Basics. The basics of Photodonut. Photodonut application from Xycod creates impressionist / manga / BD drawing effects and 1000s of more amazing styles. Photodonut (or as PostworkShop Pro) is a graphic application to turn photos / images / designs into an impressionist painting, manga drawing, BD drawing, charcoal drawing, pencil and much more. The application generates an impressive display of expressionism, impressionism, water color, brown water drawn, manga, BD, charcoal effects, hings, Japanese wood carvings, expressive strokes, historical forms and many other art methods. Some common methods or approaches are included, some unusual ones such as comic BD, can't say I have seen that before and one I love (as I also love European bande dessinée). The product is from Xycod, a software company from the wonderful city of Budapest, Hungary. Photodonut Pro is a powerful painting tool that can be used to create the most amazing images from all kinds of photos. It is super fast and really easy to adapt - a winning combo. Video tutorial on the subject by graphicxtras.com (youtube)
Modify effects. How to modify the effects ? go to the properties and preview tab (or settings if you are using the standard edition) but sadly (in many of the effects), there are very few options to modify, and most of the effects can only be used as is but a way around that is to combine the effect with other effect layers to create more unique designs. When the settings are available there are often some very interesting and flexible settings available such as line width etc. Of course, this is only the case with the actual 'default' effects, and going to the editor allows the combination of building blocks to modify the effect in countless ways. Without much of an idea of how a water color and random paint effect will combine, it was very much trial and error but really it becomes fairly obvious that some effects will creatively enhance the image and which effect combinations totally decimate the image. Certainly many hours of fun exploring the various combinations of effects.
Effect layers. How to use layers in Photodonut ? Layer effects are as you would layers in Adobe ® Photoshop ® but they are effects - not layers in that it is an additional that you are blending. You can re-order them, combine with different blending modes such as difference and darken, insert effects - all super flexible and great for creating truly unique and wonderful artwork. Each layer can have multiple effects so you can have a layer with comic in yellow along with aqua blue along with light as a feather etc on one layer and then have a single effect (or more) on another. You can also edit the mask. You can select, add to the mask, remove etc as well as change the mask strength and blur etc (you can use it to create a vignette etc in the application)
Blending effects. How to use blending of effects layers ? The effects layers can also be mixed in a fun way as well using the layer mixer. Instead of a dialog based approach and moving layers above or below and using opacity, the effect layer mixer modifies the strength of the effect relative to each other and offers an interactive response to moving one effect in relation to another. All very impressive and useful. The only minor issue being that the name of the effect is not given unless selected, and if you are not sure which is which, you end up randomly clicking. Once you are happy with your design, you can go to the bottom of the effects layer panel and click the flatten feature and all the effects will then be rolled into one single image (basically as if you have saved the work) and all the effects settings will vanish. It should be noted that this is just listed as 'complex' layer and if you apply another effect, all the effects in the 'complex' filter will vanish and you will be reduced back to the original state. To continue with the complex filter, you must add a new effect layer and then add effects to that and then use the blending modes to blending the new effects with this 'complex' filter.
Import brushes. How to use import / brushes from Photoshop ? Support for Adobe ® Photoshop 6 brushes type (so most of the 15,000 brushes on the graphicxtras site are accessible within Photodonut Pro) extends the selection of brushes allowing for a much wider range of creative effects. There appears to be a limitation on the brush size import. I love brushes so it would have been lovely if the brushes were accessible throughout the effects but I found I could only access the brushes in certain effects, and I have to say, the effects that were of most interest to me and ones I explored more and more were the ones allowing the modification of the brush length / width / actual brush. I must admit at times I was not sure why one effect allowed modification of the brush and others didn't, disappointingly many of the effects didn't accept different brushes and I am certain they would have been improved by that feature. It also took a while to find the effects (fresco & random paint being some of them) that accepted brush inputs. I guess the reasoning being that a pencil with a different brush might not actually look anything remotely like a pencil drawing (still, I would love to be able to decide on that myself). The default brushes included with the application were all fine and of use. Really liked that the brushes were made up of potentially multiple inputs (as a brush family), such as the alphabet brush made up of A B C D E. The random paint brush effect is available an input to other effects via the editor. Go to a style in building blocks such as simple strokes. You can then select a brush stroke. There are a number of supplied entries and you can use import brushes there via the browse.
