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.
Larger images require some patience, but for such complex effects this is to be expected.
Phantasm CS Studio has all the goodies of the Designer edition, but with advanced pre-flight features. It’s aimed at studios of all sizes, and at publishers and printers whose work must comply to specific rules for output devices.
The Studio edition makes light work of pre-flight checks with the help of sought-after colour control and checking tools – including separations (below), ink coverage and in-line embedded image editing.
It also has the ability to ignore white, rich and pure black, remove white overprint and add overprint to pure black. It’s here that the plug-in really succeeds in making these sometimes daunting technical issues user friendly.
Phantasm CS is available for Illustrator CS, CS2 and CS3, although users of CS and CS2 will find outputting Full Separations with spot colours limited, as is selecting spot colour swatches with the Duotone filter using Illustrator CS. However, this is due to the technical limitations of Illustrator’s previous releases.
To have all these features available in Illustrator (Adobe take note) and at such a modest price tag puts this product in a class of its own. We wholeheartedly recommend that any designer or studio adds it to their software arsenal.