Thursday , April 25 2024
If you work with layered Photoshop files and enlarge images to 400% or more regularly then Blow Up is for you.

Software Review – Plug-In Blow Up From Alien Skin Software

Blow Up is the image enlargement plug-in from Alien Skin Software that allows you to resize your image upward as much as four times (1600% area) without jagged artifacts or halos. In some cases it can enlarge up to six times (3600% area) without obvious artifacts.

Blow Up is installed as an automation plug-in, and will work with Adobe Photoshop CS2 and greater and Photoshop Elements version 4 and greater. Since it is an automation plug-in, it will not work with other graphic imaging products. You will need a Pentium 4 processor with Windows XP or later, or a Mac using either a PowerPC, or Intel processor and 512 MB Ram.

Once installed, Blow Up is listed on File >> Automate menu. It is very easy to use and intuitive in its concept. Please note, it does have a 30,000 pixel size limitation. Blow Up was created to improve on Photoshop's limited ability to enlarge images. If you have tried to enlarge images in Photoshop, you tend to get the "jaggies". When an image is reduced in size, or when the size is naturally small, there are a fixed set of pixels to work with. When you try to enlarge the image, there are no pixels available to fill the additional space and so it gets that pixilated look to it which give the appearance of a bunch of jagged edges; hence, the "jaggies".

Sometimes you are put into a situation in which you have to enlarge an image. One scenario is that your boss hands you an image that you need to put to use in document. The image they hand you is a small resolution one. What do you do? You could go out and try to get a new image done, but that could take time and money. Well this is where Blow Up may be able to enlarge it enough make it usable.

Blow Up supports many different modes including CMYK, LAB, RGB, Grayscale, and Duotone. It also works with 8, 16, and 32 bit images as well. When you try to resample a layered Photoshop image, you won't loose the layer information. Blow Up can also be recorded and played back in a Photoshop action so you can increase efficiency and maintain consistency while resizing a batch of images.

Blow Up will run faster on multiprocessor, multi-core, and hyper-threaded computers. The more processors or cores that you have the faster Blow Up will run

The Blow Up tool integrates seamlessly into Photoshop. When it comes up it has the standard resize controls and slider bars that are used to sharpen and add grain to an image. Sharpening restores the sharpness of strong edges. Unlike traditional unsharp masking which leaves halos and sparkles, Blow Up provides sharpening without the unwanted effects.

The Grain control slider can help compensate for some of the problems that enlargement can introduce such as the appearances of an overly smooth image that looks like plastic and artificial. By adding grain you can add realistic illusion of detail.

Blow Up provides a superior improvement over Photoshop's methods for enlargement for on screen images as well as a noticeable improvement in print. It is hard to show the quality of this product with some of the limitations of the web and screen resolutions, as well as how well it will work with a given image. I would highly recommend downloading the 30 day evaluation and examine it yourself to see the results.

I found that Blow Up is incredibly easy to use, and depending on the image quality, works very well. Image upsizing is not a necessity for everyone, but if you need it, you need it to work well. Blow Up also handles the high-end image modes which is another way it is unique among image upsizing software. If you enlarge images to 400% or more regularly, work with layered Photoshop files, and/or work with images in high end modes, then you owe it to yourself to check out Blow Up for your enlargement needs.

Blow Up is available at the Alien Skin online store for $199.00 USD. If you want to try before you buy you can get a 30 day demo as well.

About T. Michael Testi

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

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