Price: $199 (£125)
Company: Alien Skin Software
Pros: Different category of effects. Lots of presets. Instant previews. Customisable with plenty of control over parameters. Good selection of effects for designers.
Cons: Some of the effects are dated. The fur and brickwork don’t look realistic at all.
The Eye Candy Photshop plugin from Alien Skin was one of those must-have plugins from the 90s that really got people talking about the creative side of Photoshop. It’s still going and here’s version 7 with added effects.
The effects themselves can be broken down into particles, distortions and edges, and texture overlays and shapes. Some of them, like Extrude and Glass are fairly similar to what you can now do in Photoshop, especially with Layer Styles. Other effects like the Lightning, Star and Ripples are rather old school.
The full list includes those mentioned plus: Backlight, Bevel, Chrome, Corona, Drip, Electrify, Fire, Glow, Icicles, Motion Trail, Rust, Shadow, Smoke, Smoke, Water Drops, Clouds plus 11 assorted textures that all work the same way.
The effects are listed on the left along with a set of Factory and User-define Presets. These are actually quite varied and give a lot of different looks from the same basic effect. Moving the mouse over a preset gives an instant preview of what the effect will do which makes it much quicker and more visual to browse through. On the right are the parameters which dictate how the effects work. They are specific to the effect, though each group type such as particles, tend to work the same way. It does mean having a look through to see what possibilities there are though.
Bursting with goodness?
Take the Corona effect, which adds a sunburst style corona to an image. It works best when a selection has been made so it can be applied outside. The basic effect is fine for adding impact to a graphic or image but the presets offer much more subtle variations while the parameters allows for streaky or turbulent flames, control over the red-yellow gradient and a random seed generator to ensure that any two uses with the same parameters don’t look identical anyway.
The textures are something of a mixed bag. Some, like the Marble, Stone Wall and Brushed Metal could be very useful in complex compositions. Others, like the Fur, Brick Wall, Wood and Reptile Skin simply don’t look realistic at all. However, if they are used for icons, or as graphic objects, where the expectation isn’t photo-realism, then they give an acceptable result that is useful to have. One issue is that all these textures are seen face on where it would be handy to render them using various perspectives, without having to do that after the event in Photoshop as that affects the image quality.
Really, where most of the effects can be used most successfully is in designing logos and separate graphic objects, rather than in photos. That’s where the Chrome and Bevel filters really shine. As well as just adding 3D edges which can be done in Photoshop anyway, you get features like rocky surfaces, stretched plastic and pitting.
Time really has moved on since Eye Candy was a must-have plugin. That said, there are some effects here that are genuinely useful for designers, whether that’s print or web, rather than photographers. If you need to create graphics with patterns and three dimensional shading they can be very useful. Just stay away from the cheesy effects.