Targeted Colour Adjustments
Niksoftware make some particularly good plugins for Photoshop. Very precise points on an image can be adjusted for tone and colour with the Viveza plug-in.
Click on one point and its Brightness, Contrast and Saturation can be individually adjusted. There are also sliders to adjust Structure, which improves clarity, Warmth, Red, Green, Blue and Hue.
The circle of coverage of these adjustments can be controlled to include a large or small area.
Numerous control points can be placed over the image to give extremely accurate adjustments to these areas, without affecting othe parts of the image.
Viveza gives a degree of easy control which is not found in Photoshop on its own.
Of the dozens, scores, hundreds of plugins for Photoshop on the market, many are somewhat superfluous or redundant. Some, however, will make Photoshop even better than it is already.
PhotoTune is one of the more useful for anyone who deals with a lot of colour correction, particularly with portraits.
Travel a lot and take pictures of people around the world then this is a great help.
Getting skin tones just right can be a tricky problem. The slightest imperfection or colour shift can be noticeable on skin and the subject will never to happy.
Skintune has five categories of skin colour: African, Asian, European, Latin and Middle Eastern.
Each category has a library of more than 45,000 colour samples, making extremely precise and subtle adjustments possible.
The nearest acceptable skin colour will be found automatically and then manual fine-tuning can be done with hue, brightness and saturation.
Snapshots can be taken at any point in order to compare results side-by-side as changes are made.
Knoll's Light Factory
Light Factory is the work of John Knoll, one of the two Knoll brothers who originally developed Photoshop, so he probably knows a thing or two about it :-) .
Light Factory is one of the most effective plugins for Photoshop for creating special effects. It will simulate flare and reflections caused by a light source into a camera lens.
There is a large range of settings and controls and about 40 preset effects. Text and logos can be given there own flare points.
Explosions can be given even more impact.
Extra sparkle can be added to 2D and 3D objects.
The effects can be very subtle or quite wild for anyone making a fantasy galaxy.
It is not a cheap plugin but is the most comprehensive of its type.
It works in 16 bit Photoshop and will also work in the movie programmes of Final Cut Pro and Affect Effects.
From the people who make SiteGrinder which converts Photoshop pages into web pages, theirpsd2fla plug-in will convert Photoshop into Flash.
An image can be saved as Flash, avoiding all the normal mundane tasks of exporting, importing and adjusting each image.
It will save a layered image as a .fla file, so the Photoshop design can be opened directly in Flash and worked on immediately, still as a layered image.
Easy to use and it works with Windows and Mac.
FlamingPear offer a range of plugins for Photoshop which are useful, fun and cheap.
Flood is certainly worth the entry fee. It creates extremely realistic water ripples with great control over wave and ripple size, shape and complexity through a range of sliders.
Perspective, horizon, blur and colour are also controllable.
By making a copy layer, the Flood filter can be applied to this layer. With a mask and brush, a good blend can be made between
the flood and the rest of the image.
Super BladePro is all about textures and is a border line case.
It works on text and images with a wealth of settings.
The range of textures and finishing options is large, including: gloss and glaze, irridescence, shading and embossing, blotches and leakiness, metals like brass, silver and chrome, beaten and tarnish.
For a professional graphics person who needs to make loads of buttons and textures, Super BladePro can be a great help.
For others, all this can done manually with Photoshop if you have a mass of textures as computer files. It requires a comprehensive ability with the applying of filters and a need to spend some time getting the effects right.
With Super Blade it's a simple matter of adjusting the sliders and building up to the result you like.
The main danger is that too much is piled on and the effect gets messy.
Flexify can reshape images into super wide-angles or fish-eye lens formats.
It can bend and reshape spherical panoramas and can create cube maps and it works in 16 bit.
SolarCell is for the fantasy graphics people. It'll produce flare, halos and diffractions to go with the new inter-galactic spheres and explosions.
Combined with Lunar Cell you can build your own imagery planets with great detail and clouds downloaded from weather satellites. It'll make maps for 3D animations. Also in 16 bit.
Other plugins for Photoshop from FlamingPear can warp, distort, recolour and add filter effects.
Some of them, such as recolouring, are not really worth it; basic Photoshop skills will do the same thing.
FlamingPear also give away a number of free plugins for Photoshop. Usually they are without controls although there should be something useful for everyone among them.
Used here is ChromaSolarize. Firstly it reverses the light and dark areas but without changing the colours, then it puts on a solarize effect. Good for making rollover buttons for a website, for example.
Prices are often around $20 and there are bargain bundle deals.
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