By Neil Bennett | on February 09, 2009
Price When Reviewed: 70 . 142 . 215
Pros: Innovative; many user-created effects; intuitive nodal filter creation tool.
Cons: Doesn’t work as a Smart Filter.
This review is taken from our group test of Photoshop CS4 plug-ins.
Filter Forge is – by quite a margin – the most powerful plug-in we’ve looked at here. That’s because it’s a tool for creating plug-ins, both generative texture-creation tools and effects filters.
It’s available in three versions. The Basic version allows you to use filters created in Filter Forge – including the 5,000-plus downloadable from the company’s website. A beta version for Mac has just been released.
The Standard version gives you a node-based editor for creating and modifying filters. The Professional version is the version that most Digital Arts readers will want: it adds support for images larger than 3,000 pixels wide or tall, and multi-core workstations.
The Photoshop plug-in side of Filter Forge gives you a dialog based around five texture categories and three effect groups. When you select your filter, you have a choice of presets, settings, and lighting options. The Settings tab has
a Randomizer button that helps you learn what each parameter does. There are about 50 filters provided, while the ‘Download More Filters’ button takes you to the Filter Forge website, where there are loads more created by the online community. Some of these are truly excellent.
Building your own plug-ins takes place in the Filter Editor. This gives you a grid on which to build a nodal system from more than 80 components, like building a composition in a VFX tool. These include user inputs, generators, and processing tools.
It’s a powerful and logical way of creating effects that’s relatively easy to learn by seeing how other effects are built. Creating filters from scratch is time-consuming, but for a wider user group, it’s a great way to modify already-created effects.
Supported hosts: Photoshop 6/7/CS-CS4 (Mac version supports CS2-CS4 only), Painter 8/IX