0, triple the amount found in the first version. The frames are organized into three volumes. Volumes 1 and 2 are identical from PhotoFrame 1.0, but the additional Volume 3 has 50 new categories of frames (over 650 frames) to choose from. I used a Grill frame with a border and background for the cat image to the right.

  1. Painted Edge Effects (Brush, Canvas, Charcoal, Corrugated Brush, Corrugated Stamp, Shapes, Stucco, Tape, Ripped, Vignette, Watercolor, Camera Edge, Pebble Board, Texture Rip, Wide Brush, Wild Brush, and Wood Block);
  2. Digital Edge Effects (Airbrush, Blend, Chisel, Crystal, Digital, Dots, Fabric, Feathered Edges, Film Strip, Matte, Mondrian, Orange Peel, Rib, Sonic Wave, Stamp, Wall, and Wave).
  3. Digital & Natural Media (1. Natural Media--Blotch, Charcoal II, Comb, Corrugated, Crazy Brush, Dolly Fingerprints, Grill, Honeycomb, Ice, India Ink, Inkblot, Marker, Misc, Phone Cord, Scratch, Smear, Smudge, Snakeskin, Sponge, Tiles, Toothbrush, and Watercolor II) & (2. Digital--Bubbles, Cats Eye, Cave, Comet, Crystallize, Disco, Displacement, Dots, Extrude, Flowery, Glass, Lines, Misc, Mondrian II, Razor, Rough, Saw Blade, Sonic II, Spin Cycle, Sprayed Strokes, Squares, Stars, Strata, Texturizer, Triangles, Valentine, and Whirled).

The preview method that you use to look at the frames is the Portfolio catalog included on the PhotoFrame CD. Extensis Portfolio 4.0 is an image database for managing digital media. The PhotoFrame CD includes Portfolio Browser 4.0, a read-only version of the Portfolio. No installation is necessary as Portfolio Browser lives on the CD along with the catalog and frame files. You are not limited to just these frames as PhotoFrame is also fully compatible with frame files from any Auto F/X Photo/Graphic Edges volume. You can purchase PhotoFrame for $199.95. The upgrade from PhotoFrame 1.0 is $79.95. The product is available for either Macintosh or Windows.

Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced computer users. This program would be appropriate Frames & Framesfor just about anyone interested in creating unique frames. It can be used by creative professionals, graphic designers, corporate in-house creative departments, self employed designers; photographers, whether film or digital; and multimedia and Internet content creators. Within a matter of minutes, even as a novice, you can create unique images.
  • Endless Combination of Frames--PhotoFrame now includes over 1000 frame files that can be combined and customized into endless design possibilities. (Improved)
  • eFrame Web Site--Extensis and Dynamic Graphics have teamed up to build a companion Web site to PhotoFrame: eFrame (www.dgusa.com/eFrames) There you can browse and purchase additional frames or sign up for a monthly subscription to receive even more high-quality frames for your design projects. (New)
  • Instant Frames--You can create you own frames by customizing basic shapes such as circles, rectangles, polygons, stars, arrows and hearts. Each basic shape can be modified beyond its standard appearance. Options include concave corners, rounded corners, number of sides and so on. (New)
  • Multiple Edge Effects--The frame edges of either frame files or instant frames can be distorted in multiple ways, giving you even more flexibility for customizing your frames. (New)
  • Bevels, Glows, Shadows and Textures--You can add special effects such as bevels, glows, shadows, bump maps and textures to frames. (New)
  • Saving Frame Settings--Save any combination of frame settings as a preset for rapid application at a later time. Presets are available directly from the Photoshop menu bar so favorite frames can be immediately applied without launching the PhotoFrame plug-in. (Improved)
  • Multiple Frame Support--Frames can be combined and layered on top of each other--up to 32 frames at once. Combining frames leads to a dizzying amount of possibilities. (Improved)
  • Intuitive Controls and Interactive Previews--Work with frames interactively in a real-time editing environment that lets you adjust the color, size, blur, blend mode and rotation of the frame Background and Border, all with multiple undo/redo. With version 2.0, the interface has been further improved to provide dockable palettes and full-screen previews. (Improved)
  • Non-Proprietary--In addition to the frame files that ship in the Volumes, PhotoFrame will work with any industry-standard JPEG file, plus any frame file from an Auto F/X Photo/Graphic Edges volume. You can create and share frame files.
  • Portfolio Integration--PhotoFrame ships with a Portfolio calalog of the frame files. When you've located a frame you like, simply drag its thumbnail into PhotoFrame and start using it.

