capsule review

Studio Artist 1.5

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At a Glance
  • Synthetik Systems Studio Artist 1.5

Synthetik Systems' Studio Artist is about as different from other paint programs as it is from a can of paint. Billed as the world's first graphics synthesizer, the program offers an astounding array of tools and effects for creating still images and complex animations, and version 1.5 adds the ability to animate the properties of brush strokes over time. But Studio Artist's unique tools are accompanied by a unique interface; to become proficient in this program, you have to be willing to log many hours with it.

Studio Artist's interface uses a music-synthesizer metaphor. You brush effects onto your canvas using patches , which range from natural-media effects to hallucinatory swirls. More than 600 patches are included -- and you can build your own.

But the program's most impressive feature is its ability to clone an image: it can sample the color in an image and then use that color to paint a second image using the currently selected patch. You can easily turn a photo into a watercolor, for example, by painting over the image using the watercolor patch. Unlike other programs, such as Corel's Painter, that offer cloning features, Studio Artist uses complex algorithms that clone intelligently.

One of the best features in Studio Artist 1.0 (

; Reviews , November 1999) was its ability to turn QuickTime movies into animations. Version 1.5 goes a step further with a sequencer that lets you animate the parameters of your patches over time to create wild, ever-changing paint effects.

The new Texture Synthesizer offers an overwhelming assortment of controls for creating textures. Using the synthesizer and the new animation features, you can render everything from complex morphs to psychedelic, swimming textures and colors. Another new feature, a set of 3-D-lighting tools, lets you control how light interacts with a painted surface to create textures and complex lighting effects that would otherwise require an art degree and years of training.

Auto Sunflowers   Studio Artist's auto-painting engine does an incredible job of generating strokes that follow the lines, contours, and forms of an underlying image.
At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Unmatched effects and image-cloning features


    • Complex, somewhat un-Mac-like interface
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