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Xenofex by Alien Skin
Reviewed by Roger Finks & Joyce Turner

Everyone who creates graphics whether it be for print or for display on the web, has heard of Eye Candy. Eye Candy is a set of filters that creates some of the best effects available from filters. Now we have Xenofex, a new set of filters from the makers of Eye Candy, Alien Skin. These 16 new filters have the promise and uniqueness to become just as powerful as Eye Candy, especially when you consider the set of presets in each of these filters. Many more and varied effects can be achieved by adjusting the variables in each filter.

Description: Xenofex is a set of filters containing 16 very unique and powerful effects that can be applied to graphics. The interface remains the same as that of Eye Candy thus eliminating a big learning curve for anyone experienced with Eye Candy. The presets that ship with Xenofex are what give Xenofex the potential to approach and even surpass Eye Candy. For example, the Baked Earth filter has 10 presets ready to be used as starting points for achieving the desired result.

Cost: Special Offer! Alienskin has a special place in their hearts for user groups. Go to our special offers to see if there are any current special offers for our members on Xenofex 1.0 , Eye Candy 4000 and Eye Candy for After Effects. Demo version available for download at Alien Skin page: http://www.alienskin.com/xenofex/xenofex_demo.html.

System: Windows 95/98/NT 4 or higher:
System RAM: Minimum of 16 MB, 32 recommended
Graphics / Monitor: Color monitor with 24-bit video card

Any PowerPC Macintosh processor:
System RAM: Minimum of 16 MB, 32 recommended
Graphics / Monitor: Color monitor with 24-bit video card
System Software: 7.1.2

Platforms: Windows 95, 98 or NT 4 & Macintosh versions available.

Installation: Installation is relatively easy. You end up with an .8bf file which is installed in the plugin directory within Paint Shop Pro. There are very specific directions in the manual for both Windows and Macintosh and specific instructions for Paint Shop Pro users. Read these directions carefully so that you answer the installation questions correctly. There are easy to understand instructions with screen shots of all dialog boxes.

In addition to Paint Shop Pro 4.12 or later, Xenofex is ready to be used with Adobe Photoshop 3.04 or later, Corel Photo-Paint 7(Revision B and 7.663) and Photo-Paint 8, Adobe Image Ready 1.0, CiEBV PhotoLine 32(version 4.52 or later), SPG Color Works:WEB 3(version 3.004 or later), MicroFrontier Digital Darkroom 1.2, Microsoft Image Composer 1.5 or later, and Micrografx Picture Publisher 8 in windows.

In Mac, it is compatible with Adobe Photshop 3.0.4 or later, Adobe Image Ready 1.0, Corel Photo-Paint 8, MicroFrontier Enhance 4.01 and MicroFrontier Digital Darkroom 1.2.

Features: Xenofex is very similar to Eye Candy in both look and operation. (It loads from the plugin menu in Paint Shop Pro and the controls operate similar to those in Eye Candy.) There are sixteen filters listed below. To see examples of what the filters do, use, this Link.

The Xenofex Filters

All of the presets can be adjusted after you use the preset to get near the effect which you want. When you open one of the effects, it opens with the last settings which you applied. This is nice if you want to use it again or forget what settings you used. I did find that if you are applying the filter to a small image, you may have to adjust the presets a little to get the effect to show. Usually I just needed to nudge the top adjustment.

