Friday, July 24, 2009

Jean Detheux at Siggraph 2009

Studio Artist animator Jean Detheux will be offering a course at Siggraph in New Orleans on Monday August 3rd from 8:30 to 10:15 am. The course is entitled 'The Making of "Shade Recovered" : Networked Senses at Play'. The course will cover topics like 'An exploration of sense-giving and sense-receiving in the visual aspect of visual music', 'A look at how music informs images, and images inform music', and 'Using Studio Artist in search of fortuitous accidents in time'.

Jean's Studio Artist animated film 'Shade Recovered' is also being presented in the curated reel of the Siggraph 2009 computer animation festival, and will be shown at scheduled times all week during Siggraph 2009. If you are curious about Jean's extensive body of work you can check out his web site at

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Craig Deeley's Hand Drawn Media Presets

Long time Studio Artist user Craig Deeley is an animator and illustrator based in San Diego. An example of his unique artistic style is shown above. This image was grabbed from his art blog GreenLightCD, which is well worth checking out. Craig also has a lot of different hand drawn art examples posted on the Studio Artist User Forum in his photo posts.

Craig has graciously has put together a great collection of Studio Artist 4 paint presets that are especially designed for hand drawing. Studio Artist 4 includes an initial version of this custom preset collection which is called 'CD_hand_draw_media' in the factory preset collection. The categories in this preset collection correspond to different natural media tools and techniques and include things like charcoal, pencil, pastel, ink, watercolor, oils, etc.

You can of course access this manual drawing preset collection in the version 4 preset browser (shown below) like any other preset collection.

But Craig also put together an additional set of custom html documentation for the CD_hand_draw_media collection which you can access in the Studio Artist 4 help browser. This documentation includes detailed instructions and examples for each of the different presets.

You can use the custom CD_hand_draw_media help pages to learn more about what you can do with the individual preset in the collection. The help pages include active links which will load the associated paint presets when clicked.

The initial index page for the CD_hand_draw_media custom preset help pages is shown below. Note how it includes links to more detailed descriptive pages for each preset in the different categories in the collection. You can access Craig's custom preset help pages by pressing the Custom button in the toolbar at the top of the version 4 help browser.

After clicking on the Dry Media Charcoal link you get the following more detailed help page.

Each detailed description page includes examples of what drawing with the preset will look like (as shown above). The blue active links associated with each preset example will load the associated preset when pressed.

Craig's custom help pages for his CD_hand_draw_media paint collection are a great example of what you could do with your own preset collections in Studio Artist 4. Building custom preset help pages for use in the Studio Artist 4 help browser provides a great alternative to the preset browser palette for detailed custom preset organization and access.

Craig recently posted additional manual drawing presets that expand the initial set included with version 4. You can access these new presets for downloading in the Studio Artist User Forum's cool preset sharing group here. Be aware you need to be running Studio Artist 4 to use the presets discussed in this article.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Extending a Black and White MSG Sketch Effect to Color

In a previous Anatomy of a MSG Effect post we discussed the inner workings behind programing a 2 step black and white sketch effect based on 2 different MSG presets combined together in a Paint Action Sequence (PASeq). In this post we'll talk about how that black and white preset could be easily modified to generate color sketch effects.

As you recall from the previous post, our black and white sketch preset consists of 2 different MSG presets. The first generates a thin line continuous sketch of the source image features. The second generated a mass sketch consisting of black circles distributed in an apollonian packing pattern.

For our color sketch effect, we'd like to retain the original black thin feature sketch and combine it with a modified version of the black circle mass sketch preset that renders a colored mass sketch image. The processor chain for the original MSG mass sketch preset is shown below in a screen shot of the MSG Advanced editor palette.

To keep things simple, we'll simply modify the mass sketch preset so it processes the 3 color channels of the source image one by one. So rather than generating a black and white sketch of the luminance, we generate 3 black and white sketches of the 3 source color channels that are then used as the color channels for the output of the MSG preset. This will generate a color mass sketch.

To do this all we have to do is first remove the last 1to3 processor and then duplicate the remaining 2 processors 2 additional times. We then have to modify the IO (input/output) connections for the 2 sets of duplicated processors so that they process the the red and blue channels of the source image. And we want them to output to the associated output color channels. The modified color sketch processor chain is show below.

Once we've edited the mass sketch MSG preset to generate colored output, we now need to edit the original 2 step PASeq so that it uses the new color sketch MSG preset. To do this, simply go to the Paint Action Sequence palette and option click the first keyframe for the second MSG action step.

This will record over the original action step settings with the new color preset you edited. You could also control click the second PASeq action step and run the Interface to Action Step context menu as an alternative to option clicking the first keyframe in the PASeq timeline.

You can export the new PASeq preset if you wish to save it as a new preset file. To run the new sketch effect simply press the play button in the PASeq editor. The result is shown in the image at the top of this post.

If you look closely at the color sketch image at the top of the post you can see that the mass sketch circles associated with the 3 color channels are visually aligned. You can see this by looking at how a black disc appears where ever a circle aligns on the 3 color fields. This alignment is due to the fact that you simply copied the original 1CAbstract7 processor 2 additional times but left the internal parameter settings the same in the copies as the original. If you modify the 2 copies so that they each have a unique random seed parameters then you would get the image below for output when running the preset.

From a distance these 2 images may look very similar. But if you zoom into this new image and compare it with the original one at the top of the post you can see that the circle alignment in the 3 color fields is now gone, along with the associated full black circles. These 2 images can look very different when printed because of the differences in how the colored circles are aligned.

Vector Output from MSG Presets

Another thing to keep in mind is that the vector output or vector printing options discussed in a previous post here for the black and white MSG sketch presets are not going to apply to this modified color sketch preset. You could generate a SVG file from this new MSG color sketch effect, but remember that the SVG vector output stream is based on what gets drawn internally in the MSG preset. The internal drawing is all black and white drawing into single color channels, not integral colored vector drawing. So the streamed SVG vector output would be 3 passes of overlaid black and white vector output. The colored appearance of the output of the MSG effect is due to the combination of the 3 color channels in the raster frame buffer, not due to integral colored vector drawing taking place in a single processor. There are other new MSG processors that do render full color using color vector drawing into 3 color channel output, and those MSG processors would generate colored vector output when streamed into a SVG file.