Alien Skin Software Blow Up 2
Make it bigger.
- Excellent-quality output, fast performance, innovative tools
- Output no better than that from Genuine Fractals Print Pro, US-centric presets
If you currently own Genuine Fractals 5 Print Pro, you’d need to be doing a lot of up-sizing to justify buying Blow Up 2, but for everyone else, Alien Skin’s tool is the best enlargement Photoshop plug-in currently available.
Price$ 249.00 (AUD)
Note: pricing for this product is in US$.
Enlarging images is something every designer and illustrator has to do on a regular basis. From incorporating low-resolution photos or video stills into your page designs to using a high-res image on an even larger poster, there is a whole range of circumstances where you need to use an image larger than its original size without sacrificing quality. Photoshop has the basic Image Size menu item, but if you want to boost it by more than about five per cent, though, you’ll need to buy a plug-in such as Alien Skin’s Blow Up 2.
Blow Up works by expanding the size of an image and ‘intelligently’ filling in the missing details through judicious use of sharpening and the addition of fake grain. The upgrade includes better overall output, faster performance, batch processing and a series of presets so you can scale images up for paper sizes and types.
Enlargement tools are popular with designers and illustrators, so Blow Up has a lot of competition. Until Blow Up 2 arrived, the clear leader was OnOne Software’s Genuine Fractals Print Pro 5 which, at $299.95, is similarly priced to Blow Up’s $249.
Blow Up 2’s output is a definite improvement over the first release — and hugely better than Photoshop’s Image Size. Across many types of image, the upgrade allows you to push images larger than before — whether you want to enlarge images with softer edges by a lot or boost crisper photos with strong, hard lines by a smaller amount. Blow Up 2’s output matched that of Genuine Fractals as we resized images — and often we couldn’t tell them apart.
Where Blow Up pulls ahead of OnOne’s tool is in its speed and functionality. On our test 8-core Mac Pro with 4GB RAM, we found Blow Up 2 to be almost twice as fast as Genuine Fractals — for example taking 14.5 seconds to expand a low-resolution image to ten times its original size, compared to 27 seconds using Genuine Fractals.
Blow Up also includes presets, so you can be sure that an enlarged image can be used at A4 or A3. Or rather, you can if you create those presets yourself, as Alien Skin’s lengthy list contains only American paper sizes. Creating UK-friendly presets is straightforward and, Euro-phobia aside, the presets system is a very useful addition.
You can see how your image will be cropped by the aspect ratio of your target output — whether this is a paper size or the dimensions of a picture box in QuarkXPress or InDesign — with the Smart Crop function focusing on the region with the most detail.
The Crop to Size tool is an excellent addition, enabling you to select an area of the image, which will be enlarged to your selected output size. You need to deselect the crop before output, though, so that you have some bleed.
Equally useful for the designer in a hurry is the batch-processing system (below), which quickly resizes all of the images in a folder. This is unique to Blow Up and a massive timesaver if you’re up-sizing multiple images.
If, on the other hand, you want to fine tune how a single image is resized, there are four slider controls over how your images are uploaded: Sharpen Edges, Add Grain, Preserve Natural Texture, and Remove Compression Artifacts. These are a sliding scale of tools that you use depending on how bad your original image is – so a small increase in size of a reasonable-quality image may only require a small amount of Sharpen Edges, while a poorly-compressed Web image will require lots of all these tools.
Other notable additions include support for 32-bit HDR images and, according to Alien Skin, faster processing on 64-bit operating systems when used with the next version of Photoshop (which is expected by the end of the year).
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Huawei Mate 9
Lexar® Portable SSD
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Google Daydream VR headset
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Acer Swift 7
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Surface Pro 4
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- Village Roadshow aims to block 40 pirate sites
- Analysts peer into Microsoft's rumored Windows 10 Cloud
- Google lets users get social with Maps
- Microsoft unveils a bonanza of security capabilities
- Here's how Evernote moved 3 petabytes of data to Google's cloud
GGG Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
- Horizon Zero Dawn review
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Japan's pop culture, anime-friendly, J-Pop shrine, Kanda Myojin
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTMonitoring Tools Support l NimSoft , SMARTS, ehealth, TivoliNSW
- TPWinforms DevelopersWA
- CCTest AnalystWA
- TPDatabase Integration SpecialistVIC
- CCProject Manager - Adelaide basedNSW
- FTFront-End DevOps Developer/Consultant - IT Services - SydneyNSW
- CCManager AnalyticsNSW
- TPDeployment Specialist (DevOps)QLD
- CCDeployment EngineerSA
- FTOnline Solutions AnalystNSW
- CCProject / Portfolio SchedulerNSW
- CCCloud Solution Architect - Financial Services - Continuous IntegrationNSW
- CCTechnical Consultant - ITSM/HP Service ManagerVIC
- TPAgile CoachNSW
- CCSAP Consultant - SAP Native HANA to DesignWA
- FTMicrosoft ProgrammerSA
- FTNodeJS DeveloperNSW
- FTSenior Project Manager - PERMANENTACT
- TPDigital Project ManagerVIC
- CCSenior Technical SpecialistNSW
- TPJava DeveloperVIC
- FTData AnalystQLD
- CCWicked Front-End DeveloperQLD
- FTSenior Web DeveloperNSW
- TPNodeJS DeveloperNSW