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Painting as a physical medium includes the presence of surface and texture. These are part of what makes up the look of a painting to our eyes and brain. And our displays that we paint on in Painter are two-dimensional. But Painter manages to provide a convincing simulation of 3D with its Impasto feature. Now let me warn you, painting with Impasto enabled will often produce a very giddy feeling along with uncontrollable laughter. And I want to show you exactly what I am talking about.
So let's get into looking at this remarkable visual treat. We're going to go ahead and I am going to select the Impasto category here and let's go ahead and utilize to start off with the Texturizer-Heavy. And we also want to open up the Impasto palette to be able to see what's going on here as we get into this. And I am first going to introduce you to just the way the 3D sensation works here. So let's start to paint. Maybe I'll do it with a bit of a darker color. And you can see what's happening is the illusion of 3D is happening, because there is a virtual light source up in the upper left corner here.
And what's happening is on all of those lit surfaces, we are getting the high-lit color and on the non-lit site it's dark. And so the brain reads highlight and shadow as 3D and that's what's happening here. Now Painter's Impasto has a limited degree of height. You can see as I apply here, it does appear to get taller. But if I take it too far what will happen is exactly what you see here. It plateaus. It reaches that invisible top of the height and it flattens out against it.
So there is a limit to the height. Also if I take another tool here, Acid Etch, this actually kind of drills down into existing 3D and it will go beyond. I will even do it out here. It's actually creating a depth beneath the canvas. So we've got a kind of three basic levels to deal with here. And you can see the same thing happening at the bottom here. It is also plateauing when it reaches that limited depth. So you've got the canvas represents, if you want to think of it as the ocean, that's sea level.
And then the bottom of the ocean is this very bottom plateaued area that's down in the depth of the canvas. And the tops of the mountains above the water are this plateau above the virtual 3D surface. So you have got kind of three kind of height areas that will make up the limited 3D depth of Impasto. And there are even tools in here that lets you kind of play around with adding or subtracting. Like if I go to the Depth Eraser, you'll see I'm actually taking away and dropping back down and smoothing that out, until I go below.
You can see now it's actually below sea level there. I can do the opposite and use the Depth Lofter to raise either areas below sea level or just any area on the canvas. You can see right here this is starting to bring up the depths to above sea level. And then I can get into using the Depth Equalizer, which is a tool that just brings everything back. So this will just negate any height and any depth. And it will eventually just flatten out.
So now here we are at sea level in this area where you can see this little edge. So you've got the ability within Impasto and its various tools to push and pull on this virtual 3D depth that makes up the Impasto layer. Now let's take a look at a brush working within this and we will go to Smeary Round, and we just grab a color here. And I'll just like to paint on this surface and you can see how the brush strokes are implied now into this 3D surface.
As I paint out on the canvas, it's pretty flat. But as I bore into this supposedly existing 3D depth, there is more of an enhanced effect. And as I apply brush strokes, they are going to slowly build up. So each stroke builds upon the last one and starts to increase the height in this case. Now you can play around with some of the controls within the Impasto palette. You will notice that, for example, Draw To is a control. Most brushes in Painter are set to just draw in color, okay.
Now we did, however, look at the Acid Etch. That was set to only to draw to depth. But within most of the brushes in the Impasto category, you're dealing with, painting with both color and depth at the same time. So not only are we applying color to the canvas, but we are also applying the virtual depth at the same time. You can also play around with the actual depth that the brush wants to paint at. If I crank this all the way up, what happens is I start to get a very kind of exaggerated height.
It's almost cartoon like. Especially, it's starting to get bad anti -aliasing in areas of the brush stroke. And that's definitely not something you want. So it's better to keep depth at a lower level so that the appearance of depth is subtle rather than overtly obvious. You can also go to the Canvas menu and Surface Lighting is what controls this illusion of three- dimensional depth based on lighting. If I move my lighting source around, you can see how it's changing the appearance of the lighting that's lighting this up.
And you can start to get it around to where no lights actually even impacting on it. But how the lighting is set plays a great deal into how your final image is going to look, or how you adjust it. I can also control the appearance of depth from here. This is actually setting the depth for the brush, how much to paint in the scene. But this is an overwriting effect that actually controls how the whole 3D scene itself looks. So I can eventually take it all the way down to no depth information.
And now we are just looking at only the paint that's been applied. But this again is another kind of season to taste control that you can use to find what looks right for the type of painting you are doing. So the Surface Lighting is a great way to alter your painting even after the painting work is done. How it's lit can make a great deal of difference in the look of the image itself. Now, if you're intent on working on a painting and you want to go back and work on it later, if you want to save this file, you must save it in Painter's native RIFF format.
Any other format will just discard the height information and it will no longer be part of the image. The other thing you might want to do is you may want to take this image into something like Photoshop and retain this look of 3D. There's no obvious control anywhere in the interface that tells you how to flatten this down. The only way to do it is to go to the File menu and say Clone. When you clone, this is now a flattened image and there's no extra 3D information saved with it.
So you could save this image and it will appear visually just as you see it here. It's just no longer has any 3D data associated with it that you can manipulate. That's where by saving it as a RIFF file, you could open this back up and continue to manipulate the 3D surface of the Impasto. So Impasto is just a great way of taking your painting in a different direction, where you really are actually starting to play with the sense of depth that the physical medium of paint often actually has associated with it.
So I would really say this is one of the areas you would like to probably spend some time in, and just be prepared to get a little giddy along the way and maybe laugh uncontrollably at the same time.
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