Plugin Newsletter - August 2004
FOCALBLADE 1.03 RELEASED
THE PLUGIN SITE UPDATES: FilterFactory Links Updated, Automatic Paypal Order Processing
GIVE-AWAY: Two Plugin Books from Jack and Sue Drafahl
DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY TECHNIQUES MAGAZINE: FX Packages Reviewed
POLL RESULTS: Batch Processing and Photo Format Polls
NEW POLL: Your Favorite RAW Converter
THE DISCUSSION FORUMS: Worn Look, Greyscale Problem, Fabric Patterns, Plugins on the Mac, Three-D Luxe, Shadows/Highlights, Indexed Colors
FREE PLUGINS AND TOOLS: Xero Plugins 2, PTLens, Fits Liberator, MezzoForce, Omphale, ArtRage, MS Expression, Picasa, Iris
GRAPHICS NEWS: Litte Ink Pot, GraphicXtras, Cylinder Distort, Optipix, Digital Gem, AutoSmooth, DogWaffle
PRODUCTS FROM THE PLUGIN SITE
ABOUT THE PLUGIN SITE
Quite a lot of free software has become available lately, so I had no problem finding enough items for the "Free Plugins and Tools" section of this newsletter. In fact there wasn't even enough room to mention all tools that I came across. If this flood of freeware continues I'll have to extend this section.
Some of you may still remember the Galaxy Contest 2002 (http://thepluginsite.com/gallery/galaxy2002/). The one before that was in 2000, so it would rather be time to run a new contest. As the 2002 contest meant so much work, the next context will be a bit different. I plan to split it up into 3 steps with a duration of one month each. This time the contest will concentrate more on photos. It will probably start in September or October.
The next version of our ColorWasher plugin will have an option for selecting other languages than English. We already have people for translating the control names and text messages to German and Dutch, but noone for French, Spanish, Italian and other languages. If you are interested, please contact us.
By the way, if you order one of our products on CD-ROM, you will now get a The Plugin Site ballpoint pen for free as long as stocks last. The pen resembles the design of The Plugin Site web site and also has its URL printed on it.
Have a nice time,
FOCALBLADE 1.03 RELEASED
Version 1.03 of our photo sharpening plugin FocalBlade was released two weeks ago. There are two new context menus in FocalBlade 1.03: One for landscape, portrait and night shot settings that appear when you right click on the Auto combo boxes or Screen and Print buttons. Another context menu pops up when you right click the window background. Double clicking the FocalBlade letters in the title bar will maximize the window, double clicking them again will restore the old window size. Nonlinear behavior was added to the Radius sliders, the White/Black Halo sliders, the Smoothness slider, the Remove slider and the Glow slider to make it easier to select important slider values.
Additionally the FocalBlade Manual was extended with "Sharpening with a Brush" instructions on the Step-by-Step page and information about "Non-destructive Sharpening" and "Sharpening Tips for Landscape, Portrait, Night photos" on the Tips page. The most important bug fix in this version avoids that the three Auto options don't work with 16-bit images.
For more information please visit
THE PLUGIN SITE UPDATES
Web sites that offer freeware plugins or other add-ons are closed down quite often. There are approx. 60 collections with thousands of Photoshop plugins available, which were created with Adobe's Filter Factory, a plugin development tool that hasn't been updated since 1995. Most of these plugins are experimental, so it is quite hard to find the really useful ones among them. The majority of them were created between 1995 and 1999. So it is no surprise that many links on the Filter Factory Plugin page on The Plugin Site were broken. Luckily we were able to find replacement links for most of them.
Two weeks ago we installed a system for automatically processing orders that are conducted via Paypal. Customers who order our products via Paypal now get the download instructions in the browser right after the order was processed. They will also immediately get an email with these download instructions. This will ensure that people who prefer ordering via Paypal will have the same shopping experience as people using our other payment option, Element5.
Several books about Photoshop plugins were released in the 90ies, but almost none have been released this decade so far. So almost all of these books are outdated. Jack and Sue Drafahl have recently released a book about Photoshop plugins, too. It isn't very likely to become outdated very soon, because it isn't very product-specific and concentrates more on the categories of plugins that are available. It has 125 pages and offers a lot of color images of plugin effects. So the book is very useful for people who want to get a good overview of the types of available plugins.
