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Thread: Working at 300 DPI / Wacom Tablets

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    16

    Working at 300 DPI / Wacom Tablets

    Hope everyone is doing well, and having fun holidays!

    After playing around with a demo version of ArtRage and being very impressed with it, I recently purchased Studio Pro. In 2012 (just days away!), I'll begin working on paintings / illustrations in the Fantasy / Sci-Fi / Comic Book genre...

    ...just to give you my background: I did some traditional illustration in a prior life, then really worked more in marketing, and now actually segued to primarily be a graphic designer and copywriter. I've worked for comic companies (yes, the one with that starts with the big "M") in marketing, but now finally getting back into illustration. What appealed to me about ArtRage -- as opposed to Corel Painter -- is the relatively shallow learning curve, and in some ways the superior emulation of traditional media, especially the watercolors. Anyway, some tech questions...

    1) For those of you who are working at print quality, have you installed extra RAM in your machine, or anything else to pump up the speed when working at high resolution? I'd ideally like to work on canvases of 10" x 15" (or perhaps larger) at 300 DPI. There's def a lot of slowdown at that size, so how can I get performance to be as good as when working at 72 DPI screen resolution at smaller dimensions?

    2) One of the aspects that really "sells" a digital painting as looking like it was done traditionally, is the canvas texture showing through a bit. Though, when working at 300 DPI, the canvas textures don't default scale, and almost disappear unless you're zoomed in tight. I DID find the controls in ArtRage to scale up the canvas textures. That's the correct solution(?) The canvas texture being visible at 300 DPI is important to the look I'm trying to achieve.

    3) I don't yet have a Wacom tablet, but will in the near future. Just comparing models...don't have the budget for a Cintiq (the dream device!), so it's between an Intuos4 medium and the new Bamboo Create. The key difference between the two (aside from the first being a "professional" product vs. for the hobbyist / casual user) are the pressure levels -- the Intuos being double the Bamboo, I believe. For those of you experienced with Wacom's, thoughts / recommendations?

    Thanks so much!

    Digger

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Ambient Design
    Posts
    3,504
    Hi Digger, welcome to the forums!

    Performance and painting size: As you increase your document size you will tend to be working with tools at a larger size and there's more paint data for the application to keep track of ( especially as we track paint thickness, wetness, reflectivity and so on rather than just colour for our simulation ), so resource requirements will tend to be higher.

    Here are a few tips which may help:

    - If you've been painting for a long time, ArtRage has been keeping track of your undo information on disk. Saving your work and restarting the application will flush this and may help.

    - If you have unneccessary layers, removing these or selectively flattening your painting will tend to reduce memory requirements.

    - ArtRage by default uses 3D lighting, but if you're not using effects which require it such as textured thick media, turning it off may give you a small performance increase. You can do this via View -> Canvas Settings and clicking the lightbulb to turn it off or by pressing the F5 key to toggle it. By the sound of it however, you want the textured canvas visible, so this is probably not going to be worthwhile for your current work.

    - Close background applications in case you have a situation where these are using a fair amount of memory which is then not available for your painting.

    Regarding RAM, ArtRage is a 32 bit application, so in general I wouldn't expect to see a many gains in adding additional memory if you already have 4GB or more ( As 32 bit applications can't utilize memory beyond around 3GB or so ), depending on how much is being used by other applications at the time.

    Canvas texture size: Tool size and canvas texture size in ArtRage is absolute rather than relative, so if you're working with a larger document, making the canvas texture size larger can be worthwhile if you want to have a more textured feel. You can either do this on creating your painting ( File -> New Painting, click on the Canvas Preview then dial up the Grain Size ) or after you've created a new painting via View -> Canvas Settings.

    Canvas settings can also be adjusted on a per layer basis by right clicking a layer and choosing 'edit layer texture'. By the sound of it, what you're doing already would be the best way to increase the canvas grain size.

    A tip for tool sizes: If you're working at larger sizes, you can exceed the normal 100% tool size by holding down the shift key and dragging your stylus on the canvas. This will allow you to get tools of up to 500% size. Some tools which are particular processor intensive ( e.g. watercolour due to the complexity of the calculations required ) will tend to perform more slowly at larger sizes.
    Dave
    Resident Bug-Hunter
    Ambient Design

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    16
    Thanks Dave, very helpful! I'm currently on a loaner PC Laptop that looks to have 2 GB of RAM, so that may very well be the reason why I'm seeing such slowdown at larger canvas / 300 DPI...totally understand that ArtRage has all those pixels to render, and calculations to make for realistic traditional media emulation...

