KPT is a well-known name in the Photoshop world. It evokes pleasant memories in those of us who can recall when a drop shadow was a thing of beauty, and 3D graphics meant struggling with Photoshop channel operations.
These days, KPT is part of Procreate, the provocatively named range of products from Corel – which includes Knockout and Painter 7 as well as this new version of KPT Effects. KPT is a set of effects that can be installed in any host program that supports Photoshop-compatible filters. The CD comes with both Carbonized and un-Carbonized versions so that you can install them in any host program – whether they run on OS X or not. Applications that support Photoshop-compatible filters include Corel PhotoPaint and Painter, as well as some 3D applications – including Bryce 5, Maxon Cinema 4D XL 7 and Lightwave 3D 7.
In all there are nine plug-ins: FraxFlame II, Channel Surfing, Fluid, Gradient Lab, Hyper Tiling, Ink Dropper, Lightning, Pyramid Paint and Scatter. As is often the case with third-party filters, how to put them to good use is not always apparent. The filters fall into two distinct categories, the utility filter and the it-just-looks-cool filter. Of the set, the most obviously useful is Channel Surfing. This can be used to add sharpness and snap to scanned images or digital photos, and it’s very quick and simple to use. The other fairly obvious utility is the Gradient Lab. This can create all sorts of complex gradients, which can be used for masks or to create detailed illustrative effects.
Gradient types include Shapeburst, which maps the gradient around the edges of a selection – very useful for making 3D effects. Its interface lets you blend multiple gradient layers. FraxFlame II is of the second type, and produces strange wispy fractals. The interface has been improved over previous versions, and you can now zoom and pan through the fractal, though the result is not infinite. Want to create a movie that looks like an image is flowing like a liquid? Well, now you can with Flow, which lets you save a QuickTime movie directly from the filter interface.
Scatter is both funky and useful. It replaces tones in an image with particles – which can be simple spheres or complex images – to create custom mosaic images. You can create some interesting organic effects using this filter.
KPT Effects is not cheap, and like most third-party filters, they are only as useful as you make them. Lightning, which creates detailed forks of light and electric arcs, doesn’t seem flexible at first. However, it provides avenues of exploration that can lead to interesting designs and ideas. At the very least they’re fun to use, but pros should be wary of using recognizable filters.
This review appeared in the Expo 2001 issue