Installation: Installation is easy. You can copy any or all of the frames from the CD to your hard disk.

Interface: PhotoFrame is straightforward to use. With PhotoFrame 1.0, you had to create a new layer in Photoshop before you opened PhotoFrame if you didn't want to apply the frame directly to the image. But with Version 2.0, you have the option in PhotoFrame to apply your frame on the image or create a new layer. To apply a frame, you just open a Photoshop file. Open PhotoFrame which is under the Extensis menu on Photoshop's menu bar. The interface blends well with Photoshop. You almost feel as if you are still in Photoshop, just in another dialog box. PhotoFrame's working area is simply laid out.

  • Preview Area: You use the Preview are of the window to manipulate the frame, and to view frame effects as you create them.
  • Control Bar: You use the controls in the Control Bar at the bottom of the window to adjust and reposition the frame, to save frame settings, and to apply the frame to the image.

Palettes: Aside from the controls on the Control Bar, all other PhotoFrame features and options are available on the different palettes which are organized by function:

  • Frame Palette--allows you to load and work with frame files.
  • Instant Frame Palette--lets you create frames from scratch inside PhotoFrame
  • Instant Edge Palette--lets you add multiple edge effects to the selected frame.
  • Effect Palettes--allow you to add different effects to the selected frame and include the Background, Border, Glow, Shadow, Bevel, and Texture palettes.

Instant Frames: The new Instant Frame palette allows you to create a custom frame shape from scratch, rather than by loading an existing. You can choose from six basic shapes, then use the special shaping controls for the selected shape to modify it as desired. Or you can use the Adjust tool to manipulate the shape directly in the Preview window. When you activate the frame palette, your Instant Frame will be displayed on the frame list. Instant frames can be compounded with each other, and they can also be layered with other frames.

Multiple Instant Edge Distortions: You can apply Instant Edges to any type of frame, whether Multiple EdgesEdge Distortionsfrom the PhotoFrame CD, the eFrame Web site or an Instant Frame. Instant Edges distort the frame edge with one of seven different effects: wave, triangle, sawtooth (plus sawtooth reversed), brush stroke, random, diffusion or clean. Each of these distortions can also be modified in several different ways, including rotation, frequency and amplitude. These edge distortions can also be combined for up to four edge effects at once. The image to the right shows the an India Ink frame and the different edge distortions you can use. For the image on the right I used a Finterprints frame with both the diffuse and clean Instant Edges.

Shadows, Glows, Bevels and Textures: With PhotoFrame 2.0 you can now be more creative with your frames and apply glows, bevels, shadows, textures, and bump maps.

  • Glows and Shadows--Glows and shadows add a glow around or a drop shadow behind the Glowframe. You have several standard editing options such as size, color, radiance/blur, opacity, and blend mode. Noise can also be added to glows and shadows to prevent printed banding that often results from too perfect glows and shadows. Both can also be created as inner or outer effects. For the image to the right, I used the Grass frame and the glow around the frame, and used the eye dropper tool to select a glow color from the rose image.
  • Bevels--With bevels, you can select from six different types of surface reflectivity: matte, Rose Bevelrubber, plastic, chrome, metal and heavy metal. Besides standard bevel editing features such as height, width, blur and color, you can also select from ten different bevel shapes. These include the basic flat, round, slope, and double shapes, plus some newcomers--half pipe, triangle and ramp. There are three different picture frame bevels as well. I used a Crazy Brush frame with a bevel and clean edge for the rose image to the left.
  • Textures and Bump Maps--Textures and bump maps can be applied to backgrounds. Textured PhotoPhotoFrame ships with a collection of textures ready to be used with PhotoFrame. Textures can also be used as bumpmaps, using the color information of a texture to simulate the contours of a surface. Bump maps can be adjusted for bump height as well as blur. I used a texture on the image to the right to add an interesting effect to a rather plain photo, along with an Ice Frame.

