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Eye Candy 3.0 from Alien Skin Software is a set of 21 filters for such programs as Photoshop and PaintShop Pro. It replaces and improves upon The Black Box 2.0. It includes the 10 filters carried over from The Black Box and an additional 11 new filters. You can create special effects, for both text and images, in seconds. This program is designed for individuals who want to create great looking graphics and don't have the time or desire to learn the sometimes long and cumbersome techniques for creating effects such as perspective drop shadow, anti-matter, fire, chrome. The program is available for PCs and Macs. Price: $199; Upgrades $49. Alien Skin Software has other unique programs such as Xenofex, another set of filters. The Alien Skin Web site is worth visiting.
Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced PC users. It is easy enough to use for someone with a grasp of the basics in PaintShop Pro or Photoshop and are just starting to learn about special effects. But it's designed to serve graphic designers of all skill levels, and even expert Photoshop users will appreciate how fun and easy it is to create stunning graphics with the program.
  • Color pickers for a variety of filters;
  • 11 new filters: Antimatter, Chrome, Fire, Smoke, Fur, Jiggle, Squint, Water Drops, Weave, Star, and Perspective Shadow;
  • Opacity options for HSB Noise and Cutout filters;
  • Over 200 presets;
  • Support for Photoshop 4.0 Actions;
  • Zoomable and resizable preview window with thumbnail navigation;
  • Smaller installed size;
  • A new lighting control for shadows and highlights for the Macintosh filters.

Interface. The interface is intuitive and easy to use. You have two options, Fancy and Plain. The default is the Fancy interface with a textured background and colorful non-rectangular buttons. The Plain interface has a plain background and more traditional icons. On the left of the screen are the sliders or controls. The bottom half of the screen is set for previewing. The resizable area in the lower right is the Preview window. In the bottom center is a Thumbnail that is a small copy of your entire image so you can navigate to any part of your image with a single click. You can zoom in and out of the preview, from 6% to 1600%, with the buttons above the Thumbnail.

Integration with Photoshop. Although it works with many graphics programs, Eye Candy takes special advantage of Photoshop's most advanced features. All 21 filters are fully scriptable with the Actions feature in PS 4 and 5, making complex or frequent effects easy to automate. When appropriate, these filters use opacity information in Layers to determine where to apply themselves; most of the filters can also create semi-transparent effects by editing Layer opacity. You can even draw outside of a selection in Photoshop 4.0 without making your selection disappear.

Presets and Saving/Restoring Settings. Each of the 21 filters comes with at least 10 presets, thus giving you over 200 preset effects at your instant disposal. There is a popup menu directly above the preview menu with the presets. You can also save settings that you make and can't live without.

Filters. The filters run the gamut from the useful to the outrageous. Each user will have his/her favorites.

Antimatter--inverts brightness without affecting hue and saturation values. Photoshop's invert feature will turn dark yellow to light blue; antimatter turns it pale yellow. I took an image that I had made in Paint Shop Pro 5.0 with its Picture Tubes feature and used the Antimatter filter from Eye Candy, just around the lettering, and produced the neat image to the right. The original image was all black with white text. (See review of Paint Shop Pro 5 for view of original.) Because you can apply the filter to the whole image, only a selection, or just a layer, you can create really unique graphics.

Carve--makes your selections appear carved or chiseled into your image. I used the carved filter for the title and section headings for this review. Many filters will produce great effects on large fonts but not on smaller sizes. Eye Candy did fine with both.

Chrome--produces a metallic effect that can be used to simulate chrome, gold and other metals.

Cutout--makes your selection appear as a hole in the image.

Drop Shadow--makes your selection appear to float by creating a shadow beneath it and gives it a 3-D quality.

Fire--produces a realistic flame effect rising from your selection. I used this filter on the window/women image under Type of Product heading above. I had created the image in Photoshop by using the plug-in from Auto F/X's Photo/Graphic Edges for the review of the product and just added the fire from Eye Candy. (See review of Photo/Graphic Edges for view of original.)

Fur--fur smears the image using randomly placed clumps of fur. When I first tried this filter, I thought, what do you use it for? But it is great. I took an image, a book cover, that I had made in PaintShop Pro for a review of the book Teach Yourself Paint Shop Pro 5 in 24 Hours, and used the fur filter on it. (See review of Teach Yourself Paint Shop Pro in 24 Hours for view of original.)

Glass--puts a sheet of colored glass on top of your selection. You can reproduce rippled flaws that appear in older glass.

Glow--draws a semi-transparent glow around the outside edge of the selection which gives a neon effect.

HSB Noise--lets you add noise to a selection by varying the Hue, Saturation, Brightness and Transparency of the selection. I used the HSB Noise filter, with the Pointillistic Spew preset for the dog image to the right.

Inner Bevel--gives your selection an embossed look, or the appearance of being raised up from the rest of the image, and is an easy way to create buttons. Highlights and shadows appear around the inside of the selection.

Outer Bevel--makes your selection appear embossed or raised up from the rest of the image. Highlights and shadows appear around the outside of the selection.

Jiggle--produces a new kind of distortion based on randomly placed bubbling.

Motion Trail--smears the selection outward in one direction, producing the illusion of motion. You can apply a jiggle to a motion trail to create a gaseous vapor trail.

Perspective Shadow--creates a shadow behind your selection, tilted so that the selection appears to be standing up as the light comes from above and in front.

Smoke--produces a variety of smoky effects rising from your selection.

Squint--creates a new kind of blur which basically unfocuses your selection by spreading each pixel around the edge of a circle.

Star--creates stars and other regular polygonal shapes.

Swirl--smears the image using randomly placed whirlpools.

Water Drops--randomly places water drops on your selection. I used this filter on the image to the right that I had created with Paint Shop Pro 5. (See review of Paint Shop Pro 5 for original.)

Weave--gives your selection the appearance of being woven.

Whether you are a novice or expert user of Adobe Photoshop, Eye Candy 3.0 will make your special effects more spectacular and easier to create. This program is addictive and a must have for anyone that wants to have fun with special effects.
Eye Candy 3.0 comes packaged with JASC PaintShop Pro 4.14.
Processor: 486/DX minimum (Pentium recommended)
Operating System: Windows 3.11 running Win32s with OLE version 1.2 or later (Windows 95 or NT recommended)
Memory: 10MB RAM (32MB recommended)
Color monitor with 8-bit video card (24-bit video card recommended)
Software: Photoshop 3.04 or later and PaintShop Pro 4.12 or later

Scanner: Hewlett Packard ScanJet 6250C Professional Series
Web Page Editor: Symantec Visual Page
Graphics: Adobe Photoshop 5; JASC Paint Shop Pro 5;
Auto F/X Photo/Graphic Edges; & Extensis PhotoFrame
Books: Teach Yourself Paint Shop Pro 5 in 24 Hours