Graphics.com is currently running a series of monthly sweepstakes, with the prizes being graphics products. You can enter by visiting the Graphics.com Facebook page.
June Prize: Poser Pro 2014
The June sweepstakes prize is Poser Pro 2014 from Smith Micro Software, for Mac and Windows. Poser is perfect for creating 3D character art and animation. For nearly 20 years, artists, hobbyists, illustrators, and animators have been getting creative with Poser. Poser includes over 5GB of 3D figures and content to get you started. Pose figures, add hair and clothing, props, lights and cameras to build 3D scenes. Render photorealistic and cartoon style images and video for web, print and film.
May Prize: The ContrastMaster Plugin/Application
The Plugin Sites's ContrastMaster Photoshop plugin and application lets users perform effective contrast enhancement, creating dramatic contrast looks, photorealistic paintings and HDR-like effects. It can turn low-contrast photos into vivid and detailed images and transform ordinary photos into interesting and dynamic shots. One of the things that differentiates it from competing products is that it offers three local and four global contrast adjustment methods as well as various masking, saturation and brightness options. The three local adjustment methods allow users to dramatically improve contrast in small image details without blowing out highlights or damaging the image. These three methods can be applied separately or various options can be employed to mix them together for improved results.
April Prize: An ingimage Subscription
This month the prize is a subscription to ingimage. This provides access to millions of tightly edited high resolution images (250 downloads per week), none of which are crowd sourced, as well as a library of vector backgrounds and fonts. Thousands of new stock photos are added to ingimage every week. A seven-day free trial subscription is also available.
The April Graphics.com Sweepstakes will be awarding a six-month subscription to ingimage. More information is available on the ingimage site.
March Prize: SymmetryShop
This month the prize is Artlandia SymmetryShop, all you need to create professional pattern designs in Adobe Photoshop. Now in its third release, this plugin for Mac and Windows makes the design process quick, easy and fully automatic. Select a part of an image and the plugin does the rest. SymmetryShop patterns stay editable forever: refine your source image and rebuild the pattern at any time. A trial version is also available.
The March Graphics.com Sweepstakes will be awarding one copy of SymmetryShop. More information is available on the Artlandia site.
February Prize: PixPlant 2
This month the prize is PixPlant 2, a smart 3D texturing tool that creates high-quality normal, displacement and specular maps, as well as seamless textures. Based on regular photos, PixPlant adds an unlimited choice of realistic materials for your projects: pick an interesting photo, run PixPlant and get a perfect seamless 3D texture. Available as an application for Mac and Windows, and as a Windows Photoshop plugin. A trial version is also available.
The February Graphics.com Sweepstakes will be awarding one copy of PixPlant 2. More information is available on the PixPlant site.
January Prize: Eye Candy 7
This month the prize is Alien Skin Software's Eye Candy collection of effect filters for Adobe Photoshop Mac or Windows. While special effects filters for Photoshop are typically suited just for creating novel, unrealistic results, Eye Candy effects such as Animal Fur, Smoke and Reptile Skin are said to be rendered in great detail down to individual hairs, turbulent wisps and irregular bumps. Eye Candy supports 6-bit/channel images and CMYK mode, as well as taking advantage of multi-core CPUs and working with the 64-bit version of Photoshop. It provides multiple techniques for non-destructive editing in Photoshop, including Smart Filter support and rendering effects on a duplicate of the original layer.
The January Graphics.com Sweepstakes will be awarding one copy of Eye Candy 7. More information is available on the Alien Skin Software site.
December Prize: AKVIS Coloriage
This month the prize is the AKVIS Coloriage Photoshop plugin and application for Mac and Windows. Coloriage makes it easy to add colors to black and white photos or sketches, as well as replace colors in a color photo.
The December Graphics.com Sweepstakes will be awarding one copy of a Business license for AKVIS Coloriage. More information about Coloriage is available on the AKVIS site.
November Prize: Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe® Creative Cloud™ is an ongoing membership that lets you download and install any of the Adobe Creative Suite® 6 desktop applications, plus other applications including Adobe Photoshop® Lightroom® 4. You also get online services for file sharing, collaboration, and publishing. Best of all, you get the latest apps and features as soon as they're released — giving you the freedom to create anything you can imagine.
The November Graphics.com Sweepstakes will be awarding a one-year membership to the Adobe Creative Cloud. More information about Creative Cloud is available on the Adobe site.
