Since the dawn of time – well, of Photoshop, anyway – photographers have taken pictures, loaded them into their photo editor, and then seen the tempting “art” filters, only to be disappointed by them time and time again. As a result, what should be a good idea – artifying photographs – has been a technique to avoid at all costs. Alien Skin’s Snap Art 3 is a plug-in for Photoshop, Elements and Lightroom, which attempts to deliver a better in-computer art experience to photographers. But is it a Caravaggio, or more of a crayon?
Snap Art 3 is accessed via the filters menu, but upon activation, it springs up in a new window of its own. Unlike Photoshop’s built-in art filters, Snap Art 3 comes with a plethora of realistic options. First, you choose your favoured real-world method of putting an image on canvas. Options include pastels, watercolours and pen and ink. Each style has its own set of variables, such as paint thickness, brush stroke length and brush size. The results are very realistic and, to add a unique twist to every picture, Snap Art 3 includes a 4-digit randomisation system, which means the texture of the “canvas” can be one of 9,999 subtle variations.
Once you’ve chosen your style, you then have the option to adjust it selectively, using Snap Art 3’s in-built layer mask system. Unfortunately, this does not include adjustments such as colour or exposure, but it does allow you to change photorealism and brush effects on an area of the image, perhaps increasing the apparent realism of the artwork. Snap Art 3 does, however, include the ability to make standard adjustments to the whole artwork.
The realistic nature of Snap Art 3’s filters is only increased with the canvas options. These allow you to fine-tune the medium your “painting” is on, meaning an oil pastel on wood, or a cartoon on leather are both possible. Additionally, the strength and angle of computer-generated light on the picture is adjustable – another neat touch.
For those who can’t draw, or just like the softness paint brings to an image, photo-to-art conversion should be great. And quite frankly, if you use Snap Art 3’s filters, I think it is. Don’t get me wrong – these computer-generated canvases may not fool an art expert – but to the untrained eye, Snap Art 3’s filters really do make Cézannes out of your favourite landscape snaps. The $199 price-tag on this plug-in is pretty steep, and means that most purchases will be using Snap Art for professional purposes. That should not detract from how good this software is, though, and if you like the painted look, Snap Art 3 won’t let you down.
You can try or buy Snap Art 3 from Alien Skin’s website.
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