The latest version of MetaCreations’ effects plug-in sets for Photoshop and compatible products retains the KPT monicker, despite Kai Krause having left the building. As usual, KPT 6 continues the tradition of weird and wacky, but with a greater focus on usefulness than the far-out – but disappointing – KPT 5.
Version 6 of the filter set contains ten effects, and, as with any collection of effects, some are better than others. MetaCreations has toned down the “crazy” interface of previous versions, but retained an elegant look-&-feel that continues to favour experimentation over precision.
Here’s a quick run-down of them: KPT Projector is a highly interactive skew and rotate tool, with the ability to tile an image to make repeating patterns. KPT Goo – similar to the stand-alone product PowerGoo – allows interactive distortion effects. KPT Gel adds bizarre viscous shapes to your image.
KPT Materializer allows you to create dynamic surface textures and bump maps. KPT Lens Flare provides a greater range of lens options than the in-built filter. KPT Equalizer enables the correction of blurred images. KPT Turbulence creates wave distortions and fluid motion on an image. And, KPT Reaction creates organic-zebra-pattern, tile-able textures.
This just leaves two filters that MetaCreations has acquired from RAYflect: RAYflect PhotoTracer has been renamed KPT Scenebuilder, and essentially turns Photoshop into a 3D rendering tool. The former RAYflect filter Four Seasons is now known as SkyEffects, and is a skyscape-generation tool. These filters have not been integrated with the interface of the other filters at all, and it’s no coincidence that they are the hardest to get used to – Scenebuilder, especially. Because it is such a radical departure for a Photoshop plug-in, it will take a lot of experimentation to learn fully.
I criticized Version 5 of KPT for not having animation facilities built into tools I thought were crying out for them. Gladly, with Version 6 in the series, there are animation capabilities on several of the filters – Projector, Turbulence and Goo. This makes the filters 100 per cent more useful – and fun. Creating an animation is incredibly easy – another triumph of the intuitive interface design, and the resultant movie clips are rendered quickly.
While KPT 6 may be a lot of fun to tinker with, ultimately it will stand or fall on how useful the filters are – something that will only become apparent in time. There’s enough here to make it a worthwhile purchase. It’s certainly better than KPT 5, although it’s not a must-have purchase. Most users will be better off buying individual filters from the MetaCreations Web site as they become available.