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February 24th, 2006 #1
Corel Painter's Brush Creator: The Transposer
Corel® Painter's™ Brush Creator: The Transposer
In the last installment, Corel Painter's Brush Creator: The Randomizer, we began to examine Corel® Painter's™ Brush Creator, a virtual laboratory for generating new variants. We initially looked at the Randomizer option, a Las Vegas style pull-the-handle-and-see-what-happens tool for randomly mutating existing variants. This option requires no knowledge of Painter's brush construction and is especially inviting to newer users wishing to add new variants to their library. We dug a bit deeper to learn about directed random mutation, which enables a user to breed new variants in a desired direction. We'll begin with a review of the Brush Creator's layout, then delve into the Randomizer. Let's go!
The Brush Creator Layout
Painter treats the Brush Creator as a separate area. You can think of it as a room off of your primary art studio in which you focus on the process of creating new brush variants. Ultimately, you'll take your newly crafted variants back into the studio for the image-making process. The Brush Creator is accessed via the Window > Show Brush Creator command. Alternatively, you can press CMD + B (Mac OS) or CTRL+ B (Windows) to launch the Brush Creator.
Upon launching the Brush Creator, the first thing you'll notice is that the interface will change. The menu bar options change, as well as the Property Bar and Tool palette. These areas are pared down to focus solely on brush creation. The Brush Creator window contains three tabs (Randomizer, Transposer, and Stroke Designer), each with its own interface. Below the tab buttons is the Brush Selector Bar which provides the same brush selection functionality as it does in the primary Painter interface.
At the bottom left is the Stroke Preview window. This window provides a dynamically updated stroke preview of the current variant. This enables you to make adjustments to any variant and see how it affects the variant's character. For enhanced testing, you'll use the Scratch Pad located on the right. This provides an area for drawing in to see how the current variant performs. Brush Size is controlled via a slider above the Scratch Pad. The magnification of the Scratch Pad is controlled via a slider below. The Scratch Pad is cleared via the Clear button, also beneath the Scratch Pad. The size of the Brush Creator window is scalable by clicking and dragging on the window size adjuster located in the Brush Creator's lower right corner. Both the Color and Tracker palettes are available, as well.
The Transposer Interface
The Transposer is a highly controlled form of directed mutation. Instead of using the Randomizer's technique of randomizing a single variant's settings, the Transposer uses two existing variants selected by the user and blends their values to create a set of intermediate variants sharing characteristics of the two. As mentioned earlier, the Randomizer requires no knowledge of Painter's brush construction. The limitation of this approach to variant creation is that the Randomizer's results are, well...random. The Transposer, on the other hand, does require a greater understanding of variant construction in order to achieve usable results.
The Transposer uses the concept of From and To variants to generate a range of new blended variants. The Transposer layout uses a pair of Brush Selector Bars, one at the top of the page and one located at the bottom. The upper Bar is the From Brush Selector Bar. The lower Bar is the To Brush Selector Bar. In between these two Brush Selector Bars is the Preview Grid. Blended variants are displayed here. To the left of the Preview Grid, the Category Icons for both of the From and To variants are shown, with each column graphically fading in and out to represent the blending of the selected variants.
The transposing process is performed by clicking on the Transpose Current Selection button (represented by an icon of 2 gears), located immediately to the right of the upper From Brush Selector Bar. When you click on the Transpose Current Selection button, a new set of variant blends is displayed in the preview grid based of the currently selected From and To variants.
Further transposition is done by first selecting one of the intermediate blended variants from the Preview Grid and again clicking the Transpose Current Selection button. This will create a new blend between the selected variant and the To variant.
The Transposing Process
As I mentioned earlier, some knowledge of Painter's brush construction is required to generate successful variant blends from the Transposer. Transposing two randomly selected variants will almost always end up with unusable frankensteinian results. For example, it's not possible to blend two Captured Dab variants—each with a unique dab—and get a successful result. Why? The Transposer doesn't know how to blend two separate graphically created dabs. This is where a greater understanding of brush construction can help to avoid illogical blends.
In general, you can't successfully breed a variant from two radically different variants. The best Transposer blends occur when both the selected From and To variants share similar characteristics. It never hurts to experiment, just don't be disappointed when randomly selecting From and To variants. Think of it this way: use the Transposer for subtle breeding of similar variants; use the Randomizer for extreme results.
The Best of Both Worlds
A useful technique is to use the Transposer to generate a useful blend between similar variants, then switch to the Randomizer option and randomize the current transposed result. In fact, until you utilize the Variant > Restore Default Variant command to reset a currently altered variant, you can move back and forth between the Transposer and Randomizer, using each to further slice-and-dice your current variant.
Together, the Randomizer and Transposer offer useful tools for variant creation without an intimate knowledge of Painter's brush construction. The third panel of the Brush Creator—the Stroke Designer—contains all of the controls for infinite variant tweaking. This is where knowledge is power. I have published several installments describing various aspects of Painter's Brush Engine. Most likely, they are available in the same forum that you're reading this!
Viva la Painter!
Pixels—It's all in how you arrange them!