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Brush Variances Primer

 


Paranormal PSP8--Tutorial Index--New Features--Brush Variances Primer

This tutorial is designed to de-mystify this powerful new PSP tool a bit
 Unfortunately, as good as the user guide and help files are, they don't really give you a lot of insight into the potential  of brushes.

Even if you knew custom brushes in PSP7 like the back of your hand, you are back to square one now, because just about everything has changed.

I have three other tutorials on the web that will give you some practice working with brushes and brush variances

Fabulous Fire Opals

Marigolds and Daisies

Lilacs

Coming to Terms with Brush Variances

 PSP8 has a killer new paint engine, but it scares a lot of people because mastering it is a good deal more abstract than getting used to tubes or filters. Variances interact with one another, and with tool options, and with the TYPE of brush you are using, and, oh, yeah, with layer blends and the content of the layer on which you are painting. Variances can be a little overwhelming, but take it step by step and eventually the "lightbulb" will light up over your head and it will all click into place. When it  does, you'll have a powerful new tool at your disposal.

The best advice I can give you is.... PLAY. Try odd comnbnations of things.  It's only pixels, and if you aren't having fun, maybe you should take up a new hobby.

To use the Brush Variance palette:

  1. 1. Choose a brush type from the Tool palette.
  2. 2. Configure the brush options in the Tool Options palette.
  3.  
    1. (This sets the baseline parameters for the brush. Keep in mind that brush variances are ...well, they're variances and as such they have to an established set point to vary from)
  1. 3. On the Brush Variance palette, set brush variance for each option (Color blend, Hue, Saturation, Lightness, Size, Opacity, Thick­ness, Rotation, Density)

There are two columns of controls in the center of the Brush Variance Palette. Next to each "option" or mode is a drop down list of settings and a JNE spinner  for Jitter percentage. There are 5 other controls on the bottom segment (gray area).
They are

  • • The curved arrow "Reset" icon. This clears all settings and returns all jitter percentages to 0
  • • Fade Rate (pixels, not %) This allows you to select the number of pixels over which the fade in and fade out will occur. Lower values produce a faster fade, while higher values produce a slower fade. When applied to size, this controls the "taper" of the stroke. A high value causes the stroke to taper slowly, a low value to taper quickly. This interacts with step in some interesting ways. No shortcuts to experimentation and experience here.
  • • Position Jitter and Scale For the Position Jitter (%) select a percentage for randomly adjusting the brush impression location. Mark the Scale check box if you want the jitter to scale with the brush size. See my notes below
  • • Impressions Per Step ---, indicate how many brush impressions are made per step of the brush stroke. See my notes below
  •  

  • For each of the 9  options or modes, there are 12 possible settings in the drop-down menu.  
    They are
    • Normal
    • Pressure
    • Altitude
    • Azimuth
    • Twist
    • Fingerwheel
    • Z-Wheel
    • Fade In
    • Repeating Fade In
    • Fade Out
    • Oscillating Fade
    •  
  • Normal The help file says that a setting of normal means "No variance applied." OK I know this is what Jasc says, but I think it is potentially confusing. Normal is a variance option or mode and with a setting of 0 produces no effect. However, if you change the jitter percentage, even in normal mode, there is a striping effect. (see below)
  •  
  • Conversely, you can produce effects by setting the variance mode without setting a jitter percentage. Look at the difference between Normal 0% and Direction 0% in the c-shaped examples below. You can set a variance, such as direction, that is non-random. See below I changed the brush thickness (in the tool options palette) to 20 so you can see the effect more easily.
  • In Normal-0 mode the brush tip remains vertical. In Direction-0 mode, the brush tip rotates around a center pivot point as I draw the curve. Different yet is Normal-50%, which causes my long, thin brush tip to spin like a propeller as I draw the curve.

The next variance options apply to users with tablets only

Pressure The pressure applied from a tablet stylus. This works with both Graphire and Intuos tablets

This is actually a lot easier to experience than to demonstrate. If you have a graphic tablet set the color variance option to the pressure setting. Note what happens when you bear down on the stylus, and when you lightly skim your stylus across the surface of the tablet. My favorite variance option to use with pressure is opacity, because it so closely matches the action of a watercolor brush on paper.

