Best Buy
  • Price: 47 . 86

  • Company: Astute Graphics

  • Pros: Easy to use; competitively priced; vector Halftone filter; compatible with Illustrator Actions and Live Effects; familiar Photoshop adjustment tools; advanced pre-flight and separation toolset.

  • Cons: Can be slow when working with larger images.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10 We rate this 9 out of 10

With such a range of Illustrator plug-ins on the market, it’s rare to come across one that excels to this extent. Phantasm CS adds Photoshop-style adjustment tools and functionality that seamlessly integrates with Illustrator’s native features, including standard gradients, meshes, filters and effects.

Furthermore, Phantasm CS is fully compatible with Illustrator’s Actions and Live Effects, which can potentially speed up your workflow.

We first reviewed Phantasm CS 1.5 back in March 2007, when it received our ‘Best Buy’ award. With the release of Phantasm CS, Astute Graphics has made a great product even better – it’s available in two new variations: Phantasm CS Designer and Phantasm CS Studio, each progressively adding hugely to the popular original toolset.

Phantasm CS Designer is aimed at professional freelance designers and publishers who are looking for greater control of their colours. All the filter effects, such as Brightness/Contrast, Curves, Duotone, Hue/Saturation, Levels, Temperature/Tint, can quickly be applied to adjust both vector and embedded raster images.

Phantasm enables you to save these settings for future use, and for loading Photoshop Curves (.acv), HSL (.ahu), and Levels (.alv). These edits can be applied as either permanent filters, or Live Effects, which can be modified at any time and saved as Graphic Styles.


Without a doubt, the feature that will attract most attention is the Halftone filter/effect (above and below) that, again, works on both vector and embedded raster images. This opens a world of creative possibilities: designers can experiment with infinite variations, ranging from conventional dot types to custom symbols, which remain faithful to the original artwork mode and preserve any spot colours.