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When you are working in Painter and selecting brushes, you are selecting variants and a variant has a lot of components to it that are underneath the hood and not exposed to you. But what I would like to do here is go through and show you these various components to give you a better understanding of how Painter keeps track of the various brushes within Painter and if you are inclined to go into the operating system and noodle around in the folders, you can actually find all of these files and have a greater understanding of what they are.
So let's start at the top and the Brush Selector bar is where you are exposed to a variant. What happens? The first thing is a variant is essentially a recipe that is all of the settings that are in the Brush Control palette. So, every slider, every drop-down menu, every radio button, is a menu item that becomes part of a recipe and all of those end up being encoded into an XML file.
This is prescribed list that details every setting within Painter. So the heart of a variant is the XML file and in this case we are taking a look at the Square Chalk variant within the Chalk category. So the first thing that has to happen here is it's got to create that XML file when you save a variant. It will use whatever name you give it, in this case, Square Chalk. So we have got one file, Square Chalk.xml. That's one component of a variant.
Now the next thing that happens is there are a couple of graphic elements that are associated with the file. For example, up in the Brush Selector bar under the Variant dropdown menu there is a little graphic representation of the dab of that particular variant. That is stored in what's called a nib file. So it's just a small graphic that represents what it looks like. Also, you can alternatively set up the dropdown menu for variants so that it shows a sample stroke.
That is a stroke file, which is another graphic. So those two files are stored along just to make it efficient for Painter to display those when you choose to look at either one of those graphic representations of the Square Chalk. So we have got a couple of more elements now. All these files will always share the same name. So in every case it's Square Chalk.nib or Square Chalk.xml, but whichever it is, it's always going to share the same name. So now we have got three files associated with our variant.
In some cases, as is the case with the Square Chalk, you have a captured dab. That dab actually represents the mark that is put onto the canvas and used to make the stroke and whenever there is a captured dab, that file must be also kept along with the other files. Now, just to make a fine point here, the nib and stroke files are not required if you want to give a variant to another user.
If it's a captured dab, that JPEG file certainly has to go with it. Painter won't know what to do with a variant that specifies it uses a captured dab and if the file isn't there, it will fail to be able to use it. But the nib and stroke files, Painter automatically creates those the first time a variant is opened up. So those are important files to show you what they are in the makeup of a variant, but they're not important to travel with the essential files that another user would have to have, which is the XML file always and if it happens to be a captured dab, that JPEG file has to go with it as well.
Now where does all of this go? All of the variants within a category, and we are looking at Chalk this time, go into a folder, the Chalk folder. From there that Chalk folder resides in the Painter Brushes folder. The Painter Brushes folder is then nested into another folder called Brushes. The reason for that is you may have more than one brush library, so all of Painter's brush libraries are stored in the Brushes folder. If you have Painter 6 Brushes folder, it would be underneath the Brushes folder itself.
So there could be multiple Brush libraries within your Brushes folder. Then above the Brushes folder it finally goes into the Painter 11 folder and this path hierarchy is found within the user folder on your system. So this is how a variant is organized within Painter and what you see as the tip of the iceberg is just that simple selection you make in the Brush Selector Bar, but underneath the hood, Painter is managing all of these different files and keeping track of them for you, so that you don't have to do the heavy lifting.
So when you click on that variant button the Brush Selector bar, keep in mind, Painter is doing a lot of work for you.
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