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Alien Skin has been making Photoshop filters since 1993 – so they’re old-timers in this business. Its Eye Candy series has long been a must-have suite of filters, and now Image Doctor swells the ranks of filters you can’t live without.
There are just four filters in the suite – JPEG repair, Scratch Remover, Smart Fill and Spot Lifter – but all are pretty handy in situations that crop up regularly.
JPEG repair is simple, but very useful. It comes to the rescue when an image has been compressed too much. When blocky skies and fuzzy lines mar an image, there isn’t much you can do to fix it. JPEG repair works by smoothing the gradients and softening the image slightly. It isn’t perfect – you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear – but it does make the image more usable. You’ll never get lost detail back, but erasing the distracting features of over-compression helps a lot.
The Scratch Remover filter makes short work of repairing nicked images. However, it can be used for things other than scratched images. For instance, any image with an unwanted wire, overlaid title, or time code can be fixed in seconds. It works best when the blemish is over a fairly evenly patterned background, but it makes a good attempt at any background.
The Spot Lifter is a bit of a disappointment, though perhaps with practice it could prove useful. In the manual this filter is shown fixing dark shadows under eyes, which isn’t what I’d call spot lifting, but handy none the less.
I’ve saved the best for last though. The Smart Fill filter gets rid of unwanted elements of images with almost miraculous results. If a landscape is spoilt by picnickers, just lasso them and hit Smart Fill, then presto, they’re gone. Lose pigeons, telegraph poles, people and more.
It works by looking at the surrounding area, and blending and cloning it to fit the hole that is cut out. It isn’t perfect, but it can be tweaked to get close to perfect. It depends on the size of the element you’re removing, and the surrounding area. But mostly it’s lightning fast and amazingly good at guessing what should be in the background.
The amount of time this suite of filters will save is impossible to calculate. But if you use Photoshop daily, Image Doctor would come in handy daily. No busy Photoshopper should be without it.