Alien Skin's Blow Up 3 in Review

December 11, 2011 12:29 pm

Tags: Adobe, Alien Skin Software, Lightroom, Photography, Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Plug-in

Product Review: Alien Skin's BlowUp 3

Back in November, AlienSkin software announced the release of version 3 of their Blow Up software that runs as a plug-in to Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, or Lightroom. Boasting better results and a simpler interface than what was in Blow Up 2, I thought I'd finally give this a try myself. While I had not tried earlier versions, what I did find in Blow Up 3 was quite impressive.

Blow Up 3 interface

I installed Blow Up 3 on my system for Photoshop CS5. After installation, Blow Up 3 can be found under File > Automate, as well as under the Filter menu in Photoshop. When it is run, it opens up in its own window outside of Photoshop, which is actually nice because you then have a full screen to work with Blow Up. The interface has 3 panes, and you can even hide either side pane while you are working, as well.

Plenty of preset output size options to choose from.

There are 3 'modes' that you will initially select from: Crop and Resize, Resize, and Stretch, depending on what you need to do. There are plenty of presets for your output size, which is absolutely wonderful. I found the Crop and Resize mode excellent for getting the best crop for output size, and there is even a helpful gridview option for the center preview pane, as well.

Modes panel and options.

I don't know what earlier versions of Blow Up looked like, but apparently it wasn't as simple as it is now. The amount of control you have is great, and everything is, for sure, simple and intuitive. The Enlargement Tuning controls, Sharpen Edges and Add Grain, I found really didn't need to be messed with much in my trials. They can be of help, though, used sparingly in most cases.

Before and After previewing. As you can see here, the before and after are shown left and right respectively.

There are different ways of comparatively previewing enlarged results, as you can see in the above image. Side by side, top and bottom, or even simply clicking on the image will show you the original bicubic enlargement, before Blow Up 3 works its magic.

The preview window calculates very quick, so you are seeing your adjustments immediately. Once you are finished and hit the 'OK' button, it does take a little bit of time calculate the full-size result, but certainly not unbearable.

Original image
Enlarged by 400% in Photoshop
Enlarged by 400% in Blow Up 3

Blow Up 3 does work noticeably better at resizing, compared to what I was able to do with Photoshop alone. A good example of Blow Up 3 in comparison with Photoshop you can see pictured above.

One other thing worth mentioning is that with the installation of Blow Up 3, you also get a free Photoshop panel installed, called Gallery Wrapper, which prepares the image edge for gallery-wrapped prints. Easy to use if you are looking to do that, and I thought it was a nice little bonus.

Gallery Wrapper panel


I can't stress enough just how easy Blow Up 3 is to work with. With plenty of presets for output size, and even paper type, plus the ability to save your own presets, this is a 'must have' plug-in. Especially compared to the unintuitive task of enlarging with just Photoshop itself. Here, with Blow Up 3, you're getting exactly the output you want.

If you want your enlargements to be the best they can be, then Blow Up 3 would be the way to go. From what I've seen myself, I certainly recommend it. You might want to have a look at some more examples at the AlienSkin website, and even try a free demo of it first, to see if it will suit your needs.

Blow Up 3 is for use with the following host applications:

  • Adobe Photoshop CS4 or later
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 or later
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 or later

Price: $199.00 (USD); Upgrade from Blow Up 1 or 2 for $99.00 (USD)

System Requirements

Microsoft Windows users need Windows Vista or later.
Apple Macintosh users need Mac OS X 10.6 or later.
An Intel Core 2 processor or compatible is required.
A monitor with 1024x768 resolution or greater is required.

For more info, be sure to visit:

Editor's Note: Be sure to also visit

Nick C. Sorbinis a digital artist, sculptor, writer, and Managing Editor for Renderosity's CG Industry News.
Renderosity Homepage




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Article Comments

deemarie ( posted at 12:57PM Sun, 15 January 2012

Wow, I'm impressed. Especially with the enlargement of the letter. Love the crisp edges. Thanks for the Dee Marie