Jack and Sue have graciously provided us with two copies of their book as a give-away to readers of this newsletter. To take part in this give-away, you need to go to
and choose "Give-Away" from the Topic combo box. You also need to enter a correct email address and your postal address, otherwise you can't participate. Don't worry, we won't use your addresses for anything else than this give-away and we will delete them afterwards. The two winners will be elected randomly at the end of August.
For more information about the book, please visit:
DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY TECHNIQUES MAGAZINE
Issue 15 of the DPT magazine reveals how to transform your photos into transferable prints with Photoshop Elements and how to get them onto a T-shirt. There are also 10 tips for cleaning up your portrait shots with Elements, a Photoshop project on making a catastrophe scene out of your landscape photos and a Paint Shop Pro tutorial for transforming your portrait into flower art. The review section tested the best scanners for up to £200. In my Essential Plugins column I recommend plugin packages for producing special effects. The magazine CD contains the full version of Picture Window 2.5 and Gimp 2.0 as well as trial software and video tutorials for Photoshop.
For more information, please visit:
Almost 200 people voted in the two polls that were active during July 2004. Here are the results of the first poll with the question: "How many of your photos do you correct via batch processing?":
1. I only correct my photos manually. (123) 67.6%
2. I batch process approx. 10% of my photos. (18) 9.9%
3. I batch process approx. 50% of my photos. (13) 7.1%
4. I don't do any photo correction. I use the photos as they are 3.8%
4. I batch process all of my photos. (7) 3.8%
5. I batch process approx. 90% of my photos. (6) 3.3%
Approx. 2/3 of all people seem to manually correct all of their photos. That is certainly a wise decision, because that way you usually get the best results. Approx. 10% only batch process a small part of their photos and a similar amount of people batch process half of their photos. A much smaller group batch processes almost all or all of their photos. Only very few people seem not to correct their photos at all and take them as they come out of their camera.
Our second poll asked: "In what format(s) do you usually shoot digital photos?". Here are the results:
1. I only take photos in JPEG format. (76) 48.2%
2. I take photos in JPEG and RAW format. (24) 14.3%
3. I only take photos in RAW format. (22) 13.1%
4. I take photos in JPEG, TIFF and RAW format. (18) 10.7%
5. I take photos in JPEG and TIFF format. (16) 9.5%
6. I take photos in TIFF and RAW format. (4) 2.4%
7. I only take photos in TIFF format. (3) 1.8%
The results show that 82.7% of all digital camera users that took part in this poll use the JPEG format, 40.5% use RAW and only 24.4% use the TIFF format. Approx. 63% of them solely use one of these three formats and the rest uses two or all of the formats. Even if the percentage of people that only use RAW is quite low, almost a third of all people use RAW at least occasionally. So it seems that RAW has got more popular within the last one or two years.
For more poll results, please visit the Know-How section which was recently updated with the latest poll results:
As 40% of all people seem to use RAW Converters, it may be interesting to hear which RAW conversion software is used most often. So this month's poll asks you "Which of these tools do you use for RAW conversion?" and gives you the choice between several popular tools.
You can cast your votes at the bottom of the main page at
THE DISCUSSION FORUMS
Here are just a few of the interesting posts from The Plugin Site Forums:
Eden asks: "I am designing some t-shirt, and want to create a distressed effect or mis print effect for some of the images, give them that worn in look... I just need it to look like its been screen printed without looking too perfect..."
Slpnot wrote: "... things are ok till I try to go into greyscale and then ... gives me a pink/ peachy color. I realize that being in greyscale, I shouldn't get any color at all, but the whitest I can get is that pink color. as a result, anything in greyscale looks like sepia. This is only showing up in Photoshop, in grey scale. Any other program & mode is fine. ... has anyone else had this problem? If so, what can I do to fix it?"
anirtex wrote: "I ... need additional software or plug-in as to generate pattern (both knitted & woven), & to create sketches for styles for the up coming Fall/Winter Collection 2005! I had searched the Web, however, those softwares or far beyond our target in prices. Please can somebody help?!"