Comic books. How to use the comic book features in Photodonut ? I particularly liked the comic book effects: manga, BD. Obviously it is only a very stereotypical view of manga or BD and in no way could any application, however good, hope to match the countless individual artist effects in those art forms, but straight out of the box it gives a really good impression of the effect; and probably with a little tweaking and combining other effects, countless artist effects are achievable (though, of course, without the human touch and artistic decision making that goes into why one stroke or path works and another doesn't) Still, a good BD effect could be applied to any set of images, though without the BD effect of panel composition and storytelling, the best application will not help. Some of the effects definitely benefited from additional tweaking by adding other effects to the mix, though some were improved or changed by tweaking of the settings if available, as in the case of manga effects.
Open images. How to open images in Photodonut ? The open command is slightly unusual in that you have to click a little thumbnail in the circle in the corner. You can browse for new works to open (as the tools works on actual existing works) or select previously opened files or projects.
Randomization. How to use the randomization features ? Photodonut Pro does allow for some randomization such as random selection of effects applied to an image, though I found the application misses a number of areas that are ripe for randomization such as randomization of the settings of an effect; randomization of a brush applied. I like the randomization of the effects, but once I have decided on a particular effects (say Impressionism) it would be nice to randomize the settings for that particular effects so I can try a random set of impressionist effects. Randomization of the brush would also allow for a lot more experimentation. Randomization = experimentation, though of course it can easily equal a lot of time spent clicking and clicking and perhaps wasting a lot of time having fun. Stretching this even further, I would love to see a snapshot feature where the randomizations could be applied and saved to a new experimental image, allowing for further contemplation of 100s of images to decide on the one image that is 'perfect'.
Building blocks. How to use Building blocks in Photodonut Pro ? There are 100s of effects included with the application (also a lot with the freebie tool) and many are very very good, there are some effects that seem to have hardly impact on the image such as in the photo section / special effects, many of them are easily achievable in many graphic software and filters. The standard effects still have their place as they are the building block effects - so I perfectly understand the reason for including them and combining the building blocks can produce truly stunning and unique results. Spending many hours going through the effects, I still haven't explored even a hundredth of the effects features nor touched the surface of the building block effects. The building block effectss are the sources of all the effects so definitely worth checking many of the settings. I have to admit some I found quite hard to understand but I guess I will work them out.
Masks. How to use the masks in Photodonut ? You can use the effects as is but you can also add a layer mask to each of the effect layers via the little marching ants icon at the bottom of the effect layers panel. Click the little icon and you will either see the current mask and you then have the option to add to the current mask as well as remove and select etc. The mask is fairly limited in that it is only an ellipse which can be re-sized and rotated but you can add multiple ellipses and together they can be combined to create all kinds of shapes and vignettes. You can blur the mask via the settings controls for the mask (only visible when you have actively displayed them via the small icon) such as blur and mask strength as well as the ability to invert the generated mask.
Input / output. How to use the input and output options / pre processing / post processing with Photodonut ? The input (and output) image can also be modified before any effects processing, changing the brightness, saturation, rotation, scaling, which I have to say is an interesting addition to the tool. An unusual feature that I haven't seen in any other application. The purpose being that an image may or may not be exactly right for say a pencil drawing or charcoal, and that a subtle change to the gamma, saturation might result in quite a different output. Definitely very useful as it does avoid the need to use another application to modify basic settings of the image. You can also use the post processing panel with the effects strength to reduce the result of all the effects in one go. By default the strength is set to 100% but if reduced to 30% say, the effects are all reduced to 30% of their strength.
Editor. How to use the editor in the pro version ? The editor is a very useful tool, simply drag a effect from the effects panel, then join the input - output pins ending with the right side final image. You can easily get out of hand adding more and more effects. You can also use the mouse wheel to look into the thumbnail images which is a really nice and useful feature, though strangely this doesn't re-size the output image (I love the replace feature as you can quickly modify a selected effect with another effect (though you are only given the name of the effect and not an image of the replacing effect), still a useful feature as I am endlessly changing my mind to the end effect
Batch processing. How to use the batch processing feature (pro) ? The batch processing is a very useful feature as some of the processing of effects on larger images is fairly slow and can take ages, the batch process does allow the application of a effect to a selection of images in a folder. Go and have a nice mug of green tea and return to see all your work turned into pencil / woodcuts. Helpful for adding a scratchy effect to a film perhaps (though it would probably take a month of Sundays). Testing it on two 3648 x 2600 sized images with a single effect I had to wait ages and ages for the images to be processed but the end results were still pretty good. Would have loved to see a feature to be able to set jitter / randomized settings to each image so there would be subtle differences with each image, useful for a more natural animation / movie
Rendering. How to render the work ? A useful feature when the size of image is over 1000 x 1000, as the response time for the rendering becomes a little slower. With documents sized 400 x 400 and with a chain of one or two effects, the rendering at 1:1 of the size of the document, the delay is acceptable. When the images get slightly bigger and the effects more complex, the rendering time becomes an issue. Quick solution: simply move out and set the preview scale to 0.2 and the image / effects won't be an exact match but still pretty close, but you do gain in the speed of the rendering of the effects. As soon as you are happy with the image and the effects, you can render the entire thing via the render menu, or rendering a smaller selection of the image. On saving the image, the image is actually rendered fully. Very useful, a similar approach is made in the Andrew's filters available on this site. I would have loved to have seen a 'suspend rendering' on the render menu as well, as after using the application for a while you become fairly familiar with the end results and can work without seeing any rendering, and then render once in a while to check the end result.
