Could the SA Weekly Challenge make a comeback?

I'm new to SA and really having lot of fun drifting. I think SA is the best bit of digital painting kit out there and has so much potential! The Rotoscoping thing is amazing, but I'm only into static images and printing.

I like the idea of developing styles, and think SA is prefect for this. There is so much, that it becomes a bit overwhelming, so I'm slowly trying to reduce the process and get to understand the Basic steps. I don't want to just keep producing one of images that are more guess work than a planned outcome.

I think with an understanding of the basics of SA, it would allow us to manipulate the tools for a given result, while at the same time developing our own creativity.

When I was checking out the Gallery and the amazing pieces produced, I came across a 2011 piece that mentions the, DigitalNuts Weekly Challenge. I think this must have been a great way to learn how to apply SA to a chosen image.

Are there enough people here that would like to see this brought back? The SA Weekly Challenge... Using only SA, you have to try and reproduce the SA Weekly Challenge Image. As an added part of this, you may like to share how you produced the image. Trying to explain how you do something, is a great way of affirming your own understanding too.

I've gone on enough... so I'll just see what you have to say?

Stay safe and keep well!

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Bringing the challenge back would be fun.  So yeah, it's a great idea. 

The idea was that you would pick some piece of art that you thought was cool, analyze what the components of it's visual style were, and then try to implement each of those components using some Studio Artist feature (or set of features in many cases).  People could take a stab at it.  And someone at Synthetik would try and do it as well. And we'd all share what we created by posting sample images and associated presets (via upload file attachments).

I'll think about some different things to try and emulate.  And people are always welcome to post examples of art pieces they like, that we can then think about emulating in some digital way using Studio Artist.

The analysis part of this is very important. I think it's a great way to develop a greater appreciation of visual art.

It's like the difference between just listening to and enjoying a piece of music, vs really analyzing what is going on inside of that piece of music, and then trying to emulate that by playing and recording all of the parts that make it up yourself. Or telling other people what to play if you can't do it yourself.

So having been through that process, when i listen to music now i can appreciate it in a much deeper way because i can hear what is going on inside of the piece. And i don't think that was actually the case when i was just a casual music listener.

The same analogies hold true for visual art.  By understanding what is going on in an individual artistic image to build up it's distinct visual style, you can gain a much deeper appreciation of new artwork that you will encounter. Paintings on the wall of a gallery become much more alive, because you are seeing so much more inside of them as you develop this ability.

Sorry I don't know.

Sorry, but I don't know your name?

I want to say thank you for your prompt reply and fascinating comments. It is accurate that knowing how and why a piece is created makes the piece more. This is true for all forms of art, and as art and the appreciation of it is a human thing, it is then understandable that terms become shared and analogies made.

We often see and experience things in nature that puts us in awe of the beauty, but this is not art, or I should say not created for the sake, or purpose as art. This is a crucial step when delving into the wonders of digital art programs, whatever that artform. Often people are drawn to something that looks, sounds or feels in a way that appeals to them without a need for in-depth analysis. Often art apps can do this with ease; just a click can usually do it. You only have to search online and find this over and over. I do not see anything wrong with this idea. People like things that have an emotional impact, at whatever level.

I've spent a good hour or so in Image Operation going into the Editor just selecting one option then just clicking between Randomise and Play. The results are often surprising and several times I think, people would like that! I save those.

Then there are the times when I want to be able to create something in the style of a particular artist. At the moment I like the work of Jack Vettriano. Maybe the best know piece is, The Singing Butler. Many of his creations do not appeal to me, but it is his method I like.

He works on Tonal Values and tries to keep these to a minimum, usually Highlights, Midtones and Shadows. And he will vary his work by selecting a tonal framework; maybe predominantly shadows, with mid-tones and highlights focusing the piece. His work is generated via photographs from studio sessions. Much of the tonal decisions are made in these sessions, but he will use the digital media to change the arrangements of those tonal values, i.e., he will change the principal tonal value.

He will almost posterize his painting, working with simple shapes as possible, and with colour, he tries to remain real to life.

I will be looking to try and copy this process in SA. Posterizing an image based on Tonal values, then try and change the arrangements of those values. With colour, I think colourize, using a simple set of colours could produce some lovely pieces. I suppose this could be a challenge for the SA Forum.

Many thanks again!

Please stay safe and keep well!

Hope the weather better too.

Added a image from one of Jack Vettriano's Photo shots. This was used for the cover of his book, Studio Live.

It's interesting to see one of the staged photos he used as models for the paintings.

So this brings up an interesting point. Don't be afraid to construct your own custom source image to use as a Studio Artist source for a painting you would like to generate. You can put sections of other images into it, building the foreground subjects an background imagery you want for your painting.

You can also work with a series of different source images in a row, using masking to restrict painting to the portions of the source you are currently working with that you want to keep in the final painting.

It's also often a good idea to optimize the source image in ways that will bring out features you want in the final painting.  Get rid of extraneous texture or unwanted features, boost contrast accordingly, maybe enhance edges and foreground-background differences to accent them in the final painting, etc.

You can also work with a series of different source images in a row,

Do you mean using layers? Can I have a different source image associated with each layer? I'll have to check out using layers with SA.

I'm just looking at Masking in SA... very interesting so far!

If you are working with a PASeq, you could use Source Context action steps to record and play back references to different source images.

It's totally separate from layers. You could use them to build a PASeq that associates different source images with processing in different layers.

But you don't want to fall into the trap of thinking about layers like you would in other programs like photoshop. A totally typical thing to see is a photoshop tutorial for some 'painterly' visual effect that uses 32 different layers to achieve the effect.  Photoshop layers can be non-destructive, and the program is built around the notion of only working with small areas of any given layer in memory. 

So the advantage of their approach is that you can work with a large number of layers in a memory efficient way. And you can endlessly fiddle with no destructive effect settings.

Studio Artist is built on a very different set of fundamental principals.  We keep an entire layer in memory. Not efficient as far as memory usage goes. But it allowed us to incorporate some cool image processing effect ideas that require access to the entire image in order to really be useable.

So you want to be judicious in your usage of layers for that reason.

But we also are trying to push a philosophy of incorporating Compositing algorithms directly into all of our effects. So something that would require multiple layers in photoshop could just be done using a single layer in Studio Artist.  All of our visual effects have built in Compositing controls to help you do this.

Here's a simple example of what i'm talking about above (using compositing rather than multiple layers to build an effect).

When i said working with multiple source images, i was referring to working with multiple source images one by one to build up a painting.

Imagine you load an empty beach scene into the source area, and use that to generate a painted backdrop on your canvas.

Then you could load a succession of different images of individual people standing, and you paint in just the people onto your existing painted backdrop in the canvas.

So you are constructing a scene by incorporating aspects of different source images into a painted canvas.  This is an alternative to cut and pasting the different source pieces into some composite source, and then loading the composite source and just working off of that.

If you use offset cloning options in the Paint Source Offset control panel (options in Tracking), you can get around the spatial placement limitations the default source to canvas mapping enforces on you.

You bring up a good point about how you don't need any knowledge about how a particular painting was created to get the full emotional impact of the work when you view it. 

So the 'greater appreciation' aspect of viewing artwork i was talking about once you start paying attention to and understanding what is technically going on in the work is really a separate thing from the emotional impact of the work.

Yes you are right... I was going off on a wrong tangent! Sorry about that, I do have a tendency to waffle on!

I'm working my way through SA for the purpose of knowing what to expect when I make a choice and then being able to build, or create an piece of my design.

This is an amazing application!

So 'posterization' effects.

Things like the Vectorizer and IpOps like Color Simplify or Color Quantize are good places to look.

Another option is region fill as brush pen mode paint presets. Perhaps based on path start regionization. So the Advanced Watershed DM path start generator might be a good place to start. You can of course use the Vectorizer and the Ip Op effects i mentioned as path start regionize generators in V5.

Other IpOp effects that might be useful include Simplify and Smooth.

I need to think about what you are saying about how this artist works with tonal values some more before i comment on how you might dial that into the effects mix.

So he's using the lighting in the source photos to help define this?

I'm still exloring IpOps... there is so much! Amazing!

There are sometimes options/presets etc, that produce results that I don't think I will use, so I'm considering deleting these. Would this remove those options in that particular layout and leave all other layouts intact?

As for the tonal values... I am talkng about how he lights the image.

In this image it is mainly darks/shadow and the midtones and highlights are used to give focal points.

This image is predominantly Midtones and the Highlights secondary, with the darks/shadows taking centre stage. The image is almost silhouette.

Here we see him using highlights and then darks and midtones to to give focus.

Hope that makes a bit more sense?

I like to experiment by changing the Tonal Values used. Using the same source image, but changing HL to Darks, MT to HL and Darks to MT etc. I think in PS I  used Levels and Curves to achieve this.

You can reorganize the presets any way you want. It's all user customizable.

Here's a tip on preset folder organization.

You can also build custom favorites categories. So you could build specific Favorite categories with presets that make sense for your individual workflow.


Thanks for the additional info on what he is doing to control tonal values in his source images (transferring later to his final painting).

You could manually select different areas of the canvas, feather that selection to give it soft edges, and then use different effects to manipulate the tone values of that area to move them where you want them to be. You could do this with a potential source image prior to loading it as the source. Or you could do it to an already painted canvas to nudge it in the right direction.

Look at Interactive Adjustment op mode for some different interactive tone adjustments.

But don't be restricted by that. Ip Op effects like the Image Compressor could also be used to do tone adjustments.


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