Alien Skin Software has released Blow Up 2, the new version of its photo resizing plug-in for Photoshop. The company says that Blow Up 2 takes the complexity out of preparing photos for printing with a user interface that intelligently handles resizing, cropping, and sharpening. The sophisticated enlargement algorithm produces photos dramatically sharper and more detailed than any other method.

The output of Blow Up has been improved to provides more control over simulated natural texture and film grain. These effects help to keep enlargements looking natural rather than computer generated. New controls that clean up JPEG compression artifacts and sharpen edges allow enlargement of low quality source images.

Blow Up 2 has intelligence built into every feature, so photographers don’t have to deal with most technical details. As a preset is chosen, Smart Cropping centres the crop area over the most interesting part of the photo, and Auto Rotate adjusts the preset to match the orientation of the photo. Sharpening adapts to match the degree of enlargement and paper type.

The software has a new user interface that simplifies and speeds up all aspects of preparing photos for printing. Cropping and resizing at the same time are easily handled by presets for common output sizes. The Blow Up 2 built-in batch processing is an easy single step, which is more straightforward than Photoshop’s usual multi-step procedure.

Blow Up 2 takes advantage of multi-processor and multi-core systems to make rendering as fast as possible. Blow Up 2 can handle high-end images including CMYK colour space, 32-bits/channel HDR images, and output up to 300,000 pixels on a side.

Blow Up 2 costs US$249 (around £135), or $99 (£54) as an upgrade. It supports Photoshop CS2 9.0.2 or later, Photoshop Elements 4.0.1 or later (Macintosh), or Photoshop Elements 5 or later (Windows).