COMPANY: Filter Forge, Inc. | URL: (See Buy link below) | TYPE: Standalone, plug-in | PLATFORM: Mac, Windows | PRICE: Varies
Filter Forge 6 is a versatile Photoshop plugin which lets both novice and expert users create a wide variety of realistic and abstract textures and effects. Users can take instant advantage of over 11,800 free community-created filters in the online filter library, or create their own filters in the visual filter editor by assembling them from components such as blurs, gradients, color adjustments, noises, distortions, or blends – without writing a single line of code.

Features

On the surface, Filter Forge is just a Photoshop plugin, a pack of filters that generate textures, create visual effects, enhance photos, process images. However, there are three things that make Filter Forge unique:

•You can create your own filters. Filter Forge comes with a visual node-based editor allowing you to create your own filters – textures, effects, distortions, backgrounds, frames, you name it. All filters automatically support 16- and 32-bit modes in Photoshop, real-world HDRI lighting, bump and normal maps, huge resolutions, and most filters can be seamlessly tiled.

•You get free access to over 11,800 user-created filters. Anyone can contribute their textures and effects to the online filter collection so it grows with every submitted filter. This means the more people use Filter Forge, the better it gets.

Download a PDF tutorial here.

Key Features
From a technical standpoint, Filter Forge is quite a monster for a mere Photoshop plug-in – 216,000 lines of code, 5 programming languages used in the process and several years of full-time development. Filter Forge in all its glory: High-precision imagery, ultra-large bitmaps up to 65000x65000 pixels, bump and normal maps and an unlimited number of CPU cores. Look at the features below to see what's under the hood and how it helps you produce top-notch graphics.

Filter Editor
A visual node-based editor lets you create visual effects and procedural textures without a single line of code.

Online Filter Library
A free online repository of filters submitted by Filter Forge users. Contributors can earn a free copy of Filter Forge.

Seamless Tiling
All filters in Filter Forge support seamless tiling, even for non-square textures.

Bump and Normal Maps
Filter Forge can generate diffuse, bump, specular and normal maps, all seamlessly tiled and anti-aliased.

Resolution Independence
As all filters are generated procedurally, any filter can be rendered in any resolution without losing a detail.

Technology

HDRI Lighting
Instead of the old-style point lights, Filter Forge lighting system uses high dynamic range images that capture real-world lighting conditions. As a result, you get real-world lighting which takes almost no time to set up.

16- and 32-Bit Image Modes

Filter Forge uses a full floating-point rendering pipeline, which allows it to support 16-bit images and 32-bit image mode. At the moment, Filter Forge is the only Photoshop plugin on the market supporting the 32-bit mode.

Floating-Point File Formats
You can save your work in high-precision image formats such as OpenEXR or PFM. Unlike the traditional image formats such as JPG or BMP, these formats use floating-point numbers to store the pixels, which allows to retain every single bit of precision.

Smart Anti-Aliasing
Anti-aliasing, when done in the usual brute-force way, can be devastating to rendering speed. Filter Forge applies anti-aliasing only to those areas of the image that tend to produce aliasing artifacts, which results in vastly improved rendering times.

Dual-Core CPU Support
Filter Forge rendering engine is built to fully utilize the power of dual-core and quad-core processors. A dual-core processor can speed the rendering up to 96% (83 to 86% is the norm). Once we even saw a speedup of 115% – don't ask, we have no idea how that is possible!

Huge Resolutions
The biggest one tried was 65536x65536 pixels – and it worked! Granted, it took hours, but anyway! Furthermore, the interface remained responsive – we were able to zoom and pan the preview while rendering that monstrosity.

Interface

Standalone Version
Filter Forge can work as a Photoshop plugin or a standalone application. Actually, the plugin part of Filter Forge is tiny – all it does is sending and retrieving the images. All processing is done within the main application.

Adaptive Previews
The preview window in Filter Forge is always fully interactive – you can pan and zoom during the rendering. Plus, if you zoom in on a region of the image while rendering, Filter Forge will increase the rendering priority for that region so that you can see the results faster.

Presets
You can save the settings of any filter as a preset to recall them at any time. All filters included with Filter Forge come with factory presets that give you a glimpse of what a filter can do and provide a good starting point to explore the filter's settings.

Randomizer
With Randomizer, you can randomize filter settings in one mouse click – a relief for those who don't want to learn the controls just to explore a filter. You can configure the randomization strength, plus there's a Back button allowing you to return to the previously generated settings in case you click Next too eagerly.

Favorites
Favorites allow you to quickly access the filters you use most frequently – just add a filter to Favorites and its shortcut will appear in the Favorites folder.

Photorealistic Lighting

Shadows via Ambient Occlusion
The shadowing technique calculates how much environmental light can reach a certain point of a surface and darkens that point accordingly.

Point/Area Lights
Create any number of point or area lights that allow you to specify how exactly you want your texture to be lit.

New Lighting Options
The new interface allows you to adjust all the lighting elements – HDRI environment, surface height, point/area lights, ambient lighting, and ambient occlusion – using a simple unified interface.

Unlimited HDR Colors

Full HDR Support
Filter Forge supports high dynamic range (HDR) colors across its entire rendering pipeline, from input images through components to rendered results.

Color Inspector
Color Inspector is a tool that shows the exact RGB output values of any map component, right in the Filter Editor.

Free Transforms, Shapes, and Particles

Bomber Component
Specify over 30 particle placement, coloration and randomization parameters, most of which can be mapped with images.

Transform Components
Scale, Rotate, Flip and Lookup as well as an updated version of the Offset component.

Polygon and Ellipse Components
Filter Forge includes a Polygon component which lets you generate symmetrical N-gons and stars with adjustable round corners, and an Ellipse component that generates circles and ellipses.

Free Gradients and Shapes
Filter Forge includes a versatile Free Gradient component with three gradient modes (Linear, Radial and Angular) and arbitrary endpoint coordinates that can be mapped with HDR values.

Math and Scripting

Lua Scripting
Scripting allows you to implement your own components with custom inputs and internal logic. Scripts in Filter Forge are written in Lua, a blazing-fast scripting language held by numerous developers as a number one choice for embedded scripting.

RGB Math Components
Filter Forge includes 24 new RGB Math components that operate on RGB color channels include arithmetic, trigonometry, power, roots and logarithms, rounding, conditional operations, linear interpolation and directional derivatives.

Other Additions

Instant Filter Search
Quickly find filters as you type, searching filter names, descriptions, authors and keywords, and displaying the results immediately.

Median, Minimum, Maximum and Percentile Components
With these new components, you can now perform minimum, median, maximum and custom-percentile filtering.

Non-Seamless Filters
Filter Forge is not confined to seamlessly-tiled filters. Unrestricted, non-tiled textures and effects are first-class citizens of Filter Forge. Support for non-seamless filters enables long-requested features: unrestricted transforms (Scale, Rotate, Offset, Flip and Lookup) and non-tiled Free Gradient, Ellipse, Polygon and Rectangle components.
Filter Forge effects gallery
What's new in Filter Forge 6

Full 64-bit support
For years, the legacy API prevented Filter Forge from utilizing all available memory, hampering rendering speed and stability. Forge 6.0 introduces full 64-bit support for performance and stability improvements.

Mappable checkbox inputs
Filter Forge 6.0 updates 33 existing components by making their checkbox inputs mappable, enabling greater flexibility in filter creation.

Support for drag-and-drop on the Presets tab
Every filter author must have stumbled into this: you create a filter and want to carefully select presets to showcase its usage, but arranging filter presets is pain. With Filter Forge 6 the pain is gone! You can now drag and drop presets to reorder them.