by Roberto Muscia
The following review was written by Roberto
Muscia, a first time user of Filter Forge, in July 2009:
Screenshot of the node structure of a very complex filter
CREATING OWN FILTERS:
Entering the Filter Editor is just as simple: with a click of a button the Filter Editor dialog shows up and the currently active filter is shown in every seperate component of it: kind of a flowchart of the fundamental filter modules and connection lines are shown in a graphical way in the editor's workspace. Modiying existing filters is a good start to get the hang of it: dragging lines to other module inputs to see what happens. Open the "Components" column, drag a component into the workspace, add some connections between modules and play a bit around this way to get a feeling how it works. Tiny filter changes this way can produce totally different filters or improve them to what you had in mind. Or you can just add more control to existing filters by adding sliders. For more thorough understanding and flexibility it's wise at least to consult the Filter Editor section in FilterForge's help feature so you can get more understanding of what the individual tools are for. Then it doesn't need to take long until you are able to create your own filters which you never imagined being able to.
Eventually you might want to submit your own filters to the online Filter Library yourself, and if they get popular with the Filter Forge users, you can even earn rewards including a free copy of Filter Forge.
All installed and (sharable) custom filters are stored in a seperate folder in the FilterForge programfolder (comes to handy when backing up your collection of filters). There's a handy search tool in the "Filter" menu worth to know about: clicking on the "Locate Filter" option a Windows Explorer dialog pops up with instantly the currently active filter highlighted. This way one quickly can locate a certain filter on the computer, even when they have undescriptive names.
- The program can be run on many modern operating systems and take advantage of the available hardware performance.
- Intuitive user interface is logically set up and very practical to work with.
- FilterForge is a powerfull source to a large number of usefull and high quality filters for only a fraction of the costs compared with gathering Adobe Photoshop-compatible plugins: usefull plugins can be quite expensive, especially the very good ones.
- FilterForge is an ideal alternative to create new or modify existing graphical filters because there's no need to know anything about programming. Anybody can do it and it's an exiting process, too!
- FilterForge is available in a number of different Editions in different price ranges so there must be one Edition that suits someone's needs and affordability perfectly: actually ALL Editions are great value for the money. Besides, users can always upgrade anytime they like.
- The Help feature is thoroughly written in a clear, informative and convenient style.
- Filter rendering time can be significant, especially with large images or relatively complex filters.
- Menu of installed filters lacks of organizability: self-created and modified filters are added to the "My Filters" category and apart from that there's only one other ("favorites") menu category inwhich the user can affect its contents.
- Saving a result to jpg doesn't show any visually feedback when setting the jpg image quality.
- Additional Patterns and Textures for filter design cannot be imported; would be nice if other images for that purpose could be imported eventough that would affect resolution-independency.
- There can only one filter be applied at a time to an image; would be practical if filters could be applied one after the other without saving the image first or going back to the image editor and back.
- The Help-feature is not available in pdf.
- A version for Linux is not (yet?) available.
- The Random generator affects ALL sliders in a filter; would be usefull if one or more filtercontrols could be protected from being affected by the Random generator.
Personally I think the simpler FilterForge Editions are an amazing value for money for those who like to use a wide diversity of high quality effect filters in their workflow. And for people who are interested in creating their own filters, while not knowing anything about programming languages, the Standard and Pro Editions are an easy, fun, effective window to that goal. Actually I found once you get the hang of it, after messing around with FilterForge for an evening or so, it actionally starts to be addictive!
For those who got attracted to FilterForge after reading this review: have a great time playing with the demo! ;-P
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