    In a few months, I'll probably be purchasing a MacBook Pro. I believe the standard RAM in it is 4GB, however I'm really considering throwing in another 4 to make it 8GB (wow, math!) from the start, as I'm often bouncing between Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.

    So, your thought that going beyond 4GB won't incrementally help ArtRage when it's running alone, but def will with the other applications I have open simultaneously, correct?

    Thanks again, best,

    D

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Englishman in Ont, Canada
    Posts
    3,729
    I paint with an iMac with only 4gb and I also do large canvas at 300 dpi and have not experienced any slow downs at all.
    Geoff

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    16
    Thanks limey-g! May I ask at 300 DPI, what canvas size do you work at (typically)?

    As I'd like to from 10" x 15" up to 20" x 30". When I used to work traditionally, often I'd start by laying down a background across the entire canvas; either with "wet on wet" blended bands of gouache / watercolor OR airbrush. On my current machine trying to do that by sweeping across the canvas is sluggish, however are you confident a Mac with 4GB of RAM will take care of it?

    Thanks again, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    D

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Englishman in Ont, Canada
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    3,729
    Normally set canvas to 4000- 5000 pixels for me, now I guess we all paint differently as I do not do many sweeping colours like you mention using say the airbrush, so I cannot comment on the way my iMac would handle that .
    I do however paint on lots of layers with no problems at all.
    Mind you if you are getting a new machine I would add that extra memory as prices are not too bad now.
    Geoff

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    101
    Get the extra memory if you are in a position to do so. I'm no expert on Mac OS, so someone correct me if I'm wrong, but even assuming AR cant use more than 4gb of Ram because it is not a 64 bit application, it will still be useful to have greater than 4gb, because modern operating systems take a good chunk for themselves. Having an excess would let the application get the full amount, while allowing your system to breathe, and other programs to function well in the background.

    Not to mention, there may come a day when AR IS fully 64 bit, at which point it could use more ram. Plus, you might find other graphics applications (like photoshop) that can make use of it. It's good forward thinking.


    However.

    While having a large amount of Ram will enable you to work on larger (higher resolution) images more easily, with more layers, and improve fluidity and stability at those sizes...bear in mind that ultimately, how fast you can work with larger brushes is going to come down to your CPU power, not your Ram. And you will always find an upper limit. So have realistic expectations.

    However, you may find it is not always as necessary to work at 300 dpi for acceptable print images, especially for painting. Painting detail tends to be coarse. You may find you can work slightly smaller at 200 dpi for better performance, and still get good results printing. If you are working for a printer that demands a 300 dpi file, you can usually upscale a slightly smaller painting after the fact with little ill effect. As long as the image is reasonably large to begin with, upsampling it by a third is not usually that big of a deal, especially if you have something like photoshop. It's not like a photograph, or a fine line drawing.

    What I often do working with Artrage ( I have steadily increased my hardware over the years, but can still get AR to chug in high resolution print images...it just has more advanced information and eyecandy to process than some other paint progs), is work with broad strokes and multiple layers at lower resolutions, then flatten the image and enlarge, and do a detail pass for finer strokes and gritty detail.

    Just something to think about.
    Last edited by ScottC; 01-03-2012 at 06:45 AM.
    .
    Hearts of Space
    The only thing I put in my ears while working.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    601
    That advice about starting at a low res for the big brush work, then flattening and up-resing and doing the detailed work at a higher res is really smart and simple. Don't know why I hadn't thought of that before. Thanks!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    16
    Thanks Scott! In a few months, think I'm going for a MacBook Pro 15-inch, 2.4 GHz, and throw in an extra 4GB of RAM (for 8GB total). Thoughts?

    Believe me, I'd prefer a desktop with a nice big monitor, but since I may have to be mobile for freelance gigs ("Have laptop, will travel..."), I can only afford one new machine for the time being, so the laptop wins.

    Best,

    D

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