Want to make your photos look like fine art paintings, illustrations, or even comic strips? Usually, you have a choice between two kinds of programs: push-button cookie-cutter filters that tend to be mechanically repetitive, or Corel Painter, the queen of fine art emulation software, which requires a certain level of drawing skill and imaging expertise. And then there's Alien Skin's Snap Art. With Snap Art, you can create customized works of art from your photos, without lifting a stylus. The recently introduced Snap Art 2 ($199, 30-day free trial) gives you even more options and control, while remaining great fun to use.
Snap Art is an easy-to-use Photoshop-compatible plug-in with hundreds of presets, using color pencils, comics effects, impasto, oil paint, pastels, pen and ink, pencil sketch, pointillism, watercolor and other stylized effects. By using sliders, you have full control over variables, such as brush size, color variability, canvas texture, saturation, lighting and so forth. When you've defined the parameters for a new effect you like, you can save it as a custom preset.
In version 2.0, Snap Art introduces greater control over photo-realism (or the lack of it). Key to this are the new focus control points that allow you to define areas of your picture that you want to be more realistic--such as the face in a portrait or the stamen in the center of our screen capture's flower.
Snap Art is appropriate for any photographer who wants to take their pictures further--whether as an expression of their personal creativity or to create attractive fine art canvases to sell.