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Danas Anis:

Dogwaffler of the Moment:

my PD Howler Review


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PD Howler - beyond
                Project Dogwaffle!

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PD Artist 2 digital painting - turbo

Hello again!

A few months ago I had a chance to enjoy PD Pro 5, a digital painting and animation software application. After some time spent with PD Pro 5 I said it is amazing, versatile and quite a unique software. It does more than let you paint on stills, which is always interesting for someone who does 3D renderings, and potentially animations.

Not so long ago (May/June 2011) the creators of Project Dogwaffle announced the availability of the latest version of Project Dogwaffle together with the introduction of a new name for it. PD Howler – a new era for Project Dogwaffle users! PD Howler is powered by PD Pro 6. It essentially IS PD Pro 6. But read on for more explanation.

digital painting AND animation with
                              PD Howler
Digital painting AND animation with PD Howler, powered by PD Pro 6
(artwork by Dan Ritchie, creator of Project Dogwaffle)

Editor's note: Since the release of PD Pro 6 Howler (PD Howler), there has also been a release of PD Artist 2, equally based on PD Pro 6, but without the Animation menu or animation/video features, thus much lower cost. You could compare this to another product's standard vs. extended editions, although the standard PD Artist 2 DOES have the 3D pipeline. The main difference is the absence of the Video Animation features through the Animation menu and the Animated Filters section in the Filters menu.

Digital Painting powered by PD Pro 6: PD Artist 2 - All for one, one for all!
(musketeer artwork by Martin Duerr,

What's New in PD Pro 6 - PD Howler?

Before I continue with my review of the latest version of Project Dogwaffle, let me introduce it to people who might have never heard of it. Project Dogwaffle is not another Photoshop clone. Indeed, it is very much its own program. The more you use PD Pro the more you begin to feel as if you are painting on a canvas instead of a computer screen. PD Pro combines the feel of traditional painting and animation with modern technology, giving you the control and work-flow you desire as a traditional artist along with the ease and versatility of a top notch, feature full, paint program. It comes with a large selection of brushes and it also has advanced color selection modes found only in luxurious painting software.


But PD Pro is famous not only because of its versatile tools for traditional painting and animation. The most unique and original feature of Project Dogwaffle is its famous particle brushes. This is where PD Pro makes a new definition of painting and growing. It really isn't like anything else you have tried, it is unique experience and an innovative way of painting. To make things even more thrilling particle brushes can be animated. You can even create grass fields waving in the wind. In addition PD Pro has everything a traditional animator needs to draw an animated movie with an inclusion of some extra innovations to complement the production work-flow which will appeal to the old school and new generation.

This new version of PD introduces major enhancements to the software. I guess the most important enhancement to begin with is speed. PD pro in version 5 already had multithreading support for some features, but with PD Howler developers went all out to multithread everything. (Ok, so a few external standalone plugins haven't changed to that mode yet, they do their own thing, but the many filters in the Filter menu, such as Gaussian blur to pick a popular example, well if you're on alady_in_red_cube_face-300.jpgn Intel i7 with eight logical cores, you're now done blurring the full sizes 10 Megapixel image seven to eight times faster! Yes, real-time over the entire image, not just a small preview. Even on an Atom-powered Netbook which can have 4 cores these days, that's not just impressive, that's outright enjoyable :-) Suddenly I realize that you can do this on Windows based tablets, such as the Atom-processor-based Dell Inspiron Duo that converts from Netbook to tablet, who would have thought? I think Microsoft and Dell should pop the Champagne on this one. There is hope also for all users of Tablet PCs who thought they could use their device for painting and photography work as well only to be disappointed by system sluggishness or tablet lag (which was fixed by tab tip tamer)..... to quote a certain president: yes you can!

If you think this was all they did to speed up the system... well, no, think again. According to the developers they even revised and recompiled their underlying function libraries to a newer version with new compilers which increased the speed dramatically in many cases. In addition to this, many features now sport new and optimized algorithms making Project Dogwaffle feel lighter, more responsive and faster than ever before. And they mean it, once I launched PD Howler it was speedy and really responsive, a joy to play with and dive in on my path to new discoveries. I guess one of the better proofs to the speed up of PD Howler is that now you can see the effect of filters in real time on the final image. No more need to watch small preview screens in most cases and what used to take some time to get final rendering you can now see during instant feedback! The speed improvements are really bold in this version.

