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Project Dogwaffle started as a free application developed by Dan Ritchie – an animator who couldn’t find the tools he was looking for in commercial software.
Now a commercial application itself (although there is still a free version – on your DVD) PD Pro is a monster of a tool. It’s a natural media simulator, animator and effects package all rolled into one, with a few extra features for good measure. However this can be both its strength and its weakness.

This latest version makes improvements across the board, beefing up the animation system, adding new filters and improving the already quite daring particle system. There’s certainly enough here to keep the most inquisitive artist busy for a long time.

The features arrive in an easy-to-use way – or at least the basics do. It has the feeling of one of those rambling old mansions so popular in ghost s ... Read more »

Category: Software reviews | Views: 1041 | Added by: G-Shock | Date: 28.02.2009 | Rating: 0.0/0 | Comments (0)

Lighting is what often makes an image – AutoFX has got that right. The proper lighting can turn an image around. The idea with Mystical Lighting is that you can do the turn around at some point after you’ve taken or painted the picture, adding fantasy or conventional lighting.

Rather usefully, Mystical Lighting operates as a standalone application and a Photoshop plug-in, meaning that even if you don’t have an image-editor, you can use it to create effects.

The package consists of a set of 16 customisable lighting effects ranging from Ethereal and FairyDust (our favourites) to Spotlight and Surface Light. Using a familiar layers-based palette, you can stack effects on top of each other, giving you an almost limitless range of lights. This is in some senses an interesting way to play around with your images – and those who love to experiment could find them ... Read more »

Category: Software reviews | Views: 705 | Added by: G-Shock | Date: 28.02.2009 | Rating: 0.0/0 | Comments (0)

This much-anticipated comic software can finally bring a smile to all digital manga enthusiasts, especially those with Macs. Available in EX and the significantly cheaper Debut versions, it promises the “all in one solution for creating and publishing manga.”

Its capabilities become apparent upon opening a new page in Manga Studio EX, where you’re greeted with a mind-boggling array of paper sizes (preset with bleed and crop). It also boasts eerily-realistic functions for sketching and inking. An ingenious device is the Panel Ruler for creating instant panels and page layouts through click and drag.

Manga Studio EX wins hands-down with its sheer selection of screen tones. You will never run out of rare tones such as scenery, sky, motifs or patterns, which can otherwise be impossible to create using Photoshop.

One significant drawback is that it’s specif ... Read more »

Category: Software reviews | Views: 835 | Added by: G-Shock | Date: 28.02.2009 | Rating: 0.0/0 | Comments (0)

We previously looked at Painter 9.1, a tool that is undeniably the best digital painting tool available for any platform. However, power and precision come at a price and for some £300 is too much money to indulge in the full Painter software. This is where Painter Essentials comes in – being to Painter what Photoshop Elements is to Photoshop.

Essentials 3 is the latest release, and it offers a lot of art tools for your money. While the application obviously doesn’t have the vast range of tools and brushes on offer in Painter, nor the scope to create your own or load in sets, it does have such brushes as Digital Watercolour, the brilliant Artists’ Oils and a decent range of pastels, palette knives, pens, crayons and other options. In fact, there are more than 75 brush variants, which adds up to less than £1 each.

Control over these brushes isn’t great, how ... Read more »

Category: Software reviews | Views: 755 | Added by: G-Shock | Date: 28.02.2009 | Rating: 0.0/0 | Comments (0)

DAZ|Studio is a rare beast – a fully functioning 3D tool that’s free. Obviously it lacks the power and precision of Maya and the like, but it offers an introduction to 3D and a wide range of positional, lighting and rendering tools.

There are no modelling features as such. The most you can do is import figures, use morph targets to adjust expressions and use standard move/rotation tools to adjust poses. You can add clothes, hair and other props, control cameras and add/adjust lights.

DAZ|Studio is great as a scene-building tool and for creating images quickly. You can either Spot Render a small part of your scene to get a preview or do a standard render. The results are good enough for everything apart from commercial work, and it’s all easy to set up. Worth a look…


Reviev from ... Read more »

Category: Software reviews | Views: 779 | Added by: G-Shock | Date: 28.02.2009 | Rating: 0.0/0 | Comments (0)

Ask any professional, semi-pro or amateur digital artist and you’ll get a unanimous verdict that Painter is the software to have. Just look at the work of Ryan Church ( and Dan Milligan ( and you’ll get an idea of the kind of work that can be accomplished with this program.

