Weekly Gimp Plug-in Review: FX-Foundry Part One

August 19, 2009

This week’s gimp plug-in is actually a suite of plug-ins called FX-Foundry. Their website, I felt, was lacking. No screenshots, examples, or how-tos, but it seemed to be a popular tool in the GIMP Users group on flickr, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

Anyway, you can download the suite by clicking the “Download” link on their homepage. Note that it downloads as a zip file so you’ll have to extract it to your scripts folder (if you don’t know where that is, check out last week’s entry). Yes, it extracts a lot of files – I told you it was a whole suite of plug-ins!

When you open Gimp, you’ll see I really wasn’t kidding, check out the new Menu item for FX-Foundry and all the stuff that’s under it:

FX Foundry Menu

For the sake of this entry, I’m only going to review some of these, and they’re all going to be under the Photo category, since, ya know, that’s what I work with and all. I encourage you to try all of them, of course.

Here’s the image I’m going to be working with today:

The original photo

I resized this to 800 pixels wide before pulling it into Gimp because I knew some of the scripts would take a looong time to run if I didn’t, and in the interest of getting this post out in time, I wanted to use a smaller photo.

So, under the Photo category, we have three subcategories: Effects, Enhancement, and Sharpen. I’m going to focus on Effects:

Effects Menu

Lomo

The first one is a Lomo effect called Bercovich Lomo, the tooltip when hovering over it suggests if you don’t know what lomography is to check out lomography.com, and I shall also point you to the wikipedia entry.

There’s really only two options when you select the Lomo effect:

Lomo Options

The first one (fringe offset) affects how much of a “frame” you’ll see around the photo, but I never really found a big difference between having “Boost frame?” checked or not. Here’s my photo using the default settings:

The Lomo effect

I’m no lomo expert, so I can’t tell you if this is “good” lomo or a “bad” lomo, but I definitely like the change in the photo.

You may have noticed that further on down the list in the Effects menu is another Lomo, simply called LOMO. There are virtually no options for this effect and the results look slightly different:

The other LOMO effect

Personally, I like the first (Bercovich) Lomo instead.

Black and White

The next effect on the list is Black & White Photo. There’s a few more options for this one:

Black & White Photo Options

I changed the “Apply on” dropdown to “Selection” so that it would use my selected layer. “Copy” creates a whole new image and “Image” seems to flatten the image first, which is fine if you just have one layer, but I like to always start with a duplicate layer of my original photo so that I can compare and contrast.

Anyway, here’s what the photo looks like with the default settings:

Black & White photo with default settings

Next, I went in and slid the Darken slider to the right (so the image would be less dark, obviously), and the contrast to the right (adding more contrast), and I selected the “Defocus” box, and my image looked like this:

Black & White photo with adjusted settings

I never did figure out what “Mottle” was.

If I ever want to do a quick black and white conversion, I’ll probably use this from now, but I like having more control by using the channel mixer.

Cross Processing

Yes. I skipped over Cross Light, because honestly I thought it was stupid. Play with yourself and tell me if you feel otherwise.

In the past, I’ve always used Curves to give my photos a Cross-processed feel (check out the wikipedia article if you don’t know what cross-processing is), but FX-Foundry has their own filter to do it for me.

Here are the default settings:

Cross-Processing Options

The settings are pretty self-explanatory. “Work on Copy” will open a new copy of the image, “Flatten Image” will return a flattened image, and the Overcast color is… well, an overcast color. Here’s what my photo looks like with the default settings:

Cross-Processed, default settings

Personally, I don’t really like the colorcast layer, so I made that layer invisible, and I think the image looks better:

Cross-Processed, no colorcast

I’m undecided right now about how much I’ll use this effect in the future – I definitely like the results it gives, but I also like the control I get by using the curves functionality to tweak the colors just as I like them. I have to admit that the results of this script is probably better than any of my curves adjustments, but I’ll still probably play with both the next time I want a cross-processed look.

Diffusion Filter

Have you ever seen those dreamy-hazy photographs? Classic wedding pictures seem to come to mind. Anyway, that’s typically created with a Diffusion filter, and this FX Foundry script is going to make your image look like you used one.

Here’s the default settings:

Diffusion Filter Options

And here’s what my photo looks like with the default settings:

Diffusion Filter, default settings

Checking the “Negative” box makes the photo darker instead of glowing:

Diffusion Filter, with negative checked

Unchecking the “Negative” box and upping the levels to 3.5 gives a lighter, more washed out image:

Diffusion Filter, higher levels

I played around with the radius and intensity sliders and they seemed to affect how blurry the blurriness was, but I’m not sure I ever grasped exactly what each slider did.

Overall Impression (so far)

Don’t worry, I plan on covering some more of the effects that are the effects menu, but I think this is enough for one entry.

My thoughts so far? I certainly don’t regret installing FX Foundry. It looks like it will give me a lot more options than the default filters that Gimp provides, and be able to inspire me to play around some more with my images.

I also like that there’s a status bar on each of the effects so I can see what exactly it’s doing and how long it takes. I’m not sure if that’s a standard thing, but it seems there are other times I click on things and I’m never quite sure if it’s actually doing anything.

The biggest downside I can come up with at the moment is that some of the effects don’t seem to give me enough control (for instance, I’d like more color options than just a colorcast in the Cross-Processing effect), and the ones that do have options, well, I’m not always sure what exactly they’re for.

I still recommend the download, though.

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  • noreenhunter

    i just found the answer to my problem...:-)...i still (heart) your blog....

  • noreenhunter

    hi,
    i tried downloading this plug-in but i am not successful...:-(...or maybe i just don't know how to extract the files...

    by the way, i sooo love your blog...you make taking pictures and photo editing sooo easy.

  • jlm513

    repost.... Thank you so much for this post. I use gimp and have never found so much useful info. I love the entire site.

  • Laura

    I am new to gimp so after I figured out how to add this script on it was pretty cool to be able to play with some of the effects. The LOMO was cool on the picture I used. I am really glad you are doing this for people like me. What would be helpful though is if you put a before and after photo next to each other so you can see the difference easier. Sometimes it's bothersome to scroll to compare.
    Keep up the good work!

  • That's a great idea. I'll try to remember to do that next time :)

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