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Adobe Photoshop and other image editors are powerful, but their built-in effect filters are often limited in number and scope. Third-party plug-ins aim to fill the void, and one of the best is Alien Skin Software's Eye Candy 4000. This update to Eye Candy 3.0 ( Reviews , August 1997) works with Photoshop 4.0, Fireworks 2, Adobe ImageReady 1.0, and Deneba Canvas 6.0 (and later versions of each). Although only 5 of the 23 filters are new, improvements to the older filters and the interface make this a smart buy whether you're upgrading or trying Eye Candy for the first time.
Eye Candy 4000 bests the previous version's offbeat interface by incorporating industry-standard features such as tabbed palettes. The well-organized tabs offer easy access to dozens of controls, including the new Color Gradient and Bevel Profile editors. Another welcome change makes the preview window resizable and potentially many times larger than Eye Candy 3.0's.
When you launch a filter, the Eye Candy commands take over the menu bar. Well-planned new options include unlimited undo and redo and the ability to switch to other filters within the preview window.Eye Candy 4000 is simple for both pros and novices. Each filter has several presets, which you can quickly customize for unique effects via sliders or numeric values. The Random Seed feature lets you experiment further by merely clicking a button.
It's a good thing the application is intuitive, because it provides meager built-in and online help. Thankfully, the printed manual is excellent.
Eye Candy 4000 requires a PowerPC processor and at least 32MB of RAM, but you may want more. We tested the program on a 450MHz G4 with 128MB of RAM, and still found rendering slow at times. However, if you're using the plug-ins in Photoshop, you can take advantage of a new feature to speed rendering time: just specify absolute units and you can work on 72-dpi images, which render quickly. Save your settings, then apply them to higher-res images to get the same effects.Fine Grains One of Eye Candy 4000's best new filters, Wood, can create fabulous effects in a matter of seconds.