Even the most talented Web designers can use a little help from time to time, and Adobe Photoshop plugins are an exceptional way to streamline the creative process and increase productivity.
One of the best and most well known to consider is Filter Forge, a high-end plugin that allows designers to generate textures, create visual effects, enhance photos and process images.
The company recently released the third and final beta test stage of Filter Forge 3.0, which introduces a flexible user interface with resizable panels that allow users to customize the sizes of the rendering preview, the filter editing area and the script editing window in the Filter Editor. Also included is an improved B‚Äö√†√∂¬¨¬©zier curve editor that allows users to select and adjust multiple curve points simultaneously.
The beta testing is open for anyone and no registration is required. It offers a fully functional 30-day trial version of the Filter Forge 3.0 Professional edition, and all registered Filter Forge users can get a free beta key that allows them to use the beta version until the end of the beta period. Users that find and report bugs will be rewarded with free copies of Filter Forge, which will be granted after Filter Forge 3.0 becomes commercially available later in the fall.
While we're on the subject of fabulous photoshop plugins, here are some more to consider:
Divine Elemente creates a bridge between Photoshop and WordPress and is geared toward designers, bloggers and anyone who knows Photoshop but doesn't want to hand-code a WordPress theme. Its main purpose is to convert a design from Photoshop to HTML/CSS/PHP code and provide a marketplace to share or sell works. The cost is $199.99.
Imagelys Picture Styles provides a way of creating an unlimited number of professional quality graphic images in a minimal amount of time. Designers can create seamless backgrounds for Web design, wallpapers and seamless textures for 3-D modeling. The product ships with more than 1,400 premade seamless textures, allowing artists to produce truly amazing results without a lot of effort. Cost is $49.95.
Tintii takes full-color photos and puts them through the process of "selective coloring" or "color popping", highlighting the objects of interest while maintaining their vibrant tones and draining the rest to black and white. Tintii does the tedious work for designers by use of its color detection engine, putting the creative tools at the artist's fingertips to fine-tune edging, grayscale mixing and nonlinear saturation decay. Cost is $19.99.
DiskFonts provides a fast and intuitive way to manage, preview, compare and install fonts inside Adobe Photoshop CS5,CS4,CS3 and Creative Suite (AI,ID,FL,etc.). Users display a text sample with fonts from their hard drive (uninstalled fonts), browse FontExpert groups and install new fonts, then can add fonts to the Favorites icon and Bookmark them, even viewing fonts on the iPhone, iPod Touch and Android devices to compare them from different subfolders at the same time. Cost is $29.
Eye Candy 6 renders beautiful effects for a wide range of graphic design tasks from Web interfaces (Glass, Perspective Shadow) to logos (Bevel, Brushed Metal, Extrude) to titles (Chrome, Fire). Presets adapt to fit the current image size, making slider tweaking unnecessary. The result is that designers can spend much less time in Photoshop. Cost is $249.
Snap Art 3 turns photos into artwork in a wide range of styles including oil paint and pencil sketch with a single click. Refined stroke placement in version 3 gives the effects a more natural look than previous versions. Cost is $199.