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Well, they have done it again! Alien Skin Software has created another set of 16 filters for such programs as Photoshop and PaintShop Pro. If you liked their other product, Eye Candy 3.0, a set of 21 filters, you will not be disappointed by this new set called Xenofex. 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. The program is available for PCs and Macs. Price: $129; registered users of any other Alien Skin Software product are eligible for a discount sidegrade price of $99 directly from Alien Skin Software. 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. Anyone familiar with Eye Candy 3.0, also by Alien Skin Software, will find the interface nearly the same and as intuitive and user friendly.
  • 16 filters and over 160 presets;
  • Easy to use & intuitive interface;
  • Zoomable and resizable preview window with thumbnail navigation;
  • Save and restore setting;
  • Full support for CMYK and Grayscale modes;
  • Full support for Photoshop Actions.

Interface. The interface is intuitive and easy to use. 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, Xenofex 1.0 takes special advantage of Photoshop's most advanced features. All 16 filters fully support Actions in PS 4 and 5, making complex or frequent effects easy to automate.

Presets and Saving/Restoring Settings. Each of the 16 filters comes with presets, thus giving you over 160 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.

Full support for CMYK and Grayscale modes. All Xenofex filters work in Grayscale, CMYK, RGB and Duotone image modes. Graphic artist, from color printers to newspaper designers will appreciate this feature.

Controls. Each filter has its own feature controls such as sliders and numerical fields for adjusting the various parameters of the filter.

Filters. The filters vary in type. Some like Lightning, Constellation, Stain, and Little Fluffy Clouds create natural phenomena effects; Television and Flag are great for distortion effects; Puzzle and Rounded Rectangle can be used to create frequently-demanded effects; and others are just unique and fun.

Lightning--draws a glowing lightning bolt across your image; you control the branching, color and many other parameters.

Television--distorts your image as if it were displayed on an old television; you control curvature, static, ghosting, and breakup. I used the Television effect for the title and section headings for this review. With the title, I applied the effect to just the layer of text. With the section headings, I applied the effect to the whole image.

Baked Earth--creates dried, cracked earth, as well as textures like peeling paint, pebbles and reptile skin.

Stamper--recreates your image as a mosaic using miniature duplicate tiles; the tile can be your original image or a single uncompressed TIFF file.

Stain--creates a realistic spilled liquid effect in any shape you like, as well as realistic burned edges.

Crumple--simulates your image printed on crushed or wrinkled paper. This effect works well on color and black and white images. For the graphic to the right, I took a grayscale image and applied the Crumple effect with Wax Paper preset to the whole image. Then I used the Stain effect with the Mildew preset to lighten the image. Then I changed the color mode to RGB and applied the Stain effect again, with the Rust Spots preset to get color. I then applied it a second time to deepen the color.

Puzzle--quickly turns your image into a jigsaw puzzle.

Little Fluffy Clouds--creates a range of cloud shapes, from slight wisps to threatening storm fronts, as well as snowy, liquid and plastic surfaces.

Electrify--creates arcs of electricity radiating from your image.

Constellation--recreates your image as points of light, using color information from your original.

Distress--creates organic aging and crumbling that eats away at your image.

Shower Door--simulates your image seen through the lumpy glass of a shower door.

Flag--realistically renders rippling surfaces, perfect for a windblown banner effect. Fun effect!

Rounded Rectangle--creates a rectangle with rounded corners and an optional bevel.

Shatter--reflects your image in a broken mirror.

Origami--creates the look of folded paper by cutting and rearranging your image.

Can you live without this program? Well, probably. But do you want to? No! If you are a plug-in junkie, you will just have to have it.
Alien Skin Xenofex 1.0 comes with a free package of JASC PaintShop Pro 4.14.
Processor: 486/DX minimum (Pentium recommended)
Operating System: Windows 95 (Windows 95, 98 or NT 4 recommended)
Memory: 16MB 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;