The free Xero Plugins consist of a total of 40 plugins, which are divided into four sets of nine plugins plus four extra plugins. The four sets were released in 2002 and 2003, but they have been updated since then with a new interface and new features.
The Xero Plugins display a non-resizable dialog with a preview that is small, but still allows convenient working. Only the Make-A-Flake plugin still uses the old interface with a too small preview. The background of the dialog is covered with a gradient that runs from a bluish purple to pink, which may need to take a bit to get used to for some people.
The effect can be adjusted with a whole range of control types: sliders, check boxes, combo boxes, radio buttons and color boxes. Some plugins also let you influence an effect by right clicking on the preview. Additionally all plugins except Set 1 have a Random button for creating random slider values and Load/Save buttons for opening and saving presets. Unfortunately, no presets are delivered with the plugins and there is no detailed manual for helping people better understand how the plugins work.
The Xero Plugins mostly produce subtle artistic photo effects. Some Xero plugins try to imitate artistic styles (e.g. Artworx, Caravaggio, Cubism, Lineart, Lithograph, Pastellise, Simplicity) and others soften the image in various ways (e.g. Alienmist, Mistifier, Porcelain, Serious Fog, Soft Mood). There are also some grain effects (e.g. ArtGrain, Artifax, Fuzzifier, Tekstya), color and B&W effects (e.g. DuoChrome, Emphasis, Greyscaler, Greytinter, Moodlight, Seasons, UltraViolett), photo enhancing plugins (e.g. Clarity, Improver, SuperSmooth, Tweaker) and several others that can't be categorized that easily.
A poll on the Xerographics web site showed that people like Porcelain (22%), Lineart (7%) and SoftMood (6%) best, but I think that the Artworx, Emphasis and Soft Vignette plugins are the most sophisticated ones. All in all, the Xero Plugins promise a lot of surprising and useful photo effects.
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If you use an Adobe application, please create a sub folder called "Xero" in the Plug-Ins folder of your application's folder and copy the unzipped Xero plugins into it.
If you use Paint Shop Pro, PhotoImpact or Photo-Paint, you can put the unzipped Xero plugins in any folder you like. Afterwards you have to select that folder in the Preferences dialog of your application.
After restarting your application, you can find them on the "xero" sub menu of the Filter or Effect menu.
For detailed information on installing plugins please see here.