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Blade Pro by Flaming Pear
Reviewed by Victor Lage de Araújo

I first heard of Blade Pro through one our users, Miriam, who was having some difficulties with it. I downloaded it, expecting to have difficulties in installing and using it. To my surprise, I installed it right away and it not only worked very well under both PSP 4 and PSP 5, but also offered me a beautiful and flexible interface. So I decided to make it my first Software review for the Group.

Installation The program comes on a zipped file, and is easy to install. Just zip the files into your plugin folder or a sub folder of it. I recommend a subfolder, for better organization. The environment and texture files that come with it, as well as those contained in the other available zipped files, should be all zipped into a separate folder or subfolder. If you get problems, I suggest downloading the latest versions of the dll's mentioned above. They should be copied to your Windows System file (typically c:\windows\system) rather then putting saving them either on your Plugins folder or in your PsP folder (this way all the applications on your system will find them). I recommend backing up the old ones, they hardly take any disk space and might come in handy anytime later. If you don't notice any strange behaviour on your other software, say, in 30 to 90 days, you can delete them.

Once installed, Blade Pro is acessed through a submenu named "Flaming pear" in your plugin menu.

Features:It offers a user-friendly, beautiful interface with several controls, preset tools and personalization possibilities.

Most of the features are self-evident, and a guide document (Blade Pro guide.doc) accompanies it. I recommend reading it before starting to use the filter, as it is short and objective, and explains the working of all the features in brief.

What you can do with Blade Pro:

  • Buttons, textures, backgrounds, rules and all kinds of objects to use in your home pages.
  • Special effects in your fonts.
  • All kinds of metallized effects, including old metal effects, with controlled tarnish.
  • Beautiful effects in sections of your images, to add some spice to them.
  • Embedded logos with beautiful effects.
  • Add personalized environments and textures for use with the program.
  • Be creative!

What you can't do with Blade Pro:

  • Get bored!

Ease of Use: Most of the simpler features are reasonably ease to use. The more advanced features may take some time to learn.

Blade Pro is quite flexible. The applied effects are able to accompany the shapes of the images or selections, even if you selection has a very irregular shape.

What you can control:

  • Shape: chooses from 13 preset bevel shapes.
  • Radius: controls the pixel width of the beveled edge.
  • Height: controls how steep is the bevel, providing also a "negative" bevel effect.
  • Texture: controls amound and direction (positive or negative) texture application.
  • Gloss: controls how shiny the image is.
  • Glare: controls the size of glossy highlight.
  • Reflection: controls how much the selection reflects a given grafic ("Environment" variable).
  • Glassiness: controls the intensity of a "glass" effect based on the color of the selection.
  • Caustic: controls the brightness of the caustic that appears in a glassy selection, opposed to the light source.
  • Iridescence: controls the strength of iridescent coloration.
  • Iris colors: controls the iridescence colors.
  • Tarnish: puts "tarnish" color on concave surfaces of metalized images. The color and intensity can be controlled.
  • Light angle and color controls: controls color and angle of 2 light sources, allowing zero (black) or any color and direction.
  • Texture: applies one of 11 built-in textures, or uses a customized BMP. Allows also not to apply any texture.
  • Environment graphic variable: when this option is on, it allows to produce mirrorlike reflections of the graphic selected as "environment".
  • You can also spin the environment image in order to adjust for the light of your design plan.
  • Use the "Glue Mode" variable: controls how the original image will merge with Blade Pro's image (advanced feature).
  • Randomizer: applies random settings.
  • Use "preset" variables: you can use the inbuilt presets that come with the software, or you can save your own presets, for later use (for that to work, the texture and environment files shall be in the "environments and textures" folder; if they're not, Blade Pro will open a dialogue box allowing you to browse to them.
  • Personalize environment and texture files: You can use a greyscale BMP file as your custom texture. These should be up to 256 by 256 pixel seemless images in greyscale. You can also customize any BMP graphics as environment for your effects.

Problems: Some users have had problems, basically related to lacking or old versions of the plugins.dll and mscvrt.dll files. This problem is very easily solved. Also, some users have had problems with a previous version, even using the correct dll's. Version 208i (currently available at the site) has solved these problems.

Final Comment: Blade Pro is not a filter, it actually combines the power of several fiters into one. It's not too hard to use, though beginners may find it somewhat complicated. It gives you several controls to the effects characteristics, most of them easy to use. It offerrs a variety of pre-set features, while also allowing advanced users to personalize it's effect. It is user-friendly and seems to have a reasonable support. I recommend it both for the starter (as it might save the use of a variety of other plugins, like those used for making textures and buttons), as for the advanced user (as it offers powerful features with detailed control and good opportunities of personalization).

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