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Dream Suite
Auto fx software
$299.00 for Series One,
Or $50.00 for each individual effect module

Author: Roberta Mikkelsen

Date: 04/02

Windows 98, ME orNT/2000
Minimum of a 400 mhz PC
192 mb Memory recommended

Auto fx is one of my favorite filter companies. One reason is DreamSuite; its latest filter system. Auto fx is one of the largest developers of Adobe Photoshop plug-ins. Three of the reasons I like this companies products are: their software doesn't crash, it is user friendly, and it works! My first filter purchase was Auto fx's Photo/Graphic Edges and Patterns. This program allows me to add borders to my photographs and design instant background patterns. They give you thousands of choices.

Dream Suite doesn't have thousands of effects; only eighteen. But within that eighteen you will find graphic design gold. You can take a photograph and make it look like as if it is in a slide holder by using the "35 mm Frame" effect. Selecting "Instamatic" makes it look like it is a Polaroid Instamatic photograph. You have control over every aspect of the effect. For example with the "Instamatic" effect you can shade the border so it appears that the photograph is being lifted from the surface of the page. This produces a much more realistic effect than the typical drop shadow. Some other effects are: chisel, cubism, deckle, dimension x, focus, hotstamp, liquid metal, crackle, metal mixer, photoborder, phototone, putty, ripple and tape.

As a traditional painter one technique I like is a crackle effect. To do this on a canvas you apply different coats of paint and glazes that interact with each other. When this dries you have a crazed or crackle effect which gives the painting an aged antique look. This method is time consuming, often irreversible, and toxic.

With Dream Suite I can not only create a realistic crackle effect I can also select certain areas and by using the flake tool make it look like the plaster has chipped off thereby adding to the antique look.

"PhotoDepth" and "Crease" both bring depth to lifeless images. You can add frays or creases along the edge of an image to make it appear as if it were raised up from the image. You also have over a dozen textured surfaces with PhotoDepth in which you can add a slight texture or a dramatic one such as a canvas texture. "Crease" adds bends or folds in a page which increases the illusion of dimension.

Dream Suite has several presets and control tabs which have sliding adjustable settings that allow you to control depth, edge, radius, smoothness and much more. There are also memory dots that let you capture your current state, experiment some more and then go back to the saved version. The user defined presets also allow you to save and load your effects and reapply them. The zoom and pan tools are helpful for seeing detailed areas. Another nice feature is the control you have over the light and shadow areas.

The effects are resolution independent and supports file loading and saving for .psd, .tif, .bmp, .jpg, .gif, and .png files. Most of the effects add dimension and add that "special" look you may be looking for. Some effects like crease, crackle, focus, liquid metal and tape became my favorites. With these effects I can age my photograph, tear it up, then tape it back together for a very unique effect.

It is a bit slow when applying the effect just for viewing purposes. I wish they had added a preview window so you can see the effect faster and then move on if you don't like it.

A nice feature is when you fly over a control; a paragraph length "Tool Tips" pops up. I like quick short answers without having to break out the manual.

For the average non-professional artist Dream Suite Series I may be a bit pricey but for the Graphic Designer or computer artist it is a real asset. If you really fall in love with one effect I would strongly recommend buying a single effect for $50.00. Auto fx is a professional software company and works without a hitch everytime. DreamSuite is a stand-alone program or a Photoshop plug-in.

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