StarSpikes Pro 3 Filter Plug-in How It Works

StarSpikes Pro 3 is an older product and is no longer for sale.   It has been replaced by a newer version.

Click here to learn more about the latest version.


Getting Started

When you first start StarSpikes Pro 3, in just seconds it analyzes the content of your image to determine where the stars are. It classifies their positions, brightnesses, and colors, then displays the image and allows you to manipulate the controls.

The choices you make by changing the controls determine how many effects are drawn on the stars and how they will appear. You will see the preview image update immediately upon making control changes.

A typical run of StarSpikes Pro 3 goes like this:

  • Open the astroimage you want to work on in your editor.
  • From the editor's menu, start StarSpikes Pro 3.
  • You adjust the Quantity control to make effects appear on just the stars you want.
  • You adjust the Intensity, Length, and other controls to tune the effects and make the stars really come alive.
  • You press the [ OK ] button to commit the changes back to your image in your editor.

More detailed descriptions of what the controls do can be found below, and don't forget to look over our list of Frequently Asked Questions.

Please feel free to look over our extensive interactive instruction manual / help file by clicking here. Save the .chm file to your local hard drive and open it from there to see the content.

If you get stuck or simply want to ask a question, please feel free to contact us at Support@ProDigitalSoftware.com - don't worry, we're here to help!


Control Descriptions

When running the plug-in, you may hover your mouse over a control for a few seconds to see a quick description of what the control does and any keyboard shortcut that is assigned to the control.

StarSpikes Pro 3 Puts These Controls at Your Fingertips:


Help and Support

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ F1 ] will pop open the interactive manual and integrated help facility

With the keyboard focus on any control, press the F1 key to see detailed help on that control in the manual.

Click on the question mark on any dialog to see the help page for that dialog in the interactive manual.


About StarSpikes Pro 3 and Online Resources

Click on the small image near the top-right with the three bright stars in it to see the About dialog, which provides the StarSpikes Pro 3 version information as well as links to online resources.


Hand Panning Tool

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ H ] activates the Hand Drag scrolling mode, [ Alt ], [ Ctrl ], and [ Space Bar ] modify operation.

With this tool active, you can drag the image around in the viewport to see different parts.


Zoom Tool

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ Z ] activates the Zoom display mode, [ Alt ] and [ Space Bar ] modify operation

With this tool active, you can zoom in or out on the image in the viewport.


Hide Tool

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ X ] activates the Hide Effects mode, [ Alt ], [ Ctrl ], and [ Space Bar ] modify operation.

With this tool active, you can hide effects on specific stars or a group of stars within a rectangle.


Show Tool

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ + ] activates the Show Effects mode, [ Alt ], [ Ctrl ], and [ Space Bar ] modify operation.

With this tool active, you can show effects on specific stars or a group of stars within a rectangle.


Preview Display Viewport

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ D ] selects the display, then [ Arrows ] and [ Pg Up ] / [ Pg Dn ] scroll, [ Ctrl ] modifies scrolling; [ Home ] and [ End ] jump to corners.

The effects to be rendered in the image are previewed in the preview display viewport, and are updated upon any control change. When you like what you see, press the [ OK ] button to commit the StarSpikes Pro 3 effects back to the image in the editor.


Zoom Controls

At the bottom of the preview display viewport are several controls that will allow you to select a zoom level at which to view the preview of the rendered effects. The current level of zoom is displayed as a percentage.

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ Ctrl + ] zooms in, [ Ctrl - ] zooms out

The [-] and [+] buttons at the left will zoom the display out and in respectively by one pre-defined step.

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ V ] pops up the zoom selection menu, then [ Up Arrow ] and [ Down Arrow ] and [ Enter ] to change

Mouse Shortcuts: Right Click in the preview display pops up the zoom selection menu, then Left Click on an entry to change

The [v] button just to the right of the zoom percentage display pops up a zoom selection menu, which you can use to choose from a variety of presets.


Settings Selector

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ T ] activates the Settings drop-down, then [ Up Arrow ] and [ Down Arrow ] to change

Allows you to load pre-defined sets of parameters. Parameter sets can be saved via the Save, Load and Delete Parameter Sets menu icon just to the right of the Settings selector. "Factory Settings" are defaults provided for first use of the plug-in. "Initial Settings" return all controls to the saved settings from the last plug-in run, which are loaded by default when starting the plug-in.


