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Reviewed by Ken Greek

Plug-in and standalone app for Adobe Photoshop, Elements, and PhotoDeluxe, CorelDraw PhotoPaint and PSP. For both Mac and PC.

An impressive collection of 18 effects that allows you to relatively easily accomplish what could otherwise be some rather involved photorealistic image manipulation. You'll spend a lot of time playing with this as the program offers a vast amount of control over each effect, inviting lots of experimentation and "wonder what'll happen if I do this?".

35mm frame: puts a 35mm slide frame around picture
Chisel: Gives a variety of chisel edges to image
Crackle: Puts crackle texture on image
Crease: Numerous crease and curl effects
Cubism: Gives an image a cubist effect
Deckle: Creates a deckle edge on image
DimensionX: Adds depth and bevels to objects
Focus: Multiple focus effects on image
Hot Stamp: Add color and gradients to image, fancy rubber stamp-like creations
Instamatic Frame: Puts an instant photo frame around image
Liquid Metal: Variety of gleaming metal effects to apply
Metal Mixer: Flow and mix metals into an image
Photo Border: Design photo borders
Photo Depth: Adds depth effects such as frayed edges and crumples
Photo Tone: Glows, blurs and halo effects
Putty: Stretch, bend, twist an image in any way
Ripple: Put a water ripple effect on image
Tape: Need a piece of cellophane, masking or duct tape on your image?

You'll need a powerful system to really use this at it's full potential, otherwise you'll spend a lot of time waiting for things to happen. The minimum requirements for this are:

98, ME or NT/2000
400 mhz processor
192mb RAM

OS9 or higher, OSX native
G3 processor
256mb RAM

And this is one of those instances that minimum really means minimum. To be productive I'd recommend doubling the RAM and jump up the processor speed on either platform.

Best used as plugin rather than a standalone app.

This Reviewer's Thoughts

I really want to like this program. The effects are wonderful, the amount of control is outstanding. There is no excuse for not getting the image in your head onto your monitor with this. But I find it rather cumbersome to use. The splashscreen cannot be clicked through when it starts up so there's a 15 second wait to start with.

I tend to have my Start bar set on the left-hand side of my monitor...in this case the monitor must be set at 1024x768 at a minimum resolution to fully use the tools as at any lower resolution the toolbar goes off the bottom of the screen. With the Start bar at the bottom of the screen as most people do, the toolbar will properly scale to the screen.

The interface follows the Kai Krause's Power Tools (KPT) school of thought with various cryptic icons for tools. Thankfully when you rest your mouse over the tools a dialogue box pops up explaining what it is and how it works.

And I would recommend spending some time with the manual as it goes into not only what each effect and tool does but also includes very informative sections on the controls for depth, environment and lighting and a good overview on surface modeling terms in general. The manual is only on the disk, something I'm not fond of as I like something to refer to as I use the program if a question arises.

One thing to remember is that you can only apply one effect at a time to an image. If you use one effect and then choose to use another while in the DreamSuite environment, you will lose the first effect you applied. The Memory Dots are the only form of "undo" that it has but these have to be manually set.

This is not something that I would recommend for the casual user due to the cost and system requirements. In a studio environment however, this would be a very powerful tool to add to your illustration arsenal.

Click here to see a few examples

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