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Frequently Asked Questions
1. How does it work?
The OptiPaint™ hardware uses a video camera in a patented optical system to image just the points of contact between brushes and the painting surface at up to 60 frames/sec. (The optical effect is the same one that lets you see just your fingertips on the outside of a clear glass of water when you look down through the water from the top.) The OptiPaint software processes these images in real time to let you paint with your selected colors and effects. top
2. What can I use to paint with the OptiPaint system?
Any light colored object that can be wetted and touched to the painting surface can be used as a painting tool. The objects need not be pure white, but the brighter they are, the more sensitive the system will be to them.
Some examples are:
top3. What could I use it for?
- brushes (natural or synthetic fiber)
- fingers, hands, and other body parts
- textured cloth
- plastic or foam shapes or styli
- paper printed with patterns or text (though it should be laminated if you don't want it to disintegrate when wet, and any text should be flipped)
- string, yarn, rope
- flowers, vegetables… almost anything, from pasta to house pets!
The OptiPaint system is best for rapidly producing expressive designs that use organic forms. The specifics depend on the kind of work you do. Here are just a few examples:
top4. Why do I need to use water with the brushes?
- matte painters - create natural textures for clouds and atmospheric effects
- calligraphers - use a flat brush for automatic serifs
- illustrators - use a rag to create weathered textures
- graphic designers - add free-form elements to print and web designs
- animators - save painted history as series of animation frames
Parts of brushes or other objects in the air above the painting surface are invisible to the video camera, even if they're extremely close to that surface. The water is needed to eliminate any air between the brush and the painting surface, so that the camera can see just the points of contact. You can use mineral oil instead of water, which has the advantage of not beading up and not drying out, but oil can be difficult to clean up. top
5. What is the painting surface like?
The painting surface is tempered glass, which is smooth to the touch. top
6. Does the surface need to be dried off before more painting can be done in different colors?
No, the water itself does not cause painting, it only lets the system see light-colored tools that are touching the painting surface. If the water beads up too much and there are some bright lights nearby, then those beads of water may need to be wiped off to prevent unwanted painting. A few drops of a mild wetting agent (e.g. Veggie Wash) in the water will minimize the tendency for water to bead up. Also, if the water is very dirty or cloudy, then it will activate painting all by itself, and should be replaced with clean water. top
7. Can I use it in a lighted room?
Yes, the OptiPaint system works under ordinary interior lighting. However, you may need to orient it such that bright room lights don't shine directly into the painting surface from certain angles and so that sunlight doesn't fall directly onto it from any angle. top
8. What plugin hosts does it work with?
The OptiPaint plugin is designed to work with any software that accepts Photoshop v.5 plugins. It has been successfully tested with the following hosts:
top9. What effects are available with the OptiPaint plugin?
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe Illustrator (rasterized images)
- Corel Paint Shop Pro
- Corel Painter
The OptiPaint plugin v.2.0 supports painting with three different basic effects, each of which can be applied with varying levels of transparency and any physical painting tool. The three basic effects are:
The image can also be cleared to any color and painting history can be undone to any frame (limited only by your available RAM) or saved as a series of still images. top
10. How can I tell where I'm about to paint?
- painting in a solid color
- painting with a blend of the solid color and a texture color
Whenever painting is stopped, the shape and position of your brush or other tools on the painting surface are shown in a non-destructive video overlay. When you click the Start button on the OptiPaint plugin, painting will begin at that location. top
11. What should not be used as a painting tool?
You should avoid objects that might scratch the painting surface or leave residues on it that might be difficult to remove. Although the painting surface is made of tempered glass to resist scratching, it is still possible for metals and minerals (e.g. grit, diamond rings, rough ceramics) to damage that surface. Brushes with metal ferrules can be used safely as long as the metal part isn't brought into contact with the painting surface. In general, avoid objects that are hard and sharp or abrasive. Crayons or soft rubber (such as erasers) can leave a residue on the painting surface that would need to be cleaned off to prevent interference with other painting. Also, very dark objects cannot be used, since the OptiPaint system is not sensitive to them. top
12. Can I rest my hand on the OptiPaint surface without smudging the painting?
Yes, if your hand and where it's resting is very dry. You can also place a piece of black cloth or plastic under your hand to prevent the system from seeing it, regardless of how dry your hand is. top
13. When will it be available for the Mac?
A Mac version is in the works but does not yet have a ship date scheduled. top