Photoshop plugin

Photoshop plugins are add-on programs aimed at providing additional image effects or performing tasks that are impossible or hard to fulfill using Adobe Photoshop alone. Plugins can be opened from within Photoshop and several other image editing programs and act like mini-editors that modify the image.

Plugin Types

Photoshop-compatible plugins fall into several main types: filter plugins 8bf, import plugins (also called 'acquisition') 8ba, export plugins 8be, file format plugins 8bi, and automation plugins 8ly. Also, there are selection plugins 8bs and parser plugins 8by, but no one else than Adobe has ever created plugins of these types [http://www.thepluginsite.com/knowhow/tutorials/introduction/introduction.htm The Plugin Site - Adobe Photoshop plugins and plug-ins, filters and effects for Paint Shop Pro, Corel Photo-Paint, Adobe Premiere ] ] .

The most common type are filter plugins. They have the 8bf file format and usually supply special image effects.

"Import/export plugins" acquire or write image data from or to certain devices, "file format plugins" open and save less common image formats (not inherently supported by Photoshop), and "automation plugins" automate certain tasks in the manner of Photoshop "actions" (macros).

History

Host applications

Host applications or plugin hosts are graphics applications that are capable of running plugins. Many commercial graphics applications support Photoshop-compatible plugins — Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, Photoshop Elements, PhotoImpact, Corel PhotoPaint, and Adobe Fireworks are the most renowned ones. There are several dozens more plugin hosts, including free editors like GIMP with certain add-ons and viewers like IrfanView.

Photoshop fully supports all available plugin types; certain hosts, like Photoshop Elements, support most of them, while the majority of hosts support filter plugins only and many of them don't even support all available filter plugins.

The support for plugins was more uniform up until 2002, when Adobe restricted access to the Photoshop SDK containing the specifications for Photoshop plugins, and made the developer license more prohibitive. Since then, developers of other image applications have had limited or no access to it anymore, so they can't support newer host features. Therefore, plugin developers face a dilemma: either support the new host features that appeared in Photoshop 7 and later versions, like the access to layers, and lose the compatibility with other image applications, or use the old SDK version which already includes all important specifications and make sure the plugin will be supported by all hosts.

Around 2005, Adobe changed the policy so that developers could make the request for the SDK via a Web form with no fee charged for it and with all requests handled individually [http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/2006/03/sdk_no_pay.html John Nack on Adobe: Why do I have to pay for the Photoshop SDK? ] ] .

Notable plugins

Kai's Power Tools

"Kai's Power Tools" (now called Corel KPT Collection) are a set of filter plugins created by Kai Krause. The various versions of Kai's Power Tools -- KPT 3, 5, 6, and X sets -- are compilations of different filters. KPT Convolver is used to customize design blurring, edge-detection, focus and color embossing. KPT Projector, mainly duplicating Adobe Photoshop's Free Transform capabilities, can rotate the bitmap image in 3D space and tile the results, as well as animate the distortions. The KPT Goo filter produces a single frame freeform liquid distortion. KPT Materializer creates advanced surface textures based on bump maps. The KPT Gel filter uses various paint tools to synthesize photo-realistic 3D materials such as metals, liquids, or plastics. The Equalizer filter with its three modes is used for applying variations on sharpening effects. KPT SceneBuilder produces photorealistic 3D scenes by importing and rendering 3DS files and can work as a standalone 3D modeling tool. KPT SkyEffects is designed to simulate the interaction between the light from the sun or moon with as much as six atmospheric layers of haze, fog and cloud. (KPT SceneBuilder and KPT SkyEffects are not available in the Corel KPT Collection.)

