Can you please tell something about yourself?
I spend way too many hours working on plugins and brushes and shapes; spent too many hours drawing and reading comic book art; film noirs; roman history; wandering around London. I love writing, drawing, anything Japanese, and watching way too much TV. Writing computer software does take up an awful amount of my time, I spend ages tidying this up and tweaking this and that line of code or going off on many dead ends. What else to say, still single, but who would be able to put up with me; love travelling to the US; and I still have a house in Spain to sort out to take all my energies.
How did you get into developing Photoshop plugins?
I started via my interest in comic art and Fractal Poser 1, and from Poser 1 to Painter and then Photoshop. Also, I studied Theoretical Physics at University, so some of my physics and maths training came to some use. I mainly used Painter and the plugins, the old Filter Factory (FF) ones, were a big help adding a whole range of channel plugins to Painter. From there, with the release of FilterMeister (FM), 100s of plugins later. I didn't use Photoshop as much, now it is about half and half Photoshop and Painter.
Selection of Painter Nozzles from GraphicXtras
What motivates you to create plugins?
Most of the best plugin ideas arrive two seconds before I go to sleep.. a restless night follows. Photoshop plugins, especially the more creative extreme kind of plugin effects, are definitely the ones that inspire most. I am always reading art and design books, a lot of ideas come from those. I love surreal color effects, pattern effects, geometric, exreme color effects.. I'm not really into the photo / imaging plugins, though they are always useful.
You are the person that created the largest amount of plugins on this planet. Your Andrew's Plugins products contain more than 200 plugins and your old Andrew's Filters collection contains 1000 filters. How long did it take you to create all 1000 Andrew's Filters?
I created most of the plugins in the Andrew's filters collection about 6 or 7 years ago now, when I was working as a contractor in Nijmegan Holland. Along with enjoying the delights of that wonderful Dutch city, I enjoyed discovering how to create plugins, instead of sleeping, 1000 plugins were created in a few months. Since then I have created over 200 of the Andrew's plugins. Coding FM plugins is a lot slower (but more satisfying than FF ones) and the internal code would probably tranlate to 100,000 or so FF plugins, but after a while, who is counting. I enjoy creating them, if I didn't, I would stop. I have a lot more plugins in mind and under development. In some ways, I wish I hadn't called the Andrew's plugins 'Andrew's Plugins', I still get a lot of confusion with the two sets, they are totally unrelated.
One of Andrew's Plugins applied to an image in Photoshop
Many of your plugin effects have a modern-art or experimental touch. Is that the type of artwork that you prefer?
Yes, experimental art / modern art, definitely. Which goes totally against my real interest, comic book art. Still, I have never worked out how to create cartoon book plugins or Poser material. 3D is just not in my blood.
You also sell Illustrator plugins, After Effects plugins, brushes, styles and many other add-ons. Which of them do you consider your main product line?
Without doubt, Illustrator plugins are my favourite to create. The FM plugins are wonderful to create but there is still the limit of the FM language - which is ever growing and superb - but the Illustrator plugin SDK is staggering. I have been creating plugins for Illustrator for a while now but I still don't think I have touched on 5% of the plugin suites, and the range of possible tools to create is near infinite. Also, I still think Illustrator is one of the best apps around.. As to product sales, the plugins are not the quickest sellers, but they are steady. Shapes are probably one of the best sellers.
Some GraphicXtras Photoshop Shapes
Is your work for Graphicxtras your main occupation or is it just a part-time job?
Yes, it is my main occuption now.
Previously your products were sold under the name Sapphire Innovations. Why did you change your name to Graphicxtras?
I left my old company Sapphire Innovations. I didn't want to keep the Sapphire name, though I was happy with it, also a well known set of Sapphire plugins are now available and I didn't want any name conflicts with those. Most of
the links on the web still refer to Sapphire Innovations, even on google it turns up more times than graphicxtras, even though it is now only a redirection to graphicxtras. I have tried, unsuccessfully, to change a lot of those links to graphicxtras, either letters are never answered or the sites are defunct.
Were Photoshop plugins more popular in the 90s or they more often used at the moment? How do you see the future of Photoshop plugin in general?
I really don't know. Personally I use them as much as I used to in the 90s but perhaps in more subtle ways and also perhaps in combo with other things such as brushes and shapes. I miss some of the plugins for Windows 98 (ones that
fail to work in XP - on my system anyway) such as Propeller Paint Engine, still my favourite number 1 plugin.
I would love to see the Photoshop plugin come to combine Illustrator plugin functionality, a plugin CS format, so the plugins could handle the vector as well as the pixel. As to additional directions for the plugin, I am certain we will see ever more plugin releases from a whole range of companies. I would love to see After Effects plugins also working in Photoshop, I can't see why a lot of them couldn't be used for single frame or applied over multiple images. I would love to see more features to the preview screen or perhaps a removal of the preview screen and direct working on the document and the dialog fade aways unless required.
One of Andrew's Vector Plugins in Illustrator
What are your plans for the future?
More Illustrator plugins. I have about 40 volumes in various states of play, and I would love to update all the earlier sets. I am always looking at them with an eye to updating. I would also like to write a few applications instead of relying on a host application but that is still some way off. I really want to update the website to something that really sells the products and convinces people that the products are worth having. I hope everyone who has bought my material likes the work, feedback I get seems to be generally positive. I am generally happy with all my achievements (good or bad), but I realise I can always do better. Also, writing more articles and perhaps a book or two on graphics would be great.
Anything else that you would like to tell the world?
Please check out graphicxtras.com...
This interview was conducted by Harald Heim from The Plugin Site in February 2005.