October Prize: Kwik
The Kwik plugin makes it possible to create eBook apps directly from Photoshop for viewing on Android, iPad and Amazon readers. The plugin provides drag and drop control over such elements as sound, linear and path animation, buttons, timers and actions, as well as providing sprite sheet capabilities. Users can add simple physics effects to publications, with the ability to define gravity and create bodies that interact with the environment, complete with collision detection. It's also possible to add in-app purchasing capabilities, providing an alternative way to monetize such publications.
The October Graphics.com Sweepstakes will be awarding one copy of the Kwik plugin for Mac or Windows. More information is available on the Kwiksher site.
September Prize: Color Efex Pro
Color Efex Pro 4 provides a comprehensive set of enhancements for color correction, retouching, and creative effects. Quickly stylize your photographs, retouch portraits with ease, and extend your creativity with unmatched control and versatility.
55 filters and countless effects for color correction, retouching and creative enhancements. Selectively apply or remove filter effects with the utmost precision. 8 brand new filters and 10 improved filters, a history browser, visual presets and more. Easily mix and combine enhancements to create stunning new styles.
The September Graphics.com Sweepstakes will be awarding one copy of Color Efex Pro 4 plugin for Mac or Windows. More information is available on the Nik Software site.
August Prize: AKVIS MultiBrush
MultiBrush, as the name implies, provides a range of functionality that is designed for such tasks as editing a portrait, restoring an old photo or even creating an image from scratch, thanks to the provided Standard and Artistic Brushes. When it comes to retouching photos or enhancing portraits, the Chameleon brush can be used to remove skin imperfections, enhance skin, and remove dust or stains from scanned photos.
An Artistic cloning mode is said to facilitate the removal of unwanted elements of a picture, as shown below. Part of the program's claim to fame is that all the pens and brushes provide automatic adjustments to preserve the original’s color, tonal range, texture, brightness, lighting and shadows, to ensure that cloned elements blend seamlessly with the background. Also of note is the ability to edit image channels and work with layers; a full history control; and the ability to employ a range of natural media brushes for spot effects. New in the recently shipped version 6 is Photoshop CS6 compatibility and additional Clone Stamp functionality.
The August Graphics.com Sweepstakes will be awarding one copy of the Business license of AKVIS MultiBrush for Mac or Windows, which includes both the plugin and the application. More information is available on the AKVIS site.
July Prize: the Hypercreative Bundle
Hypercreative Bundle of four training DVDs from PhotoshopCAFE.com, all authored by Ali Sabet: Learning the Hypercreative Method; Logo Design in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop; Character Design in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator; and Rapid Portfolio Site Design in Squarespace. The hour-long DVDs provide full screen playback and work on iPad, iPhone 4 (earlier iPhones not supported), iTunes, Apple TV, and Mac and Windows systems.
The July Graphics.com Sweepstakes prize is one copy of the Hypercreative Bundle of four training DVDs. More information is available on the PhotoshopCAFE.com site.
June Prize: ColorStyler
ColorStyler, available as an application and Photoshop plugin, seeks to reproduce the workflow of color film photography, all the way from shooting a photo, to processing it in the lab and then framing the end result. The process is built around 20 effect types and 600 editable presets, which embody the visual attributes of color films, lens filters, lab effects and photo papers. The presets allow users to perform such tasks as colorizing; manipulating brightness, contrast, color and saturation; masking certain image areas; adding soft focus and glow effects; simulating film grain; adding special effects; and framing the image. A nice touch is that the plugin provides modes for inexperienced, intermediate and advanced users, the latter of which makes it possible to gradually add and tweak effects.
The June Graphics.com Sweepstakes prize is one copy of ColorStyler 1 for Mac or Windows. More information is available on the The Plugin Site site.
May Prize: Manga Studio EX 4
Powerful comic illustration tool Manga Studio EX 4 gives you the flexibility to easily create professional-quality comics, manga, and illustrations. It allows users to scan, create, sketch, and ink digital and soft copies of their manga and comic artwork. It is also an illustration tool. Choose from over 3,000 screen tones or create your own. Resize with no loss in quality by converting your bitmap drawings to resolution-independent vector images. Color artwork using the integrated tool set enabling you to mix and blend for custom color work. Export to a wide variety of formats such as bmp, jpeg, png, psd, tga, eps (monochrome only), tiff, pdf and pict (Mac only). Draw naturally with a pen tablet and recreate the sensation of drawing on paper offering an incredibly natural drawing experience.