Pros: fast rendering of effects, unique assortment of filters, custom settings can be saved as presets.
Cons: nonstandard interface, limited preview sizes. [http://www.corel.com/servlet/Satellite/us/en/Product/1152105061785 Graphics - Corel KPT Collection - Corel Corporation ] ]

Alien Skin Eye Candy 5: Impact

"" is a collection of ten Photoshop filters which create chrome, brushed metal, glass, bevels, shadows, reflections and more. Brushed Metal simulates textured metal surfaces such as brushed aluminum and polished brass; Super Star generates a wide variety of shapes, including stars, flowers and gears; Backlight projects a light beam and spotlight effects from behind any selection, and so on. Most of the effects can be applied to a separate layer, which gives users more control over the effect in the host application. Eye Candy 5: Impact contains more than 200 presets. [http://alienskin.com/ec5i/index.html Eye Candy 5: Impact ] ]

Pros: easy-to-use interface, adjustable filters, 16-bit image support.
Cons: not compatible with older systems and host applications [http://graphicssoft.about.com/od/pluginsfilterseffects/gr/ec5impact.htm Eye Candy 5: Impact - Software Review and Rating ] ] [http://www.macworld.com/2005/02/reviews/eyecandy5/index.php Macworld | Eye Candy 5 - Textures ] ]

Flaming Pear SuperBladePro

"SuperBladePro" is a plugin that combines textures with bevels and mirrorlike reflections. It helps quickly create tarnish, iridescence, and glassiness effects. Its features include waterstains, moss, abrasion, spotlighting, dust, grit, embossing, fractal blotches, and smooth Gaussian bevels. SuperBladePro also includes text effects that can be applied to the text itself, creating a contour around the letters, or to shapes, solids and areas with feathered masks. [http://www.flamingpear.com/blade.html Flaming Pear:Products:SuperBladePro ] ]

Pros: a large number of controls allow users to customize their textures and texture effects, including importing bump maps and 3D lights.
Cons: not possible to run the help file from the dialog; too many options on a single dialog; the icon buttons don't have any tooltips or written explanations.

Filter Forge

"Filter Forge" allows its users to build their own filters – seamless textures, visual effects, distortions, patterns, backgrounds, frames, and more. The key features of Filter Forge include a visual filter editor and a free online library of user-created filters.
Filter Forge comes in three editions: the Basic edition provides unlimited access to the filter library but cannot create filters. The Standard edition allows photographers and graphic artists to create their own filters. The Professional edition provides features useful in architectural visualization, 3D rendering and design. It includes support for bitmaps as large as 65,000 x 65,000 pixels, 16 & 32-bit image modes, and floating point-based file formats such as OpenEXR and PFM.

Pros: easy to use, powerful, scalable, large number of filters.
Cons: high price of the Professional version, learning curve for the Filter Editor. [http://www.kickstartnews.com/reviews/graphics/filter_forge_photoshop_plugin_review.html Filter Forge - Photoshop plug-in review ] ] [http://www.filterforge.com/ Filter Forge - Photoshop Plugin to Create Your Own Filters ] ] .

Auto Fx DreamSuite Series

"DreamSuite Series" plugins include several dozens visual design effects for type, graphics and photographs. These effects can turn photos into puzzles, create colored artwork, add stylized borders to photos, and more. Pro features enable combination of different effects together using layers and masking.

Pros: quality output; detailed parameters for each effect.
Cons: the main window cannot be minimized; no undos; mediocre performance and high memory consumption. [http://www.autofx.com/dreamsuite/main.html Auto FX Software ] ]

iPhotoSoft GrowCut

"GrowCut" is a interactive masking plugin. It works only with opaque objects. For most cutout operations, it is required only to draw some strokes inside and outside the object of interest. For other cases a set of border refinement tools is provided.

Pros: intuitive user interface; fast masking.
Cons: doesn't support transparency (works only with opaque objects); high memory consumption.

Extensis Photo ToolsThis is one of the significant plugins for photoshop. Since its beginning over 500+ releases has been provided. Extensis PhotoTools assembles a collection of special effects for Web and print design which includes bevels, frames etc.

ee also

*Adobe Photoshop
*Plugin

External links

*http://www.adobe.com/products/plugins/photoshop/
*http://www.growcut.com/
*http://www.gfxfever.com/

References


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