|A CreativeCOW Combustion Tutorial
©Rikard Bosnjakovic and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.
In this tutorial, Rikard Bosnjakovic will demonstrate converting an existing logo to a paint-object and use it as a watermark for pictures. The intent of the tutorial is to overcome some nasty and unwanted problems with traced objects in the paint operator. This tutorial is for beginners.
The image we're going to use is the official Combustion-animal. It is downloadable as a desktop wallpaper from Discreet, here (it is included in the zip-file for this tutorial so you don't have to download it).
We're going to manipulate this wallpaper:
Into a paint-object and make this scene:
This tutorial is for beginners.
Step one: Download the file "Workspace and Essentials.zip" from the yellow bar above. This file includes a complete sample workspace (in case you get stuck), the landscape background and the traced and untraced image we're going to use for this tutorial.
As you can see, the wallpaper is already traced (converted from raster to vector-format) for you. I used the program "Algolab PhotoVector" on the PC, but there are tons of tracing programs out there so feel free to trace it yourself if you want to.
Step two: Launch Combustion, unless it's already up and running. Head for File->Open in the menu and locate the file "combustion.ai", which is the traced image we're going to dissect, and select "Paint" in the open footage dialog.
In the Illustrator Import-dialog, click "Individual layers" and then click Process.
After the conversion is done, you'll see the animal in the viewport and a single Paint-operator in the workspace. If the image looks skewed or cut, expand the footage library in the workspace and click "Footage - combustion". Then, press F8 to open up the Footage controls, click the Output-button and enter 600 and 480 in the Target Width / Target Height area respectively. This step will correct the size for the footage, since Combustion cannot always calculate the correct sizes for Illustrator-images.
Click on the graphic above to see larger image.
Step three: Switch to dual viewport. The animal will show up in both viewports. Select the right viewport (click in it), and do either of the following:
1. Press ctrl + shift + 8
2. Right click the viewport, select "View mode" and then "Alpha"
This sets the viewport view mode to alpha, meaning you'll see the alpha channel (transparency). At this time, the right viewport should be completely white, meaning that it is completely opaque. If it would have been black, it would have been transparent and you wouldn't have seen the animal in the left viewport.
Using the alpha view mode lets you, at this stage, find information about the animal footage you imported. In the left viewport, you see the animal and a black background. Since the right viewport is entirely white, it means that the background is not transparent. Our first and biggest task is to make the background transparent.
Step four: Activate the left viewport (click in it). In the workspace, expand the "combustion.ai"-paint operator. You will see that the operator consists of a single group named "Layer 1". It is not really a layer, but that's the default naming convention. Click "Layer 1" and press Ctrl + U or click the Object-menu and select "Ungroup". This will ungroup the group(!), meaning all objects in it will be extracted and the group will be removed. This is what we want.
What you see now is 16 objects, all named "GroupPath" along with a number. Each of these is a paint object. If you click on any of the objects, they will be highlighted in the viewport to show which of the objects they are. You will find out that GroupPath 12, 13, 14 and 15 belongs to the animal and the rest are for the Combustion-text below. We do not want the text, so delete all GroupPath-objects except the four topmost. Click once on GroupPath(11), scroll down the workspace and click on GroupPath (the bottom one) while holding the shift-key. This will select all of the objects between those two you just clicked. Press the delete-key and they will all be gone, leaving you with the only four objects we want to work on.
If you look at the viewports, you'll see that something interesting happened as well. The right viewport is no longer completely white. Instead, you see a black image with a white-filled animal. This means that the whole animal is opaque and the background is transparent. In the left viewport you'll see that the background turned white but the animal itself is unchanged. We've completed the first task, to make the background transparent. The background was embedded in one of the text-objects, and when we deleted the objects the background got deleted as well. Sort of a bonus to us.