The May Graphics.com Sweepstakes prize is one copy of Manga Studio EX 4 for Mac or Windows. More information is available on the Smith Micro Software site.
April Prize: Topaz Plug-in Bundle
Included in the Bundle is Adjust, which optimizes exposure, color, and detail strength for dynamic, HDR-style images; DeNoise, for removing noise, color noise and banding while recovering image detail; B&W Effects, which creates both traditional and stylized looks; ReMask, which simplifies the creation of masks and cutouts for background replacement and selective adjustments; Lens Effects, for creating bokeh, vignettes, color tone balance, motion blur and more after the shot; Detail, which allows users to selectively control three levels of image detail without creating halos or edge artifacts; Simplify, for creating a range of digital art and painting effects; Clean, which provides smoothing and edge stylizing for creating smooth, flawless skin and curly, vectorized effects; InFocus, which sharpens and refines to improve image quality and reverse minor instances of blur; and DeJPEG, for reducing jpeg compression artifacts (blockiness) and restoring optimal jpeg image integrity.
The April Graphics.com Sweepstakes prize is one copy of the Topaz Plug-in Bundle for Mac or Windows, which is compatible with Photoshop, Elements, Lightroom, Aperture and iPhoto. More information about the Bundle is available on the Topaz Labs site.
March Prize: Corel Painter
When it comes to natural media, Corel's Painter stands alone as a professional-grade tool. It has found favor with a wide spectrum of illustrators and concept artists but is also popular with digital photographers, in part due to its photo transformation functionality. After 20 years of development Corel Painter continues to evolve, with version 12 adding some notable enhancements to its Real Bristle Painting System, which mimics the bending and splaying of traditional, real-world brush bristles on the canvas. Painter is known for the finesse and responsiveness of its brushes and textures. In that vein, the new Real Watercolor and Real Wet Oil brushes realistically mimiced the liquidity and viscosity of flowing and blending paint, water or solvent. Also worth mentioning were the new Gel and Digital Airbrush brushes. Also new was a Mirror Painting mode, which made it easy to create a symmetrical painting in a one- or two-plane mirror. A related Kaleidoscope Painting mode let you paint a brushstroke in one kaleidoscope segment, while reflecting it in between 3 to 12 mirror planes.
The March Graphics.com Sweepstakes prize is one copy of Corel Painter for Mac or Windows. More information about Corel Painter is available on the Corel Corp. site.
February Prize: Anime Studio Pro
Anime Studio Pro 8.1, geared to the creation of 2D movies, cartoons, anime or cut out animations, as well as full-length animation for film or video. It allows users to quickly create cut out animations via manipulation and drawing tools that can be used with digital photos. The application employs a "bone rigging" system more normally found in 3D graphics software, which streamlines animation workflow and reduces production time. This approach eliminates the need to create new art for each individual frame, instead requiring just the adjustment of the "bones" for the program to generate the desired character movement. Users can draw original vector graphic art, import pictures, dub and add subtitles to existing videos or choose from built-in characters as a basis for digital shorts in the style of South Park and JibJab.
The February Graphics.com Sweepstakes prize is one copy of Anime Studio Pro for Mac or Windows. More information about Anime Studio Pro is available on Smith Micro Software site.
January Prize: HDR Expose 2 / 32 Float v2 Suite
The HDR Expose application and 32 Float Photoshop plugin automate several aspects of the HDR production process, such as tone mapping and halo elimination. After merging the multiple exposures required for the HDR process into a 32-bit image, a simplified user interface presents an animated exposure range preview of the HDR image, along with five tone mapping preset options. Users can then choose from a series of color and style presets or create their own presets using the program’s adjustment sliders. These make it possible to manipulate brightness, highlight and shadow recovery, black point, contrast, saturation and white balance, while viewing edits in real time.
Users can apply HDR effects to a single JPEG, TIFF or RAW file, as well as merge multiple exposure brackets to maximize the dynamic range. HDR Expose provides plugins for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Apple Aperture, which can be employed to seamlessly “round trip” images from their libraries. Once the work has been finalized, users can save the results as a JPEG, 8-bit or 16-bit TIFF, or preserve the full dynamic range of the HDR image by exporting it in Unified Color’s native 32-bit BEF file.
