There are plenty of bits of software that will take this sort of lineart and filter it. This unfiltered example of source lineart is from Poser 11, with the real-time comic book option set to b&w and simple lighting.
Such lineart can be filtered by, for instance, the free G’MIC which has a big range of filtering options. The new G’MIC 3.1 will be out for Photoshop in a few days, and will add another comic-oriented filter. Then there’s Digital Auto-Painter (DAP), though only its graphic-novel preset is of real use for lineart — and with a bit of twiddling that can be emulated with the free G’MIC. A nice one I rate is Redfield’s Sketchmaster, especially if you want a kind of soft pastels look. Some people even work wonders with the native Photoshop filters, chaining them together in an Action. AKVIS Charcoal I tried some years ago, and though kind of nice it was slow. It may have improved since.
Topaz Clean 3 is also useful for cleaning off the bump-map and muddy-texture grunge, prior to any filtering. That can also be emulated with the free G’MIC. Though the sadly-discontinued Topaz Clean 3 is more than twice as fast, on what is a very slow process.
Now I’ve found another new way of filtering. I discovered that the maker of DAP had launched a new Style Animator 1.0 at $40. It vectorizes lineart, and can then apply a preset style. Kind of like SketchUp’s line styles, which many readers will be familiar with. I tried it, it’s nice, it works, but… is somewhat limited in its range.
Yet the idea of Style Animator 1.0 led me to discover software that’s been hiding in plain sight for the last 20 years. So much so that I don’t think it’s ever had a review. At least, I can’t find one. It’s Synthetik Studio Artist, which is from developer John Dalton and recently had a major update to 5.5.5. If the $40 Style Animator is a cute little furry Bush Baby, then the $200 Synthetik Studio Artist is a massive chest-beating 500lb Mountain Gorilla. And just as fearsome to approach, as it’s not easy software to learn despite the 560-page manual and a wealth of video tutorials. ‘Autopainter’ it may be… but it sure takes some getting used to. Yet recent intensive testing shows it has at least half a dozen great possibilities ‘out of the box’, when fed Poser lineart. When I say great I mean ‘looks relatively hand-made, without being cheesy’. The next edition of VisNews will have the details.
1. Open File | New Source and Canvas (Ctrl + N), and select some Poser lineart.
2. Type number 100 in the h Mult box on the import parameters, to get the Canvas the same size as the Source image you’re loading onto it. Sadly this step can’t be automated.
3. Run one of my preset actions. If you loaded a .PNG with an alpha mask, then run the main action. If you loaded a render from Poser’s Sketch (no alpha possible), then run the Sketch one.
4. Either should result in the output of a cleanly masked .PNG file , when you use “Save Canvas as…” to save a .PNG file.
The Poser inks after my preset
A Poser Sketch render after my preset
There are of course just starting points. The idea is you bring the output into Photoshop. Output should be the same size as the source, and so easy to composite. Here G’MIC has added a finishing touch, seen most clearly on the toes. Not one line of this was inked by hand…
Figure is ‘BioBot’ by AntFarm.