Studio Artist
at a Glance

Maker: Synthetik
Price: $329 (boxed with color manuals); $295 (CD-ROM with PDF manuals)

Overall Impression: Studio Artist will make you feel the way you felt the first time you used your Mac. It's something unique and powerful, and it will unquestionably unleash some of those pent-up creative energies all digital artists have stored away. This is a complete set of tools for anyone in the visual arts.

Key Benefits: Studio Artist does a bit of everything—from painting, warping, morphing and effects to animation and rotoscoping. It has a powerful set of tools for each of these.

Disappointments: No layer transparency, slightly cryptic interface, incomplete documentation.

Recommendation: Strong Buy

Studio Artist Resources

Online User Forum


Using Alpha Channels

Brush Interaction

Animated Brush Strokes


PASeq Processing


Example (Sword Dance)


Synthetik Studio Artist 1.5

Painting and rotoscoping software for the Mac

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

It occurs to me that with all the squawking I've done about the virtues of Synthetik Studio Artist, I haven't yet done a review of version 1.5 or explained its broad range of features all in one place. I'll rectify this now.

What it does
Studio Artist does everything, so it's a difficult application to pin down. However, it's not too hard to describe the overall effect of Studio Artist. Since it's only available on the Mac, I'll describe it this way: It makes you feel the way you felt the first time you used your Mac. That is, it's the kind of thing you use and then have dreams about. (Yes, I have dreams about my Mac and Studio Artist. Further details are unavailable at the moment.)

Studio Artist is, in some ways, a painting application. In some ways it's an animation program. It also happens to do a very nice job of rotoscoping—actually unique in the world of rotoscoping—as well as morphing and warping. So, basically, it does everything.

Synthetik Studio Artist Interface
Studio Artist's interface, showing the Source Image (top left), Presets (left)
and Paint Action and Layers windows and timelines (the two lower windows).
The large area is, of course, the canvas. Click here for larger view.

Studio Artist does a bit of everything, and it does it incredibly well. (In this review, I'll just focus on its two primary functions—paint synthesis and rotoscoping.)

Probably the first thing you'll notice about Studio Artist when you launch it is that it doesn't look like anything you've ever used. For one thing, it uses the concept of a source image and a canvas. A source image can be either an image you will be tweaking in the canvas or simply an interactive source of color, meaning that Studio Artist will grab color from various portions of your source image corresponding to the points on your canvas where you're painting.

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