Review: AKVIS Chameleon

Create new images from two. (December 21st, 2007)

MacNN Rating:


Product Manufacturer: AKVIS LLC

Price: Home License: $75 - Business License $230

The Good

  • Easy to install, if you can find your Plugins folder. Easy to use. Can create a variety of great effects. There is a legacy version. Great 48 page PDF guide with plenty of suggestions and how to examples. A free 10-day trial is available on site.

The Bad

  • Expensive. Interface needs work. Not enough controls for finessing an image. Can be slow processing some images. Stalled or quit freqently in PS 3 on an Intel Mac.

I think we all like to do magic with our photos. Did someone not make it to the team photo, but you would like to add his photo to the final image? Would you like to take a photo of a house and add fluffy white clouds to the sky, or take a stained glass window and softly place in a bride's face looking out. Even better, take a silhouette of the groom and add the bride's photo within it. To expose one image into another in the camera takes a lot of practice and doesn't always come out like you want. With AKVIS Chameleon, you can do these tricks and many more. You can take several images and combine them to create a romantic or fantasy image, or just improve a single image in your favorite image editing program, which must be Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements, or possibly ACD Canvas on the Macintosh. With AKVIS Chameleon, it isn't all that hard.

Testing Out AKVIS Chameleon

To use Chameleon, you must open an image in your photo editing program, and make a selection, then copy it into the clipboard with Chameleon - Grab Fragment from the Filter menu. Next, open a second or background image and select Chameleon from your filter or effects menu. In the Chameleon window, you see both images. Chameleon gives you three different kinds of effects, called modes.

In Montage mode, both images are combined. Your image now sits on top of your background. You can place fluffy clouds in the sky above your house, or paste that missing soccer player into a team photo.

If you select Chameleon mode instead, the plug-in smoothes the borders and adjust the color along the object you paste into the background. Let's say you want to add a bird to your sky. If the area around your bird is darker or a different color, Chameleon mode changes the color to that of the background. Just move or resize as needed.

The Blend mode takes everything a step further. It smoothes the boarders, adjusts the color and it makes your second image semi-transparent. This brings of the texture the background into your second image. If you don't like the results, you can always redo it, but it can be time consuming.

In any of the modes, you can adjust the opacity of your pasted image from 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100%. If you intend to use the second object often, you can save it as a chameleonFragment. For example, you could make a chameleonFragment of your company logo and add it to your eBay product photos, to protect them from someone else using them.

The Before and After tabs in the Chameleon Image window toggle between your image area and the final result. There are a few other tools available to help you scale and rotate your image, as well as to protect parts of the image that you don't want affected by Chameleon.

Photoshop CS2 Results

The legacy version of Chameleon lets those with older Macs and Photoshop 6 and above create a collage easily and with reasonable speed. It works nicely and easily. Rick notes, "One of my first attempts is included below. I took a NASCAR car background, added a photo of the driver, took the Hooters Series logo off the side of the pace car and the Greased Lightening logo and placed them on the back ground image. I sized each appropriately and placed each in a position that I wanted. The hardest part was to get the cars to stand still for their photo."

 Rick's Race Car

Rick's Race Car

Photoshop CS3 Results

Ilene thought it was a bit slow and has some issues with the interface. The resize control is a slider, while the opacity control is a series of radio buttons, which seems odd. In addition, the Pencil tools to map out the areas of your fragment that you do or do not want added to the final image draws thin lines, and have no undo command. Ilene did not think there was enough control over how the fragment appears. Here are samples of a Chameleon mode created picture next to a similar picture created in Photoshop itself. Ilene found that Photoshop could replicate what Chameleon did, but with many more controls over color. Photoshop CS3 has so many new controls that AKVIS Chameleon may seem redundant.

 Ilene's Hibiscus ilenes Photoshop Hibiscus
Ilene's Hibiscus with AKVIS Chameleon Ilene's Hibiscus with Photoshop CS3

We tested AVKIS Chameleon in Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) with the Photoshop CS2 and the legacy version and the Photoshop CS3 version on an Intel Mac. It seemed to have a bit of trouble on the Intel Mac. When opening a chameleonFragment file, it just up and quit on Ilene, plus brought up the wait cursor a number of times. The Collage mode seems to work the best.

by Rick Curran and ilene Hoffman


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