Chris' ColorWorks PowerTips- by Chris Wenham

Solar Lens Flares

Tip works in ColorWorks 2.0 or higher

A while back I picked up a comic book and looked over its cover. The cover was a pretty cheesy space-scene; what interested me was the sun-flare effect the artist had used. It had a white core, fading out to stellar red with a faint pink halo or shockwave. "I can do thaaaat!" I thought to myself, and after getting home I set about doing it with ColorWorks.

The effect is really just a radial gradient, using a red-to-white palette, inverted and with the opacity control switched on. My palette also has a custom gradient map to get the 'shockwave' or halo-ring at the fringes. You draw it onto a black/space background with the circle tool.

We start with a simple space scene (GIF, 24k) with the shuttle floating high above the Earth's atmosphere, set against a thick black and featureless background. Next we set up the gradient, the trickiest part of this is to find a gradient map that's just right -- one that'll give us the tight white-hot core of the sun, fading out with a dim red, and concentrating again to form the pink lens-flare halo at the rim. This (GIF, 7k) is the one I made, although you might want to fiddle with it some to get what you want in your picture (fiddling is an art form itself and probably the only one at which all human beings are equally inept).

The palette is easier to make though; it's just a spread from red to white (not white to red, since we'll be inverting it later to get the opacity setting we want). Then we just make sure the gradient is set to vary opacity and palette colors, is radial and set to 0% noise and no rotation. The Gradient dialog should look a bit like this one (GIF, 15k).

Simpler yet is to download the Graphics State file included later in this article, but that's cheating... right?

With everything set up we just select the circle tool, make sure it's filled, and draw a test flare (GIF, 6k) on a plain black canvas. Ooops! A bit hard around the edges. Okay, so we go to Effects.Drawing Merge Control and set the blend-filled-edges to about 3 or 4 to smooth that out a bit. Now we try again on the space-scene canvas, first a small flare (JPG, 8k) and then a bigger one (GIF, 8k).

You'll notice that on the small flare our 'shockwave' didn't really come out, but on the bigger one it did. We get the effect of a light shining directly into the camera lens and causing a faint pink halo.

Q & A Center

"Sometimes when I have a custom palette loaded I need to quickly grab a color from the default palette, but don't want to have to reload my custom palette all over again. Is there a way I can grab the color I want without loading the new palette over top of the old one?"
- Joe Anybody, Somewhere, Idano

Dear Joe, if you go to Palette.Load Palette... and pick the palette you want from the tabbed notebook, you'll find that the mouse will turn into an eyedropper when you hover it over the colors. Click on the color you want, then click on the Cancel button instead of the Load button. The new drawing color will be whatever you clicked on with the eyedropper and it won't replace the palette you already had loaded.

Download Depot

As I promised last month, I've pulled together a ton of new textures, palettes, graphics states and more. The gradient map, palette and graphics state for this month's tip is here, although you only really need to download the graphics state -- you can save the gradient map and palette separately if you wish. We have a couple of palettes, "blue" and "ice" submitted by Jonathan D. Fischer this month too.

Some palettes, a gradient map and some graphics states (ZIP, 5k) - (Unzip and copy Palettes to X:\CWORKS\PALETTE; Gradient Maps to X:\CWORKS\GRADMAP; Graphics States to X:\CWORKS\GRSTATE)

And some textures (ZIP, 42k) - (Unzip and copy to X:\CWORKS\TEXTURE)


Chris Wenham is a Team OS/2er in Binghamton, NY with a catchy-titled company -- Wenham's Web Works. He has written comedy, sci-fi, HTML, Pascal, C++ and now writes software reviews.

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