Save, Load, and Delete Parameter Sets Menu

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ M ] activates the file access menu, then [ Up Arrow ] and [ Down Arrow ] to change, [ Return ] to do

Allows you to save, load, or delete named sets of parameters in the parameter storage area on your hard drive. The "Delete Settings" choice is available after you have selected a named set via the Settings control.


Quantity Slider/Edit Box

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ Q ] selects this control, then [ Up Arrow ] and [ Down Arrow ] change values

This slider / edit box combination allows you to increase or decrease the number of stars that are given effects. You can spike just a very few of the brightest stars or most of the stars in your image.


Intensity Slider/Edit Box

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ I ] selects this control, then [ Up Arrow ] and [ Down Arrow ] change values

This slider / edit box combination allows you to both increase or decrease the brightness at which the primary spike effects are rendered.


Length Slider/Edit Box

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ L ] selects this control, then [ Up Arrow ] and [ Down Arrow ] change values

This control sets the length of the main and secondary spikes. It does not affect the Soft Flare.


Angle Slider/Edit Box

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ A ] selects this control, then [ Up Arrow ] and [ Down Arrow ] change values

This control sets the angle of the spikes as they emanate from the star. 0 degrees is straight up.


Number of Points Slider/Edit Box

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ N ] selects this control, then [ Up Arrow ] and [ Down Arrow ] change values

This control sets the number of primary diffraction spikes that emanate from the star. Odd numbers, though not possible optically, are provided for extra creative control.


Spike Sharpness Slider/Edit Box

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ S ] selects this control, then [ Up Arrow ] and [ Down Arrow ] change values

This control allows you to match the sharpness of the stars in the image by making the spikes more crisp or fuzzy.


Spike Spread Slider/Edit Box

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ K ] selects this control, then [ Up Arrow ] and [ Down Arrow ] change values

This control allows you to set the amount the spikes spread as the distance from the star increases.


Color Saturation Slider/Edit Box

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ C ] selects this control, then [ Up Arrow ] and [ Down Arrow ] change values

This control sets the overall amount of color that will be rendered in the effects. It affects spikes, secondary spikes, and soft flare. Turned all the way down, the spikes will be in pure grayscale.


Color Hue Slider/Edit Box

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ U ] selects this control, then [ Up Arrow ] and [ Down Arrow ] change values

This control adjusts the interpretation of the star colors from within your image. Depending on your prior image processing, the star colors picked up by StarSpikes Pro 2 may be too greenish or purplish, and this control allows you to compensate for that to some degree.


Rainbow Intensity Slider/Edit Box

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ R ] selects this control, then [ Up Arrow ] and [ Down Arrow ] change values

This control sets the amount of the repeating multicolored "rainbow" pattern in the primary and secondary spikes. Some solid color can remain in the spikes due to the detected color of the star even with this control turned all the way down.


Rainbow Frequency Slider/Edit Box

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ F ] selects this control, then [ Up Arrow ] and [ Down Arrow ] change values

This control sets the rate at which the multicolored "rainbow" pattern repeats. Optically, higher focal length systems generally produce a more gradually repeating pattern, and you can use this control to closely match optical results.


Secondary Spike Intensity Slider/Edit Box

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ E ] selects this control, then [ Up Arrow ] and [ Down Arrow ] change values

This control sets the intensity of the additional faint and fuzzy pseudo-random spikes that accompany the main spikes. To some extent these secondary spikes can seem to be a glow, especially very near a star.


Soft Flare Intensity Slider/Edit Box

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ B ] selects this control, then [ Up Arrow ] and [ Down Arrow ] change values

This control sets the intensity of the soft glow around a star. It can provide a cleaner, smoother overall appearance than the Secondary Spikes.


Ring Flare Intensity Slider/Edit Box

Keyboard Shortcuts: [ G ] selects this control, then [ Up Arrow ] and [ Down Arrow ] change values

This control sets the intensity of the ring flare around a star.