Another thing that can't go unnoticed is the user interface improvements. I am familiar with Project Dogwaffle beginning with version 4 and I can tell that users of PD Pro could really see and feel the UI improvements in version 5 making it have a lot cleaner UI than earlier versions. But now it just got even better. Once launched PD Howler you begin to feel solidity. Lady_in_dark_Blue_b-300.jpgThe UI is more modern and really sleek. With the new interface PD Howler feels really good and I believe new users will not take much time to get going with it. I really like the option to have a one tab tool box which makes the UI be cleaner resulting in a pleasant and sterile environment to make art. Project Dogwaffle is a Windows application and the new interface plays with Windows 7 style really well. I would also like to mention a very nice trait of Project Dogwaffle creators: they are considerate developers never forgetting laptop users, giving some options to people who might have lower resolution displays. No one likes software which has UI bloated with tools leaving you no space, with PD Howler you will not run into this problem. You get a very clean UI to get your creativity fly.

The speed and UI improvements were not the only updates made. Many tools got reimplemented. I suppose the creators of PD Howler had a really good muse of inspiration. There is a long list of new features and updates. Many tools were completely rewritten adding a new approach on how they work. As a result new features came along including new additions to the old tools and many new tools to play with appeared too. Project Dogwaffle had an impressive catalog of filters in its older versions, but developers thought they are not enough and added plenty new innovations like Mandelbrot fractals. Spherize filter was completely rewritten and now sports a lot of new features like fractal textures for additional realism in planetary space art. The new 3D lighting tool gives a lot of new approaches on how to accomplish desirable effects while the same lighting tool caused some new functions to appear in PD Howler.

Yet another really interesting new filter is the Color FX tool. As you may recall, I am also a photographer. This one really speaks to me. It is a really wonderful approach to changing overall color mood for images. This is really a good example where PD Pro is more than a paint program and also has tremendous value for photographers and also professional artists working with photo-realistic 3D renderings such as with Carrara and Poser scenes, Maya, Lightwave, Blender,... you name it. It can dramatically change the mood but still keep the basic color scheme of your image.

But developers didn't stop there either. The symmetry and mirror tools got new Kaleidoscope features as well as a new unique asymmetrical symmetry behaviour. It is very useful when painting character portraits from the front. Traditional mirroring gives robotic results (perfect mirror copies), which you'd rather avoid if you want to make it look like you indeed painted both left and right halves of the face. You now have a solution to have it create a symmetrical left  half to the one you're painting on the right side that will be close but not a perfect mirror copy. This asymmetrical symmetry mode can be used to create symmetry which is not identically symmetrical, it is in a way imperfect, it is asymmetrical. So now you can literally focus on painting one side of your character alone, knowing that the other half may have slightly different facial features. I strongly recommend that you try this with 'displacing' brushes, such as Totally Oil, or Clay Modeling types and Smearing brushes with high opacity value... the effect is sheer beautiful.

And this is not even close to the end of the new additions and updates list! There are now many more new layer blend modes, leading us to more experimentation than we ever anticipated. PD Howler has some unique blend modes that are not available in other image editors.

The list of new features and improvements still has a long
Lady-001-final-500.jpg way to go till the end. A very unique feature in PD Howler is saving the Undo buffer's content to animation. It can load your many steps of painting into an image sequence that shows the progress of painting your image. Really cool isn't it?In some cases, this can be used as a quick mini tutorial video for a specific progress along a larger project.

If I am not mistaken, there might be even some new brushes available. There have always been many presets in earlier versions of PD Pro, and I have noticed some new settings in the Bristle brushes that can help turn a photo into a painting.

There are so many things in PD Howler that it looks like I could keep talking forever. After using PD Howler I didn't change my mind about Project Dogwaffle, that feeling only got reaffirmed and stronger: it is an amazing application, a surprisingly complete piece of software, considering how low they kep they price. At first it might look like a small painting tool, however it hides a lot bigger world in its minimalistic interface once you launch it.

However, as all other application, PD Howler has some limitations. Yet I think the limitations belongs to how you look at this amazing application. It is one of those rare software packages where you might expect things to work differently or have some additional options, but at the same time you agree with the work-flow and the limitations works to an advantage eventually. You just have to know it is an application not like any other, it is a unique gem. Daniel Ritchie and the rest of the PD team really made it be beyond digital painting and animation.If there were just one thing I could ask that they change, it would be to support opaque layers. Granted, the Magic Pink and other layer modes often help as a workaround. And the joy of painting with Dogwaffle, or as they say: the joy of waffling, it brings me enough adrenaline rush that I tend to forget at times. The secret with Dogwaffle is that it is not a questions of layers and selections, it is a question of brushes. This program is brush-centric: if you can think and work through the brush, it will take you places you didn't even know exist.

If you ever wanted to experiment with something unique – you owe it to yourself to try PD Howler. This software is not like anything else, it is an application in its own kind. If you will take control over the advantage of its unique tools and work-flow, you will shortly fall in love with it. It is a tool for people who love traditional old school painting and animation shaped in an innovative digital environment. If you would like to push your painting skills into another medium, PD Howler is a must try.

Best regards,


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A small sample of PD Artist's many Brush effects
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