By Daniel M. East

For all of the plug-ins that designers and photographers maintain, many of the third-party products begin with a feature built into Photoshop and take it to a higher level. Such is the case with Knoll Light Factory for Photoshop 3.2 by Red Giant Software (

Created with John Knoll (one of the Academy Award-winning people behind the special effects in the motion picture Star Wars at Industrial Light and Magic, and a co-creator of Photoshop), this US$149 product augments and highlights light sources in an image, and creates dramatic effects that go beyond the standard Photoshop CS5 Lens Flare filter by many light years.

Knoll Light Factory shows all of the layers in the open PSD file and allows the user to select which layer will display the effect. The result can be obscured by the selected layer (for a backlighting aura), a quick mask, or can mimic a lens flare targeted by clicking in the appropriate spot. The user maintains control over each element and is able to modify the lens effects easily; however, there’s no control for multiple colors or gradients.

For all of its control, effects, and excellent output quality, the user interface is about the only thing lacking in this software. It’s a mechanical, older white window that needs to be a neutral or darker gray so that the large amount of screen space needed doesn’t provide a false sense of color. Interface aside, this is a solid product. It does a great job easily, shows previews quickly, and it offers 64-bit support to boot. This is the lighting effects plug-in you’re looking for.

Rating: 8 out of 10

(This review is brought to you courtesy of “Layers Magazine”: