Synthetik Systems’ Studio Artist is about as different from other paint programs as it is from a can of paint. Billed as the world’s first graphics synthesizer, the program offers an astounding array of tools for creating still images and animations. And version 1.5 adds the ability to animate the properties of brush strokes over time. But Studio Artist’s unique tools are accompanied by an interface that takes a while to learn.
Studio Artist’s interface uses a music-synthesizer metaphor. You brush effects onto a canvas using patches, which range from natural-media effects to hallucinatory swirls. More than 600 patches are included – and you can also build your own. But the program’s most impressive feature is its ability to clone an image: it can sample the colour in an image, and then use that colour to paint a second image using the currently selected patch. You can easily turn a photo into a watercolour, for example, by painting over the image using the watercolour patch. Unlike other programs that offer cloning features, such as Corel’s Painter, Studio Artist uses complex algorithms that clone intelligently.
One of the best features in Studio Artist 1.0 is its ability to turn QuickTime movies into animations. Version 1.5 goes a step further, with a sequencer that lets you animate the parameters of your patches over time to create wild, ever-changing paint effects.
The new Texture Synthesizer offers an overwhelming assortment of controls for creating textures. Using the synthesizer and the new animation features, you can render everything from complex morphs to psychedelic textures and colours. Another new feature, a set of 3D-lighting tools, lets you control how light interacts with a painted surface creating textures and complex lighting-effects that would otherwise require years of training.
With its complex, un-Mac-like interface, Studio Artist 1.5 may baffle those with a short attention span – but it contains some powerful digital-editing tools.