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We took a look at Smart Blur earlier as it exists in the Underpainting palette, but in Painter 12 they've actually brought this out as its own filter outside of Underpainting. And I just want to explain a little bit more in depth exactly what it's useful for. And it's really a simple filter, you'll find it under Focus, it's right here at the top, Smart Blur, and we can kind of move this out of the way as we work.
What it does is it basically looks at and analyzes an image, finds edges, or areas of high contrast and protects them. And then areas that are not high contrast, it softens. So an ideal area of high contrast would be this flower up against these darker elements. And an area of low contrast would be like in here, except for where this frog happens to be I guess. There's not much change going on in here. So, that area doesn't have a lot of dramatic change in it, and so Smart Blur will affect those areas much more than it's going to areas that have high contrast boundaries associated with them.
And when you start to use it, even at a low-level, I'll just take it up here a little bit, there we go. You can see now this doesn't seem very affected at all, whereas this already is starting to get softened out. And the more you turn this up, the more aggressive its action is. So as I keep going up here, see that by this point it's already starting to look a bit like a painting. Because, one concept that I sometimes try to get across is, you can look at any visual information and it can be looked at as a set of frequencies.
High-frequency information is sharp detail, grain, edges; those are all part of the domain of frequency that is high-frequency. Then you get down to where things don't change very often and that's where you have low frequencies. And what's happening here is, as we continue to increase this, we are removing the high frequencies from the image and one reason this looks more like a painting than a photograph is because photographs have a lot of high frequency detail in it.
And when we use a filter like Smart Blur, that intelligently protects high-frequency and removes low-frequency detail, well we are kind of draining this image of some of its photographic nature. And you crank it all the way up and it gets very simplified, and yet all of the hard edges within it remain. You've got this environment where you've still got sharp edges, but now a lot of it is very simplified down. So, you can still read this as reflections and this as lily pads on a pond, but it's a little bit more for the reader to kind of connect the dots to figure out that image. It's getting a little bit more abstract, whereas you know, now I can start to take it down, I can start to play with it for my taste, you know, what may constitutes a nice balance between both.
So Smart Blur really gives you a very nice tool for initially draining a photograph of its high-frequency information. And I just want to show you this too, you can repeatedly apply this. So if I take this up all the way and apply it, okay that's pretty simple. Now let's go back to Effects, we'll reapply it, and let's even go, well a third time, let's see what happens. So each time, it's applying it more and more and you can see, some people might find this to be actually a very nice start to a painting project.
And that's exactly where I find it very useful. Now you've got all of the photographic high-detail drained out of it, you can go in and start using this as a basis to paint on. And because you've already bled that high-frequency out of the image, it's highly unlikely that as you start painting this, it's going to stay too close to a photographic image. And the result will be a painting that looks much more as if it were painted from a blank canvas onward, rather than, oh I started with a photograph and I ended up with this painting.
So be sure you take advantage of Smart Blur's capability for draining that high-frequency information out of an image, particularly a photograph.
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