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Software Review: Eye Candy 7 from Alien Skin Software

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Eye Candy is a Photoshop plug-in From Alien Skin Software made for graphic designers who want to add that WOW effect to their projects. It contains a set of 32 effect categories that give you the ability to render amazing special effects with very little effort compared to what you might have to do if you were to attempt these directly in Photoshop. In many cases you would be hard-pressed to even recreate them.

While these effects may have some usefulness within the realm of photography, they are really geared for graphic design tasks, that is, for creating titles and logos, putting fancy text on a page design, or facilitating website development for making buttons or banners.

Eye Candy 7

Eye Candy 7

Now with Eye Candy 7, the user interface has been completely redone and made much more intuitive and simple to use. The way it interfaces with Photoshop is much more workflow-oriented and it is now icon-driven so you can get a good idea what type of effect you are choosing.

This version adds several new effects and comes with over a thousand presets and controls that give you the ability to create an unlimited number of your own styles. This version is only available for use in Adobe Photoshop CS5 or later and Photoshop 10 and later.

Installation of Eye Candy 7 is just a matter of downloading the software and running the installation procedure. If you want to try it before you buy it, there is a fully functional free trial that you can download and play with as well.

Eye Candy 7

Eye Candy 7

There are two main areas, Shapes and Textures. When working with shapes, one of the major strengths of Eye Candy is that it lets you add depth to flat two-dimensional artwork. Generally these effects are used when working with logos and titles. You can be subtle with the effects or you can make them electrifying. For these effects to work, they need to find the edge of a shape, which can be from text, layers with opacity, or a selection.

Once your Photoshop file is open, you select Alien Skin from the Filter menu and then Eye Candy 7. One of the new features is that all of the effects are combined into a single menu item, so no more switching between filters.

Once you are in the Eye Candy interface, your image is centered on the screen. On the top left is the effects drop-down where you select the effect you want to work with. The effects are separated into two groups. On the left are the Shapes and on the right are the Textures. Shapes require objects with distinct edges such as text, logos, or a selection. These are objects that are generally on their own layers. Texture effects, by contrast, can be applied to an entire image. They don’t require a shape, but you can use a selection of a shape and apply the texture to it.

Eye Candy 7

Eye Candy 7

Once you select your effect, you can use the presets to explore canned variations that come with the program. They are organized into groups. When you mouse over the preset, the navigator below the preset panel gives you an idea what the preset will make your object look like. Once you find a preset that you like you can apply it, or if you do not find one that is useful, you can go to the right side of the screen and make customizations.

What effect you choose will determine what customizations are available on the right side. Some effects have customizations in the preview panel as well for manipulating items directly like shadows. Once you get something you like, you can save it as a user preset so that you can use it again in the future. Once complete, you press OK and your effect will be rendered.

One of the nice things about Eye Candy is that when your effect is rendered, it is done on a separate layer than the item it was rendered from. What this means is that you are effectively working in a non-destructive environment. It also gives you more creative options – you can create multiple versions from a single layer or compound the effects by using a rendered layer to add more effects in a composite.

Eye Candy 7

Eye Candy 7

When working with textures, you will typically fill an area with some sort of pattern. Using the effects button on the top left, you make your selection from the Textures panel this time. Then, from the factory presets, you can choose an existing setup and by looking at the navigator below the preset panel you can get a feel for the effect look.

Another way of working with textures is to use a selection or an object in a layer to work with. So if you were to either create some text or make a selection to an individual layer, when you add a texture effect to that layer, the texture stays in that selection. When using the textures “Reptile Skin” or “Animal Fur,” you have the additional ability to creep outside the selection.

Other capabilities include scaling modes which lets you work with a low-resolution image, and save it as a preset that will work correctly when applied to a higher-resolution image. You get a choice of adaptive scaling or fixed. With adaptive scaling, anything that controls a distance or size is done as a percentage. This assures that no matter what the size, the effect will apply. With fixed scaling, pixels are used and no matter the size only that number of pixels will be added.

Eye Candy 7

Eye Candy 7

Another new item in Eye Candy 7 is the lighting texture, which lets you add lighting to your work whether it is a graphic design or a photograph. When you apply lighting to your image you are presented with two points, the top where the lighting begins and the bottom where the lighting ends. Once you have your points in place, you can use the presets to find something you like and then modify it using the controls on the right.

Eye Candy 7

Eye Candy 7

I found the new interface and look and feel for Eye Candy 7 to be very easy to use and much more intuitive than prior versions. For the most part this program is geared toward graphic designers, but it will work for anyone who needs to add enhancements to their work, even photographers. It also has features like the lighting effect and rain that can add to composite work as well. If you are a graphics designer or someone who needs to add graphic flair to their work then I very highly recommend Eye Candy 7.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.