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Making Custom Callouts

with Serif's Affinity Designer

PD Particles is great for quick painting, drawing and sketchingPD ArtistPD Howler also supports digital painting,  animation & video, 3D and visuall effects

What is Affinity Designer? Show me the Tutorial  |  more about Callouts

What is Affinity Designer?

Affinity Designer is great design and illustration software from Serif, a program available here:

If you are an Illustrator, a graphic Designer, or have a creative mind of many sorts, you should have a look at Affinity Designer.

It is one of several awesome programs made by Serif, and we particularly love it for its capability to export to a variety of file formats.

For example, if you create a heightmap with erosion and sediments in PD Howler's 3D Designer, you may want to save it out as 16-bit Tiff, even if it only started with 8-bit depth. Affinity can do that, exporting to 16-bit grey in Tiff and Png formats, to name a few.

Affinity Designer is a great companion to Dogwaffle's PD Howler or PD Artist, and we strongly recommend it. It is very affordably priced, in about the same range as PD Howler.

If you're more into Photography, you may want to have a look at their Affinity Photo line.

In the tutorial shown here, we'll see how to take an existing callout from an emf file (extended Microsoft Metafile format) as found in Howler 11 or Artist 11. You can make a lot of changes to it or even create your very own callouts, and then export the new callout straight into the folder where Howler will see it and let you use it.

The Tutorial

In this tutorial we want to take an existing callout from Dogwaffle, and modify it, for example to make it contain a duplicate of itself and give it different coloring.

We could for example take one of the tree shapes and make it so that the new callout contains two trees.

So, essentially, a tree that could shadow another...

If you didn't know, Howler 11 (and Artist 11) now have a new Callout tool. A callout is a graphic object that usually has the shape of a bubble, into which you'll add some short text or dialog. It comes handy in cartoons, comics, and many other illustrations where someone says something, or has a thought, or makes some sound effects.

Callouts are implemented as vector objects and highly transformable and adaptable to your image's needs. We've included a bunch of callouts as enhanced metafile formatted files (emf). They were created with other programs such as the free Inkscape or the draw program from OpenOffice and similar tools. Affinity Designer is also an option, and a great one at that. That's what we'll focus on in this tutorial.

Callouts in Dogwaffle's PD Howler 11 can be accessed below the Curve tool on the toolbar, amongst the Gradient and FX tools, near the Lens Flares and lightning.

The secondary context bar then also shows the Callouts... button after you've selected any of the gradient / FX tools. Use the scrollbar to preview the many available presets.

There are many(!) presets for various types of callouts, and you can easily further transform them with the control handles around their bounding box. The initial release of PD Howler 11 includes over 150 callouts! Some of them are bubbles for straight dialogs. Others are cloudy bubbles for thoughts. ANd yet others are great for sound effects like POW! and ZAP!, SPLAT! or HIT!. There are stars, arrows, and many other shapes, even trees.

In the upper left corner there are also quick tools for horizontal and vertical flipping, so you can invert the shape's orientation. And there are many control handles where you can resize, rotate, squew and modify it.

Alright, so here is one of the tree callouts, which we find near the end of the list of presets.
We'll want to find the file in the Dogwaffle installation that defines this, to load it into Affinity Designer.

To locate the file, go to the folder where your PD Artist or Howler is installed.
Below is an example from an installation with Howler 11 in Steam. (coming in May 2017).
Yours might be different, such as in C:\Program Files(x86)\Howler.

Locate the Callouts folder within your Dogwaffle installation, and open it.

The callouts are in Enhanced Microsoft Metafile (*.emf) format
Those contain the shapes in the form of scalable vector objects.

Look for the trees. Several files start with 'Tree'.
 You can preview them in an external viewer such as Irfanview.

Or just open it in Affinity Designer to see the content.

You can also open them from File > Open in Dogwaffle, since it includes the image converter from ImageMagick, but keep in mind that it will turn it into a raster image within Dogwaffle when you do that. Still, you can check the specific files that way to verify which file contains which callout. In fact, you get over 150 callouts that could easily become the starting point of creating special brushes, such as to hold a fancy arrow or other shapes, and you could add drop shadows, embossing and other effects to them for even more sophistication. We'll explore some of that in another tutorial.

Open the desired file in Affinity Designer. Here we chose Tree6.emf:

This tree was originally made in Inkscape, another great tool, so you see that info in the lower left corner and it also is the layer's name now.

The original tree contained two items of different coloring, as seen above: green leaves (or needles) and brown trunk and branches.

The entire object is current selected .

If we pick a color from the color picker, it re-colors them all the same. Perfect!

Click the tree object to select it and do your desired re-coloring. Then also grab the corners to move and resize it. Here we move it a bit to the upper left and make it smaller.

We'll give it a lighter tint, to make it a bit looking like it's in the far distance, way back in the fog

Then copy/paste it (Ctrl-C / Ctrl-V) to create a duplicate, move it aside and grab the side handles to flip it over itself horizontally, then move it and resize it.

Make it a little bigger.

Recolor it to a more saturated and darker tint, less foggy, appearing closer, in front of the original.

Now the 2nd tree looks like it's a little closer.

You can easily reshape it. Affinity Designer is a great tool!
Here we simply made it a little more narrow by grabbing the handles on the left or right side and resizing just horizontally.

And that's about it, we're now ready to re-export our new shape as a new emf file for use in Callouts.

Use File > Export...

We love how the many file formats are lined up in a top row of icons. Genius!

Make sure you use Enhanced Windows Metafile as the format.  There should be a preset.

However, come to think of it, this may not be ready as is.
Well give it a try, but I think you'll want the background to stay transparent.
Perhaps you'll need to check the box for Clip Transparency:

While you're at it, you might as well create a new Template for this. Click More...

Choose the File Format that shows EMF / WMF

check the box for Clip Transparency

Click Manage Presets

I created a preset named 'for Dogwaffle'. Now I have a quick way to export it with proper settings.

I could perhaps have made it more specific in the naming of this preset:

for Dogwaffle Callouts

Last step: save the file to the same folder where the other Callouts are located.

Give it a new, different name. You don't want to accidentally override the original.

And voila, here we're back in Howler 11 and the new pair of trees is in the updated list of available callouts!

Thanks for watching - time to get creative!