Deep Paint, a Photoshop plug-in, can act like an art simulator

Deep Paint, a Photoshop plug-in, can act like an art simulator

By William M. Frazier

Special to GCN

At first glance, Deep Paint is just another Adobe Photoshop plug-in. A second look shows it can simulate oil paints, pencil, chalk and other art media as a standalone paint program.

Installation is easy. Don't rely on the printed version of the Getting Started Guide, which says to start by double-clicking on a nonexistent file, dpinstall.exe. Instead, follow your instincts and click on setup.exe in the Install directory. The Adobe Acrobat version of the guide on the CD-ROM does name the correct installation file, however.

Deep Paint lets a user mimic different painting techniques, such as texture painting, using the 2-D tools on its command panel.

Deep Paint needs a midrange Pentium II CPU and 64M or more of RAM. That sounds rather high, but because the plug-in and Photoshop work in tandem, the more RAM the better.

Tutorials covered the basics, although I had trouble matching the brushes discussed with those actually in the program. Some showed up under different categories in the Presets tab; others didn't exist.

Although sold as a plug-in for Photoshop, Deep Paint is much more than a new set of filters. Its 2-D paint system simulates 3-D lighting and texture effects. You can control position, direction and intensity of ambient and spot lighting. Unlike some 3-D paint programs, Deep Paint can't change the light's color.

Texture effects arise from bump mapping. When you deepen the grayscale color toward black in the Bump Channel, the texturing deepens. Another of Deep Paint's 3-D variables is reflectance, which can vary from a flat look to a mirror shine, depending on the grayscale depth set in the Shine Channel.

Box Score '''''''''''''''''''

Deep Paint 1.0

Adobe Photoshop add-in and paint program

Right Hemisphere Ltd.; Bellingham, Wash.;

tel. 360-738-7940

Price: $249

+ Adds natural media effects to Photoshop images

+ Excellent custom brush controls

' Some documentation errors

' Needs more masking shapes

Real-life requirements:

Win9x or NT, Adobe Photoshop, 266-MHz Pentium II or faster processor, 64M or more of RAM, graphics card capable of displaying 16-bit color, pressure-sensitive graphics tablet

Deep Paint's excellent selection of preset brushes includes oils, charcoals, chalk and crayons. The program also has good controls for creating and saving custom brushes. You can change many aspects such as color strength and feathering. Sliders on the Presets tab vary scale, rotation, squash, sink and jitter, and that's just for starters.

I put Deep Paint through its paces using the Intuos Intelligent Graphics Tablet from Wacom Technology Corp. of Vancouver, Wash. The tablet's ability to sense pen pressure, tilt and direction gave nearly unlimited control with each brush. Changing the pen's tilt and pressure controlled brush hue, strength, rotation and scale.

The Intuos tablet can sense two controllers at once'such as a pen and a thumbwheel mouse'if one of the controllers is designated as primary.

Deep Paint does artistic cloning, too. Say you have a scanned photograph or a digital camera image that you want to use, but not in photorealistic form. Make an image of the original on a new layer using various brushes and media.

As you stroke the pen on the new layer, color like that of the original underlying layer appears. An oil brush, for example, blends the colors together as in oil painting. The finished image resembles the original with a hand-rendered look.

Deep Paint's main weakness is its limited masking tools. Unfortunately, no masks are available for shapes such as circles, ovals or nonrectangular polygons. Nor are there provisions for saving a mask.

William M. Frazier, a PC hobbyist, is postmaster of Taholah, Wash.


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