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Software Review – Photoshop Plug-in: Snap Art From Alien Skin Software

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Did you ever have an image and think to yourself, "This would look great as a painting," or "I would like to see this image a pencil drawing, or even as a comic drawing?" Well look no further than Snap Art for a one step process to do all of this, and more.

Snap Art is a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop as well as other image editors. It offers several effects not available in a plug-in such as line drawings; in both pen, and pencil. It also has a wide variety of traditional effects such as painting techniques, colored pencils, charcoal, as well as oil pastels.

All in all Snap Art offers 10 filters that includes color pencil, comics, impasto, oil paint, pastel, pen and ink, pencil sketch, pointillism, stylize, and watercolor. Each is very easy to use, and can be implemented as easy as one click. Each also has many options and can be used in combination with each other. Snap Art is also scriptable with Photoshop actions, as well as supporting 16-bit images.

"Color Pencil" uses hatching and shading techniques to recreate an image as a sketch artist would. Options include paper stock, and lighting controls. "Comics" give the photo the look of a comic strip with posterized colors, shading and half-toning. Options include the number of colors, and halftone size.

"Impasto" is an oil painting style where the marks made by the brush or painting knife remain visible. Options include brushes, strokes, and canvas type. "Oil Paint" captures the feel of painting with oils. Options include brush size, paint thickness, and stroke length.

"Pastel" simulates painting with pastels, including regions of soft tone, and color. Options include soft, hard, and oil pastels, as well as paper type, and lighting. "Pen and Ink" represents your image as monochrome dots, lines, and fills. Options include pen tip, size, coverage, and stroke length.

 "Pencil Sketch" creates sketches that emulate graphite pencil, or charcoal. Options include pencil width, pressure, stroke length, canvas, and coverage. "Pointillism," a style created by Seurat is a technique that uses dots of solid color that blend together when viewed from a distance. Options include dot size, coverage, canvas, and lighting.

"Stylize" converts images to smooth regions of color. This can create a posterized Pop-Art, or Flowing Line Art look. Options include texture, lighting, the number of lines, posterization, pen color, pen style, and pen width. "Watercolor" simulates the soft color washes created by watercolor paint, and paper. Options include brush size, fine edge detail, paint coverage, canvas, and lighting.

Snap Art is a very easy to use plug-in and renders very believable effects. There are a lot of options for each effect; both standard presets as well as customizable options. The rendering time was not as speedy as I would like and when you are tweeking your image and having to wait for rendering, it feels that it takes longer than it does. What you pay for with rendering time though, you get back with an easy to use product that gives you a superior quality rendering.

 Snap Art is great for stylizing photos or graphics into what is really, an unlimited variation of artistic styles. So many so, that some can get down right ugly; I was having fun experimenting with what can be done, and perhaps what should not be done as well. While some of these can be created within Photoshop itself, the amount of pain that one would have to go through, would not be worth it to me.

If you are looking to add some creativity to your work, or just want to have more options available to you and your customers, Snap Art will give you a totally new dimension, without a lot of work. Snap Art is available at the Alien Skin online store for $149.00

About T. Michael Testi

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