Effects Only Checkbox

Keyboard Shortcut: [ O ] disables / enables inclusion of the original image with the effect

This checkbox allows you to see and generate the effects alone or combined with the original image. It is useful if you have duplicated the image as a new layer and are planning to creatively combine the effects yourself using, for example, the layer mixing features of the image editor.


Preview Checkbox

Keyboard Shortcut: [ P ] toggles preview on / off

This checkbox allows you to see your image alternately with or without the generated effects. Toggling the preview off/on is a good way to gauge the effects being rendered by StarSpikes Pro 3.


To Configure OpenGL, the Update Check Interval, and the User Interface Color Theme

Open the About dialog by clicking the [Configure] button. This will allow you to set the interval in days between checks for new releases online, the OpenGL optimization, and the colors of the controls on the plug-in dialog and space around the preview pane.


Resizable Dialog

You can grab the diagonal dialog resize control at the lower-right corner, or indeed any side or corner of the dialog (Windows only), to resize it per your preference. Note that larger dialog sizes require more computer resources to render preview displays, so smaller sizes may yield faster display updates. Once you have run the plug-in successfully (i.e., exited via the [ OK ] button) StarSpikes Pro 3 will remember where you left it and what size it was then put it there next time you run it.


Frequently Asked Questions


How do I run StarSpikes Pro 3 once it is installed?

Because it is a filter plug-in, once you have an image open you can find StarSpikes Pro 3 in these places:

  • From the Adobe® Photoshop® menu choose Filter > ProDigital Software > StarSpikes Pro 3...
  • From Corel® PaintShop® choose Effects > Plug-ins > ProDigital Software > StarSpikes Pro 3...
  • From Corel® PHOTO-PAINT® choose Effects > ProDigital Software > StarSpikes Pro 3...
  • In Irfan View, press Ctrl-K, then add the plug-in to the list. After that, choose StarSpikes Pro 3...

How is the StarSpikes Pro 3 plug-in different from the Star Filter Pro 3 plug-in?

StarSpikes Pro 3 (the plug-in for astroimages) is highly optimized to detect the positions and sizes of stars in astronomical photos - to subpixel accuracy - as people often scrutinize such imagery very closely. It also goes to extra effort to differentiate stars from bright nebulae. StarSpikes Pro 3 offers only what we term a "Standard Star" effect, in which the points are evenly distributed around the 360 degree circle (astronomers normally choose 4 points). Lastly, StarSpikes Pro 3 renders a somewhat greater difference in effect intensity between bright and dim stars to add a greater sense of depth.

StarFilter Pro 3 (our plug-in for general photography) is optimized to quickly find highlights in brighter images, and the plug-in renders large, visually significant effects. Besides Standard Star effects, StarFilter Pro 3 also offers 6 additional effects: Star Burst, Hyper Star, Hollywood Star, North Star , Vector Star, and Religious Cross. Most of these match the effects available with glass filters for general photography.


Is StarSpikes Pro 3 compatible with Corel Paintshop Pro?

Yes. We have crafted the StarSpikes Pro 3 plug-in to be compatible with any modern editor that supports Adobe® Photoshop® compatible 8BF style filter plug-ins.


Can I add spikes to only the stars I want?

Absolutely! Several different ways, in fact:

  1. The plug-in chooses stars to spike (and how much to spike them) based on perceived brightness and the Intensity setting you choose. You can change the Quantity control to increase or decrease the number of stars given spikes, based on brightness.
  2. You can deselect specific stars in the image by using the X tool while running the plug-in.
  3. You can turn down the Quantity control and add spikes to only the stars you choose using the + tool.
  4. You can make a selection in Adobe® Photoshop® prior to running the plug-in and only the stars that are selected will receive spikes.

Can I pay with PayPal?

Yes, and credit cards. Look for the PayPal logo during the checkout process, after you have entered your billing information.


Am I obligated to buy the software if I install it?

No, the free trial is completely obligation-free, and the plug-in is fully functional during the trial period. We're sure that once you see the dazzling effects that you can create with the plug-in you'll want to add it to your set of tools for making great astroimages.


Don't see your question here?

You may eMail us at: Contact@ProDigitalSoftware.com

Thank you in advance for your comments!