you can fly!?
PTB-Waffles

part 1: getting started with Twisted Brush Pro Studio
more PD Pro tutorials


Digital Painting has never been
so much fun: Learn to paint with Particle Brushes!


PD Particles - $19

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Tutorials:
intro  - in the beginning, there was nothing but a blank sheet of pixels
part 1 - getting started with Twisted Brush Pro Studio
part 2 - Saving the image and alpha channel in a single file
part 3 - Loading an image file straight to PD's Custom Brush
part 4 - Loading two images: color and mask into one
part 5 - Discovering new brushes: Kaleidoscope!
part 6 - Painting into an AVI file to record as animation
part 7 - Mandala brush animation with animated multi-frame brushes
part 8 - The animated Brush Timeline edtor

 

Meta Blobs


When I first got Twistedbrush Pro Studio I went to look for some new types of brushes. One that immediately caught my attention is a group of brushes that let you create blobs. Even when painting something as simple as this number eight symbol, notice how the overlapping parts in the middle seem to fuse together. It's almost like painting meta-balls.

Ok, so here's a start:  Launch your Twistedbrush program. After closing the initial display of the Quickstart Guide's screen (which I think is a brilliant idea for beginners to quickly learn the important parts of the interface), open the layers panel (from the Layers menu or use the keyboard shortcut 'y' or 'Y' )

Hide the bottom-most background layer, and select the next layer above. There's no particular reason for this last step, other than it's often a good idea and habit to have layers available below, not just above the curent one. If you ever need to place an image below yours for a test, it's easy and fast, no need to insert new layers.

Now select the group of brushes with Meta Blobs near the upper-left corner.


Find for example the one named Meta Blob Glow. click and select it.


Here are three brush strokes created with the Meta Blob Glow brush (top to bottom). The first (top) has no overlapping parts. The seccond is self overlapping. Notice how it fuses the overlapping areas.

The last (bottom) is a separate brush stroke from the 2nd, and thus won't fuse over the 2nd.

There's a lot of fun you can have with the meta blob brushes. Cool mint tooth paste anyone?


Well here's another one, drawing the numbers 2 and 9. (this of course in commemoration of the February 29 promotion, where PD Pro 3, 4 and certain upgrades are offered at 29% discount, or PD 2 and PD Artist's new prices were lowered permanently to $29)


The goal now is to transfer these letters, in whole or seperately, into the custom brush system of Project Dogwaffle. The intent is to not only have the  RGB color channels saved and transfered, but also the transparency mask stemming from the alpha channel in the layer which keeps some parts (the number digits) opaque and visible whereas the rest around it are pixels which are left fully transparent and thus invisible.

The version of Twistedbrush we used here didn't have a way to save the layer as a 32-bit image with alpha in it directly. But that won't stop us. You can indeed save the colors first, and then separatelt save the alpha as a grey scale image. First though, you need to convert the alpha to a mask. Then you can convert the mask to an image, and then save that image as a greyscale. It works. ANd there may well be other, faster options to achieve the same.

Saving the image

Simply save the current layer by making sure that it is the only enabled (visible) layer and saving the lot to file (Export Image).


Since PD Pro will be the next recipient of this image, let's save it in a format which is optimal for PD Pro: the Truevision Targa format. Of course other formats may work well too. (Tiff, Bmp, Png...)

Notice that we'll name this the file '29' but also add a tag to it such as '-colors' since it contains the color channels and it's a nice way to remind us of that. Another file will be saved later with the transparency mask, named '29-mask.tga'


Converting Alpha to a Mask

The next step is to convert the transparency values of that layer, also known as the alpha channel, into a mask. TheMask menu has indeed several tools that are perfect in this context:





Create a mask from Alpha

The mask won't become a visible entity, but you can verify its presence: paint another stroke across the current  image and you will only see it change inside the mask (i.e. the letters)

Converting the Mask to a Greyscale image

The next step is to take the mask you just created and convert it into its own greyscale image. The you can save that image like any other image.



Create Image from Mask
After creating the image from the mask, you'll see a black on white image. There are some grey values along the edges, so it will be saved as a greyscale image, or perhaps even as a full 24-bit RGB image, but still containing the same values per RGB triplets, i.e. containing grey pixel values.

Notice that all you did is create an image from the values in the mask. You did not delete or get rid of the mask. Hence, if you now paint over it, there will be color changes only within the confined areas of the mask:

Be sure to use Control-Z to undo this and restore the grey-scale only image, and then once again, use the Save/Export menu to save the greyscale image representing the mask.

This time however give it a filename that indicates that it is holding the mask's image.


That concludes the steps needed in Twistedbrush to create and save the image as a color image along with another image containing the greyscale version of the mask derived from the transparency mask.


One thing to note: it is a transparency mask, not an opacity mask, which is the opposite or complement of a transparency mask. When you see the letters black, it shows that they have zero transparency, hence are fully opaque. When you see the area around them white, they are indeed fully transparent. The thing to remember is that Project Dogwaffle works the other way: it works with opacity values. Thus, the alpha channel values in Dogwaffle are expected to show as white when they are opaque, not wen they are transparent. That's not a problem really, though, as Dogwaffle as a tool in the Alpha menu: Invert Alpha, or you could load the greyscale image and invert it, or even do this in Twistedbrush with an invert filter just prior to saving it.




More Mask Magic?
Another thing to explore while in Twistedbrush: You can make the mask 'visible', i.e. you can show its presence:


In the Mask menu, select:

Display Mask


When the mask is being displayed, you'll see fine outlines where the mask transitions from enabled to disabled, at the 50% mark.  The background grid also turns a pale blue.

If on top of this you also make the layer invisible, then you'll only see the mask's effect:



There are also ways to save the layer's RGB channels together with the mask in a single file. Some times it is better to save the transparency mask separately. Some programs, especially 3D programs like Bryce and Carrara, may offer additional capabilities with the mask or alpha channel image as greyscale in its own image file.



Next:  part 2 - Saving the image and alpha channel in a single file



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