Step five: Rename the paint objects to a more convenient and easy findable names. This is an important step in a Combustioners workflow, else it is dead easy to end up with objects named Stroke(1) up to Stroke(200), Layer(1) to Layer(500) etc. You'll most likely wish you'd be somewhere else when the number of objects with incomprehensible names outnumbers you.
Click each of the four paint objects and rename them. Rename GroupPath(15) to "eye", GroupPath(14) to "ribs", GroupPath(13) to "intestines" and GroupPath(12) to "outline". Now you'll most likely immediately find your object without having to click-search for it.
Step six: Now it's time for some more investigation. We know that our animal resides on a transparent background, but the animal itself (its "intestines") is opaque. Looking at the right viewport tells us it is the case. Our task is therefore to make the "intestines" transparent.
Expand all objects and see that they're all a group of two objects; a (brush-)Stroke and a Fill. For a moment, disable the eye and the ribs-objects by clicking the yellow square to the left of them. When the yellow square is lit, the object is enabled. When un-lit, it is disabled and won't be seen in the viewport.
If you temporarily disable the intestines-object, you'll see that the whole animal gets a uniform color and the alpha view for it is unchanged. If you disable the outline-object, you'll see that the intestines are still there, and the viewport showing the alpha gets changed. By this information, you can make a couple of important conclusions:
1. The "outline"-object is the whole animal, filled.
2. The "intestines"-object is a black object residing above the "outline", making it look transparent if it's on a black background (but it is completely opaque).
To verify these conclusion, move the intestines-object below the outline-object using click and drag. Click and hold the mouse on the intestines and drag it below outline. What happens is that you get exactly the same effect as if you would have disabled the intestines. This verifies our conclusion, and sets the stakes for our next goal: Make the intestines transparent.
Step seven: Expand all the intestines, disable the Fill-object and for the Stroke-object, click the Modes-button and change the object from Shape to Filled. This step is the most important, since it's this one that makes people go crazy about why they can't get the interior get transparent.
Click on the graphic above to view larger image.
As you can see in the viewports, no visual changes can be seen. We haven't really changed anything except for the way how an object is drawn within paint. So, here comes the final black magic: In the stroke-object for the intestines, you'll see that it's drawn on the RGBA-channels, meaning it's painted on the color channels on the alpha channel. Remember what we wanted to do? We wanted to _remove_ the intestines. We want to make the area transparent, so we're uninterested about painting the RGB-channel. Change RGBA to Alpha and see what happens. The intestines got away, and our task is finished.
But let's investigate what really happened. Change back to RGBA. Now, change the foreground color to white by clicking the default colors button.
The intestines turns white, but they're not transparent. Change RGBA to Alpha once again. What we did now is to paint the intestines with full alpha color, making the area opaque without painting the RGB channels. Change the color to mid-gray and have a look at the animal while it goes translucent. Change it to black and it'll become transparent. This is a common technique for making transparent areas in an image, you paint black on the alpha-channel. Task done.
Now let's composite this animal over a background and make it watermark it.
Step eight: With the Paint-object (combustion.ai) selected, click the Text-button.
Type "Live!" in the text editor, select any font and size you want, but use white color. Position the text under the animal.
Step nine: Head for File->Open in the menu and locate the file "landscape.jpg". In the Open footage-dialog, click "Composite 2D" and press "OK". You can switch to single viewport of you want, because we won't need the alpha viewport any longer.
In the composite, there is a single layer called "landscape". Right-click on the composite, select "New layer from operator" and then click the "combustion.ai"-paint operator.
Our transparent animal will appear in the viewport. Scale it down a bit by clicking the Transform-tab in composite controls. Click Proportional and enter 40 in any of the scale-fields, and then position the layer by dragging it to the top-right corner.
Click on the image above to view larger image.
For the watermark effect, we need to make the entire layer translucent. Do this by clicking the Layer-button and enter 40% in the opacity-field.
Our watermark project is thereby finished, and it should look something like this:
Play around with the transfer modes under the Layer-button if you want to tweak the look of the animal.
Have fun combusting!
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