If you're bored
with a photo and want to try how it would look as a painting, you
don't have to worry about not finding software for this purpose. Almost
every image editor offers artistic effects from pencil drawing to
oil painting. However, most of the time, the result is just painting-like.
It is better to look for a purpose-built plugin or standalone program
instead. We have tried several such apps, and there was just one which
made us nod appreciatively every time. It is called Dynamic Auto-Painter
and is developed by MediaChance.
a very complex software, so it would be impossible to discuss all
its details in a single article. Thus we'll only look at a few important
user interface is not overly complex. Important settings and options
can be found on the top toolbar, in the menu, or the most quickly
in the left side pane—which can of course be moved elsewhere. The
right side of the window constantly displays current information about
the session. The loaded image appears and transforms into a painting
in the large middle pane.
The most important
thing is the ability to select different painting styles, some of
which are related to specific artists. You'll find the mandatory Van
Gogh, and of course Monet the impressionist, but also the styles of
art nouveau painter Klimt, or Cezanne, Benson, and Camille are available.
You can also choose an aquarel or pastel crayon effect, an illustration,
or a washed look to your image.
set typical of the specific painter or style can be selected in the
Palette section, but of course you can create custom palettes as well.
This is also where you can specify if you want a realistic or a rougher,
Brush Strokes section controls brush size ranges from smallest to
largest. The software uses these automatically. You can also specify
a maximum Number of Strokes, or select Continuous for infinite strokes.
We'll discuss later what this means in practice.
section controls properties of our imaginary canvas. For example,
the first dropdown specifies the size of the final image, ranging
from 2.5 to 16 megapixels.
Dynamic Painter section controls image realism. The Faithful setting
produces more realistic pictures, while Impress results in an image
that's only reminiscent of the original. The Real/Surreal slider puts
strokes on the canvas according to the photo, or entirely freely,
in floating, wavy lines.
besides controlling highlighting of smaller details, affects the speed
with which the painting is produced. Moving the slider to the left
means less details and faster results, while values on the right mean
slower work and more finery. The Speed/Precision slider in the Quality
section has a similar effect.
Also to be mentioned
are the various masking possibilities, available in the Mask menu.
Defocus Mask can be used to blur certain picture parts, while Detail
Brush Mask simply erases the areas you wish. The mask window offers
a separately customizable brush for painting blurring/erasing onto
the desired parts. These can be used to emphasize more important themes,
or make a half-finished painting by partially erasing the image. Below
you can see such a picture, combining erased edges with an aquarel
the Start button, found under all the other controls, starts automatic
painting. The button with the right arrow on the top toolbar has the
of the most interesting features of the software—a strength and weakness
at the same time—is that you can watch the whole "painting"
process. This is unlike other apps where you set the desired options,
and in a few seconds, the painting-style image appears. You can watch
every single stroke, from the basics to the tiny details. The program
uses different brush sizes, just like a real painter would.
the rough background is produced with large brushes...
are made visible with medium-sized ones...
the fine details are taken care of.
A counter in the top right corner
shows the number of brush strokes made. You can specify their upper
limit, or set it to Continuous to let the app paint until you stop
it. On one hand, this can be very interesting, on the other, extremely
time-consuming. A picture with a lot of details can take dozens of
minutes to complete, as it may require tens of thousands of strokes.
However, the process
can be stopped and modified at any time. To stop the process for good,
click the Stop button at the bottom of the Tools pane on the left,
or the "square" button on the top toolbar. In this case
you cannot continue, just save the picture. You have a means to pause
painting, though, by right-clicking the image. Right-clicking again
will resume work. You do have more influence on the process, as you
can paint manually both while automatic work is in progress, and when
it is paused. You can set any brush size range (even while the app
is working), and if you bring the mouse pointer over an area and press
and hold the left button, the work will be focused on that part. It
will still go on automatically, but will affect primarily this area
instead of the whole image.
never seen such a realistic look and such detailed controls in any
software developed for a similar purpose. Dynamic Auto-Painter is
not the quickest solution, even the settings may take more time than
rendering by other programs, and preparing the pictures is very slow.
In exchange, it offers a throng of options, possibilities to influence
and watch the painting process, and the best result we've ever seen.
It is recommended for those who do not want images that remind of
paintings but do look like ones, and who are willing to sacrifice
some time for an exquisite result.
article was written about the trial version 1.8 of Dynamic Auto-Painter.
The current version is 2.53, and its demo version can be downloaded
from the developer’s
website. The demo is fully functional, you can even save the finished
pictures, but a warning sign will be displayed upon them.