Space Ramblings

Digital Elements’ Aurora 2.1 Photoshop Plugin

On the surface Aurora 2.1 is one of those plugins that looks fantastically great until you begin asking yourself what you need it for. Personally I’ve got more than a trace of a weakness for utterly useless graphics programs that seemed incredibly appealing back when I bought them. I still have programs sitting in boxes packaged in floppy disks that I never use. So here comes Aurora 2.1.

Aurora from Digital Element is basically another sky painting program, an attempt by Digital Element to exploit their World Builder by extending it into Photoshop CS3. Anyone who uses Aurora 2.1 has to fit the following parameters. They had better not own an actual 3D program capable of churning out sky and sea scenes and they had better have a lot of patience. Like World Builder, Aurora is very much number driven and adjusting Aurora means adjusting the settings to try and get the effect you want. The resulting renders are occasionally pretty, topping out Bryce’s crude water effects at least, but lack any real diversity and the more complex the task, the more numbers there are to play with until you’re wondering why you don’t just get 3D Max if you’re going to have to torture yourself doing this.

If the press is to be believed, Aurora is capable of some pretty effects but personally the only stars I managed to get out of Aurora were scattered around in clumsy garish grains of sand. Clouds fell into repetitive patterns and the moon remained either too dark or too bright. After a half hour of fiddling with Aurora, I turned back to my copy of Vue and rendered something far better with far less effort in 5 minutes.

Bye bye Aurora. It was nice buying you. The pleasure was all yours I’m sure.

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