Altitude The angle between the stylus and tablet. Not available with Graphire, but works with professional grade tablets

Azimuth Determines the rotation angle of the tip. Not available with Graphire, but works with professional grade tablets

Twist The rotation angle around the stylus (for 4D mouse only).Not available with Graphire, but works with professional grade tablets

Fingerwheel Applies to the wheel on an airbrush stylus. Not available with Graphire, but works with professional grade tablets

Z-Wheel Used with a 4D mouse wheel with the wheel configuration set to application defined behavior. This behavior is nor available in Graphire, but works with professional grade tablets

In my on-line tutorials, I did not include actions which employ most of these because I know many PSP users do not use a graphics tablet, and those who do are more likely to have Graphires than Intuos...  I should also mention that I, personally, had never played with a Wacom Graphire prior to 2 weeks ago, so it may be that someone who knows this particular piece of hardware better than I do may know something I don't. However I did some research and I do know that the Wacom site states that Graphire does not support tilt sensitivity, and there is no z-wheel or fingerwheel pen or mouse compatible with Graphire

These variance options apply to ALL pointing device

Direction The angle between consecutive mouse points on a path. This makes the angle of the brush rotate around a central point--- this makes the daisy petals "radiate" from the center when you draw the donut in the marigold or daisy tutorials

In the example below, when I moved the mouse to the right, it painted with the foreground color. When I moved the mouse to the left, it painted with the background color. Increasing the jitter percentage to 28% introduced a bit of random color shift

Fade In Fades the brush impression from small to large. The taper of the fade is controlled by the fade rate JNE in the gray bottom area of the palette.


Repeating Fade In Repeatedly fades the brush impression from small to large when applied to size, and from foreground to background when applied to color. Try it with lightness, opacity, hue, and the other options to see for yourself how cool this effect can be.

Fade Out Fades the brush impression from large to small when applied to size, and from background to foreground when applied to color.

Oscillating Fade Repeatedly fades the brush impression in and out from small to large to small when applied to size and from background to foreground when applied to color. The illustration below shows the oscillating fade applied to several modes. From the top: Color, Hue, Saturation, Lightness, Size, Opacity and Rotation

Now that you've seen my demos above, it's time for you to experiment a bit. As you do, I'll explain a bit about what each of the variance options do. In between the first several options, don't reset to 0- part of the exercise here is to see the way that additional variances interact with one another.

Color blend..This is the variation between the foreground and background colors--- Want to see this in action? Choose the default round brush. Place pure red in the foreground and pure blue in the background, reset all other variances to default then change the color blend to Normal 100%.  Paint a stripe. Reds and blues and some violets (where they overlap) in random patterns.

Hue- This introduces additional colors by performing a hue shift. A small number introduces shades of the foreground/background colors, larger numbers create really random rainbow hues. Use the brush from above. Leave this at variance mode Normal, but change the jitter to 50%. Paint another stripe. Whoah! Where did the yellows and cyans come from? Math, not magic.

Saturation  This introduces additional shades by performing a saturation shift. A small number introduces shades of the foreground/background colors, larger numbers create more random hues. Be careful with this... too high a number will introduce heavily desaturated shades-- (grays) Great if you want that, a pain if you don't. Take the same brush you've been playing with in the steps above, and crank the saturation jitter up as far as it will go Grays will begin to appear in the stripe.

Lightness This introduces additional shades by performing a lightness shift. A small number introduces shades of the foreground/background colors,  Be careful with this... too high a number will introduce greatly darkened shades-- (gray/black) Great if you want that, a pain if you don't. Take the brush you've been playing with in the steps above, and crank the lightness jitter up as far as it will go Blacks will begin to appear in the stripe.

Size- The brush size on the tool options bar sets a average size. The size jitter sets the % of variation from that size. If your brush is 100 pixels, and you set the jitter at 25, impressions will vary from 75-125.  Take the same brush you've been playing with in the steps above, and set it at 25 and paint another stripe. All sorts of different size blobs now. This is getting ugly, but hang in there.)

