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Chris' ColorWorks Powertips- by Chris Wenham

Feathers and Outlines

This month I've been playing with the MD+F Renders plug-ins and I have learned a few neat tricks. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to include these tricks in this column. Expect a full review of the product and an appearance in this column soon!

Q&A Center

"I'm very impressed with my purchase of ColorWorks V2, and I read the Powertips in every issue! However, sometimes it annoys me trying to figure out how to do "simple" things. One example is the "feather" option. Can you point me in the right direction?"

- Anders Gjerlov

In ColorWorks the "feather" option's closest counterpart is the "Soften Edges" option found in the Edit.Floating Merge Control dialog.

Say we have a starting image (GIF, 35k) we want to clip out and paste into another. After masking, floating, and dragging the image to our destination canvas, we go to Edit.Floating Merge Control (GIF, 5k) and set the Edges to a softness factor of 1 or more. After clicking "OK" we should see the edges of the floating image softened (JPG, 36k), or "feathered" (if you don't, just move the floating image around a pixel or two to "remind" ColorWorks to paint it again).

I've noticed a bug in ColorWorks concerning the edge softening effect. On irregular shapes it can miss feathering the very top and bottom of the floating image after it has been pasted. To fix this, pick a brush of appropriate thickness and use the line tool to touch-up the missed areas with one of the smoothing labs switched on (Effects.Filters Lab.Smoothing Lab).

"I need to have a shape which can be defined with an image mask develop a buffer 1 pixel wide of a fixed color. This is analogous to the old grade school drawing project of writing your name and then make rings around the letters using different colored crayons."

- Doug Rickman

This can be done by using the Noise Reduction Lab in the Effects.Filter Lab menu.

  1. Start with the shape you want to work with, mask it, float it, and drag the floating image onto the ColorWorks Desktop to make a quick temporary copy (GIF, 16k) of your original.

  2. Use Edit.Show Mask.Image Mask to show your original image mask again, then use Edit.Mask Edit Options.Invert Mask to invert it.

  3. Now save this inverted mask as the protection mask (using Edit.Save Mask.Protection Mask), meaning that you're now protecting all of the areas outside of your shape.

  4. Make sure the protection mask is then switched on with Options.Protection Mask, pick the color you want to use for the outline and apply it to the canvas with the full canvas tool, so your shape is now completely filled (GIF, 2k) with the outline color.

  5. Switch off the protection mask (select Edit.Save Mask.Protection Mask again) and go to Effects.Filter Lab.Noise Reduction Lab. Pick "Minimum" from the drop down list box, click "OK" and apply the effect to the canvas with the full canvas tool. You'll notice that the whole shape has now fattened by about one pixel.

    Illustration showing the effect of the Noise Reduction Lab

  6. To finish up, go back to the temporary canvas you made and mask the original image, float it, and drag it over your fattened image. Position it carefully and paste.
Magnified view of finished result

Extra tip: If this 'buffer' is still not thick enough you can make it thicker yet in a single step. Leave the Noise Reduction Lab switched on in the Effects menu and select the paint can tool. Make sure you're switched out of mask mode (right-click once on the mask icon) and then apply the paint can to any empty space outside of your shape. ColorWorks will thicken all the lines outside the shape by another pixel for each time you click on the canvas with the paint can -- and always of that same fixed color you wanted.

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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