Monday, December 14, 2015

Waterlogue for Windows 10 Again

I should call this Waterlogue Plus. I'm revisiting Waterlogue to correct a few things and to show how it can be integrated with other filters as in the image above.

In my previous review, I complained that I didn't get the controls other reviews mentioned (brush size and lightness). With further exploration, I find they are there. The problem is one of clear menus. Many years ago I took a course in web design. One of the things that stuck in my mind was the admonition to avoid "mystery meat" menus. Mystery meat is the meat you get in a high school cafeteria line that is drowned in gravy so that you can't tell what it is. The authors used that as a metaphor for 'clever' menus that require the user to figure the menu out in order to do something. There was a trend toward image mapping on websites at the time and on some sites it was necessary to  move the cursor around an image to find the mapped parts for navigating the site. Waterlogue's menus aren't that vague, but the sideways scrolling of the bottom eluded me until I accidentally discovered that rotating the mouse wheel up and down moved the panel left or right. I have a mouse that I can scroll sideways with by pressing the wheel left or right and that didn't work so I had missed the scrolling before.

Aside from that I have to say the brush size control really makes only a minor difference anyway. For example here are two conversions of the same image, the first at the Giant setting (which should be more detailed) and the other at the Small setting (supposed to be less detailed) (the border effect is turned off in the Small version and the lightness had reset to medium).
I don't see much difference. Of course, I'm accustomed to Photoshop controls that have a huge range and this in only a 4 step scale, but I expected to see a bigger difference between the extremes.

Remember that the Small vs Giant does not refer to overall image size. Rather, it refers to the "brush" size with Small being more generalized and Giant being more detailed. As painting term however, they have them reversed. A painter uses bigger brushes for broad generalized areas and small brushes for details.

There are several image size settings, small, medium, large and original, but original will be the same size as the original only if the original is no larger than 3584 pixels on the long side. That makes it awkward to integrate Waterlogue filtered images with images processed in other filters. It becomes necessary to resize the other images from the real original size to the Waterlogue "original" size before layering them The image at the top is such a layered image. I really like the way that Waterlogue imitates watercolor but the detail part (underdrawing) leaves a lot to be desired so I created a new layer using Topaz Detail 2 (lithography) and layered it over the Waterlogue image with Luminosity blending mode and slid the transparency back to 60% in order to add back in a bit more detail. This layered filter effects technique is something I use fairly frequently. I think it adds significantly to this image.

The Waterlogue App was originally designed for iPhones and iPads so I understand that the developers are designing for devices of somewhat limited memory and processing power compared to PCs but when they jumped to the PC version they missed an opportunity to increase the usability to match the new platform. I'm hoping they upgrade it to a real filter, perhaps even a Photoshop plugin.

P.S. 12/14/15: The diagonal white line problem seems to have resolved itself. I didn't do anything to fix it, but they aren't appearing on any of the new images I've made. How, why, what fixed it? Your guess is as good as mine.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Waterlogue App Review

This will be a short review because the Waterlogue App is pretty small. There is not a lot to it, so there's not a lot to say about it. It runs on PCs under Windows 10. I don't know if it will work with Windows 8. What it does is turn photos into pseudo watercolors. There are 12 presets and there isn't much you can do to alter them. Actually I haven't found any way to modify a preset. The "It's Technical" preset adds a grid to the image so it looks as if it was painted on graph paper. They need to lose that feature IMO. The pseudo graph paper adds nothing to the image. Also (at random,) diagonal white lines appear onsome images as if they are trying to emulate some kind of paper texture. They appear randomly on different presets. Some time it shows up on a preset, sometimes it doesn't. The effect doesn't seem to be tied to any particular preset so maybe it's a bug. Also the App tends to crash fairly easily In the time I played with it this evening it crashed 4-5 times while processing 18-20 images.

Points in the Apps favor are that it is easy to use. You can set the output size to one of several settings including original. The results with some photos are quite interesting. I'd prefer a little more control (along with ditching the grid & diagonal line effects) but for $2.99 you can have a lot of fun with it. There's a basis here for a really good little program if they work on it a bit more.

The annoying diagonal lines.

More annoying diagonal white lines.

Annoying white lines plus annoying pseudo graph paper grid.

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