Plugin Galaxy offers four modes, which can be selected from the Mode combo box at the top: Novice Mode, Classic Mode, Manual Mode and Expert Mode. Expert Mode offers all controls whereas the other three have several controls hidden to make it easier for beginners to start. When you run Plugin Galaxy for the first time you will enter Novice Mode.


Novice Mode

Novice Mode displays a list of presets from the presets sub folder of the Application Data folder (see below under The Presets Tab Sheet for the full path!). The combo box at the right of the presets list lets you choose which presets to display and which to hide. The Show All option presents all presets, the Own options shows presets that were saved by yourself, the Included option displays presets that were delivered with Plugin Galaxy, the Single Layer option shows simple effect preset and the Multi Layer option displays presets with more complex effects. The remaining options lets you display presets that use a certain effect group. The label at the bottom shows you how many presets are displayed in the preset list.

Presets that were saved by yourself have an asterisk (*) at the end of their name (unless you have the combo box at the top set to "Own"). This makes it easier to identify them. Please also notice that presets that were included with Plugin Galaxy have the file extension .pgi and presets that were saved by yourself have the file extension .pgp.

Clicking on one of the presets will open it and display its effect in the preview. To modify the effect you can right click (Windows) or hold down the Ctrl key and click (Mac) on the preview to change the position of the preview cross. Alternatively you can also press the Play and Jump buttons to create random effects. The Default button will apply the default values for a certain effect. If you like an effect that you created that way, you can use the Save button to save it as a preset file. After saving it, it will appear on the list.

Novice Mode is only meant to give you a quick start with Plugin Galaxy, so it is very limited. If you want to more options for adjusting the effects, you need to switch to Classic or Expert Mode.


Classic Mode

Classic Mode is quite similar to previous versions of Plugin Galaxy, but offers a few new features. Plugin Galaxy offers more than 160 effects, which are sorted into 17 effect groups. You can select an effect group from the Group combo box at the top. Once the group is selected the FX combo box will be filled with the effects of the selected group, so that you can select the desired effect from it. Every time you choose a new item from the Group combo box the FX combo box will contain other effects.

The Preview Cross

Some effects allow you influence the effect with a preview cross by right clicking (Windows) or by holding the Ctrl key and clicking (Mac) on the preview. The coordinates of the preview cross are displayed as pixel values at the right of the progress bar below the preview. If the values are red, it means that the preview cross is invisible because it lies outside the actual image. If you right click (Windows) or hold down the Ctrl key and click (Mac) on the coordinate label, a context menu for centering the preview cross in the center or at the borders of the image will appear.

The Arrow-Down Button

If you click on the arrow-down button at the left of the Group combo box, a menu with various items will appear. The Center Cross option lets you position the preview cross to the center of the preview. The Copy Settings option copies the current filter parameter to the other filters in the same group.

The Open Preset option lets you open one of hundreds of preset files, which are delivered with Plugin Galaxy. A preset file contains the settings for creating a certain effects. Additionally you can also save your own preset files with the Save Preset option. Presets are saved into the Presets sub folder of the Application Data folder by default (see below under The Presets Tab Sheet for the full path!). You can open your saved preset later again with the Open Preset menu item. These two menu items are only available in Classic mode. In other mode you can open presets via the Presets tab sheet.

The Filter Factory (FF) sub menu lets you import FF filters, organize imported filters, display to a FF download page and show details about a filter. For more information see the Filter Factory page.

At the bottom of the menu there is a list of the current effect layers. You can switch between them by clicking on an entry. The currently selected layer shows a check mark.

The Sliders & Check Boxes

Sliders can be used to select a certain value within a specific value range. They let you change the effect that is displayed in the preview. To do that you can drag the slider knob with the mouse (or keyboard), enter a numerical value in the white text box at the right of the slider bar, click somewhere on the slider bar for large value steps or use the two arrow buttons for small value steps.

If the Instant Preview check box on the Prefs tab sheet is activated, the preview will be instantly updated while you drag the slider knob. To keep the preview from updating with every movement of the knob you can hold down the Shift key or simply deactivate the Instant Preview check box. If the Instant Preview is not activated, you can hold down the Shift key for instantly updating the preview. You can also use the mouse wheel to change the slider values. You need to give the slider the focus by clicking on it or using the tab key. After that you can scroll the mouse wheel to move the slider knob.

Each effect can have up to three check boxes for producing effect variations. For example, the Angulate and Radiate check boxes influence the effect of the preview cross or the Alpha check box makes the image transparent in case it is located on a layer.

