Plug-Ins and XTensions: Helpers for Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, InDesign, and QuarkXPress
Better Black & White Images
Fred Miranda's BW Workflow Pro ($30) is a plug-in for Photoshop 5.5 and later that provides 8 preset filter selections, 32 duotone presets, 18 tritone presets, 6 quadtone presets, 3 film grain presets, and 4 dynamic range presets for manipulating black-and-white images (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Three possible filter results among many.
Preset, Smart Mix, and manual mode give you nearly limitless control over the filters. Smart Mix mode also isolates the red, green or blue channel while changing the other two to prevent over- and under-exposing images. Manual mode lets you change all the channels without isolating any of them for interesting over- and under-exposure effects.
Two Plug-ins for Frames & Edges
onOne Software's PhotoFrame Pro 3 ($160; $70 for upgrades from previous versions) is a plug-in for Photoshop CS or CS2 that lets you interactively add border and edge effects to images. It includes thousands of frames and mattes in black and in RGB color, from abstract to realistic, including film emulsion and classic wood and metal frames. A new frame browser lets you search by category and save Favorites. A Frame Preview Grid shows several of your frame choices next to your image, to help you choose one. A Random Frame Generator adds several different frames, to jump-start your creativity. Frames can be added as a layer mask for editing in Photoshop, and up to 32 can be combined to create a new look. PhotoFrame also supports frame files from other Photoshop plug-ins.
Auto FX's Photo/Graphic Edges 6 ($179) has a number of features that put it in a different category than PhotoFrame. First, it works as either a standalone application or a plug-in for Photoshop. Its Lighting feature lets you add interest and intrigue to an image, or to its background. You can create instant Shadows from your edges or interactively warp them. Add a glow to an edge to easily highlight images in a collage, or create authentic-looking Burned edges. Create an instant montage from one image. Bevel any edge shape or sink an image into a background, for a recessed look. Add a Grainy texture, based on your image's tonal range. Simulate a Mezzotint. Create a Sepia Tone in any hue, with adjustable Dampness, scale, softness, opacity and range. Create realistic Mattes with traditional textures (including paper, metal, fabric, and stone). It also has a funky interface reminiscent of Live Picture.
SnapMeasure Improves Illustrator's Measurement Tool
Nineblock Software's SnapMeasure 1.0 ($14 personal, $24 commercial) adds a measuring tool to Illustrator 10 and higher that's easier to use and more accurate than Illustrator's built-in measuring tool. The plug-in's tool can snap to objects in your layout, constrain to specific angles or keyboard increments, and lets you scroll and zoom while measuring -- without requiring you to change Illustrator's preferences.
Powerful Tool for Images in PDFs
Acronnect Software's ImageEngine Export 2 (59 euro) is a plug-in for Acrobat 5 and higher that exports images from a PDF document in Photoshop format, without forcing color spaces to RGB. Another Acronnect product, ImageEngine 2 (220 euro), is even more powerful: It can create a new PDF document with detailed information about all the images in another PDF document, with previews and links to the images in the original PDF (this is incredibly useful for evaluating the images in a PDF); extract all images from a PDF into a new PDF; render images, pages, or selections to a new image file (rasterize the PDF); and build a new PDF from any folder or volume of images. Both products can use watched folders to process files automatically.
Instant Fractions & Prices in InDesign
Sansui Software's Fractions'N'Prices ($90) is a plug-in for InDesign that automatically formats selected text into fractions and prices. For those of you familiar with the similar feature in QuarkXPress, Fractions'N'Prices is almost identical. When formatting fractions, you can control the offset, horizontal and vertical scale and kerning for the numerator and denominator, as well as for the virgule (slash). When formatting prices, you can control whether it underlines the cents, and whether it deletes the radix (decimal point or comma). As a bonus, Fractions'N'Prices can also remove all manual kerning in a selection of text.
Smarter Style Sheets
Vision's Edge's Stylin' ($49) is an XTension for QuarkXPress 6 that lets you apply a new style without losing your favorite attributes that are already applied to the text. You can choose to keep any combination of paragraph or character attributes, such as font styles, tracking, color, space-before and -after, alignment, etc. Once you define a combination of attributes you want to keep, you can save that as a Setting for future use.
TIFF Export from QuarkXPress
Vision's Edge's TIFF Export 6 ($99) is an XTension for QuarkXPress 6 that lets you save your pages or spreads as TIFF files, with a resolution of 10 to 400 dpi.
For other file formats, including rasterization of placed EPS files, look into Gluon's XPressImage 6 ($199). Both companies also have versions for QuarkXPress 4 and 5.
The Multitasking VTools 6.1
Vision's Edge's VTools 6.1 ($59) is an XTension for QuarkXPress 6 that adds many useful features:
It can resize a picture or text box to its content; convert Spot to Process colors; and add industry-standard and/or user-defined page sizes & layouts to the File> New dialog box.
It can remove sequences of duplicated characters, such as space-space; display the character, word, and line count of a story; copy text and paragraph attributes and apply them to other text; change the text rotation, text skew, baseline shift, and horizontal scale; and change the case of selected text (ALL Caps, Word Caps, etc.).
Features new to version 6.1: Add all images in folder to a QuarkXPress Library; and the Advisory Board, a redlining and note tool for reviewing and approving changes in text.
EMS's Blacklining 6 ($450) is an XTension for QuarkXPress 6 that retains a complete audit trail of all changes made to the text of a QuarkXPress document -- essential for certain kinds of legal and financial documents, and useful in editorial workflows. Insertions and Deletions are marked in different, user-defined colors. You can view or print the document with or without the revision marks. Blacklining can even read and convert the tracked changes in an imported Microsoft Word document.
With every change, Blacklining records several pieces of data: user name, machine name, date and time of change, and the revision level active at the time of the change. It also generates a unique checksum value every time the document is printed or exported, effectively time-stamping the document in its current state. Each editing session is considered one revision level, so to simplify the list of revisions you can merge multiple revision levels at any time.
A document's entire edit history can be displayed in a history palette, or in a standard QuarkXPress text box. It can also be exported for use in other tracking applications. Blacklining has been refined for over 10 years to include many clever and efficiency-enhancing features requested by users. A version is also available for QuarkXPress 4 and 5.
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