Here's what I am trying to do but I can't seem to get a handle on it:
I imagine this would be some kind of, or derivative of, an eraser. However I'd like to be able to apply the "effect" to any preset for manual painting. That way I could use various brushes to "texture" the reveal areas. Sort of like scraping or scratching. Hard edged versus soft edged.
I worked through some of the tips regarding layers and transparency to better understand the concepts involved. I'm sure there is a way to do this but I am stumped. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Richard, SA is not going to reveal the lower layer the way that you want. however you could use cloning brushes to get exactly the effect that you are describing. Fill the canvas with color - then use cloning brushes to paint in the image where you want. If your process truly needs layers. Then use the layer to layer cloner. I like the L to L hard edge pressure blend tool for this. I suppose that one could mod the nib to get different edge "textures."
You can use Bus1 as a Source when working with image processing brush load. The Bus1 modulator is setup in the miscellaneous control panel, and basically lets you use another layer as a modulator (or cloning source in this particular case). So you could use layer 1 as what was being applied to your paint nib (via image processing brush load) while painting on top of layer 2.
Doing it this way allows you to drop it into many existing paint presets, getting all of the existing textural qualities they have built into them.
If you have alpha enabled for layer view, then you can use alpha erasers to erase the alpha channel of a layer and see what is in the previous layer. It's not as easy to convert an existing preset into an alpha eraser while keeping all of the textural painting characteristics. So the first approach might be easier (also easier because you can then avoid alpha compositing layers).
I'll try to post a few examples of what i'm talking about later today. Does what i said make sense to you, or is there some confusion i should address with a more detailed explanation?
I can work through this and see how far I get. Yes, it is somewhat confusing and a bit complex. I hate to compare SA to Photoshop (because I love the analog feeling I get with SA) and my point in doing so here is not to dis SA. In PS I can simply create a layer, add another, create a layer mask, select a brush with texture and scrape the layer mask revealing the image below. Too simple. Now that said PS has a synthetic look to me.
What prompted my desire to do this was watching the "squeegee man" video. I had already formulated a couple of roller presets attempting to duplicate the effect of rolling on paint. The scraper effect would be a cool tool for revealing the underlying build up of paint.
It is apparent that squeegee man's process is partially subtractive (on top of additive underpainting).Subtractive processes allow another dimension of creative expression as opposed to always operating in an additive fashion. I see the process of layering and revealing as exciting and unpredictable with a feeling of operating in negative space. I know I am being physically literal by trying to create the real world process when cloning would work. Somehow though to me it doesn't feel the same and I am not sure why.
I'll play with the bus 1 source and see what I can do. Thanks!
You can certainly do it the PS way if you want to, by using an alpha eraser on the layer, working with alpha view enabled, and view all for the canvas view. So you are painting into the alpha channel of the layer to erase portions of it, not into the RGB channels to introduce colors. I can post some alpha eraser paint presets for you if you want me to.
Studio Artist's paint engine is conceptually very different than PS. We also try to steer people away from using alpha unless they really need to, as opposed to PS, where painting is literally tied to alpha. It's 2 very different ways of looking at the world of graphics. Each has it's strengths, and weaknesses, and different ways of looking at art process, and different looking output as a result of that.
LiveArt's solution was actually the easiest one, just load your 'layer' as the source, and source clone paint it onto another layer.
There may be a way that is a combo of PS and SA though I admit the details are fuzzy to me now.
What I have done in the past is use Selection function to cover/mask everything not wanted and then, with Mask on, create a new layer; this will give you a layer with all white where everything was masked and the area you want revealed.
Then use composite modes and if needed, turn one of the layers off that you do not want.
I realize this is vague but I am just getting back into regular use of SA after a long time away.
Thanks John for the explanation. Yes, the eraser presets would be helpful. The ones I have are from an early version of SA and don't erase the alpha. I can deconstruct the new ones and learn a little more.
Why do you steer users away from alpha? It's a pretty useful tool.
One more. When I make a selection (Q key or selection mode) is the resulting "mask" now the alpha channel for that layer? Or is it something else stored in a different buffer?
The selection buffer in Studio Artist is a separate 8 bit image buffer. It's not the alpha channel for the layer. You can use the Canvas : Alpha : Set to : Selection menu command to set the current layer's alpha channel to the current selection.
PS is really an image layout tool at it's core in many respects. It's why so much PS art has a certain look to it. And alpha masking of layers is just the way it works, you really can't turn that off, and painting is really about manipulating alpha. Studio Artist is coming from a very different fundamental design criteria, being a glorified page layout program was not part of that initial core thinking at all.
