Project Dogwaffle Tutorial:
from PD Pro 4 to Photoshop, by Dwayne Jensen

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I hope this little tutorial will help some of you.
Being new to PD Pro 4, I thought it would produce a psd file that I could bring into other programs, with all brush layers etc. retained.

As you may know or find out, it's not quite as easy as that. PD Pro can save to layered format in its own .lyr format, but not when choosing the .psd format. I found that it is better to do everything in PD that you can, the outcome will be the best that way.

But if you're like me and want to use some other programs to do effects with and composite for animation etc., you might need a PSD file. So I came up with a routine that works for me, on how to transfer layered images created in PD Pro over to Photoshop, and save to PSD there. I can then use it in other programs like Moho.

Mind you, this is probably not the only way to achieve this, but I like my technique and wanted to share my experience with others.

So......This is what I do.

First of all I wanted to do an in-the-forest image, but not totaly realistic, i.e. with a little style. I draw each brush in it's own layer, because it is easy to experiment and delete layers as I want. Evidently I use PD Pro's particle brushes, aka Optipustics. They're great for quickly creating shrubbery, twiggs, grass and other foliage. If you've never seen PD's particle brushes, you should check the lite version called PD Particles. It's not as powerful as PD Pro which I use, but it'll give you a good idea of what it's all about when painting with particles. The Pro version also has a forcefield feature and other capabilities going way beyond what you can do with PD Particles.

So this is the screen grab of the finished image and what my layers looked like. This was my first image in PD Pro 4, so I was just having a ball playing with all the brushes. Now I want to save this out as a PSD, saving all the layers. As you know, you cannot, at least not directly. But you can save it as a .lyr file. This is my first image and this is what I called it Interesting-01.lyr (zipped - 2.7 MB) - note that in this image, the layers are not yet organized intelligently. As we'll see soon, it's good to group together the layers belonging to the foreground, and again those belonging to the background. That will make it easier to delete a whole set, i.e. either the foreground or the background, before flattening such group.



So how to get all that detail and complexity into some layers that I could use. I wanted to put an animation in-between the grass and bushes in front and the misty, foggy tree background behind.

But I wanted to use a 3D camera and maybe some other effects.

I found out that whatever layer I had selected, it would save out as a file but with a white background and no alpha channel. I didn't have a selection or transparency mask created. PD Pro started with white in the layer. This means that I would get white borders or 'halos' around my plants when compositing, because of anti-aliasing blending in to white. There are better ways to save your brushes with alpha channels in PD Pro 4, but I found that not very convenient to do a whole scene, like this one.

So I want to have 2 layers that I can use to make a PSD file in Photoshop or PSP or what ever program you use: one layer holding the foreground foliage, the other holding the background.

You cannot delete layer 0, but this is great because layer 0 is the sky layer and it colours the most transparent part of the leaves. The idea here is really simple, just delete all of the layers that you don't want in the foreground from your animation and drop the back layers onto your sky.But first, if you look at my layers, they are not in the right order, so select the layer you want to move and use the up down arrows to do that, and re-arrange the layers so that the ones going intoforeground are grouped together, and the others going into background are grouped together. Then save this file as Interesting-02.lyr . I keep this file for both the background and foreground layers. 

Mine is here Interesting-02.lyr (zipped, 2.8 MB) - this file will be the starting point for the following operations. Layers 5 through 11 are the ones I want to use for the 'foreground' shrubbery. Layers 4 through 1 hold the 'background' trees.

 Saving the Background

Now I delete all the layers starting at 11 ending at 5, use the delete key . You will see your foreground layers be excluded from you image. So we just have the parts which belong to the background.

One thing you may notice is that your layer 4 has lost it's transparency setting, if so just set it back to where it was or untill it looks good.


Now click your merge all button , it should give you an image that looks like this.

Save this as layer-01.png file. PD Pro's default format is Targa (.tga), but I found the PNG format worked well for me. Or, you could save it to 'background.png' to remember which image it contains, or 'bg.png' to speed up the typing :-)

 Saving the Foreground

Now load your Interesting-02.lyr file again (remember that it holds all layers from the original drawing, sorted to group foreground and background). It has all 11 layers and in the proper order. This time you delete all the background layers, i.e layers 1 through 4. You cannot delete the sky, but that is OK. Use the merge all button . The foreground layers are now in what's left after deleting the background layers. Save this image as layer-02.png. (or perhaps 'foreground.png' or 'fg.png' to remember which it is)


Re-assembling in Photoshop

In photoshop, load both layer-01.png and layer-02.png, i.e. both the foreground image and the background image. Select image layer-02.png (containing the foreground). Go into select on the main tool bar then color range, then use the color picker with the + sign and click 3 or 4 times in the sky area only. (remember: You're just trying to select all the sky that's in your image, and as little as possible out of your trees etc) When your sky is all selected click invert and copy. This selects anything but the sky, i.e. it should nicely select the foreground shrubbery only.

Then select image layer-01.png (the background) and paste the copied foreground into that image.Then all you do is save that image as a new .psd file. And voila, I now have my PSD file with the two parts.You can of course do as many layers as you like, with this method.  I just had a need for two parts: a foreground, and a background.


You are now ready to do whatever you like with this. Like insert an animation between the foreground and background layers.


 That's it. I love how quickly I can create awesome looking forestry with PD Pro in this manner, for use in my animations.