Let's go back now to the era of the Impressionist painters. Starting with
an image of a water lily (#6), I chose Snap Art's Pointillism filter.
A valuable option is the ability to add the filter effect on a new separate
layer (#7). Simply check the first box found under the Basic tab at the top
left of the Snap Art window. This makes it easy to compare the effect with the
original by clicking the eye icon of the effect layer on and off in the Layers
palette (#8). Furthermore, this allows you to experiment with different Blend
modes for the effect layer. The "Factory default" setting gave the
best detail and color for this shot (#9), emulating the tiny dots of color used
by Seurat. This effect is best seen when the image is printed at 5x7"
Further controls found under the Basic tab include sliders for brush size,
paint coverage, paint thickness, and paint stroke length. These will vary slightly
according to the filter you choose. Move over to the Colors tab for similar
sliders to adjust saturation, contrast, brightness, color temperature (cool/warm),
and random color variation. Canvas, the next tab, lets you choose a background
texture from different types of canvas, paper, even brick, leather, and wood.
Also, you select the canvas color, thickness, and zoom--so that the size
of the texture matches the size of your print. The last tab, Lighting, lets
you set the lighting direction and angle, as well as highlight brightness, color,
and size (#10). These settings can be saved as a User Setting with a name you
Pastel & Watercolor
For a soft, dreamy effect, I applied the Pastel filter to my water lily photo.
While there are many settings within Pastel for oil, chalk, different papers,
portrait, and landscape, I found the Factory default gave the best result in
terms of color and detail for this flower. Finally, I tried the Watercolor options.
While almost all gave a pleasing result, I settled on the "Brush, dry"
In conclusion, while I was initially skeptical of Snap Art because of its total
automation, after a few days of working with it, I found it to be a valuable
tool, especially for those who do not wish to do any hand drawing. For $149,
or discounted to $99 for any registered user of Alien Skin software, Snap Art
has a lot to offer. With an older or moderately slow processor, you may sometimes
get tired of waiting for previews to draw and final effects to render, but the
ultimate result is worth it.
Be sure to check out the Snap Art website, www.alienskin.com, for information,
samples, a user forum, a free 30-day trial version, as well as many free preset
"User Settings" to download for additional effects within each filter.
For more information, contact Alien Skin Software, LLC, 1111 Haynes St., Ste.
113, Raleigh, NC 27604; (888) 921-7546, (919) 832-4124; www.alienskin.com.