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Old 07-07-2006, 12:59 PM
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pixlart pixlart is offline
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Layers 3: Anatomy of the Layers Palette in Corel Painter

Layers 3: Anatomy of the Layers Palette in Corel® Painter™ - Continued

The second installment in this series, Layers 2: Anatomy of the Layers Palette in Corel Painter, began with the dissection of the commands found within the Layers Palette Menu (accessed via the Layers Palette menu arrow). This installment will finish up our tour with a description of the remaining visible layer controls found at the top and bottom of the Layers palette.

Layer Controls

The Layer Controls occupy the uppermost area of the Layers palette, above the Layer List. Some of these controls (Layer Compositing Methods, Impasto Layer Composite Depth, Opacity Control, and the Layer Lock) operate on an individual layer basis. The remaining controls (Preserve Transparency and Pick Up Underlying Color) are applied globally to all layers.

Layer Controls: Layer Composite Method

Painter's Layer Composite Methods serve the same purpose as Photoshop's Blend Modes. A Composite Method is a mathematical formula that dictates how the pixels of a layer will combine with the pixels on the layers and Canvas beneath it. For example, Composite Methods can be applied to a layer to darken/lighten, increase/decrease contrast, or adjust the color of the imagery beneath it. A powerful feature of Composite Methods is that they do not permanently alter the image; only the visual display of the combined pixels is altered.

Painter can save files in the Photoshop .PSD format, enabling the exchange of imagery created in both applications. For the most part, Painter's Composite Methods are compatible with Photoshop's Blend Modes. Painter has some Methods (Gel, Colorize, Reverse-Out, Shadow Map, Magic Combine, Pseudocolor, GelCover) that do not have an equivalent in Photoshop. In these cases, Painter substitutes the nearest visually equivalent Photoshop Blend Mode when saving a .PSD file. In a few cases, some Composite Methods' (Soft Light, Hue, Saturation, Color, Luminosity) mathematical formula slightly varies from Photoshop, resulting in a slightly different appearance in each application.

The Composite Methods will be covered in greater detail in a later installment.

Layer Controls: Impasto Depth Composite Method

The Impasto Depth Composite Methods work in conjunction with Painter's Impasto Layer. This layer type is associated with the Impasto Brush Category. Impasto brushes apply their color with the added visual quality of virtual three-dimensional depth. As Impasto brush strokes are overlaid, a visual sense of height is displayed through the use of a virtual light source. The result is a striking simulation of a physical paint surface.

Impasto-enabled brushes can be applied to multiple layers. How overlapping Impasto layers visually combine is controlled by a layer's Impasto Depth Composite Method (Ignore, Add, Subtract, Replace). By default, Impasto-enabled layers are set to the Add method. This method maintains the apparent buildup of virtual height of overlapping Impasto layers. The Ignore method disables the virtual height appearance completely, flattening the brushstrokes on the layer. The Subtract method inverts Impasto height—Impasto strokes will appear to remove depth rather than add to it. The Replace method applies Impasto strokes to any underlying Impasto art by completely pushing them to the bottom of any existing apparent height.

Layer Controls: Layer Opacity Control

The Layer Opacity Control is used to adjust a layer's transparency level. Both a slider and numeric input field are provided for adjustment. The use of layer opacity is a key tool for non-destructively adjusting the appearance of overlapping layer art.

Layer Controls: Preserve Transparency Checkbox

When artwork is applied to a layer, the art is accompanied by a stealthy visibility mask. It is the visibility mask that enables the artwork to be seen on an otherwise transparent layer. As long as Preserve Transparency is disabled, brushstrokes and imagery can be applied anywhere on a layer. With Preserve Transparency enabled, pixels can be applied only to existing non-transparent imagery. For example, this is very useful for changing the content of of brushstrokes without changing their shape.

Layer Controls: Pick Up Underlying Color Checkbox

Pick Up Underlying Color is one of Painter's major fulcrum points. It is this control that enables smeary-style brushes applied on a layer to interact with the color on any underlying layers. This enables the progressive buildup of a painting without permanently over-painting any underlying imagery. Utilizing this non-destructive technique provides far greater flexibility and editing than working on the Canvas or single layer.

Layer Controls: Lock Layer Button

The Lock Layer button is used to avoid accidentally changing a layer. By locking the layer, it cannot be painted on or moved by the Layer Adjuster tool. The arrow keys can be used to nudge a locked layer.

Layer Shortcut Icons

The Layer Shortcut Icons are located at the bottom of the Layer Palette, below the Layer List. These controls provide convenient access to oft-used tools and commands.

Icon: Layer Commands Pop-up

The Layer Commands Pop-up provides a list of primary layer commands (Group, Ungroup, Collapse, Drop).

Icon: Dynamic Plugins Pop-up

The Dynamic Plugins Pop-up provides access to Painter's Dynamic Plugins. Brightness and Contrast, Equalize, and Posterize are used to non-destructively adjust underlying imagery. Burn, Tear, and Bevel World apply visual effects to existing layer imagery. Glass Distortion and Kaleidoscope apply creative effects to underlying imagery. The Image Slicer exports a graphic into separate images and reassembles them into an HTML table (used for creating rollovers). Liquid Lens and Liquid Metal are self-contained media layers used to both create unique imagery as well as alter underlying art.

The individual Dynamic Plugins will be covered in greater detail in later installments.

Icon: New Layer Button

The New Layer button is used to create a new default layer.

Icon: New Watercolor Layer Button

The New Watercolor Layer button is used to create a new Watercolor media layer. This layer is used in conjunction with the Watercolor Category brushes. This layer type encapsulates the physical behavior of traditional watercolor. This layer type will be covered in greater detail in later installments.

Icon: New Liquid Ink Layer Button

The New Liquid Ink Layer button is used to create a new Liquid Ink media layer. This layer is used in conjunction with the Liquid Ink Category brushes. This layer type mimics the qualities of a viscous ink medium. This layer type will be covered in greater detail in later installments.

Icon: Add Layer Mask Button

The Add Layer Mask button is used to create a layer mask for the currently selected layer. Layer masks enable precise non-destructive control over the visibility of layer art. Layer masks will be covered in greater detail in later installments.

Icon: Delete Layer Button

The Delete Layer button deletes the currently selected layer(s) from the layer list. The Canvas cannot be deleted.

Anatomy Class Is Finished!

We're finally through dissecting Painter's Layers Palette. In the next installment, we'll delve into Painter's various layer types. Until next time...

Viva la Painter!

John Derry
Corel Painter Ambassador-at-Large.
Email your Painter suggestions to the Painter Team at Corel!

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