Alien Skin Eye Candy 5: Textures
"Wonderful Program for Just About Anyone!"
Alien Skin made significant changes in Eye Candy 4000, and now with their latest release of Eye Candy 5: Textures, the program offers greater creative freedom and improved ease of use with four new effects, greater controls for the other exiting six effects, user interface enhancements and a new Seamless Tiling option available for all filters. Eye Candy 5: Textures is the first of three separate upgrades to its predecessor, Eye Candy 4000, and each of the three upgrades will contain 10 appropriately themed filters. The final two upgrades for Eye Candy 5 will be released separately by the summer of 2005. Eye Candy 5: Nature will simulate fire, smoke and more. Eye Candy 5: Impact will contain the classic graphic design effects that made Alien Skin software famous. For users who want the familiar bevels, shadows and other classic effects now, Eye Candy 2000 will still be available until Eye Candy 5: Impact has been released. Textures is a fun package that produces a variety of photo-realistic surfaces, including embossed metal, snake and lizard skin, fur, marble and wood. It includes over 200 presents for frequently-used effects.
The program is available for PCs and Macs. Price: $99; Upgrades $49. Academic pricing is also available. Alien Skin Software has other unique programs such as Xenofex, another set of filters. The Alien Skin Web site is worth visiting. http://www.alienskin.com
|Intermediate Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced computer users. This is a great program for all users. I suggest, though, that users have a basic understanding of the graphics programs they will use Eye Candy in.
Features in Eye Candy 5: Textures include:
|Manual and Installation
The installation is quick and easy. The manual is short, 26 pages, but adequate.
|Below is a discussion of the 10 filters. I've started with the 4 new filters and then ended with the last 6. I used Matthew Compton-Clark, my 13-year-old grandson, to test the software. He used the filters within Photoshop and both products were new to him.
|With the Brick Wall filter you can create a variety of brick, tile and block textures using six traditional bricklaying modes. You can control the height and width of the bricks, the texture of the brick surface, and the appearance of the mortar. Matt used four layers for the graphic to the left, with a different brick pattern on three layers, and then a brick text layer for the last. He played with different sizes and texture for each layer.
The Diamond Plate filter simulates the stamped metal patterns seen on pickup truck bumpers or non-skid stairs in industrial settings. You can add a reflective surface to the texture and control the size and shape of the bumps. Matt started with a photograph of his mother's dog, Jake, and played with it in Photoshop and then applied the Diamond Plate filter to it to produce the graphic on the left. This was my favorite.
|Using Reptile Skin you can create scale patterns common to lizard and snake skin. You can control the shape of the scales and whether they overlap. Plus you can apply Reptile Skin to photo color sources, patterns or solid colors. It's great for creating solid or tileable textures or you can use it to apply Reptile Skin to any selection. Matt used a clipart of a reptile and then created two layers of Reptile Skin. Then using the Layer Blending mode and Opacity settings in Photoshop, he produced the graphic on the left. This was his all time favorite.
|This new filter allows you to simulate a wide variety of stonework. Size and color yield the basics, like cobblestones or residential veneers. Bright colors create stained glass and other effects. Surface detail controls, such as roughness and grain, simulate smooth flagstone walks, granite walls and more. Matt created a background using the Stone Wall filter, then added the Swirl filter to the center of the background and finally added text with the Stone Wall filter applied again.
|Animal Fur simulates six categories of mammal hair--anything from dogs to big game. You have control over the color of the fur, its length, and waviness. You can also change the color and size of spots in the fur. It's fun to use to create photo-realist fur textures. Mat started with a photograph he took of his 8-year-old brother, Marcus, and gave him a new hairdo and a textured shirt. This was a winner. Everyone liked this, even Marcus. If you knew Marcus, it would be worth a laugh!
Marble simulates virtually any marbled texture derived from three styles: Veiny, Layered and Fractured. From these three families, you can emulate anything from Travertine to Brecciated textures. You have control over the colors, roughness, and pattern density of the marbled surface. Matt used a photograph of himself and then applied the Marble filter for the background and Animal Fur for the hair to give himself that special look that you see in the graphic to the left. He wants you to know that this is not his everyday appearance!
The Swirl filter smears your selection with fine brush strokes. You can swirl images, simple color patterns, or solid colors. Swirls can form tiny whirlpools or sprawling clusters of streaks. Used properly, Swirl adds an impressionist touch to your compositions. Matt used a photograph of a P-51 WWII airplane that he took at the Reno Air Show this year and applied the Swirl filter to get an interesting result. He started with a photograph of two airplanes, and one was used to create the swirl effect.
Formerly HSB Noise, Texture Noise creates lighting effects, grain and static in photos, as well as psychedelic textures. Texture Noise varies hue, saturation and brightness, adding detail and vibrance to photos. In addition, Texture Noise mimics streaming sunlight, snow, and bad TV reception. Matt started with a photograph of Ian and then applied the Texture Noise filter to create a psychedelic effect to create the graphic to the left. He left in the red eye to enhance the effect.
|Weave simulates four woven patterns: plain, basket, satin and twill. You can convert photos into woven textures and create solid or tileable textures. Larger thread sizes weave basket reeds in the colors of your choice. Select tiny threads to produce realistic cloth swatches, like denim, twill or satin. Matt used a photograph he had taken of us brother, Marcus and his friend, Thomas, and applied the weave filter to it to create an interesting effect in the graphic to the left. Thomas was thrilled to see himself on the web and in print.
The Wood filter quickly creates realistic sawn wood surfaces. Color and growth rings imitate the basic appearance of woods such as pine, mahogany or ebony. Knots and grain add further details. Creating hardwood floors and pine paneling is a snap. Matt started with a photograph he had taken of one of his model cars. He then applied a Wood Filter for the background and also added the Wood Filter to the text. This graphic was the most difficult for him as he had to cut out the model car from the photograph and then place it into a new photo. It took a steady hand to get the tires to appear round!!
Eye Candy 5: Textures is a great followup to Eye Candy 4000. Since this is the first of a three-part upgrade, it leaves you chomping at the bit for the next in the series. The new textures of Stone Wall, Brick Wall, Diamond Plate, and Reptile Skin are fun to use and are welcome additions to the program. I, again, looked for certain elements or features in reviewing it.
One, is the program easy to use for beginners but robust enough for advanced users? Absolutely. Matthew, my 13-year-old grandson, dove into it without any problems. In fact, I couldn't get him off the computer once he started. And as an advanced user, I found this version of Eye Candy to be as robust as its predecessors.
Two, can it create stunning as well as practical effects? Yes, again. Matthew went wild on some of the examples, but used more subtle effects on others.
Three, do the effects work on both text and small objects as well as graphics and large images. Yes. Matthew used the filters on both text and graphics for his examples and found it easy to use.
Four, is it appropriate for both print and the web? The answer is a definite yes. And because all of the individuals who found themselves in the review wanted a printed copy, Matthew had no problem with printing the images for them.
So Matthew and myself give Alien Skin Eye Candy 5: Textures thumbs up, way up!!
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