• Price When Reviewed: £129 plus VAT

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Alien Skin Eye Candy 4000 is the successor to the popular Adobe Photoshop effects plug-in collection Eye Candy 3.0. This cross-platform effects suite runs on a host of apps including Photoshop 4.0 or later, Macromedia Fireworks 2 and above, Deneba Canvas 6 and above, Corel Photo-Paint 8 and Jasc Paint Shop Pro 5 or later. The package features 23 filters of which five (Marble, Wood, Drip, Melt and Corona) are new. The other 18 include Antimatter, Bevel Boss, Fire, Fur, Glass, Gradient Glow, Motion Trail, ShadowLab, Smoke, Squint, Star, Swirl, and Water Drops. Along with faster processing and added functionality, major enhancements have been made to the controls. The Bevel Profile Editor, for example, gives users complete control over the shape of bevel and carve effects and profiles can be named and saved for later use. Other changes show mainly in the way the menu more closely adapts to the GUI of the host platform. For example Mac users will now find the Eye Candy menu settings in the same place as their usual menu bar. These menus consist of Edit, where you’ll find unlimited number of Undos and Redos; Filters, which lets you switch between filters from within the Preview window; View, which lets you zoom in and out of the preview; and finally, Settings, where you can save your settings for future use, as well as use the presets that comes with every filter. Die-hard Eye Candy users will notice that some filters have been renamed and combined: for example, Drop Shadow and Perspective Shadow are now combined and dubbed ShadowLab; Inner Bevel, Outer Bevel and Carve are combined into one single filter called the Bevel Boss. The filters seem to cater for most users needs. Among other features, many Web designers will appreciate the easy-to-use Seamless Tiling feature. Of the 23 filters, the Bevel Boss filter is the one I personally find the most useful. With it you can create various bevel and embossed looks to any selection, either inside or outside the selection edges – making it great for creating quick button effects to apply to JavaScript rollovers. Beginners and expert users alike will find the newly-improved interface easy to use. Whenever the effect you’re trying to achieve becomes too complex, you can easily reset to the factory settings and start over again. You can save your settings, and trade them via email with your design buddies. As in Eye Candy 3.0, the resizable filter preview window, although now substantially enlarged, is still restricted in terms of how independently it can be resized. However, it’s still better than the one provided by the native Photoshop filters. It’s worth noting that the same dialog box, when using Eye Candy 4000 in Macromedia Fireworks 4 yields a far wider space. Since the dialog box launches on top of the workspace, unlike in Photoshop 6, where your layers and settings (unless closed down) hides parts of the dialog box with the preview area. In Fireworks 3 and above and Canvas 7, the Eye Candy 4000 filters work as ‘Live Effects’. This means that when a filter is applied to a text layer, for example, the effect will be automatically updated and is fully modifiable even after the filter has been applied. The latter is achieved simply by double clicking on the effect and the filter window will reappear. Now easier-to-apply and control, the Eye Candy collection of filters offers enough scope for both novice and advanced users alike.