My introduction to Alienskin
I’m always on the lookout for new, fun things to implement into my workflow. Even if it’s just for a temporary time or those situations I need a fresh look or a new creative wind just to spice things up - we can get so stuck into certain things at times it’s get boring or unchallenging. And even if it isn’t there necessary, there has never been done any harm into trying something new! So I (re)discovered Alienskin (Exposure 4) - I used it véry briefly back in 2014 but didn’t get the hang of it so I completely forgot about it until a while back. I decided to try it again, as they have a full 30 days trial with no strings or sneaky hidden costs attached (no joke - it’s awesome!) where you get full playroom of basically anything you want to try out they have to offer.
This evening I really wanted to be productive and clear out my mind after some chaotic moments but I couldn’t get the hang of just sitting down and retouching from scratch. So I decided to get into this program a bit more determined to try it out and see what I could cook up after a few quick try-outs with Alienskin compared to my very first try years back. As I know they have a ton of readymade presets - it quickly gives a interesting base which you can alter too if you feel it’s just not what you want. So there I dived into the rabbit hole … and I may have gotten carried away … kicks stone … as usual. I discovered it’s a hélla lot of fun to work with - very similar to “Infinite Color Panel” aka ICP (I will cover this shortly in a blog too as it’s become a serious part of my workflow often when it comes to color toning!) as it takes away a part of the rational thinking and it allows to change things up with a few clicks. After trying it a bit, it feels a bit like a lovechild of Lightroom and Photoshop: with it’s filters and ability to edit (like it’s) a raw file - but also because you have the option to mask, make layers and change opacity like a regular photoshop flow. It allows for some crazy in depth details without actually being destructive and setting steps back by clicking layers on and off.
You can also save anything you do as presets, which is a amazing if you like to work in series like I do for both personal as client work - but also to have as a kick-off if the inspiration isn’t working out and you need something to start with as a base. There are of course the many basics provided, but I like to have my own as they already have kinda my aesthetics to it.
So what do I think now?
It’s definitely something I can highly recommend if you’re into color toning and effects on your images: textures, sparks, bokeh, tons and tons and tons of all kind of color filters inspired on analog film and even the good old cyanotype and daguerreotype. There are tons of options for grains and even more presets, both in color and bw but also overlays and light effects of “ruined” film for those who love the imperfect look. I will say I’ve been mostly drawn to the practical effects of light bleeds and effects, but also the grain and borders for that finished grudgy look. I’m less fond of the color filters so far but this may be because I worked on my finished pieces and I’m heavily biased because they’re “done” for me … so I will need to delve into this a bit more over time! Those b/w filters … oh boy … those make my little artist heart scream with joy to be honest! I’ve becoming more and more interested in this, especially when they look like old photographs and there are plenty of options with that one! To me they gave an almost instant finished look and I’m very drawn to a lot of the options available.
Should you get it?
Considering you got nothing to lose or pay, the 30 days trial is legit and you can do anything with it: YES! Even if it turns out nothing for you, you never know. It can do no harm to try it on some pieces and yes see what cooks up. I might be doing a video later once I can sit down on a piece or two, entirely from (toning) scratch to showcase what’s possible so keep an eye out for that! For now I’ve put my own finished files against the alienskin edits (which are done directly on the finished psd files).
Questions? You can ask me anything when you sign up on my Patreon (from the second trier from just 5 dollars!) where I will be going more in depth about this as well about this blog and the upcoming videos! There is also a trier for just 2 dollars if you want to support me so I can continue creating free content like this! And some other cool stuff like getting monthly presets & finished psd files in your inbox ;)