Vortex AGI Tutorials - PicEdit

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PicEdit
By nemesis

 

The Editor Screen

OK, I think we're ready to explore the editor screen. Bring up the menu and choose New Picture to get back to the blank screen we started with. The Editor Screen consists of the following:

The status line
  • Tool: (Line, Pen, Step, Fill, Brush, or nothing)
  • V: Current visual color (o = off, 0-15 each represent the corresponding color on the palette)
  • P: Current priority color (o = off, 0-15 each represent the corresponding color on the palette)
  • X: Current X position of mouse cursor
  • Y: Current Y position of mouse cursor
  • Pri: Priority band that corresponds to the current Y position. (We'll discuss priority bands later)

The Picture surface (currently a white screen)

The Tool interface
  • Tool buttons (Line, Pen, Step, Fill, and Brush)
  • Palette buttons (16 colors)
  • Off button
  • Brush state interface
  • Navigation buttons
  • Buffer position edit field
  • Delete button
  • Buffer contents display field

Let's discuss each of the tool interface's components in detail.

 

The Tool Buttons

Line Line: This tool draws a line from one point to any other point on the screen. Once you click on the picture surface, a virtual line follows the mouse cursor until you click on the next point. This will continue until you press the right hand mouse button on the picture surface, which turns off the tool.
Pen Pen: The pen tool operates very much like the line tool except that it has a restriction on the length of the line which is reflected by the fact that the virtual line will only follow the cursor to its boundary. Right clicking turns the tool off as was mentioned for line above.
Step Step: A unique tool which makes it very easy to draw 'steps'. Initially, you have a choice of going vertically OR horizontally, but once that first click is made, you must continue perpendicularly to the first line. Right clicking turns the tool off.
Fill Fill: Pretty self explanatory. But I should mention that this only works on over white areas of the screen (or red areas on the priority screen). In other words, you can't replace one color with another using fill. Right clicking on the picture surface once again turns the tool off.
Brush Brush: This tool is the most complicated. An artist will set up the desired brush characteristics with the brush state interface, select the brush tool, and then start using it (not necessarily in that order). You can change the brush characteristics during use, as well, making this tool quite versatile. Once again, right clicking on the picture surface disables the tool.
  A brief note on tools:

If you have a tool selected, start using that tool, and then change the color, there is no need to reselect the tool. Whatever is shown on the status line will be used again when you click on the picture surface.

The Palette Buttons The Palette Buttons: Are used to change visual and priority colors. Left clicking on the palette bar changes the visual color; right clicking on the palette bar changes the priority color.
The Off Button The Off Button: Is directly related to the palette buttons. Left clicking the off button disables visual drawing, right clicking the off button disables priority drawing. You can think of the off button as an invisible palette color. Usually the off button is used to turn off one of the colors so that work can be done on only one of the screens.
The Brush State Interface The Brush State Interface: This was briefly mentioned in the brush tool section. It allows you to select the size of the brush (with the up and down arrows), set the shape of the brush (either square or circle), and set whether it is solid or a spray. The brush state interface lies between the off button and the navigation buttons. When the brush tool is used, the state shown by this interface is what is used.
The Navigation Buttons and Buffer Position Edit Field The Navigation Buttons and Buffer Position Edit Field: The navigation buttons allow the artist to navigate backwards and forwards through the picture code action by action. The four navigation buttons operate as follows:

Home (<<): This button takes you to the start of the picture code.
Left (<) : This button takes you back to the start of the previous drawing action.
Right (>): This button take you to the start of the next drawing action.
End (>>) : This button takes you to the end of the picture code.

As the navigation buttons are used, the picture surface reflects where you are since it only draws up to the point that you are at in the buffer. The value in the buffer position edit field will also change. This field contains the data used to create the picture code. Understanding this data is not necessary to create pictures, so I am not including much detail in this tutorial. To learn more about the buffer position edit field, you can read the documentation that Lance Ewing included with PicEdit.

The navigation buttons and buffer position edit field allow you to go back and make changes to existing data or insert something that you forgot to draw. As we shall see by the next section, in combination with the delete button, these features can be very powerful.

The Delete Button The Delete Button: The delete button is a very powerful tool which allows you to delete any actions in which you made a mistake. Used with the navigation buttons, you can "back up" to just before the action in which your mistake occurred, and push the delete button. Warning!! This will delete the whole action. That means that if the mistake is only in part of the action, you will have to redraw the whole action to fix it up. It is probably a good idea to split big actions up into smaller segments because of this.
The Buffer Contents Display Field The Buffer Contents Display Field: This field displays the data in the picture code. As I mentioned before, knowledge of this data is not necessary, but you can read more about it in the documentation included with PicEdit. You can also use the "View Data" option in the menu system to look at the data currently in the picture code buffer.

 

Exercise 1.2 My First Picture

Now that you have a basic understanding of the tools that PicEdit uses, I would encourage you to try them out. It may take a little practice, but you'll get the hang of it. You can also try editing other AGI pictures. One fun trick is to use the navigation buttons to back up to just before a fill, and select a different color. This is a great way to experiment with what looks good.


PicEdit with Picture

 

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