Baked Earth Baked Earth is a filter I would classify as an overlay type filter because for most settings the filter overlays a sort of "cracked earth" effect on top of the image without significantly altering the underlying image. One preset called "Big Shiny Pieces" could almost be called stain glass. The controls for Baked Earth are Crack Length, Crack Width, Variation, Random Seed, Highlight brightness and Highlight Shapness, Lighting Direction, and Lighting Inclination.
Constellation Constellation recreates your image as points of light. Each point of light is the color of the original image at that point. Several of the presets manipulate the original image so it's not recognizable while other presets allow some parts of the original graphic to show through. There are four controls; Star Size, Sharpness, Overdrive, and Random Seed.
Crumple Crumple simulates the effect of printing the image on paper that has been crushed and then partially flattened out again. Except for three, most presets do not alter the original image but instead does it's magic on the image's background. there ae seven controls: Crinkle Size, Distortion, Random Seed, Light boost, Hightlight Brightness, and Highlight Sharpness, Lightning Direction, and Lighting Inclination.
Distress Distress creates an organic aging and crumbling effect, as if something has been eating away at the edges of your selection. This is one of several filters that requires a selection and displays an error message stating that a selection is necessary if you try to apply the filter without a selection. The three controls include Edge Width, Irregularity, and Edge Type.
Electrify Electrify creates bolts of electricity branching out from the edges of your selection. This filter also requires a selection before it works. It's eleven controls include Arc Length, Arc Spacing, Segment Length, Glow Width, Branching, and Branch Spread.
Flag Flag provides realistic 3-D rendering of rippling surfaces, adding shadows and highlights to create a windblown banner effect. Flag works best when the object to be turned into a flag is on a transparent layer by itself. Controls include Ripple Thickness, Ripple Strength, Random Seed, Light Boost, and a full complement of lighting controls.
Lightning Lightning draws a glowing lightning bolt across your selection. This filter doesn't require a selection but assumes the entire graphic if no selection is made. Controls include Segment Length, Glow Width, Jaggedness, Meander, Branching, Branch Spread, Random Seed, Direction, and Inner and Outer Color.
Little Fluffy Clouds Little Fluffy Clouds creates a wide range of cloud shapes and cloud-like effects, from slight wisps to threatening storm fronts. This filter comes with fifteen presets that create a range of modification, from slight (can see most of the original graphic) to almost total coverage. Among it's ten controls are Puff Size, Coverage, and Edge Sharpness.
Origami Origami cuts your selection into small triangles and swaps the positions of nearby triangles. There are two controls (Fold Size and Random Seed) and eight presets. The presets vary from Fuzzy around the edges to Shards to Big Bold Fold.
Puzzle The Puzzle filter creates a jigsaw puzzle effect over your selection. There are 6 controls (Columns, Rows, Bevel Width, Highlight Brightness and Highlight Sharpness, Lighting Direction and Lighting Inclination) for this filter. The 10 presets vary from a picture puzzle effect to a radiator effect. One can lighten them somewhat by varying where the light is aimed. I have included the Car Radiator lightened up as well. Using layers, one can remove some of the pieces and move them over to the side.
Rounded Rectangle There are 8 controls (Corner Radius, Thickness, Solid Center, Color, Surface Hardness, Highlight Brightness and Highlight Sharpness, Lighting Direction and Lighting Inclination) and 10 presents. If the image is small, you may need to adjust the corner radius a little for the effect to show.
Shatter With this filter one can vary the effects from tiny angled pieces of the picture to total discombobulation. There are three controls (Shard Size, Displacement and Random Seed) and eight presets.
Shower Door This filter offers a wide selection of results varying from a mild shower door effect to totally unrelated sections. There are two controls (Dot Size and Random Seed) and eight presets.
Stain This filter was designed to be used with selections. Otherwise it will cover the entire picture. There are four controls (Edge Width, Irregularity, Internal Opacity and Stain Color) and 10 presets. One can achieve very realistic effects such as a ring left by a glass on the image.
Stamper This filter inserts tiles of the image itself or of another image (The other image must be a .tif) into the picture. There are three controls (Stamp Width, Use Original Image and Stamp Source) and one adjustment plus the selection of the image to be tiled.
Television This filter has seven controls (Scanline Strength, Scanline Thickness, Curvature, Static, Ghost Strength, Ghost Offset and Breakup) and 10 presets. The results are very like the old TV's of the 70's.

Reviewer's Remarks: We found this program to be very adaptable. It can create a wide variety of effects with ease. And we love it's ability to work within Paint Shop Pro as a plugin!

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