Software Champion: Image Tricks 2
MacUser Vol 23 No 22, October 2007
By: Alan Stonebridge
Kaleidoscope images can be made with control
over the number of points and angle reflection.
In the first installment of an occasional series, one MacUser writer champions a piece of
software he couldn't live without: Image Tricks 2.
Pro users will naturally gravitate towards the behemoth that Photoshop, but
it's too costly for anyone who wants to do nothing more than play with some filters. Not to
mention that Photoshop can be incredibly daunting if you're unaccustomed to its many menus
and floating palettes.
For non-pros, we'd champion Image Tricks, a lightweight filter tool from BeLight
Software. Image Tricks 2 is neither a replacement for Photoshop nor a powerful compositing
tool, but by harnessing Tiger's Core Image technology, it does let you apply multiple effects,
one after another, to build up complex results.
In Pro version adds several filters, including Sobel.
Pixellate with control over size of each square block.
Crystallize offers control over the radius of each polygon.
Not all of Apple's Image Units are made available, in part because some would be
inappropriate, particularly blending mode effects. However, those provided range from fun to practical,
with the latter including Unsharp Mask, Gaussian Blur, Posterize and a whole group of halftone effects.
In additional to this CMYK halftone, there are circular, dot and line screen filters.
The interface is clean and uncluttered. On the left are tabs of filters and generators,
with settings such as Radius and Intensity shown below whenever they apply. A live image preview is
displayed on the right and by leveraging technology found in every modern Mac, experimentation is both
enjoyable and easy. Image Tricks is fast and responsive and it's all too easy to lose an hour or two
playing with images just for run.
Some filters have a small crosshair beside them to signify that the effect's centre
point can be moved. All this takes is a single click, but you can also click and drag the mouse and
see the change reflected immediately, so long as your graphic processor is up to the job.
It comes bundled with a limited set of masks, to which you can add your own, before
exporting the results of your labours as Gifs, PNGs and Tiffs with transparency, with Jpeg and PDF
support tacked on for good measure.
Monochrome Color applies a colour overlay, with control over the colour and the effect's intensity.
Pointillize gives control over the radius of each dot.
If shapes and textures are more your thing, you're well catered for by the generators,
which create semi-random, yet infinitely tweakable patterns that would make great wrapping paper.
The result can be interesting, but they'll be of less interest to photographers as they don't manipulate
your pictures; they're decorative more than anything, but they don't detract from Image Tricks' real
power and sense of purpose: the visual effects produced by its filters.
There are two versions of Image Tricks. The Pro Versions in inspective at $15
(about £7.50) and you can preview the paid-for filters and generators in the free edition. It's
well worth trying out, whether simply for fun or to make full use of the retouching filters for free.
See other reviews...