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Digital Washes

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Left to right: A plain Conté stroke; Bristle Paint-Contoured;
the first set of changes; the second set of changes.

What you'll notice is that the first set of changes produced a gray wash that also can darken any underlying strokes but doesn't do anything really interesting. The second set of changes added some clumpiness and added the ability to create much more significant bleed on the underlying stroke. (To mellow this out a bit, you can bring down the blend percentage.)

One of the things you might notice whenever you use Mix Apply/Displace Out is that you get some spacing along your stroke. If you want to cut down this spacing (or increase it), go into the Path Application panel of the Paint Synthesizer and adjust the parameter called "Spacing %." If you take it down to 0, you should get smoother paths.

In this pane, you'll also see a parameter called "Displace," which, by default, is set to None. Now, maybe you don't want your wash to distort your stroke, but this parameter can also be used for some other interesting effects.

The four examples above all use the same Paint Fill parameters we discussed earlier. The only difference is their Displace mode. The one on the left uses Chaotic; the second uses Uniform Random 2D; the third uses Rossler; and the fourth uses Luminance. All subsettings are default. (You will find all four of these in the downloadable set of washes I've created.) Play around with other forms of displacement as well. Some will distort your strokes into wavy curves. Others will, like the ones above, add depth and texture to a simple stroke.

We can also change the type of brush being used to produce even more varied effects. You make these changes under the Paint Synthesizer palette called "Brush Type," which, by default, is set to Procedural Brush. Change these settings to produce variations seen below.

The image on the left is a Procedural Brush; the second is a Source Brush; the third is a Stretch1 Source Brush; and the fourth is a Computational Stretch.

Finally, you're probably going to want to modify the height and width of the wash you're using, since, typically, washes are applied with less delicate tools. To change the size of the brush, go into the Paint Synthesizer palette called "Brush Source." To alter the size of the brush, change the Horizontal and Vertical parameters. (For values higher than 100, you just have to enter the number manually rather than using the slider.) In this same palette, you can also change the shape of the brush by tweaking the Corner Pull, Pre Sym and Post Sym values.

If you have no use for Computational Brushes, you can also import an image to use as a brush, in which case the size will be determined by the image you bring in. To do this, change the Brush Source to Image. Then select the File menu and choose "New Image Brush...." Select your image, and you're good to go.

In our examples, you can also use pressure from an input tablet to determine the size of the brush you're using, in which case the values you've entered represent the maximum size of the brush. (The same applies to image brushes; just remember that large images can slow things down.) Download my 20 wash presets here. For more Studio Artist presets, visit http://www.creativemac.com/downloads/studioartist/index.htm. For more information about Studio Artist or to download a demo, visit http://www.synthetik.com.

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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.