Graphics Beat

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Graphics Beat

By Scholle Sawyer

There's a lot of graphics software to the seen at this year's Expo, from the new Deneba Canvas (booth #1839) to Alien Skin's latest wacky Photoshop plug-in set, Xenofex (complete with a filter called Little Fluffy Clouds at booth #310). For those of you just looking to hit some of the highlights, however, here are a few unexpected gems:

After Adobe Photoshop 5.0 incorporated features that let us tweak type without a plug-in, Extensis Corporation found the most valuable part of its PhotoTools plug-in set rendered obsolete. The company had something up its sleeve, however, and you can see it at booth #407. Shipping at the end of this month, Extensis PhotoGraphics 1.0 brings illustration capabilities to Photoshop, from type on a path, to vector objects with transparent fills, to character style sheets. For $150, PhotoGraphics basically puts a simple drawing program inside your copy of Photoshop. Now that's cool. Extensis Corporation, 503/274-2020,

One of the show's surprises is the buzz around the MetaCreations booth (#617) this year. Our roving graphics experts report that the venerable plug-in set Kai's Power Tools (just released at version 5) has been soundly upstaged by its consumer-level sibling Kai's Photo Soap 2. Photo Soap's interface has been cleaned up to make more sense to the novice user (for instance, windows are finally resizeable). You can now use Photoshop filters within the program. There still are no selection tools, instead you paint the filters onto your image. Add to this nifty new automatic photo enhancements and an incredible price of $50 and it's clear what all the hoopla is about. Metacreations, 800/846-0111,

If you're looking for a good-old-fashion "gee whiz" experience, go see Electric Image's upcoming Amorphium at booth #911, the newest attempt to make 3-D power accessible to 2-D people. Amorphium does the best job we've seen yet. It scraps (or at least hides) foreign metaphors, such as wireframes and polygons, to replace them with more tangible ways of working. Amporphium let's you sculpt objects by pushing and pulling as if they were lumps of clay. It uses traditional 2-D tools such as masks and filters; lets you paint directly on models using a pressure-sensitive tablet; and even recognizes the pen's tilt. All that not enough to impress you? Ask the folks at the booth to show you how fast Amporphium renders. The software should be available this spring for $150. Electric Image, 888/736-3371,


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