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At first glance, Splat appears to be a pretty frivolous collection of filters – more suited to kids making pictures than serious illustrators. In fact, it’s just as relevant to illustrators, especially those looking for offbeat tools that can create some fresh effects.
One of the effects, however, isn’t exactly fresh. ASCII art (previously known as typewriter art) has been around since 1867, with typewriter art competitions running as early as 1890. Such creations used to take a certain type of mind and a trainspotter-like obsession. Splat endows this ability on anybody with the Patchwork filter. This lets you assign a selection of text effects, including green computer type, typewriter type, and even light peg and cross-stitch effects. As a filter, it’s clever but basic.
As with most filters, you wouldn’t use it alone – but for creating Matrix-style backgrounds, it’s a handy tool to have in your kit. If, on the other hand, you’re fond of creating cross-stitch needlework, you could in theory use the Patchwork filter to turn digital images into templates to be hand-sewn.
Another more immediately useful effect is Resurface. This adds a bump map to an image, and has a big library of effects. You can use this to add a fresco-style grain, brushed-metal effect, or 15 other categories of surface, each with around half a dozen variations.
The Border Stamp and Fill Stamp let you fill specific areas or borders with multiple images. The selection of images is large but quirky, including dog biscuits, rubber aliens, plastic monkeys, Gummy Bears, and eggs. The flower fills are probably the most useable in the selection, and used creatively could be quite effective. In the wrong hands, though (ie mine – see left), this is potentially the cheesiest chintz weapon ever unleashed.
The Edges filter has a lot of potential in creative hands. There are six choices of edge, halftone lines, halftone dots, lumpy, pixels, and rough and torn paper. All look great – especially on heavy text.
Last of all are the frames. Most are pretty standard fare: wooden and matte patterns. There’s also a good selection of Art Nouveau and geometric borders, though, and a number of novelty frames (such as leopard skin or grommets) for the style-challenged.
This selection of effects can be used for good or evil. In the right hands, it’s a valuable collection of shortcuts to effects that are mostly possible already. The great thing is the time saving element. In the wrong hands, it’s capable of creating monstrosities of bad taste and judgment that would put a Turner Prize winner to shame.
However, in the world of art and design, bad can be good and obnoxious can be stylish, so who am I to judge? There’s something for everyone here, and the clear interface ensures that everybody will be able to use the effects.