Alien Skin Snap Art 2

Sometimes a photograph is better looking as a painting. But instead of busting out a brush and palette, let Alien Skin Software’s Snap Art 2 do the work for you. Using sophisticated algorithms, the program is able to simulate brush strokes and canvas textures that transform your stills into unique works of art.

It’s compatible with Adobe Photoshop and Elements. If you have CS4, you can download a panel from the Alien Skin website that can be docked with other panels and stay hidden or visible. This saves you from having to launch the plug-in from the Filter menu every time you want to try a new effect.

New oval focus regions let you selectively add detail. So if you’re working on a portrait and want more detail in the face or eyes, you can adjust the shape of the region to fit just that area. The strength also can be adjusted for a subtle or bold look.

A revert button allows you to see your original picture quickly.

Tabs with multiple sliders allow you to adjust the brush size, paint thickness, stroke length and other qualities for changing different aspects of the image. Most filters now have a photorealism slider that allows you to make the image as abstract or as clear and detailed as desired.

Image preview sizes can be adjusted from a window-size fit up to 1:1, which enlarges the image to its actual size in pixels.

The pull-down Preview Split menu gives different perspectives of the image, allowing you to view it entirely as a painting or divide it horizontally, vertically or diagonally.

Choose from 10 natural media filters, including Color Pencil, Comics, Oil Paint, Pastel, Watercolor, Pencil Sketch, and Pen and Ink.

For CS4 users, the panel has a button that creates a gallery of all 10 filters applied to copies of your image. The panel also has a button that links to the video tutorials, part of the Alien Skin website.

Version 2 has been optimized for multi-processors and multi-core CPUs, making it significantly faster than version 1 on most computers. The app now can work on images of any size, so it’s suitable for extremely large prints. Estimated Street Price: $199. Contact: Alien Skin Software, (888) 921-SKIN, www.alienskin.com.

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