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  • Writer's picturePhilip Preston

Studio Artist 5.5 - Paint Synthesizer Classic. Tutorial #1

Having purchased a copy of Studio Artist 5.5 a few months ago, I have been trying to understand how it works, and make some progress on the big learning curve for making interesting and aesthetically pleasing outputs. I still have much to learn, but as there appears to be few tutorials available on the internet, other than those on the Synthetik website, I thought it might be helpful both to me (as a way of remembering 'recipes' ) and perhaps some other users new to Studio Artist 5.5, to show some outputs of my own and steps used in their creation.

Studio Artist 5.5 can be used in 3 different ways, namely: auto painting, assisted painting, and manual painting modes. This first tutorial, and those that will follow at later dates, will concentrate primarily on auto painting using the 'Paint Synthesizer Classic' option, which essentially is a bit like painting on a blank canvas, where you lay down various outputs in a sequential manner working towards a final finished image. By contrast, Studio Artist also has a 'Paint Action Sequence' mode available with many existing presets, that run automatically through a series of pre-recorded steps to create an image output. Consequently, if you create an output using the Paint Synthesizer Classic option, Studio Artist can record the sequential stages you perform which can then be saved as a 'Paint Action Sequence' to generate outputs automatically, instead of repeating each step manually. This can save time and speed up your workflow if the sequence is something you wish to repeat for additional images.

Purpose Of This Tutorial

The purpose of this tutorial is not to teach people how to use Studio Artist 5.5 (as I am still a newbie in many respects myself), but simply to show some presets I have found and used for my own projects. If you are new to SA and want to learn the basics, then check out the many useful videos and tutorials on the Synthetik website.

The steps for this tutorial essentially do three things:

  1. Use presets on the base image to give an overall soft painterly look.

  2. Use further presets to add and build up textures within the image.

  3. Use further presets to add outlines and definition to the final image.

Finding Presets For This Tutorial

Unless you happen to have Studio Artist presets for this tutorial already saved to a Favourites category, finding a specific preset from the large number supplied can be a little time consuming! If necessary, its easiest to find them using the Search facility.

  1. Select 'Paint Synthesizer Classic' from the current operation mode drop down menu.

  2. If not already showing, select the Preset tab.

  3. Select the Search tab.

  4. Type the preset name into the search field area, eg, Edge Displace.

  5. Press the 'Search' button, wait a few seconds while search data loads, then click the relevant preset displayed.

Note: The search function only works on the selected current operation mode, not across all operation modes at the same time.

Start Image

The base image for this tutorial was created with DALL-E 2, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) text to image generator, and is essentially a starting point from where you can add your own artistic edits. The base image has a painterly look about it, which might be sufficient for some people, but with a program like Studio Artist there are a multitude of options available to enhance it further.

Final Image

For the final image I wanted a relatively loose, semi abstract sketch type finish with some added texture, making it more than just a simple line type drawing (for which Studio Artist 5.5 has some excellent presets). A total of 7 different presets were used to create the final version, and these are listed below:

The 7 Studio Artist presets used to create the final image were:

  1. Paint: Sketch-Simplify.

  2. Paint: Edge Displace.

  3. Paint: Displace Fizz

  4. Paint: Edge Splatter

  5. PASeq: Edge Hatch 2 *

  6. Paint: Outine - Reduce White Thin

  7. Paint: Pointillistic 2

* Preset Edge Hatch 2 is a Paint Action Sequence, which is run differently to the other Paint Synthesizer Classic presets.

Step 1 - Paint: Sketch - Simplify

Select and run the preset to add some outlines and definition to the base image. If you run the preset with its default settings and find the output too strong, open the Editor, select Vector Output, and reduce the Fill Blend and Stroke Radius settings to your preference. The default is 100 for both, but I used Fill Blend = 40 and Stroke Radius = 100 for this example. Try different settings until it appears as you want it to be.

