The DreamSuite series of Photoshop plug-ins consists only of volume one currently, though Auto FX is off to a good start with this selection.
The first thing I noticed was the slow speed. Thank goodness this was fixed with an upgrade from the Auto FX Web site.
The fix is essential as it makes the product much more useable. The interface, while pretty to look at, does have some quirks. The navigation was a little sluggish and hierarchical menus could be a little over sensitive. If your mouse isn’t perfectly placed, the nested options disappear.
The effects themselves are both good fun and useful. Photoshop has been around for more than ten years now, and most of the obvious effects have been done. DreamSuite offers some refreshing changes to the usual stuff.
There are some simple effects such as 35mm frame – which puts your image in a frame resembling a slide holder. In the same vein there is Instamatic, which is like a Polaroid frame, and PhotoBorder, which is like an aged photograph.
There are some effects that are especially suited to text, such as HotStamp, Dimension X, Metal Mixer, Liquid Metal and Chisel. HotStamp adds a fiery outline to text. Liquid Metal and Metal Mixer give excellent chrome and metal effects to text or any selected shape. Dimension X adds a high-quality embossed look, quite unlike the usual emboss filter you find in Photoshop.
More unusual still are effects such as Crease, which lets you scrunch up your image as if it had just been pulled out of a bin.
If there is one filter in this collection that is likely to be used every day it’s Focus. It lets you select a part of your image and then gradually blur the surrounding area. This is terrific as an instant depth of field effect, and a great way to subtly direct attention to where you want it.
Another favourite, and I’m sure people will find ways to use it, is the Tape effect. This lets you add different types of tape to an image, from Duct tape to clear tape.
There are too many effects to mention here, but they vary from the really useful to the occasional and fun ones. All the effects that I have mentioned are fully customizable and have lots of presets too. As a first volume, it’s a diverse and promising start. I look forward to seeing more from Auto FX in the future.
This review appeared in the Expo 2001 issue