Saving Frame Settings as Presets: For users, who want quick frames, painlessly, PhotoFrame Get Creativecomes with presets that can be used on the fly. And when you create a frame that you just love and want to use over and over, you can save the settings and reapply them. All attributes of the current editing session will be save--original frame settings, colors, rotation, opacity, the frame files you used, edge distortions, and so. I used the Cats Eye frame for the image to the left, added an Instant Edge Effect of saw teeth and used a shadow. Then I saved the settings as a present.


The variety of frames and effects you can create with this program seems endless. It was difficult to stop experimenting with frames and write the review. There is an excellent User Guide that comes with the package. There is a section called Examples Using Special Effects that has step-by-step tutorials and illustrates how you can use the program. I followed their examples, plus added some effects of my own, to produce the following images.

  • Special Effects Using Invert and Opacity--I liked this effect. It is useful when you want to createMother a screen over an image, then add text over the screen so that it "pops out" and can be read easily. It is easy and quicker to create with PhotoFrame than to just use Photoshop. I used a Vignette frame, which I inverted; lowered the capacity to 60%; scaled and position the frame; and then added some effects that I liked such as a glow and a border to produce the image on the right.

  • Special Effects Using Multiple Frames--You can combine and combine and turn dull, poorMultiple Frames quality images to at least interesting photos. I used a blurry and rather dull color image for the graphic on the right and applied two frame to spruz it up: Phone Cord and Ice. This just took a matter of a few seconds and worked well to enhance the photo.

  • Creating Your Own Frame Files--I followed the instructions in the User Create FrameGuide. I created the frame in Photoshop using a 5" by 6" image area, as small frame files do not work well on large images. I made a blue border with white in the middle. I used the Airbrush tool and set the tool to Dissolve. I saved the file as a JPEG file. I used a shadow and inner glow and played around with the effects to create the image to the right.

  • Special Effects Using a Photograph as a Frame--This effect can be used to superimpose an Photograph as Frameimage on itself. I started with this with a rather faded image of the dog. Again, I followed the instructions in the User Guide. I opened the image and then opened a copy of the same image as a frame file. I adjusted the parameters:changed background and border size and used Difference as the Blend Mode for both. You get a sort of enhanced negative effect. Then I save the image and loaded it into PhotoFrame and used a Sonic frame on it.

I loved PhotoFrames 1.0, but the second generation version is even better, and as easy to use. PhotoFrames 2.0 is a significant upgrade, not only because of the additional frames, but because of the new features that give you more options to be creative. What do you do with those poor photos you have taken of your relatives and friends that you are embarrassed to show to anyone? Don't tell them that they are lost. Use Extensis PhotoFrames to hide your flaws. I specificly didn't use my best photos for this review, but rather selected poorer quality ones to see whether within a few minutes I could create something more interesting. And you can. The interface is so user-friendly, that in no time you will be amazed at what you can do with the program. I would enthusiastically recommend it for any serious Photoshop user. Or for anyone that wants to spruz up their photos.


Adobe Photoshop 4.0 - 5.5
Pentium processor
Windows 95, 98 or NT 4.0
Also supports ImageReady 2.0

Adobe Photoshop 5.0 - 5.5
PowerPC processor
Mac OS 7.5.5-8.6
Also supports ImageReady 2.0

Extensis has an excellent Web site http://www.extensis.com There are samples of the various frames and how to use them.

Graphics: Adobe Photoshop 5.5
Web Page Editor: Macromedia Dreamweaver 3.0