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It’s that time of year. Love day is right around the corner, and a personally-crafted card might be just the unexpected, thoughtful gesture your special someone deserves.

But it all sounds a bit daunting, maybe. Where do you begin with something like that?

In the latest version of ACDSee Pro and ACDSee Ultimate, there have been a number of technical advancements added to make your overall post processing easier and more precise. And, as it happens, there have also been a number of fun advancements. New creativity-inducing effects are available on the non-destructive side — Develop mode, of course. This is where you begin, right in that creative realm, with your V-Day card.

Source material? I can’t help you with that. But you have just enough time left to snap some stealth couple shots. If it comes to it, tell your significant other they’re for your grandma or something. If you’re stumped for inspiration, the interwebs has thousands and thousands of photoshoot ideas. If all else fails, a romantically-themed still life will get the job done.

Got your source material? Great! Let’s move on.

Starting with the easy stuff: Photo Effects, in the Effects group, is about as painless as it gets. Basically, you open an image in Develop mode. So, on the Tune tab, in the Effects group, enable the Photo Effect checkbox, and select a filter from the drop-down menu.

Develop Effects Panel

These are all preconfigured to add mystery, allure, or a specific mood to your photos. The hardest part is just picking one. For Valentine's Day, I think we're going for something ...magical.

Sophia

Sophia Filter

...Dramatic.

Chrome

Chrome Filter

...Nostalgic.

Mila

Mila Filter

Chloe

Chloe Filter

Instant

Instant Filter

You can use the Opacity slider and Blend Mode drop-down menu to adjust how the selected effect blends with your image.

Blend Mode

Opacity

But wait— there's more!

You can also apply a color overlay to images. This is also found in the Effects group on the Tune tab in Develop mode.

Add Color Overlay

You simply enable the Color Overlay checkbox, then choose a color from the drop-down menu.

Choose Color

Combine this with specific Opacity settings and any of a variety of blend modes, and you have the unlimited potential to create unique images.

Blend Mode Color Overlay

Linear Light Blend Mode

Next, let's look at the Gradient Map effect, which you can use to add colors to the dark and light parts of your images respectively. The Gradient Map effect maps shadows to one color, and highlights to another based on the lightness value of each pixel. Once again, simply enable the Gradient Map checkbox in the Effects group on the Tune tab of Develop mode. And customize the Shadows and Highlights drop-down menus individually.

Enable Gradient Map

When you first turn it on, it may be slightly alarming.

Gradient Map

You're thinking, maybe for abstracts, but for my Valentine’s Day card? But once you start getting the Blend Mode drop-down menu and Opacity slider involved, you'll find a whole new world of opportunity.

Gradient Map Blend Mode

Example Gradient Map

Multiply Gradient Map

If none of that floats your boat, you can try ol' faithful: The Cross Process effect. This is meant to simulate a retro effect that gave photos a boost in saturation and contrast, and shifted colors towards greenish-yellow highlights and bluish shadows.

Before:

Before Picture

After:

After Cross Process

But maybe the real magic happens when you start to combine and vary all of these effects. Spice of life, and all that.

After Cross Process

Sometimes it goes a bit off the rails.

Combining Effects

Wacky Effect

But you can easily get it back on track again.

Back to Normal

Combined Effect Success

It’s all about which style does it for you and your loved one anyways. Maybe your lover likes more of an Andy Warhol…something..?

Combined Effect

Hey, I’d do it. I’d probably go all the way into full on Picasso. But we’ll save that for another time. So yeah. That’s the new Develop mode Effects. If it seems ridiculously simple, that’s because it is.

Now go forth! And share the love!

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