Studio Artist allows for some paint amazing looking organic paint effects, (especially when working with wet paints), that just don't mesh well with alpha masking of layers. Because if you swap another layer below what you are painting if you are using those kinds of paint tools, it's not just going to mix in the layer below like you would expect it to. There are complex spatially derived color mixtures going on in the RGB channels that are not just based on alpha blending.
The design of alpha masking originated in computer graphics to facilitate overlay of graphical elements. So alpha is actually referring to partial coverage of a pixel element. So if you have a picture of a tea pot and want to move it on top of another image, alpha blending makes perfect sense. And like i said, PS is really conceptually a page layout program for images at it's core (in my opinion).
So because of the kinds of wet mixing effects we love, which you probably would not even allow a user to access in a program that was totally based on alpha blending of layers, and because alpha is a very hard concept for many users to understand if they have to think about it (as opposed to it just being there hidden in the background of how the program works), we tend to steer people away from it. Because Studio Artist is so flexible, you are free to use a layer's alpha channel in all kinds of different ways. It could be an intermediate buffer for some kind of multi-step image processing operation. Or a mask for manipulating paint coverage via path start and path end restriction, which is a totally different concept of masking than a normal alpha mask, that restricts paint strokes, while at the same time leads to a totally natural appearance of the painting (which a normal alpha mask would not).
So Studio Artist does not restrict the user to how they use the alpha channel of a layer. It's just an image buffer. You can use it to define partial coverage in a layer stack, or for something totally different (maybe a depth buffer, or for the kind of high level paint stroke restriction i described above). So you get great flexibility, which is great for a technically oriented user. But for someone who can't even wrap their head around the concept of an alpha channel (or even multi channels in a layer), it's easy to get confused. Which is why we tend to steer beginners away from it. You don't need it to create amazing looking organic painting or image processing effects in Studio Artist. But it's certainly there as a tool for you if you do want to use it.
Studio Artist layers can be used as a composited stack of alpha masked images, or just as a collection of individual images where different layers might be used as intermediate image buffers in some multi-step calculation, only a single layer is the actual view output, and the extra layers having no effect on that canvas view, just as storage for a multi-step image processing procedure. Again, extreme flexibility in terms of how you want to work with the elements of the program.
The PS approach is to use an insane number of layers to build up an effect. We always get a big chuckle here at the office when we read a PS tutorial that uses 36 layers and 100 steps to build up a paint effect over several hours that you could generate with one paint preset and the action button in Studio Artist in a few seconds. Now it's true that the 36 layer approach gives you infinite flexibility to insanely doodle with tweaking the effect of years if you want to. As opposed to committing to something and moving on to creating your next piece of art.
My personal feeling is that being a little more spontaneous is a good thing. Making decisions, then living with them and moving on to the next decision.
Studio Artist has built in layer compositing for everything going on in the program. So where the PS approach would be to add a second layer, in Studio Artist you don't need to do that to create the compositing effect, it's just built into the individual effects's operation as a parameter option. Again, a very different way of thinking about working.
Thanks John. I know you have a different vision of things and it is good to hear that.
By way of explanation I will say that I don't use multiple layers in SA as a rule. I tend to get in a groove and go, so this scape a layer thing was an attempt to push things around in my head and experiment with layers in Studio Artist. To be a bit more deliberate at certain intersections within the creative process. The ability to composite layers together, whether that is softly ghosting, scraping, scratching or grinding elements against each other, can be useful in achieving a "look" or an idea. That's all, another tool - neither good or bad in my opinion.
I certainly didn't mean to give the impression that Studio Artist should emulate PS. Just attempting to figure out where to go with Studio Artist next.
the point is that the effects you want:
"the softly ghosting, scraping, scratching or grinding elements against each other, can be useful in achieving a "look" or an idea"
IS directly possible in SA. The difference is only in your perception of the process. As I said it is possible lift an element from one layer to another with the layer to layer cloner. One can select just certain elements of the source image with a cloning brush or by using the selection tool and the fixed image imop. One can use a sub layer as a textural element (literally) by using the displacement or gradient lighting imop.
I know John eschews layers, however, I work with 20 to 30 layers in SA quite regularly, the main difference is that I am using SA's extensive compositing options to blend the layers in ways that PS never could.
I do wish that John would bring back support for different size layers. This would be truly helpful in collage type images.
If you want to layout a process and example of your result in PS I could describe the equivalent in SA.. though to be sure there is always more than one way to a result in SA, and you will work best in a process that you discover for yourself.