Text. How to use with text ? The text object is added in a slightly different way from most software. Like the effects and properties, the text is modified via the properties and you can change the text, font, size, scaling, rotation, kerning, color. Once you have added the text layer (pro) you can apply a effect to the text. Personally I found work with text alone (without an image layer) much more fun and productive than the combination of text and image; some effects worked wonders with the text, others really added little more than a slight ripple to the text, so definitely a little experimentation is required. Still, a very powerful text feature and once I can see very useful with my own work and creating surreal items from my own fonts, tracing, and converting to even weirder and more wonderful fonts. I would love to see the application support shapes / Vector graphics in their own right but as many of the graphicxtra fonts are purely decorative works, the text object is halfway there. If you have no access to the pro version then basically you are limited to just using an image with type added to it. You can then open the type image and then apply the effects.
Add more effects. How to add more effects ?Photodonut pro comes with a huge range of effects, probably so many that you might find yourself never needing to tweak or modify or create your own effects. You can also obtain other effects and install them into the application.
Final. Final thoughts about the plugin / application. This is certainly not a replacement for an application like Corel's Painting tools as there is no feature to apply a brush (with the attached effects) to a localized area of the image. I have used a number of similar tools such as various filters and apps (Impressionist from Microsoft, Paint Alchemy, Propeller, Fantastic Machine's Paint Engine, ArtRage - though many of them are old and might not work on a current OS) but I found this application overall to be one of the more useful tools, and will certainly be using over and over to create many designs. You can also find a number of versions of the app on their website such as a free version - super useful for all kinds of effects and painting etc. Please note that all the references here were to the stand alone application as well as for the pro edition and in some cases for the basic. Most of the same can be done with the plugin and that can reside in tools such as Photoshop as well as Affinity Photo etc
Styles. How to use styles in Photodonut for amazing drawing and sketch etc effects ? You can use the Photodonut as a single click tool. Select a style At that point you have one effect layer with that style. OK, that is fine but say you want to add more effects. As soon as you click another style then the effect layer has another style applied. The workaround for the single style approach (if using the free version) is to use layers. Styles and Select style. Change settings if available in the right side panel. Go to the pre-processing or post-processing if you want to modify the start or end point. There are many available styles with PD such as drawing, graphic art etc and they can all be applied in seconds to a single effect layer. One very nice feature of the PD styles is that a small preview of the effect applied to the image is used to replace the style thumbnails so you can see the end result (in miniature) before you get to the actual processing. How to add another effect layer / style. To add more styles to the photos in PD. Go to the effect layers panel. Click the + button at the bottom (you can also delete from the same panel). Go to the styles again in PD. Apply another style and change settings. You will see another effect layer / style in the effect layers panel such as mixing a drawing style and pop art style and comic book style etc. As the effect layer now contains that style and settings, you can also blend that with the other styles in PD via the blend and opacity settings in the same panel. You can use blend styles to create all kinds of different effects with images. Go to the effect layer and style and Select. Go to the blend mode in PD and Set to difference or multiply etc. You will then see the effect / style applied in difference mode between the two layers (or more effect layers / styles). You can apply styles such as fine etching style in PD, black and white pencil drawing style etc but you cannot create your own styles in the free version (there is a whole load of functionality and ways to manipulate the building blocks in the premium). The free version comes with a lot of great styles though but it is worth checking out the other models of the PD for more functionality. Once you have applied the PD styles and effect layers and blends, you can save the result via the PD in the left corner. Before you save, you can modify the entire image using the post-processing. A neat little set of saturation and gamma and hue and gamma etc options (would be even better if this was extended to include splits with the red and green etc channels and more like camera raw filter) which can then be used to brighten or add contrast to the end result. The end result can then be saved as a PNG file or JPG file etc