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Vectorization in Synthetik Studio Artist

Part 1: Basic vector conversion of raster images By Dave Nagel
Out of the blue Studio Artist 3 introduced a new feature called "Vectorizer." This feature is similar in some ways to the tracing tools you find in popular vector illustration programs, like Macromedia Freehand, Microsoft/Creature House Expression and Adobe Streamline. Essentially, it converts raster images to vectors for further manipulation. Unlike those other programs, though, Studio Artist's Vectorizer isn't just for vectorization; it's also a robust system for creating vector-based effects.

The range of the Vectorizer in Studio Artist 3 is, quite simply, stunning. It's also quite complex in that it includes a number of controls for producing everything from exact reproductions of photographic imagery to cartoon-style effects to abstractions based on a source image. It can apply this vectorization simply for creating effects, or it can vectorize an image and output it as an Illustrator-compatible EPS file. Additionally, it can also be used to output vector image sequences from video sources or apply vector effects from a source video and output the modified frames to a QuickTime movie.

Here are some examples.

1: The original image. 2. A stylized "positive/negative" vectorization. 3. A blocky abstraction. 4. A circular abstraction. 5. A cellular render with random hues. 6. A photographic vectorization with 4000 color regions (partially rendered to show how the blocks are formed).

And here's an example of Method 2 applied to a QuickTime movie. (Click the Play button to watch.)

Now, while vectorization in Studio Artist can be a simple matter of clicking a button, it can also be a complex affair when you're trying to go for specific effects. So what I'd like to do is to break this tutorial into three separate installments. In this first installment, we'll look at the basics of applying vectorization to create three types of files: images that look like they're composed of vectors; actual vector files that can be further manipulated in programs like Adobe Illustrator; and movie files that have been processed with the Vectorizer to produce something along the lines of a "Waking Life" effect, as in the movie example above. In subsequent tutorials we'll take a look at customization options, covering, in detail, the effects of each of the settings available in the Vectorizer.

As always, if you don't yet own Studio Artist but would like to follow along, you can download a demo version from Synthetik's Web site at http://www.synthetik.com.

Creating vector-style effects
So, first, let's look at Studio Artist's Vectorizer at its most basic level: using the program's vectorization technologies just to create vector-style effects, rather than actually outputting an EPS file. This technique's primary purpose is to create cartoon-style drawings from photographs or perhaps just for cleaning up images, but you may find other uses for it as well.

To begin, you're going to have to locate the tools for the Vectorizer. Unlike programs like Macromedia Freehand, where you would use the Auto Trace tool to highlight a portion of an image and generate vectors from it, Studio Artist uses a special workspace for this. Here's how you do it.

1. Launch Studio Artist, and load up the source image to which you want to apply the vector effect. Apply that source image to your canvas by selecting "Source Image" as your background (using the pull-down menu above your canvas window).

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Related Keywords:synthetik studio artist, mac os x, macintosh, vector, vectorize, vectorizing, waking life


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