A Plug-In Bonanza; Retouching, Adding Grain, And Then Some Page 2

Sharpen Me!
ImageSkill Software's (www.imageskill.com) Magic Sharpener is a Photoshop compatible plug-in that's only available for Windows. Most sharpening software increases the contrast along an image's edges but Magic Sharpener--no relation to Focus Magic (www.focusmagic.com)--separates the processing of edges and fine details, giving you more user control. Consequently, it can sharpen images without the dreaded halo defect. It uses original sharpening algorithms and includes individual controls for noise suppression. Magic Sharpener processes 8- or 16-bit RGB and gray scale image files and has simple install and de-install procedures and automatically detects graphic hosts that run on Microsoft Windows operating systems all the way from 98 to NT4 (including XP, naturally). The full version of ImageSkill Software's Magic Sharpener is available for $29.95, but a downloadable, free 30-day trial offers fully functional use.

Cubular Actions
After an absence for a couple of hectic months, Panos Efstathiadis (www.panosfx.com) has finished two sets of 18 commercial Photoshop Actions called Panos Cube. The first set produces nine different cubes using one of your images. The second set creates nine different kinds of cubes using three of your images. These Actions produce a variety of cube effects but Efstathiadis cautions that for best results the images should be square. The default styles are optimized for images of 1500x1500 pixels but I just made 'em square and ran the Action and the results looked great. Bigger files may take longer to run. Like most of Efstathiadis' Actions, Panos Cube is affordable and costs $9.99, but is currently available at an introductory price of $7.99. For thrifty digital imagers, he's created a free action set called Rubik's Cube. Unlike the commercial Actions this one produces a fixed cube with a single image.

© 2005, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved

Photos On Stamps The Easy Way
Zazzle (www.zazzle.com) lets you use your own photos to produce postage stamps that can be sent through standard US Mail. One sheet of 39-cent Zazzle Custom Stamps costs $17.99 and contains 20 stamps. If you buy two sheets you'll get $2 off each one when ordering different styles, designs, or denominations. There are no minimums, no setup fee, and Zazzle promises to ship in 48 hours. Zazzle supports JPEG, PNG, GIF, or TIFF format files and stamps are produced at a minimum of 200 ppi (pixels per inch). To fill the full image area of a horizontal stamp, they recommend images that are equal to or larger than 1.7x1.25" or 1.25x1.7" for vertical postage. They even will print custom post cards, with no minimums, starting at 99 cents each that would make a great combo for pros who want to promote their business.

What It Takes For A Product To Appear In This Column
Readers and manufacturers often ask, "What does it take for a product to appear in this column?" I've answered this question before but it's worth repeating: Each month I get e-mail from readers about products they like or are curious about. I also get press releases--lots of 'em--from companies telling me about their products and services. I test those products and visit those websites that grab my attention and the best appear in "Digital Innovations." Recently a company criticized me for ignoring their products in a recent column. He hadn't sent a press release, and when I asked if he attended the PMA Show, replied, "What's that?" Clairvoyance is not among any of my so-called talents, so if you've used or manufacture what you think is a great product that digital imagers will find useful, let me know via e-mail at: editorial@shutterbug.com.

© 2005, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved