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Brief Filter Forge Review

Posted 11-09-2007 at 03:05 PM by Craig Walters
Updated 07-23-2008 at 08:59 PM by Craig Walters

Filter Forge is a pretty amazing program. It makes filters for Photoshop and other programs that can use the .8bf plug-in types.

The biggest draw of this program is that you don't have to know how to code. It's visual and comes in two parts, the Graphical User Interface (or GUI) Click image for larger version

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To use the GUI you simply pick a filter from the huge library of filters which you download from the Filter Forge library (for free, once you've bought the program), and either load a selected image of your choice to apply your filter to, or use one of the texture filters, which does not require an inputted image.

The GUI can be used as a stand-alone type application or from your normal graphic editor as a plug-in. Having both of these options offers great versatility.

The editor is unlike most editors you may be familiar with. There is no code! It's all visual. And, it's modular. You work with 'components'. these components have various characteristics and can be plugged into each other to create various effects. And, to make it even easier, there is a thumbnail on each component to show you how your new filter looks at that stage. So, again, very visual. It also shows you the final result in another thumbnail on the 'results' component.

All of this makes it very easy to create your own custom filters.

The link to Filter Forge is: There, you can see a list and preview of ALL the filters in the 'library'. The current library has almost, or maybe even more than, 4000 filters, currently. These filters are ranked in terms of how much use any given filter is receiving. Thus, a filter with 'high use' is very popular. This ranking system is NOT based on how many downloads, but on who and how many are actually using that filter. The statistics for tracking this use comes from the actual users of the program.

The site also hosts a forum. The forum is a great place to learn more about how to use FF (filter forge) and to get help and critiques and to display your creations. It's a friendly place with some pretty talented folks active there.

Filter Forge also does some pretty innovative things to promote their software and the use of the program. One such example is there rewards system, which can allow you to earn the program for free. If, during your demo trial period (which can be extended to up to 90 days), any of your filters earn a 'high use' ranking, this earns you points towards paying for FF itself. Get three HU"s (high uses) and you get the program for free. And where this is a bit of a gimmiick, it's a very workable gimmick and has earned several folks I know the program for free. FF wins by getting more high quality filters in their library and the user wins by earning a very nice, somewhat expensive program for free. Not a bad deal!

One of the other innovative attractions is, when you submit a filter to the library and it's approved, anyone may use that filter (that has the program, of course) without restriction or compensation. This means that you, as the filter user, does not have to pay any royalties or give any nods to anyone in the works you create with that filter. The filter still actually belongs to the person who created it, but by submitting the filter to the library, you 'sign' an end user license agreement (EULA) which licenses others to use it in the manner mentioned, without compensation.

If you don't want others using your filter, simply don't submit it to the library and it's still yours and protected. FF does NOT claim rights over YOUR filter, just their program.

I should also mention that I was one of the first beta testers of this program. All throughout the beta I was very impressed with the amount of feedback from the company and its representatives and with the integrity of the product. Bugs actually got fixed. Tester input was actually listened to and some ideas from testers actually made it into the program. I've beta tested other software and I can tell you this is somewhat unusual. So, I was impressed with the FF team and what they were doing!

And, I'm still impressed! The FF team is curerntly working on a Mac version, after which, they'll start on improving the original program, or, Version 2.x. We've seen some of the things slated for Ver. 2.x and they should blow the roof off an already incredible program!

I use this software almost every day and I'm an active participant of the FF forums. I've submitted over 60 filters, myself. Some have submitted over 100 and one has submitted over 400! And I've earned 10 reward points for filters that have hit HU. Oh, and I should mention that those reward points can also be spent on a few other things, like, lifetime upgrades and additional licenses.

So, I guess you could say I'm a fan. I like this software!
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