Opacity-- you set the average opacity on the tool options bar, you set the random variation from that value here. Ok, I've hit my limit. Reset both the brush and the variances to the default values, then reduce the tool options bar opacity to 50% but crank the opacity jitter all the way up-- should see some blank areas in your stripe (opacity 0) and areas of varying opacity (you may have to adjust the step to "really" see this-- at step 25, your impressions are overlapping each other a fair amount) I put a solid colored object in the background so that you can see the opacity changes.

Thickness-you set the average thickness on the tool options bar, you set the random variation from that value here. Same brush, set the thickness to a fairly high number -200?- you'll see oval and round blobs

 Rotation-- you set the beginning position on the tool options bar, you set the random variation from that value here  Reset Both the variance and the brush to the default, then On the tool options bar, set thickness to 20  and the step to 100. In the variance palette, set rotation to 50. Paint a stripe. Looks a little like barbed wire.

 Density-you set the average density on the tool options bar, you set the random variation from that value here. Use the brush from the rotation step above and set the variance jitter percentage to about 200 and paint a stripe--some impressions will look solid, others will look speckled

Position- this takes a little visualization. Imagine you are writing a sentence on notebook paper, following one of the lines. A position jitter of 0 means that all your letters and words will appear right on the line the way your teacher tried to teach you in kindergarten.  The higher the jitter number, the more the writing jumps around, higher, lower, left, right....Use the brush from above. Set the position jitter to 150, and paint a stripe Blades of grass? Viruses under the microscope?

Impressions-- another control that takes some imagination to get  If you think of a brush as a rubber stamp, this is how many "stamps" per "step" (set on tool options bar) (See the little sidebar on the lilacs tutorial in re Step) Use the brush from above. Set impressions at 3.. Paint a stripe. Get a whole lawn this time?

So let's say  that you create an X shaped brush, and set the step at 1 and the impressions at 2,and the rotation at 50, each click would produce an asterisk--- And a bunch of them would produce a fuzzy caterpillar type stroke.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  If you're a publisher or know someone who is one, I do have a comprehensive Paint Shop Pro techniques manuscript, covering not just painting techniques, but he full gamut of tools and features.

For more information, contact me at

jkabala@earthlink.net

 --NOTE--

Before you e-mail me to ask if you can reprint any or all of this the answer is "Yes, BUT..." I would appreciate an attribution to

JP Kabala,
Kabala Portfolio Design
and an e-mail link to jkabala@earthlink.net 
and/or to KPD at
kabaladesign@earthlink.net 

If you like, you can use either of these  graphics for the link.

Shakespeare said "He who steals my purse steals trash," but JP says "He who steals my intellectual property will generate bad karma for himself/herself that will follow him/her to the end of time and space." 

My lawyers and I won't have to do anything to you for violating my trust in re this-- there's a higher power for that. :-)  And trust me, what goes around really does come around.

So what is "Jitter," anyway?  -- the Dictionary of Online Computing defines jitter as "Random variation in the timing of a signal, especially a clock. "-- OK, forget the clock reference, it means induced random variation.

The percentages you are setting are the jitter rates. -- Remember this, they are PERCENTAGES, not pixels or anything else. And you can set them for Color blend, Hue, Saturation, Lightness, Size, Opacity, Thick­ness, Rotation, Density, and, in the gray area, Position (You'd have to ask someone from Jasc why they decided to segregate this control in the cheap seats...I can't figure the reasoning out.) The JNE's accept entries from 0% to  1000%, though in some but not all  categories anything more than 50 or 100% is pointless."

In the examples that follow, unless otherwise specified, I am using the square  brush at factory default settings with pure red (FF0000) in the foreground swatch and pure blue (0000FF) in the background swatch and the thickness reduced to 40. No textures have been added to the colors in the materials  palette.

  


Copyright(c) 2003 JP Kabala, Kabala Portfolio Design. All rights reserved.
jkabala@earthlink.net