Eric, thanks for taking the trouble to download the demo. BTW, I don't use any special superpowers to create my examples. It's a matter of finding images that work well with the various effects--and it wasn't too hard.
"The Lucas [sic] Art plugin is the latest trendy (and expensive $170 for reg. $500 for "pro") effect in the flickr and PPA/PPC circles."
LucisArt has been around for several years if not more. I first bought it in 2003 or so. It is $143.65 after the 15% discount for the plug-in version, which I use (that's $26.35 less than $170, to be accurate).
I don't directly sell LucisArt or any other plug-ins on my site. I refer interested people to the developers' own sites. A number of developers offer discounts for customers who come through my site; you'll see this arrangement with similar sites elsewhere on the web.
BlueD, I'd still like to see your own before-and-afters on my original image to help prove your points. PS's S/H went a long way to help the image, yes. LucisArt took it to another place (reminds me of a carnival). Like I said, the effect could have been (maybe should have been!) more subtle.
Anyway, the last couple of posts make it sound like you can only create garbage with LucisArt. Of course you can, if you're unskilled in its use. Same is true of any plug-in. It also depends on your taste. LucisArt is best used sparingly, unless you're interested in approaching an illustrative quality.
Here is a quick example of how it pops details in an image (I had the blend between original and effect cranked nearly to 100% as well, so the effect can be even more subtle). It's not garbage, it's kind of cool. You can also apply different LucisArt effects (sharp and soft) via layer blending modes.
I have a tutorial in my (free!) ezine
(issue 7) showing how to use LucisArt along with other plug-ins. I don't think the result is garbage.