Eye Candy 7 is an Adobe Photoshop plug-in from Alien Skin Software that creates effects and textures such as Fire, Chrome, Animal fur, Smoke and Reptile skin. In this new 7th edition, we'll be also taking a look at the new Lightning effect.
Eye Candy 7 retails for $199.
Installation and Use
Eye Candy 7 comes with a free trial so you can try before you buy. We downloaded the program from the Alien Skin Software website which took around 25 minutes for the 49Mb file.
Once downloaded, you have to install the files. After reading the lengthy terms and conditions, the actual installation lasts about 30 seconds. The program is then ready to use from Photoshop.
To open Eye Candy 7, you must have a picture loaded into Photoshop. Then go to Filters, Alien Skin and select Eye Candy 7. The desktop works much the same as the other Alien Skin programs with a separate window opening.
The window is dark grey with an 18% grey central panel that the image sits in. The entire window is split into three sections. On the left are the Effects you wish to apply to the picture you've loaded in. The large button at the top enters into the main effects menu table. It's split into two sections: Shape and Texture. This is a new feature in version 7 that Alien Skin have introduced to make Eye Candy easier to use and more visually attractive.
The effects found in the Shape section will add to the selected area that you've already prepared in Photoshop before launching Eye Candy 7. For example, if you choose the Fire effect, flames will appear to be coming out of the subject. It's intelligent enough to only use edges that are the correct orientation, so you don't get fire pointing down.
The Textures are for backgrounds and while they look quite basic, they can be manipulated later to look more realistic. We found that when editing a picture using an inverse selection was the most appropriate time to use the Texture effects.
To get the best out of some of the filters, it's best to select an area you'd like to add the filter to. For example, the fur effect will cover the entire image unless you choose a selected area beforehand that you'd like the filter to be applied to.
Once you've selected the effect you want to apply, depending on the effect, you can manipulate it on the picture. For example, if you choose the new Lightning effect, you can decide which direction it comes from/goes to and how much of the image it covers. After that, you can turn your attention to the right side of the window.
How much that's available on the right side is all dependent on which effect you use. Using the Shadow effect will allow you to change from a Drop shadow or Perspective shadow (the former ideal for “floating lettering”, the latter for portraits) as well as the direction, opacity, perspective blur and fade out. You can even change the colour of it, which is useful if you used a light source with a coloured gel.
Other options will have other features usually using sliders, but some are rotating dials and others simply radio buttons. It's best to check the top of the window, though, because some of the effects are tabbed. The first tab will be called Basic in most cases.
If you need to have a selection to make the effect appear on the image, a warning will appear in the centre panel above the image. You can click the Learn More button to find out about why you need to select an image. The button takes you to a page on the Alien Skin website. The page is a Troubleshoot page asking why you have to have a selection. It's clearly written and has a video too. After using the program for a while, you may find the warning tiresome. If this happens, you can dismiss the warning and also ensure it doesn't come up again.
One of the better features of the Alien Skin software – including Eye Candy – is the Random Seed button. It rotates through a multitude of various designs for the effect you've chosen. This is extremely useful for effects such as Lightning. It means you can have more than one lightning bolt in the frame without them looking the same.
At the bottom of the window, there's a few preview options to make your viewing more comfortable. It's split into four parts. The first allows you to zoom in and then grab the image to look around it. While grabbing, the effect will disappear. The box with the drop down list opens up split view options and there's a handy before & after button too. There's an online link to the Alien Skin blog which will highlight updates when there's something to read.