The Color Box(es)

Some effects offer a color box for adjusting the effect. The Edge Tool filters also offer a second color box for the border color. Clicking on the color box will display a color selection dialog for selecting a color. Alternatively you can holding the Shift key and click on the first color box to activate a color picker. This color picker allows you to select a color by clicking somewhere on the preview.

Brightness & Blending

The Brightness slider lets you decrease or increase the brightness of the image. A value of zero will produce no change.

The Blending feature lets you blend the effect with the original image according to 20 different blending modes. The blending mode can be chosen from the combo box and the blending ratio can be adjusted with the slider at the right. A value of 255 will show the effect for some modes or show a blended version of the effect and original at other blending modes. A value of zero will use no blending at all and display the original image. The default values are Normal blend mode and a value of 255 for the slider.


Manual Mode

Manual Mode is similar to Classic Mode (see above), but it misses the Prefs tab sheet and additionally offers layer controls. For more information about layers the see the Layers tab sheet of Expert Mode below.

In contrast to Classic Mode, Manual Mode offers a Keep Layers option on the arrow-down button at the left of the Group combo box. Like the Keep Layers check box of Expert mode, it lets add the layers of an preset file on top of the current layers.


Expert Mode

Unlike the other modes Expert Mode offers all available controls. It has three tab sheets at the top. The Effect tab sheet is identical to the Classic Mode (see above), the Layers tab sheet contains the same controls as the middle frame in Manual Mode and the Presets tab sheet is similar to Novice Mode.

The Layers Tab Sheet

The Layers tab sheet allows you to apply more than one Plugin Galaxy effect to the image without having to run Plugin Galaxy multiple times. The layers features works similar to the Layers palette in Photoshop and other graphics applications. The list box at the left displays the layers. When you run Plugin Galaxy for the first time or after you clicked on the Reset button, you will only see one layer in the list. This means that only one effect is applied to the image, because each layer only contains one effect. An layer item like "on: Nature - Sunset" consists of three parts: "on" or "off" indicates if the layer is active or deactivated, the second part is the name of the effect group and the third part tells you the name of the effect. The effect of the bottom layer in the list will be applied first to the image and the effect of the top layer will be applied last.

If you select a item in the layer list, the settings of the selected layer will appear on the Effect tab sheet. That way you can switch between various layers and edit them separately. You can also select another layer with the cursor keys. To add a new layer you need to use the New button. The new layer will appear above the selected layer and will be identical with the selected layer. But you can change that on the Effect tab sheet.

You can activate or deactivate a layer by selecting it and clicking on the on/off button. As a result the "on" or "off" in the layer name will change. You can also activate or deactivate a layer by clicking the "on" or "off" text directly. If you hold down the Alt key while clicking the on/off button or the on/off text, the selected layer will be activated and all other layer will be deactivated. You can use this feature to quickly view a layer alone. Doing the same again will activate all layers again. You can remove a layer by selecting it and pressing the Delete button. If you hold down the Alt key while pressing the Delete button, all layer except the selected layer will be deleted.

To move a layer up or down on the list, you can use the arrow up and arrow down buttons. To do the same with the cursor keys, please select an item, hold down the CTRL key and press the cursor up or cursor down key. You can also swap the position of one layer with another by selecting one layer, holding down the CTRL key and clicking on the other layer.

The blend combo box on the Effect tab sheet blends the selected layer with the layer below (or with the image in case of the bottom layer). In contrast to that the blend combo box and slider at the bottom of the Layers tab sheet lets you blend the effect of all Plugin Galaxy layers with the original image. So it is a general blend feature with unique values whereas the blend feature on the Effect tab sheet has different values for each layer.

The Presets Tab Sheet

On the Presets tab sheet you can additionally find a Keep Layers check box and an Open button. If the Keep Layers check box is activated, the current layers will be retained and the preset effect will be added on top of the current effect. The Open button lets you open presets with the help of a file dialog. That way you can also open preset files that are not located in the default preset folder.

The default preset folder is located at
Windows XP: c:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Application Data\ThePluginSite\PluginGalaxy2\
Windows Vista, 7, 8: c:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\ThePluginSite\PluginGalaxy2\

For more information about the Presets tab sheet see the Novice mode above.

The Reset

Clicking the Reset button will erase all effect layers except one and set the controls on the Effect tab sheet to default values. If you hold down the Shift key and click the Reset button, it will work exactly like the Default button and only set the controls on the Effect tab sheet to default values without touching the layers. You can also right click on the Reset button to display a context menu with Reset, Play, Jump and Default options.