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Old 07-21-2006, 02:01 PM
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pixlart pixlart is offline
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Layers 5: Layer Types in Corel Painter (Part 2)

Layer Types 2: Vector and Dynamic Layer Types

Painter's various layer types can be distilled into 4 groups: Pixel-based layers, Media layers, Vector layers, and Dynamic layers. In the previous installment, Layer Types 1: Pixel and Media Layer Types, we looked at Painter's Pixel and Media Layer types. In this installment, we will finish up by taking a look at the Vector and Dynamic layer types.

Vector Layers

Vector graphics are made up of lines, curves, objects, and fills that are all calculated mathematically. This is in opposition to pixel—or raster—graphics, which are composed of a mosaic of individually colored elements. Vector graphics enable both high precision as well as high resolution imagery. Vector graphics are particularly well-suited to the creation of crisp graphic shape, line work, and text. Pixel-based tools such as brushes cannot interact with Vector layers.

Painter's vector layers—Shapes and Text—are edited by adjusting points and curve segments with the Shape Selection tools. Shapes are created using the Pen, Quick Curve, and Rectangular and Oval Shape tools. Text is initially created with the Text tool, but can be converted into Shapes for further editing. All of the the vector layer types can be converted to a pixel layer for enhancement with Painter's pixel-based tools. Shape layers can be converted to a selection via the Convert to Selection command (Shapes menu). This is particularly useful for using the Pen tool as a highly controllable selecting tool to extract a complex element from a pixel-based image, such as a photograph.

Vector Layer: Shapes

A Shapes layer is created when any of the Shapes Tools are used to create an object. Shapes behave much like the vector tools found in such applications as CorelDRAW and Adobe Illustrator. The resulting point and curve segments—referred to as a path—are then selectively adjusted with the Shape Selection tools to distort or alter the Shape. A Shape can be an individual line or an enclosed shape. A Shape has editable Stroke and Fill attributes available via the Set Shape Attributes dialog (Shapes menu), or by double-clicking on the Shapes layer entry in the Layers palette. The visual appearance of Shapes layers can be modified in the Layers palette via the Compositing Methods and Opacity control.

Shapes can be transformed (scaled, rotated, skewed, etc.) via the Layer Adjuster tool. When Shape elements are selected with the Layer Adjuster, a set of handles appear at the corners and sides of the selected shape. These handles can be dragged to transform the selected Shapes. Shapes can be converted to a pixel-based layer via the Convert to Layer command (Shapes menu). This enables further modifications using tools such as brushes, filters, etc.

An Adobe Illustrator file can be imported into Painter as Shapes data via the Adobe Illustrator File command (File menu > Acquire). Note that the Illustrator file must be saved in the legacy Illustrator 3 format to be readable by Painter. Painter also supports PostScript on the Clipboard when you paste content into a*Painter document. This convention allows applications to exchange high-quality vector PostScript information. With PostScript on the Clipboard, you can copy from Illustrator and paste into Corel*Painter when both applications are running.

To retain Shapes layer information, save the file in Painter's native RIF format. Saving in another format, such as Photoshop, will convert the Shapes data into pixel-based layers.

Vector Layer: Text Layer

The Text layer is a special case vector layer type. A Text layer is created when the Text tool is used to apply text to a document. Applied text is initially made up of font data that contains kerning and font metrics. This data is used to correctly display the currently selected font. Applied text is live; that is, it can be edited. The Text tool is used to highlight text in order to edit spelling or the font used to display the text. Like Shapes, Text layers can be transformed via the Layer Selector tool. Basic text adjustments are available in the Text Property Bar: Shadowing Options, Font, Size, Alignment, Color, Opacity, and Compositing Method.

The Text palette (Window menu) offers additional font control: Tracking, Leading, Curve Style, and Shadowing Softness/Angularity. Through the use of these tools, text can be highly modified from its original appearance.

