At a Glance
KPT Effects, a recent offspring of Procreate, is a set of nine plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop and other programs that accept Photoshop plug-ins. The CD contains versions for both OS 9 and OS X--the new, OS Xcompatible version of Photoshop will have these Carbonized plug-ins waiting for it. But users of other KPT sets will find that, as with previous iterations, the plug-ins vary in usefulness.
The most practical of the lot is Gradient Lab, which presents a powerful approach to designing complex gradients and blends. Designers can achieve spectacular results by combining blurring, contrast, and blending modes in the filter's built-in layers palette. Channel Surfing puts a welcome spin on Photoshop's Channel Mixer; it lets you base the sharpening, blurring, or adjusting of a channel's contrast on influence from another channel.
Less practical but still fun, Scatter distributes user-defined particles over an image, and if you want swirling drops of fluid on your image, Ink Dropper will do the trick. FraxFlame II is the more powerful sequel to a KPT 5 plug-in, and Fluid is similar to KPT 6's Goo, down to its ability to create animated QuickTime movies.
KPT has clung so persistently to its nonstandard interface that this interface has become something of a standard. Though it may take a bit of getting used to, KPT does have elegance and consistency going for it. The Recall panel lets you quickly compare combinations of parameter settings, which can be added to the already ample Presets library.
Macworld's Buying Advice
Graphic artists who own other sets of KPT plug-ins probably won't find enough here to justify a $200 investment. But OS X compatibility is a plus, and if you're starting a plug-in collection, this set offers a nice balance of practical and playful effects.
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