Step 2 - Paint: Edge Displace

Select and run the preset to soften the image, helping to blend in the Step 1 sketch lines and giving a soft brush effect around the edges of the image for a more painterly effect. I ran this preset using the default settings, but there is an option to adjust Stroke Radius in the Vector Output part of the Editor window if you wish to do so.

Step 3 - Paint: Displace Fizz

Select and run the preset. Steps 1 and 2 are essentially preparation for a soft painterly base layer, so the Step 3 Displace Fizz preset builds on that by adding some texture to the overall image.

Step 4 - Paint: Edge Splatter

Select and run the preset. As its name suggests, this preset adds some paint 'splatter' around parts of the image, and you may want to try adjusting outputs of the Fill Blend and Stroke Radius settings, to match both the image and your preferences. I prefer a relatively subtle use of this filter, so you need to look closely to see differences in output between this preset, and from Step 3 above. Overall, the purpose is to add and build up additional texture to that from the previous Displace Fizz preset.

Step 5 - PASeq: Edge Hatch 2

This step adds more detailed definition to the image, such as key outlines like the eyes and nose. For this step, I used preset PASeq: Edge Hatch 2, but only the last component.

To find preset PASeq: Edge Hatch 2, select Paint Action Sequence from the 'Current Operation Mode' list. In the Preset window, you will see a tab with the label Search, click that then type Edge Hatch 2 into the search data field. Click the actual Search button and wait for the preset(s) to appear in the search results.

This particular Paint Action Sequence runs 3 separate steps, but the first two are not required for our tutorial. You can run this preset for our tutorial either by:

a) checking the 'Mute' boxes for the Set Canvas - White, and Vectorizer options, then pressing the Run command button on the SA5.5 menu, or alternatively..

b) click inside the bottom (3rd) red box for Vectorizer - Black Outline Thin, and this will automatically run the 3rd part of this preset without having to press the Run command button.

Either way, the output will be the same for both options.

If required, its possible to change the output from this preset, eg, thickness or thinness of the outlines produced. To do this, click inside the 3rd red box for Vectorizer - Black Outline Thin to select it, then click the Editor tab, which will display the Editor window shown left. There are many options shown within the Editor under the Generation heading, but amend the PostNeg Adjust slider to make adjustments. Higher values for this setting will give thicker / heavier outputs, while lower values will produce thiner / lighter outputs.

If you find a setting for this preset that you like and would like to use again for use with other images, you can save it to one of your Favourite options for easy access again in the future.

Step 6: Paint: Outline - Reduce White Thin

Select and run the preset. This will add some white highlight lines in parts of the image. You might want to use masking if the effect is only required in certain key areas, such as the face, and not wanted in other areas such as the background.

Step 7: Paint: Pointillistic 2 (FINAL IMAGE)

Select and run the preset. This step could be optional depending on whether its something you like or want in the final image. The purpose is to add a little extra texture to the background. This preset will run until the spacebar is pressed to stop it, so if you let it run it will cover the entire image very quickly. Typically, I usually run the preset for about a second giving a very light touch to what is added.

I tend to use this preset only on the external edges of the main image subject, and on the background areas. To do this use the Selection mode from the Current Operation Mode drop down list, then use something like the Lasso tool, with feathering as required, to select the area for masking. In the final image above, masking has been used to keep the Paint: Pointillistic 2 preset from the Wolf face part of the image.

Concluding Comments

This is the first in what I hope will become a regular series of posts about using Studio Artist 5.5 presets to create personal and individualised digital artworks. Apart from tutorials on the Synthetik website, there appear to be few other resources on the internet sharing user experiences and outputs of the software, so perhaps my small contribution here will be of some benefit to new users learning the program.

Although I understand Studio Artist has been around for about 20 or more years, I had never heard of it until a few weeks before I purchased it, and new versions only seem to become available about every five years or so, which is unusual compared to the annual updates we are used to from other large image editing / creating companies such as Adobe or Corel.

If you would like to see more examples of what Studio Artist 5.5 is capable of, there are many to be seen on the Synthetik website.

Please feel free to make any comments about this tutorial, good or bad, particularly if you have suggestions for how they could be improved.


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