A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Alien Skin Software to see if I would like to check out their new version of Snap Art. I’m always up for new things so I agreed and late last week I finally got my chance to try it. I have to tell you, it’s not only a great plug-in, it’s also highly addictive. I found myself scouring for images in my Lightroom library that I can try it on.
The plug-in works in Photoshop, Lightroom, and Elements and can be activated from either the Filter menu or by using the Edit In option in Lightroom.
The plug-in opens in it’s own window and is very intuitive to work with. The first thing you will find is a preset panel on the left. This is the best place to start. There is a group called Favorites, which includes some of the best effects from each of the artistic styles. You can start with one of those or scroll through them individually.
There is a large preview area in the middle and you can zoom in and out using standard adobe keyboard shortcuts or by using the zoom tool found at the bottom of the screen.
All the really cool stuff is on the right side of the screen. There are four panels where you can make adjustments. The Background tab is where you can make adjustments to the overall artistic look. You can control different aspcts like brush size, stroke length, paint thickness, and more, depending on the style.
The second tab called Layers is one of the features of the program that really puts this over the top for me. It allows you to paint on a layer mask so that you can alter the effect in just that location. This works great for portraits where the painting might be too much on a face so all you have to do is add a layer mask and then adjust the effect so that it’s not quite as severe. You can also add multiple masks for controlling different areas. It’s so incredibly cool, you just have to try it to see what I mean.
The Color tab let’s you make adjustments to the Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, and Temperature. You can adjust them individually or choose one of the presets in the drop-down menu.
The Canvas tab allows you to change the look of the canvas (duh). But really, the images really look like they are on all sorts of different surfaces like cloth, canvas, cold press paper, leather, wood, and more. You can change the default canvas surface to one of your liking and then tweak it to get just the look you want.
When you are done, you simply click the OK button to render the final effect and head back to the program you came from. There’s also a cool little Flickr export button that will let you upload your masterpiece directly to your Flickr account.
Photoshop and Elements do have some painting/artistic effects but they don’t come close to the flexibility, variety, and power of this cool little program.
If you want to give it a try for yourself, head on over to the Alien Skin website and download a limited time trial. You will also want to check out the videos, tutorials, and more examples.
Here’s some images that I created just yesterday. Be sure to click on them for a larger view.