Filter Forge 6 Review
Filter Forge 6 Review
by Dee Marie
Filter Forge has always set itself apart from an overabundance of Adobe Photoshop plugins. As in past editions, Filter Forge 6 combines the ease of use for digital artists, while providing the intricacy of designing complex filters from scratch for filter authors. The best part, Filter Forge 6 remains fun and easy to use, as both a Photoshop plugin and a standalone program.
The biggest improvement in this version is speed; with a new full 64-bit support, rendering a filtered image is now extremely fast. Also new, for filter authors, are the mappable checkbox inputs, and support for drag-and-drop on the Presets Tab.
Fine Harsh and Blury Textures filter by gregasorous
For this review, I want to concentrate on Filter Forge’s fun and ease of use (for a look into the technical side of Filter Forge, I suggest you read my review of Filter Forge 5). The four basic steps to get you up and running after installing are: open, explore, download and create. You can access close to twelve-thousand FREE filters from either the Filter Forge website, or directly from a link within the Filter Forge user-interface.
On both the Filter Forge website, and within the Filter Forge 6 App, filters are divided into two categories. Texture Filters (Buildings, Frames, Organic, Patterns, Texture Snippets, Stone, Techno, and Miscellaneous Textures), and Effects Filters (Creative, Distortions, Frames, Patterns, Photo, Effects Snippets, and Miscellaneous Effects).
Filter Forge [Adobe Photoshop Plugin] User Interface
On the website you can also search for filters under Featured, Most Popular filters, and Recently Submitted filters. Or if you are searching for a specific filter, like Ink Drawings, simply enter your query in the Filter Forge website Search Engine.
You can preview a filter’s effects on the Filter Forge website, using their before and after buttons. Once you’ve discovered the perfect filter fit for you artistic project, simply click the “Open this filter in Filter Forge” blue button. Like magic, not only does the filter automatically download, but it’s filed within its proper filter category in the Filter Manager, simultaneously within the standalone and plugin versions of your Filter Forge program.
Within the Filter Forge App, applying the filter to your image is as easy as clicking File, Open Image, and search for an image on your computer you wish to manipulate, and then click Open. Within moments your image appears in Filter Forge’s workspace, and the chosen filter is applied to the image.
Each filter comes with a Tabbed Panel of three (occasionally four) tabs, containing information specific to that filter. The Preset Tab displays numerous built-in author designed presets. Under the Settings Tab, filters can be adjusted using the built-in control sliders, or use the randomizer to generate countless variations (a few filters also have a Lighting Tab). Of course, if you feel adventuresome, you can always tweak the filter further using the built-in Filter Editor (again, refer to my previous review of Filter Forge 5). If you want information on the filter’s author, or download other images by the author, simply click on the About Tab.
In the Filter Forge Filter Manager are several folders and subfolders. The Filter Library Folder is divided into the Texture and Effects folders, which holds your downloaded filters within their assigned categories. The next main folder is Custom Filters, where the filters you create are filed.
The Favorites Folder, as the name implies is my favorite folder. If you find yourself using a specific filter over and over, right click on the filter’s icon (in the Filter Manager) and click Add to Favorites from the dropdown menu. Once in the Favorites Folder, you can add (and name) new subfolders within the Favorites Folder to further customize your favorite filters. This is a real timesaver. Last is the History Folder (divided into: Today, Last Week, Last Month, and Older Entries). Again this can be a timesaver, especially if you need to locate a filter used in a project a month ago.
Using Filter Forge 6, is just too much fun. With the numerous sliders in the Settings Tab, you can create an infinite number of unique images. Plus, of course you can also tweak the filters further in the Filter Editor (or create a filter from scratch … with no coding experience). If you design websites, or are a 3D modeler, the Seamless Tile function (also located in the Settings Tab), is a must have feature. When using Filter Forge 6 as a Photoshop plugin, you can create rare one of a kind images utilizing a variety of Filter Forge filters within the Photoshop layers panel.
Special Note: There are slight differences between the standalone and the Photoshop plugin versions, especially when it comes to saving an image. To save an image: within the Filter Forge User Interface (bottom lower corner on both versions), there is a ‘Save Image As’ button in the standalone version … and an Apply button in the Photoshop plugin version.
When a filter is applied using the Photoshop plugin version, the newly created image is destructive (the Filter Forge filter is applied to the actual image), so be sure to work on either a separate layer of the image, or a copy of the original image. The standalone version only gives the options to save a copy of the applied filter image in the following formats: JPEG, BMP, TIFF, TGA, PNG, OpenEXR, and PFM.
The main difference between the standalone and plugin versions: the standalone version will not open Photoshop Image Files, nor will the standalone version save a filtered image as a PSD file format. You can open and work on a Photoshop File … if you open Filter Forge as a filter plugin within Photoshop. This is only mildly frustrating, as the majority of my images are saved in PSD, and sometimes I just want to tryout a filter without opening Photoshop.
Created using multiple Filter Forge filters layered in Photoshop
Filter Forge 6 was created for both the profession digital artist as well as the hobbyist. It is a must have artistic tool for graphic artists, photographers, 3D modelers, and webmasters. It is also an excellent app for scrapbookers, designers of children’s books, and graphic novelists. Of course, Filter Forge 6 is imperative for Filter Authors.
To Buy or Not to Buy
If you’ve never used Filter Forge, and you only want to utilize the thousands of free preset filters the Basic Edition is an inexpensive way to nudge your creativity to the next level (at this writing the price of the Basic Edition was drastically reduced for a limited time). If you’re still not certain, I highly recommend trying the 30 day free trial. If you are an Aspiring Filter Author, be sure and check the Filter Forge site often, for the occasional special deep discounts on Filter Forge’s Professional Editions.
If you are a longtime Filter Forge enthusiast you’ve noticed the new features in this version are scant. However, the Filter Forge 6 new full 64-bit support makes this version well-worth the upgrade, if nothing more than the increased speed when rendering.
Compare Filter Forge 6 Editions
Filter Forge 6 is available in five distinct editions: Basis Edition, Standard Edition, Professional Edition, Professional Plus, and the Professional Edition by Subscription (plus a free 30 day trial, and upgrades from Filter 5). Check out the Filter Forge Buy Page for prices and to compare editions. All versions include unlimited downloads of filters from the website Filter Library of currently 11,933 filters, (with new filters added daily) … as well as the opportunity to become a contributing Filter Forge Filter Author.
Filter Forge is compatible with:
Mac OS X 10.8 and newer
Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10
All supporting images used in this review (with the exception of the Filter Forge comparison chart) are copyright by Dee Marie, and cannot be used, in any manner (print, download, or online) without the written permission of Dee Marie.
Dee Marie is an awarding winning author and freelance journalist. She has previously served as Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief of an international printed CGI magazine. She invites you to visit her on Facebook, Twitter, and her Sons of Avalon website.