18.11.08

Review: Painting on 3D in Photoshop CS4

Hello, i just wrote a small review on the 3d features of Photoshop CS4 for CGTalk.
I also publish it here.

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Review: Painting on 3D in Photoshop CS4

Hi, for all of those considering to buy cs4 extended because of its 3d components, I want to write a review, of what this version does and what not...

I just got my boss to get a copy of cs4 extended, because i wanted the sometimes choppy Interface of Bodypaint 3d to be replaced by a clean implemented solution from the *.PSD inventors themselves...

Packaging:
So finally i got the very nice and simple blue box. labeled: Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended.
Inside was another nice natural cardboard box, that indicates the very hip yet professional style, adobe seeks for...
Even more inside the box, was finally the plastic DVD case...no attempt for any written heavy documents, which is finally pretty innovative and saving natural resources and energy.

Install:
The installation was done WAY faster than in CS3. but lots of stuff in "typical"- installation, what most users will never ever need, nor understand...
Including the unbelievable slow and bulky Adobe Bridge...Man i tell u, use XNview as a Imageviewer for free...this is way faster to open and to work with.

Usability:
The new interface, that was invented with CS3 is improved in CS4 by accessibility.
The look and feel is more stable. Finally after using the new and sloppy CS3 interface, one is familiarized with the new interface and the work with CS4 is now easier...
The new "images in tabs" can be cool, but the window mode is also still there, if you need it.

Performance was ok until you NOT mess with the "AllowOldGPU"-patch to get 3d mode working under 64bit windows. If you do, you will have no fun with your half second delay when trying to paint..but later i will explain more.

So my motivation was ok so far...So head over to 3dmode..

3D Mode:
I exported my fully textured model out of 3dsmax as an *.obj.
The Material of this object contained a *.psd file with layers in the diffuse channel.

Now Photoshop did something, that i was not going to expect:
It imported the model without any problem, yes it took a while for 1000 polys but it was imported complete with the texture!
Yes, it is true.
But.
I couldn't rotate the model..Why this. Because Adobe sez: I cannot use OpenGL drawing within Windows XP 64...
And the fallback to software render mode (which is not always performed) is way to buggy. The display of the canvas is just broken then.
That is such lame, i can't tell...Btw: Vista 64 is supported..
But no problem i think Win64 users are such a minority. No need to serve them..

@ Adobe: Please place a big red button on your website, showing that CS4 3d extensions do NOT work under Win64...

Anyhow, as a geek and as a tricked user, i didn't want to give up.
So there IS a possibility to get 3d working in CS4 on 64bit windows.
But you have to search Adobe Support for THESE REG PATCHES
Click the "AllowOldGPUS_ON.reg" and install the latest graphic card drivers to get OGL 3d support inside CS4.
BTW. my card is NOT really old. its a 8800 GTX with 768MB Ram...
So then you can turn your camera in the viewport.

BUT after applying this (not supported) patch, the overall performance went abysmal....
I got half a second delay, when doing a stroke on a new 512x512 document "Airbrush Soft Round 65"-Brush.

Now to the 3d workflow itself.
Once the object is imported, we click on the "3d Orbit tool" (no, a standard 3d viewport navigation is absent) and rotate the object to its painting position..
In the "Layers"-window we see "Layer-1" containing the material...but ONLY the material, with the name of the PSD in the diffuse channel...layers of the psd (which is used in the diffuse channel) are also absent..
That means, you have to choose the layer where you paint on, in a new dialogue, called "3d material". There you click on the used Material, then click on the button "Edit the diffuse Texture", then click on "edit properties", then click the "target"-rollout, then click on the layer of your choice, and then start painting...
Alternatively open the psd as a separate file inside photoshop, switch to that file, click on the desired layer, then switch again to your 3dmodel, and start painting...

@Adobe....why doing it all in a new way...cant you just copy the workflow from bodypaint??

ok this odyssey would be ok, once you are familiar with that inconvenient way of painting a 3d model. when you have nothing else and you are stuck with that, you will learn to hate and use it ...

But all of this is not only inconvenient to use, but also buggy as hell and slow like...like...like...oh sorry, i just slept away...

you know i think most of it is caused by the software rendermode, or when using the patch, it is because of the buggy 64bit mode patch.... but hey.. this software costs ~ 500 $ more than the normal cs4 version..why this?

conclusion:
I was blinded by my trust in adobe, that was solidified back in the days of Photoshop6-CS2..
I even just ignored the unnecessary and retrograde release of CS3, when I formed my expectation for the new release.
The overall design seems to be matured with this release, but the implementation of the 3d features, that cause a significant boost in the price, are just not workflow and performance optimized.
This is window-dressing, or how is it said in english?
It seems, that this feature, was not invented by the Programmers Team, but the producers, who thought, that they can sell some special featured copies with a special overpriced version to a special audience...

@ adobe: please erase all of the code belonging to the 3d part, buy a copy of maxon bodypaint, copy the workflows and only improve maxons design. do NOT do an own design..the current workflows are not production oriented.

so long...