The January Graphics.com Sweepstakes prize is one copy of the HDR Expose 2 / 32 Float v2 Suite for Mac or Windows. More information about HDR Expose 2 / 32 Float v2 Suite is available on Unified Color Technologies site.
December Prize: AKVIS Chameleon
AKVIS Chameleon is a plugin/application that simplifies the creation of photo montages. Adding a copied object to an existing photo or illustration in an image editing application is simple enough, but to have the object integrate convincingly with the base image typically requires a significant amount of time and technical expertise. Chameleon attempts to perform this integration automatically, by adjusting the copied object's overall color range to match the background, as well as smoothing its edges.
The December Graphics.com Sweepstakes prize was one copy of the Business License of AKVIS Chameleon for Mac or Windows. More information about AKVIS Chameleon is available on the AKVIS site.
November Prize: Strata Design 3D CX
Strata Design 3D CX is professional-level 3D modeling and animation software and is notable for trying to ease the learning curve for 2D designers who are new to 3D. For example, Strata 3D CX follows the Adobe interface standard with features like palette docking and a History tab in the Status palette and can import PDF and EPS files, as well as linking a layered Photoshop file directly to the surface of a 3D object, and rendering final work to layers. Quick start templates, libraries, predefined effects, backgrounds and environments allow designers to quickly create complex scenes. There's also a library of video tutorials available on the strata3duniversity.com site. Design 3D CX offers what Strata describes as "an extremely friendly" modeling toolset and environment for manipulating polygons, splines and primitives into virtually any 3D object or scene, with the ability to import a wide variety of third-party models and scenes. Surface textures can then be created, applied and manipulated, the lighting defined and the image rendered.
The November Graphics.com Sweepstakes was one copy of Strata Design 3D CX for Mac or Windows. More information about Strata Design 3D CX is available on the Strata 3D site. The image below was created in Strata Design 3D CX.
October Prize: Poser 9
Poser 9 is the world’s easiest way to create art and animation using 3D characters. Poser’s simple to learn tools and included characters let you focus on making art, whether you’re a professional artist or dabbling in graphics for the very first time. Poser includes over 3 gigabyte of ready-to-pose, fully textured, human and animal figures, basic accessories such as hair, clothing, pose sets, real world props and 3D scene elements. With the Face Room, customize Poser characters using facial photographs. Add dynamic hair and clothing. Build a 3D scene on Poser’s virtual stage with props, lights and cameras. Automatically generate walking or running animations and talking characters. Import motion capture files for even more animated realism. Animate lights and cameras, and then render scenes into photorealistic images and video for web, print, and film projects.
More information about Poser 9 is available on the Smith Micro site. The image below was created in Poser by Mike Reiss.
September Prize: Snap Art 3
The Snap Art 3 Photoshop plugin allows users to choose from hundreds of styles, such as oil paint, charcoal, watercolor, pencil sketch or crayon. Within those, it's possible to choose from a range of styles that include impasto and pointillism or modern art techniques like comics and stylize. For more control the new detail mask feature makes it possible to mark areas where the subject should be clearer — for example, to leave backgrounds abstract while keeping faces detailed and natural. Snap Art 3 is said to also have tight Lightroom integration that supports batch processing and does not require Photoshop.
The AKVIS SmartMask Photoshop plugin is dedicated to the creation of selections, which are then used for image adjustment or employed as masks. Making selections is such an integral part of using Photoshop that countless tutorials have been created, both in print and online (including here on Graphics.com), leading readers through step by step procedures for situations such as creating selections for hair or foliage. There are even firms to which you can outsource your selection/masking needs. But for many the solution is to turn to one of several commercial plugins that can dramatically speed the process.
AKVIS SmartMask, now in its third iteration, is one such product, which provides an unusual way to begin the selection process: users employ a blue pencil to draw inside the area that needs to be selected and a red pencil to define the areas that should be cut out. Three modes — Sharp, Soft and Complex — can be employed to handle different types of selections. For example, in the Soft mode a green pencil is added, which can be used to define difficult parts of the image, such as hair or fur. In cases where the selected area has a background of a similar color range, or the object's edges are uneven, the touch-up brush in the Complex mode can be employed.