11 , 2001
To begin with, you have three primary tabs that determine how your stroke will look: Brush, Color and Pattern. Under each tab, you get a pulldown menu of categories containing various sets of brushes, color palettes and patterns. You can even create your own categories and add your favorite brushes (or patterns) or your own brushes (or patterns) to the collections. You can also modify color palettes by adding to them and then saving them as separate sets.
The Brush and Pattern palettes in Propeller
Each brush you can select includes a default patterns and color, but you can swap out colors and patterns as you see fit.
But these are only the beginning. You can also interactively control the stroke, effect and dynamics of each brush. Stroke controls include opacity, size, sweep and angle. Opacity, size and sweep and also be assigned ranges, and angle can be set to "constant" or "track." (Ranges come into play in Propeller's Dynamics engine, detailed below.)
For effects, you can choose from taper (none, edge, center, upper, lower), border (with options for color and thickness) and two other groups of effects. These include diffuse, bleed, spin and shake, with individual settings for each.
Finally, we come to my favorite feature: the ability to control the dynamics of the stroke. The Propeller Paint Engine supplies a simple graph of input options corresponding to stroke parameters. For example, you can use speed to control stroke size, while pressure controls opacity.
To assign an input option to a parameter, you just draw a line from an input option to the parameter you want it to control. One input option (such as pressure) can control any number of parameters (such as opacity and color), but each parameter can only be controlled by one input option. To change which input option controls which parameter, you can cut the lines connecting the two with a little knife tool that appears as you mouse over the lines.
How well it
I have only two negative comments about this software, and they're minor ones. First, it doesn't have multiple levels of undo. Second, the eraser uses whatever tool you currently have selected. Often this means you have to go back up through the brush hierarchy to find one more appropriate for erasing. (Erasing with the Pebble brush, for example, isn't a terribly efficient way to erase.)
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Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of the Creative Mac, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion and Synthetik Studio Artist WWUGs; and executive producer of Creative Mac, Digital Media Designer, Digital Pro Sound, Digital Webcast, Plug-in Central, Presentation Master, ProAudio.net and Video Systems sites. All are part of the Digital Media Net family of online industry hubs.