Vincent Oliver examines a suite of handy Photoshop Plug-ins that saves hundreds of pounds over buying them individually......
Create complex cut- outs which preserve fine hair detail
I?m still waiting for the perfect cut-out/masking tool. Is this it? There are so many functions, and ways to make a cut-out in MaskPro, that it would take several pages to cover them all. One of the simplest methods here is to use the green eye-dropper to define the colours you want to keep and the red one to sample the colours to remove. Then, using the Magic Brush, paint around the edge of your subject to remove the background. You can also use the Magic Pen tool to create an outline on hard edges ? handy for product shots etc.
MaskPro produces excellent masks but requires a lot of work to get there, and it can be sluggish at times, especially on complex areas. My final image still had traces of the background, though with more drop samples I?m sure the mask could have been cleaner. The more sample colours you have the greater the accuracy, but this takes longer to do.
Mask Pro has two main competitors, Corel KnockOut and Vertuis Fluid Mask. Both offer a quicker means of creating a cut-out. However, MaskPro sits well in this Plug-in suite bundle. WDC RATING: 84%
Over 4,700 ready-made creative frames that can be customised and used on your images
Have you ever wanted to add an artistic border to an image? Then this may well be the plug-in you?re looking for. PhotoFrame 3 comes with 4,783 ready-made frames, 96 textures, 6 instant frames and 183 predefined Presets. Each frame can be customised to suit your picture and you can save your settings as a preset. The frames are overlaid on top of the image as a new layer, so you can have several frames on top of each other.
There are six instant frames based on popular shapes (Heart, Star, Ellipse etc). These are basically Vector shapes which create a mask over your picture. The shapes can be fully customised to suit the content of your picture and you can even define the heart as a broken heart ? ideal for sending to a newly divorced couple.
Once you are happy with the way your frame looks you can send it to Photoshop as a flattened image, or better still, use the Apply as a new layer button ? this leaves your original image untouched with the frame sitting as a top layer in Photoshop.
There are many frames for you to experiment with, including several film edge types, 35mm, roll film and sheet film. I didn?t see a Polaroid style edge although there is a large collection of emulsion effects. Not all the frame shapes will suit your photographs ? in fact there are many which are better suited for graphic designers ? but nevertheless this is a great package with something for everyone. WDC RATING: 92%