Filter Forge allows you to create your own filters, like textures and visual effects. Similarly, the product provides access a huge collection of filters available online. Although many would prefer to use it as a plugin in Photoshop, it is good that it is also available as a standalone Mac application. Since the tool has a steep learning curve, you may want to consult the accompanying help documentation before taking your first steps.
Filter Forge’s interface has three key windows: Main, Filter Library and Filter Editor. It looks somewhat outdated and there are not enough tips to help you find your way. So, sometimes you may need to experiment to see what results.
Initially, the main window allows you to view a list of those filters coming in the installation. Later, it will also show any other filter you have downloaded from the Filter Library. It works as a sort of dashboard from which you can modify existing filters, create new ones or download some more. There is also a default source image coming with the installation, but it also lets you experiment with your own pictures. Unfortunately, the standalone app does not support importing RAW files.
The Filter Library, in turn, is where you can browse the enormous online library, made up of the contributions of many other users like you. Fortunately, they are free to download and try. This is probably as far as you should go if you do not have many skills or you are pleased by the filters there.
In case you want to create your own filters, then you should use the Filter Editor. It allows both customizing existing filters and creating new ones from scratch. It works visually, when you create a filter by gradually building a network of components (nodes) and connectors between them. The components allow such common operations as blurring, adding gradients, adjusting colors, distorting and blending. Besides, they include rarer operations like elevation gradients and Perlin and Worley noises.
All in all, Filter Forge is undoubtedly among the most popular tools of its type among photographers and designers. It is quite convenient to use, although it has limitations in terms of batch processing. The product is available in several editions: Basic, Standard, Professional and Professional Plus. It is definitely not very affordable, but there are also some solutions to this. One of them is using the Professional edition by subscription, which means that you pay to use the tool for a given period of time only. Besides, there may be temporary discounts available from their site. Finally, you can opt for a free subscription if one of the filters you upload to the collection becomes very popular.
- Access to a huge collection of filters
- Excellent help documentation
- Creation of filters with visual support
- Standalone app cannot import RAW images
- Steep learning curve
- Somewhat outdated interface