A Text layer can be converted to a Shapes layer via the Convert Text to Shapes command (Layers Palette Menu). This enables editing the former Text layer as vector data using the Shapes tools. Note that this is a one-way conversion; Shapes cannot be converted back into Text.

To retain Text layer information, save the file in Painter's native RIF format. Saving in another format, such as Photoshop, will convert the Text data into pixel-based layers.

Dynamic Layers

Dynamic layers are so named because they can be continually edited without permanently altering the layers they are affecting. Some Dynamic layers interact with the underlying imagery in a specific area to produce an effect. Some Dynamic layers interact with the content of an existing layer. Other Dynamic layers interact with the underlying imagery as unique brushstrokes are applied.

Dynamic layers are different from other effects because they are distinct objects—you can double-click them in the Layers palette to access their controls and change the characteristics of the effect at any time. Dynamic layers can be converted into a pixel-based layer via the Convert to Default Layer command (Layers palette menu). Dynamic layer properties are preserved when an image is saved in Painter's native RIF format. Saving in other formats will convert Dynamic layers to the pixel-based default layer type.

Dynamic Layer: Dynamic Plugin Layer

Dynamic Plugin layers are accessed via either Dynamic Plugins (Layers menu) or the Dynamic Plugins icon (located at the bottom of the Layers palette). Dynamic plugin layers can be divided into 3 functional subtypes: Adjust underlying imagery, Alter the content of an existing layer, and Create a new media-style layer.

Adjust Underlying Imagery

Brightness and Contrast
Glass Distortion

This category of dynamic layer is equivalent to Photoshop's Adjustment layers in that the layer resides in the Layers list above the underlying affected imagery. Note that dynamic layers cannot be imported to Photoshop. Likewise, Adjustment layers are not exportable from Photoshop.

Alter Existing Layer

Bevel World

This category of dynamic layer applies a specific effect to an existing layer. An applied effect can be eliminated via the Revert to Original command (Layers palette menu). Unfortunately, this command appears to be broken in Painter IX.5 (at least on the Mac). To work around this, use the Off checkbox found in the respective Dynamic Plugin dialog, then apply the Convert to Default Layer command to the layer.

Addendum: I have been informed that Revert to Original's broken state behaves a bit differently on Windows (XP Home). On the Windows version, the Off box cannot be checked. This eliminates the workaround I describe for Macs. Be advised that the only recourse at this time is to utilize Undo to back out of the situation.

Create New Media-style Layer

Liquid Lens
Liquid Metal

This category of dynamic layer provides a complete media-like environment that interacts with any underlying imagery. Liquid Lens provides tools that pull underlying imagery like taffy. Liquid Metal provides tools that paint with a viscous gel-like medium that can appear reflective, refractive, or any degree in-between.

Dynamic Layer: Reference Layer

Reference layers get their image content from an external source—either a pixel-based layer in the current document or a separate file. They provide a low-resolution representation of the original image that you can quickly manipulate them in ways that would otherwise require more time. Working with a Reference layer allows you to transform (resize, rotate, or slant) a layer onscreen by dragging its handles. You can adjust various options. Transformations are immediately displayed in the document window. When you finish applying transformations, you commit the reference layer back to a standard layer via the Convert to Default Layer command (Layers palette menu). Painter examines the source image to restore the original resolution. By withholding all of the applied transformation to a Reference layer until it is committed back to a pixel-based default layer, the highest quality result is achieved.

You cannot edit the image data in a Reference layer. If you try to paint on or apply effects to a Reference layer, Painter prompts you to commit it back to a pixel-based layer. You can create a Reference layer by basing it on an existing layer via the Free Transform command (Effects menu > Orientation) or by Placing an image (File menu > Place...). Painter can maintain multiple Reference layers as needed. Reference layers are preserved when saved in Painter's native RIF format.

Now What?

In future installments, I'll cover some of Painter's unique layer types in greater depth. For the next installment, however, I'm going to detail how to use layers as a rather large safety net for painting activities—which is what Painter is really all about.

Viva la Painter!

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

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