Unknown wrote: " Have been using Photoshop (Macintosh) since v1. Have had a collection of plug-ins which have worked since appx. 1994, in all versions of Photoshop thru version 7.0.1. As of now, they not only *do not* work in the CS OS X v10.3.4 version of Photoshop, they don't even appear in the filters list."
kmlane asks: "Any one have any experience with the Series 2 Three-D Luxe Filter from Andromeda? If so, how would you rate this plug-in. Is it worth 109.00 USD? Any feedback appreciated."
Dave O asks: "Can anyone tell me if there is a shadow & highlight plugin like the one in photoshop CS that I can use in Photoshop 7."
Guest asks: "I just wonder if it's possible to use/install "windows-photoshop-plugins / filters" on a mac? maybe with a converter?
so i don't have to buy the mac-version too."
Calin aks: "Please give me a link to a good tutorial on Indexed Colors use in Photoshop, and color tables."
For more interesting discussions please visit
FREE PLUGINS AND TOOLS
Set 2 of the Xero Plugins (for Windows) was updated in May 2004. There was a complete UI makeover, the ability to save and load settings was added and a lot of plugins received more controls for influencing the effects.
PTLens automatically corrects lens pincushions and barrel distortions of photos. It is available as a standalone program, Photoshop plugin (Windows only) and an add-on for Panorama Tools.
The FitsPlug that was mentioned some time ago in this newsletter was turned freeware to shareware. Luckily there is a new file format plugin called FITS Liberator (for Win/Mac) available for free that lets you open and process astronomical images in FITS format in 8 and 16bit. It was designed for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, but it also seems to work in Paint Shop Pro.
Version 1.03 of the MezzoForce Ice plugin (for Windows), which creates ice and some liquid effects, has become available. It fixes a compatibility problem with Paint Shop Pro.
The Omphale Filters are 6 Filter Factory plugins for Windows with color and simple drawing effects.
Ambient Design, the makers of several KPT plugins, offers ArtRage (for Windows), a free painting application that simulates using paint on a canvas along with pens, pencils, crayons and other tools. ArtRage was designed to be used with a graphics tablet and especially with a TabletPC. You can paint your own image from a blank canvas to completed work, or load in a picture to trace and have the tools pick their colors for you as you paint over it.
Microsoft Expression 3.3, a free vector, drawing and illustration tool, is also available for Windows now. The Mac version was already released several weeks ago.
Google recently acquired Picasa (for Windows), a commercial photo management tool, and offers it for free now. Picasa lets you automatically transfer photos from your digital camera, organize and find pictures in seconds, edit, print, and share photos, create slideshows, order prints and more.
IRIS is a free astronomical image processing software (for Windows). It offers numerous and powerful functions for digital astronomical images that come from digital cameras. Iris can load and save images in the formats FITS, PIC, RAW or BMP.
Turn Photos into Sketches with New Plugin from Little Ink Pot
A new developer has produced a worthy Windows plugin that creates good-looking pen and ink illustrations and pencil sketch effects from digital images. Demo available.
Graphicxtras Brushes Collection for Photoshop
Abneil Software Ltd/Graphicxtras.com has just shipped Brushes Collection, a rather overwhelming 10,000 brushes for use in Win/Mac Photoshop CS, 7, 6 and Elements. Demo available.
Telegraphics Releases Cylinder Distort Plugin
If you need to wrap an image around a curved surface, this inexpensive Win/Mac plugin for Photoshop or Illustrator is worth a look.
Reindeer Graphics Announces the Release of Optipix 3.0
This suite of Win/Mac plugins for enhancing image quality has been enhanced and now includes Interactive Interpolation, Refocus, JPEG Cleaner and Grain Maker. Demo available.
Kodak Introduces New DIGITAL GEM Professional Plugin
Kodak's ASF division is back with an upgrade to their Win/Mac plugin for reducing visual noise and film grain without excessive softening. Among other improvements, it now supports 16-bit images. Demo available.
Human Software Releases AutoSmooth Plugin
This new Win/Mac Photoshop plugin is designed for smoothing skin and other surfaces without blurring or affecting details or face characteristics.
New Free Project Dogwaffle Version Announced
An updated free version of this popular Windows natural media paint program is now available. Fun stuff.
For daily graphics news updates, please visit
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