View Full Version : TIP: The WYSIWYG Merge

07-13-2011, 01:04 AM

For those of you that love to use the 'Layer Blend Modes' I'm sure that at some stage you've encountered the following scenario:-

You've created a multi-layered file with lots of different blend modes on the layers and the image looks exactly how you like. Its finished, a masterpiece! All that's left to do is to merge a copy of the file into one layer and upload it to your favorite forum or printer. You use the Merge all layers command and OMG!! you get results that were completely unexpected and don't look at all like your original.

07-13-2011, 01:05 AM
Why does this occur ?

The reason this occurs is because only the layers themselves are factored into the merge calculation when we ask Artrage to merge all layers. The canvas (for many technical reasons) lives outside of the layer stack and therefore is part of 'What You See' but not part of 'What You Get'.

So here's a little trick I use to get around this problem.

Basically all you need to do is create a 'placeholder' canvas at the bottom of your layer stack before you merge your file. This placeholder canvas layer will be a paint bucket fill of the exact RGB value your underlying canvas is. Merge all layers except the placeholder layer, and delete the placeholder canvas layer afterwards.

07-13-2011, 01:06 AM
Something to keep in mind

In most cases you will not want the canvas placeholder layer to be included in your final merge as you will most likely want to make use of the texture in the real underlying canvas.

This can cause issue with merging files which have loads and loads of layers, each with different blend modes on them which comprise your finished image.

In this scenario we need to merge layers down bit by bit which means that every layer blend effect will not be calculated simultaneously in the merging process. We are not given the option of merging all layers at once minus only the canvas placeholder layer. This then can lead to unexpected merge results.

I find the best results are achieved when upon deciding you like a particular blend on a layer you merge it down to a new empty layer underneath, thus turning it into normal ink (with canvas placeholder in place before merge).

07-13-2011, 01:35 AM
Interesting approach Juz. I noticed you can perfectly cut the canvas out from the stack in slghtly another way.
First export image to PSD file format then import it into AR again. This will extract canvas information into new layer *Paper* and place it bellow all layers in the stack. This give you all flexibility you might want to have.

07-13-2011, 01:50 AM
Good Point Strandy. :)

I did ponder whether to suggest this or not and decided to stick to what can be done within artrage as not everyone has photoshop.

What you suggest however will achieve even better results as you end up with a canvas placeholder layer that contains a copy of the underlying canvas with the texture included. It would be nice if in a future incarnation of artrage we had the ability to make a copy of the underlying canvas to a layer.

You could also perform the merge within photoshop itself but then are missing out on the lighting/texture benefits of using artrage.

07-13-2011, 02:49 AM
I can think of two scenarios where that might not be the ideal solution. Both having to do with reaching the limits of your systems power:-

a) My computer is older and doesn't have a lot of RAM and when I go over 'x' amount of layers performance grinds to a halt

b) I have a state of the art graphics workstation but am creating an A4 sized poster @300dpi which has over 'x' amount of layers and performance is being adversely affected.

Merging layers as you work would solve performance issues in both scenarios.

07-13-2011, 10:48 AM
thank you Juz for those tips - intuitively I always was merging layers from top to bottom, but I didn't know about the placeholder canvas.
I'm gonna give it a try, thanks again! :)

07-15-2011, 05:46 AM
Very interesting thread with great ideas - thanks to both!
Now Juz :D ..pretty please will you tell me how you created that neat texture?

Ta very much,

07-16-2011, 12:54 AM
Hiya Rowena, that was a custom paper grain which I made quite some time ago.

The paper was made with only black and white values to give it a huge amount of bump so that when i used one of the Artrage tools that picks up texture it only picked up the crackle bit without painting the background areas as well .

I would have made it using either an Eye Candy filter and then making into a seamless tile in photoshop OR using the Tesselation feature of Painter on a file set up as a seamless tile.

I'm not 100% sure which of these I did but both methods will give the yummy crackle glaze texture as you see it above. :):)

07-17-2011, 11:35 PM
Thanks for the explanation and trick to work around this. This has happened to me several times in the past and I've just accepted the merged result as being just the way things are, or have fiddled around exporting and reimporting to a new layer.

07-20-2011, 02:09 AM
Thank You for this most intresting thread and the how-toes:)