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Background Textures in Synthetik Studio Artist

Part 1: Using background image textures in strokes By Dave Nagel
Synthetik Studio Artist isn't just for rotoscoping and animation. Its powerful Paint Synthesizer also happens to be a a capable natural media emulator--useful for times when you want to draw using familiar tools that behave like chalk, wet paint, pencil and the like. But one of the program's features that makes it a great natural media emulator also happens to be one of its least-utilized features: its ability to blend background textures with strokes.

Using background textures allows you not just to paint images on a transparent or white background, but to create a sense of surface in your image--whether it be paper, canvas or any other type of surface you'd care to create. Today we'll take a look at the basics of incorporating image-based background textures into your brushes, as well as a method for varying the surface effect interactively using a pressure-sensitive stylus. In Part 2 of this tutorial series, we'll explore the process of building new textures from scratch using Studio Artist's Texture Synthesizer feature.

Setting up the background texture
To begin, you're going to want Studio Artist to know that you're using an image-based texture and that this texture should be used as the background for your brush. You do this by selecting an existing preset, importing your texture and then setting that image file as the background texture for the brush. In my case, I want to use a canvas-like texture as my background, which is an effect that I think works particularly well with chalk brushes. So I'm going to start with a preset I've created called "Chalk Base." You can download this new preset by clicking here (12 KB).

To install it, unzip this archive, which contains a folder and one preset. (The folder is called "Texture Practice.") Drop this folder into the directory located at /Studio Artist 3.0/Preset/Default. If you're currently running Studio Artist, quit and relaunch it in order to have the preset load (or simply choose File > Import > Paint Patch Import, and locate the preset on your hard drive).

For this exercise, I want to use a canvas-like background texture for my chalk preset. I've created one in Adobe Photoshop using Alien Skin's Resurface plugin (part of the Splat! collection). If you would like to use my texture, you can download it by dragging the following image onto your hard drive. (Next time around we'll look at how to create textures in Studio Artist's Texture Synthesizer. It's a bit involved though, so I thought I'd save it for a separate tutorial.)

Now, to get started, select the preset you've just imported. Then choose File > Paint Synthesizer > New Background Image Texture. A dialog will pop up asking you to locate the image you wish to use. Select the image you just copied.

Now switch over to the Paint Synthesizer (the pull-down menu located to the left of the Action button) and go to the parameter called "Background Texture."

Once you're there, you'll see that the background texture for this preset has been changed to a black and white version of our canvas image. Personally, I prefer it when a background texture is read as a color image, so that's the first thing I'll change here.

I also want to make sure that there's no randomness associated with this background. So I'll make sure the Orient Mod is set to "Fixed" and the Tracking is set to "Global." This will ensure that regardless of the direction/angle of my stroke, the background texture will remain in a faxed position, just as it would if I were applying media to a physical canvas.

Other possible adjustments include:

? Orientation, which sets the rotation of the background texture (0 degrees to 360 degrees);
? Bias, which allows you to adjust the bias of the texture image (brightness);
? Gain, which lets you adjust the texture image's contrast;
? Horizontal and Vertical Offset, which simply offsets the background image;
? Scale;
? Invert (produces a negative of the background image);
? Random Start, which randomizes the start point of the background texture for each stroke.

The Random Start option is currently checked. You'll probably want to uncheck it to produce consistent results.

There are also two small pull-down menus at the bottom right of the palette that let you adjust various other parameters. I'll keep these set at "V Normal" and "H Normal."

And so that's it for setting up the background texture. However, if you draw with your preset now, you'll see that nothing has changed in it's appearance.

That's because we haven't yet assigned the background texture to any of the preset's other properties.

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Related Keywords:synthetik, studio artist, background texture, surface texture, brushes, presets, paint patches, paint synthesizer

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