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SOFTWARE REVIEW
Dogwaffle Pro 4
PROJECT DOGWAFFLE™ PRO 4.0
Review by Kathie Berry

 

Project Dogwaffle Pro™ 4.0 enters the scene with an in-depth toolset that really is astounding. You might wonder at the unique name but trust me; this paint program is so much more that it would take a book to describe all of the functions it holds. Dogwaffle was written by Dan Ritchie, a former Hollywood special FX artist and Lightwave™ plugin developer, who has spent 9+ years developing this software for digital artists. Dan is also the author of two novels, "Silver Squirrel" and "Silver Squirrel in Uneasy Pieces". I have been very impressed with former versions of the program but I have to say, the latest release is even more outstanding. You will find toolsets for painting, animation, particle systems and much more.

Dogwaffle Pro box
V3.5 box shown for illustration purposes only.

Just what is Project Dogwaffle Pro? Grab a cup of coffee and sit back while I go through some of the top features of this awesome paint program. I tend to hesitate when referring to it as just a paint program since it is so much more. An overview of the capabilities includes painting, animation, tablet support, animated and particle brushes as well as many unique filters, special FX for painting skies, snow, wet paint and alpha support. There are functions that will please traditional painters, game developers and graphic artists from all genre including cartoonists.

One of the things that artists look for first in a paint program is customization. Project Dogwaffle is all about customization. For starters, the color panel and main tools panels have been separated into two blocks which allows for a more powerful layout and personal customizations. A new favorites list allows you to organize your media into separate folders for separate projects. This is wonderful as it allows you to use just the tools that you need on a specific project without cluttering up the workspace. There has also been an integration of new color mixing tools which were formerly only available as plugins. Pigment profiles are now fully integrated, along with color tools like the color harmony tool. As you can see from the images, different modes of color selection and matching are now available as a standard feature.

color settings

 
dual processors

The improvements in speed are awesome. PD Pro 4 is now the first version to integrate a multithreading framework. This makes it perfect for dual-core systems and ready for future systems with even more (quad-core) processors. The performance on my hyper threading machine was nothing short of amazing. I'm known for my ability to lock up my system by using a multitude of toolsets and functions however I've yet to lock up PD Pro 4.0. Dan also informs us that as new systems are released with even more cores, PD Pro 4.0 will automatically follow suit with dramatically improved performance.


 

The transform filter is now integrated with a bevy of useful and wonderful tools. I especially like the transform/tetrix filter which adds a matrix like look to your image. Combined with the plasma noise filter (which is like render/clouds in Photoshop™) set to multiply mode, you have some fun new effects to add to your images. Another really nice thing is that the plasma noise filter has four settings to choose from, greys, RGB, HSV and YUV. In the image you can see that I took an apple, applied the textrix filter then on a separate layer I added the plasma noise filter set to RGB in multiply mode.

tetrix

 
painting

For painting, I found that Dogwaffle Pro gave me a great array of painting tools to add depth and texture to my artwork. I was able to add texture to the clothing as well as a depth of feel to the whiskers on my caricature's face that I just couldn't get in other paint programs that I had used. By controlling the size, opacity, spacing and bias I could create custom brushes that fit perfectly into the project and added those special touches that made the image jump out of the screen. You can now even enter a hex color to have total control over the hue of the paint colors which really helps when matching color.

Animation has never been easier. As a simple example you can create a sky with beautiful color hues, change the look, movement and feel of the animation by using a multitude of filters that are at your fingertips right in the timeline as you set keys along the span of the animation. Rendering is fast and easy and your animation can be exported quickly as an .avi file either uncompressed or compressed with a list of different compression types to choose from.

animation animation

I found working with the alpha channel in Project Dogwaffle Pro 4.0 to be so easy and a great way to create custom shapes without affecting other portions of your artwork. By adding an alpha channel in any size, configuration and shape that you wish, you can paint directly on it easily without painting on the rest of your image. In the examples below you can see that I docked the alpha channel palette for easy access and added a user defined alpha channel. It was easy to control the lighter and darker areas as I painted thereby giving it a depth with highlights. By reversing the alpha channel, I could then paint a simple darker background without affecting any painting already done in the alpha channel. Back into the alpha channel, I added an alpha glow and a drop shadow and there you have it. It was quick, easy and fun. There are many more options in the alpha channel palette that I haven't gone into here but suffice it to say it's capabilities are deep and you can do a multitude of things by using and adjusting the alpha channel.

alpha channel alpha channel

 

One of the new functions that I found to be indispensable was the ability to open images from file directly into a "stored state" for future use while you are working. You can open any number of images in this manner which places small thumbnails with an option bar full of functions for ease of adding to your existing work. You can paste any image in a variety of formats over your base work, set an image as a new alpha channel and much more. This is a huge help when you may want a number of images handy that will be used in an animated or rotating banner or any type of quick animation.

store image

We still have the wonderful particle optipustics and bristle brushes for use in a variety of ways. With very fast particles, a huge variety of settings which allow you to create your own particles and even more particles already included to choose from, this feature is fun and so easy to use in your artwork. As in the previous version, tablet support is integrated and this is really nice for those of us who use tablets in our drawing and painting. Dan also periodically shares his "Doggy Bags" of treats with the community just full of new brushes, particles and much more that will enhance your work.

optipustics

Conclusion:

I have only touched on some of the basic new functions in Project Dogwaffle Pro 4.0 here. The capabilities would take a much longer article to cover in depth however I hope that I have shown you a few of the best reasons why this program should be in your toolbox and is definitely in mine. The quick learning curve will benefit new users while the in-depth functions and tools will fully satisfy the veteran painter with even more options than before integrated right into the core program. Those reasons coupled with its affordability leave no reason why it should not be in your pipeline if you are a digital artist or even someone wanting to get into the digital painting field. I highly recommend Project Dogwaffle Pro 4.0 to all digital artists who want to express their creativity in new and exciting ways, traditional artists looking to expand their options and animators who are looking for a program that creates animations easily yet still provides the variety of functions that you need for video output. You won't be disappointed. For more information as well as tutorials please visit Project Dogwaffle's homepage and spend some time reading the great knowledge base there. You can also order the full program here as well as the upgrade. As always, "Take it to the DOG!"

Review System Intel® Pentium® 4 processor 530 with HT Technology (3.0GHz)
I GB DDR PC3200 RAM
RADEON X300 SE PCI-E graphics card
Windows XP Media Center 2005

Kathie Berry a.k.a. Damsel
©2006 for PlanIT3D.com
kathie@berry-designs.com

Copyright 2006, PlanIt 3D

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