Generating SVG Vector Output

Studio Artist v4 has the ability to generate SVG vector output. This capability can also be used as an alternative way to generate PDF vector output with some advantages over the older EPS vector output techniques. This post will focus on explaining how to use the Generate SVG functionality in Studio Artist 4 and the differences between the SVG and EPS vector functionality.

SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphics and is a standardized vector file format. One big advantage of SVG over EPS vector output is that the SVG file format can support transparency for vector elements. So you can use the Generate SVG functionality in Studio Artist to create SVG or PDF files that contain semi-transparent vector elements.

Studio Artist is primarily a raster graphics program as far as output is concerned. When you do a normal File menu ‘Save Canvas As’ or ‘Print’, the internal raster canvas is saved as a raster file or printed using the internal raster frame buffers.

However, the new v4 paint synthesizer classic has the ability to be configured to do real anti-aliased vector drawing into the raster frame buffer. The v4 Vectorizer also allows for anti-aliased vector drawing into the internal raster frame buffers. The Generate SVG functionality is directly built into the internal vector drawing engine used for anti-aliased vector drawing in v4. This contrasts with the older Studio Artist EPS vector output functionality, which was always a secondary generation process that occurred after the initial raster drawing step.

Anti-aliased Vector Drawing in the Paint Synthesizer

Currently in v4 there are 2 different approaches to drawing into the canvas with anti-aliased vectors. These 2 options are the ‘Vector (solid color)’ Main Render Option in the Vector Output control panel or the ‘AntiAliased Solid’ Brush Type.

The ‘Vector (solid color)’ main render option in the Vector Output control panel provides for anti-aliased drawing of vector lines or shapes into the raster paint canvas. It’s somewhat experimental and circumvents the normal paint synthesizer raster nib fill code, so consequently it does not support a lot of the paint synthesizer controls associated with paint nib fill. So, you will be drawing with solid colored vectors that lack the organic complexity that can be achieved with the normal paint synthesizer Raster main render technique. Paint Fill Apply blend modulation is supported, but most of the other Paint Fill Setup and Paint FIll Apply controls will be ignored when in Vector (solid color) main render option. Similarly the Brush Source horizontal and vertical size controls are supported but most of the other Brush Source and the Brush Type controls are ignored.

The ‘Vector-Raster Repeat’ main render option can be used with a Path Application ‘Repeat Stroke’ setting greater than 1. The first application pass will be drawn with the Vector (solid color) main render option and then subsequent path application repeats will revert to the normal raster main render option for drawing. This allows you to create a hybrid paint preset that combines vector drawing with secondary raster paint effects. So you could draw with an anti-aliased vector stroke that then spreads and melts with a secondary water stroke pass. This works because the vector drawing ignores many of the paint synth controls associated with brush generation and paint nib fill while they are all used during the repeat strokes that are using the raster main render option.

The ‘AntiAliased Solid’ Brush Type also provides for anti-aliased drawing of vector paths. It’s somewhat more tightly integrated into the paint synthesizer than the vector render technique described above, but has a similar limitation in that many paint synthesizer controls will be ignored when using this brush type. The AnitAliased Brush Type provides for additional rim coloring, gradient shading and transparency functionality when painting.

The Dual Fill options also allow for hybrid paint presets to be constructed that combine vector drawing with additional raster paint effects in a single paint stroke.

Generate SVG Options

There are 3 different menu command options associated with generating SVG. The first 2 can be used to generate a SVG file using the Vectorizer or a Paint Action Sequence (PASeq). If generating SVG from a PASeq then only the action steps in the PASeq that support SVG output will generate SVG vectors when the PASeq plays back when you run the menu command. Currently SVG output can be generated from the Vectorizer and from Paint Synthesizer presets that use the ‘AntiAliased Solid’ Brush Type or the ’Vector (solid color)’ main render option as described above.

The third Generate SVG option allows you to print with a PASeq. This menu command will generate SVG vectors from the PASeq but instead of saving them as a SVG file the vectors are used directly for printing. A standard print dialog will come up and you can then choose a printer to print to or on the mac you can choose the PDF : Save as PDF option to generate a PDF file. Normal printing from Studio Artist using the ‘File : Print’ menu print the raster draw canvas. This new print option in the Generate SVG menus allows for vectors generated from the playing PASeq to be directly sent to the print driver. For the restricted range of Studio Artist operations that can generate SVG output this second print option provides a way to achieve higher quality prints without having a large raster frame buffer size and a way to generate true vector PDF files. These vector PDF files could then be re-rasterized for printing at higher resolution when imported into other programs like Photoshop or read directly into vector programs such as Illustrator.

SVG vs EPS Generation

The SVG generation functionality is a new v4 feature directly supported by the new anti-alias vector drawing code in Studio Artist 4. The EPS generation functionality was available in previous versions of Studio Artist and is a secondary process that occurs after the initial raster drawing code is executed. SVG generation will more closely match what you see drawn on the screen since the SVG vector generation occurs at the same time the anti-aliased vector drawing is occurring on the screen.

The EPS generation functionality is a secondary process that occurs after the raster drawing takes place. So the generated EPS vector paint strokes may look very different than what was drawn on the screen. However, the Vec Blanking EPS Strokes options provided in the Vector Output control panel do provide a way to use the Vectorizer to convert each raster paint stroke into a vector representation. SVG generation would output nothing for these raster paint strokes since they do not use the ‘AntiAliased Solid’ Brush Type or the ’Vector (solid color)’ main render option. So depending on what you are trying to achieve both the EPS and the SVG generation options have their uses.

A big advantage of SVG vector output is that the SVG file format supports transparent vector regions and paths.  This support of vector transparency allows for the creation of much more elaborate vector imagery. By creating a PASeq that builds up an image using multiple applications of semi-transparent vector paint strokes or Vectorizer passes you can achieve effects that appear to be raster in nature but are still scalable vector images.

EPS vector generation is described in more detail in this tip.

SVG Input

Studio Artist can read SVG files as source images but they are currently converted into a raster image when opened using New Canvas or Open Source. We would like to provide an option in the future to import SVG files as vector input to the current layer’s bezier frame buffer.

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