The range of brushes on offer is just amazing – more than 30 categories, each with their own controls. Think of a type of brush or a medium and Painter will be able to replicate it, and in great style. From oils, to gouache to watercolours that can be manipulated by wind direction, Corel appears to have thought of everything.

The Mixer palette is a favourite, making it possible to ‘mix’ paint on an easel. We love the fact you can create your own brushes from scratch and create custom palettes as well. This makes customising the tool for your needs ... Read more »

Category: Software reviews | Views: 660 | Added by: G-Shock | Date: 28.02.2009 | Rating: 0.0/0 | Comments (0)

Anyone serious about their artwork will be using a graphic tablet. The mouse simply doesn’t enable the degree of flexibility required. And when you consider the benefits of pressure sensitivity, which provides line thickness and ink density, you’ll quickly realise that the old soap-on-a-rope mouse is living on borrowed time. However, tablets can be expensive things and although cheaper models are available from rival manufacturers it’s Wacom that win hands down with quality and performance that’s worth paying that little bit more for.

Thankfully, cost isn’t too much of an issue with the Volito. Aimed primarily at being a mouse replacement than a drawing tool, the Volito has a tiny footprint of around 20x20cm which contains the A6 sized active area. And although this might not provide the amount of freedom available to A4 sized Intuos3 users, the Volito is infi ... Read more »

Category: Tools & devices reviews | Views: 1087 | Added by: G-Shock | Date: 28.02.2009 | Rating: 0.0/0 | Comments (0)

If you’re serious about creating digital art then you’ll need a graphics tablet. And if your hobby becomes an obsession, it’s going to have to be a good one. That’s where Wacom comes in. The Intuos range has long been the standard for artists wanting more control over their digital art.

A mouse is far too clumsy when you want to trace a sketch or colour up a piece of art, whereas a tablet echoes the act of drawing with a pen or pencil, something we’ve all done long before picking up a mouse.

The great thing about the Intuos range is the amount of control you have over the thickness and pressure of brush strokes. Painter (or Painter Essentials, supplied with the tablet) was made to work with a graphics tablet. Once you start painting and realising that digital media can act exactly like traditional media, it’s hard to remember what it was like to create art ... Read more »

Category: Tools & devices reviews | Views: 774 | Added by: G-Shock | Date: 28.02.2009 | Rating: 0.0/0 | Comments (0)

A graphics tablet is an essential piece of kit for any digital artist, but getting your hands on one large enough to feel like you’ve really got enough room to draw can set you back a large wedge of cash. The Nisis Easypen G6 has an area of 9x12-inches. The equivalent tablet from Wacom would set you back around £335.

The tablet isn’t exactly aesthetically pleasing, however, and sitting next to a Wacom you begin to realise why this tablet costs so much less. The quality of engineering on Wacom’s Intuos range is far better than on the Nisis, and the G6’s accessories, namely the pen and mouse, feel cheap and easily breakable. Having to stick a battery in the pen is a bit odd, too.

That said, the Easypen does provide a cheap way to get a large tablet. It’s easy to set up and easy to configure (even if the Control Panel lacks polish). It has a decent amount of ... Read more »

Category: Tools & devices reviews | Views: 1751 | Added by: G-Shock | Date: 28.02.2009 | Rating: 0.0/0 | Comments (0)

There’s been a flux of Wacom rivals recently – all aimed at the enthusiast rather than professional scribblers, and all carrying enticing price tags. The MousePen from the rather humbly named Genius is a prime example of one of these tablets – for under £50, you get a mouse, pen and an A5 8x6-inch active work area.

Unlike many budget tablets – the pressure sensitivity is here, with the MousePen having a Wacom-equalling 1,024-levels. For anyone unsure of what this means – basically it’s how sensitive the tablet is to pen pressure. The harder you press, the darker, thicker the paint. The lighter you press, the lighter, thinner the stroke. And there’s loads of levels in-between. On paper it’s undeniably impressive.

But, like many Wacom competitors, the MousePen suffers from poor build quality. It’s nothing like the quality of the Graphire range, even. The pac ... Read more »

Category: Tools & devices reviews | Views: 1226 | Added by: G-Shock | Date: 28.02.2009 | Rating: 0.0/0 | Comments (0)

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