Filter Forge was created to be a plug-in for Photoshop that lets the user create a wide variety of image textures* and effects. It also works just fine as a standalone program. Filter Forge Basic ($59 as of 12/16/2011) gives the user access to an online database of over 8,000 filters which can be used to generate textures for other software (including most 3D applications) and to alter existing images in a mind boggeling number of ways. Filter Forge Standard ($99 as of 12/16/2011) not only provides access to the database, but gives the user tools to create their own texture-generating and image-altering filters.
* A texture is an image that is applied to a 3D object to give it a desired appearance. For example, if you create a snake in Blender, it will have a clay-like surface. If you want it to be covered in snakeskin, you need a texture. One of the 8,000+ items in the Filter Forge database is a filter that you can manipulate to generate nearly infinite combinations of snakeskin patterns and colors to apply to your snake, as demonstrated here.
I intend to list free and low-cost training resources for each software package. This will come eventually, but if I wait until everything is complete, I’ll never go live with this blog.
In the meantime, please include your favorite training resources in your comments.