cool tools for cool artists Project Dogwaffle - a Reviewer's Guide

General resources:

What's new?
Art Galleries?
Some Tutorials?
What's cool?
What's possible?


What is Project Dogwaffle?

Project Dogwaffle is a digital painting and traditional (old-school) animation program for the PC running on Microsoft Windows, developed by former Hollywood special FX animator Dan Ritchie. The main place for all things related to Project Dogwaffle is at

A few external developers have contributed bits and pieces to it too, such as a LUA scripting plugin or interfaces to other art creation tools like Artweaver. Programmers can easily make extensions and tools for Project Dogwaffle based on a free SDK at

There are several versions of Project Dogwaffle: a freeware version 1.2, entry level PD Artist and Project Dogwaffle 2.1, a lite edition PD Particles and advanced versions PD Pro 3.5 and 4.

PD Pro 3 retail box by

There is also a boxed version of PD Pro 3.5 available from a publisher in the UK named Fasttrak/Avanquest

A japanese version has been developed by NetJapan's PowerX division

 What's new with PD Pro Digital Painter 4.x ?


    In late 2006, version 4.0 of PD Pro was released, followed by several free update patches over the following months. In June 2007 the latest update, version 4.1, was released. Also, a japanese version (based on 4.0c) was released by NetJapan's PowerX division.

 The following is recap of some of the major new features that have found their way into versions from v4.0 through 4.1

  Multi-threaded filters for optimal speed:

 One of the major new features in 4.0 was the introduction of a new framework for making multi-threaded filters. A few existing filters already were made multi-threaded with version 4.0. Additional filters (such as Value-only contrast and the color noise filter) joined the the multi-threaded club. When you run PD Pro 4 on an Intel Core2 Duo, or AMD X2 or other multi-core systems, you'll notice significant speed improvements with these filters when compared to prior versions up to 3.7 or when running otherwise equivalent single-core systems. Imagine a dual processor system with dual-Xeons, or one of the new generation Quad processor systems - It's a screamer!

  Note that PD Pro always had a software architecture that was suitable for multi-core systems, with the main process running as an activeX server and most filters running on their own processes, thus automatically spreading across the available multi-core resources for optimal performance. PD Pro 4 has just made it even more efficient.

You can see what PD Pro 4 sees in your system: in the menu:FIle>Settings... there's a new 'Threading' button. When you click it, a status popup shows how many threads are being used and how many logical processors have been detected by PD Pro.

 Compositing with Image Sequences

 You can do several types of image compositing for video and animation, including blue screen and green screen based. It's great for video FX animators who, for example, have a walk sequence done in Poser or other 3D animation program, and want to later place that sequence looping in front of another animated background.

 In the 4.0b patch, some improvements and bug fixes were made to allow for better compositing, such as when the two clips have different dimensions.

 You can see some examples and tutorials here:

 Blue-screen compositing:

the background animation

running man on blue screen

the resulting composition

 Alpha channel based compositing:

 Here's another, recently added tutorial, also using Bluescreening. It is used to build an animated texture for use in 3D programs to simulate the scratching of a lottery ticket.

 Clearly, PD Pro is not just another paint program. It goes into a lot of features needed for video FX, post work on 3D renderings and animation and compositing as you'll see below with some of the many new filters and effects in the Timeline editor.

 Snowfall Filter:

 The timeline editor has had an animated, particle-based snowfall filter for quite a while now. Some of the slider-controlled parameters affect the speed of the snow particles, so you could also use it for rain and wind effects.

 One thing that was added in 4.0b is a new slider to control the brightness of the particles. They can be dark now too, not only white. This can be suitable when using the filter with high velocity and windspeed for rainfall effects.

 Large Memory Addressing:

 In version 4.0c, a special flag was used when compiling the program's code. With this large memory flag, PD Pro is now able to address larger amounts of memory than ever before, such as found when working with very large images. On 32-bit versions of Windows, the maximum memory addressable in the past was 2 GB, it is now 3 GB, a 50% gain.  If you're on a 64-bit version of Windows, it can address up to 4 GB, the top limit for 32-bit programs.

 Over the years, PD Pro has undergone some dramatic speed improvements.  With that in mind you can now more easily work on very large images.

 Hide those Marching Ants!

 When you make a complex selection, perhaps with the magic wand or through several iterative brush strokes with blobby brushes directly into alpha, it can at times be difficult to see what's behind the selections because the 'marching ants' are animating the selection outlines. Plus, in some very complex selection cases it can slow down the interaction (viewing) and other activity.

 To remedy this, it may at times be preferable not to see the selection mask, at least just temporarily. To that effect, you can use new options in the Alpha menu to disable the animation and/or visibility of the marching ants in the alpha channel.

 Animated Skies:

 For long now, Project Dogwaffle has had a Sky rendering filter. One new feature added in version 4.1 is the option to animate that sky's cloud   system. You can change the position in x and y as well as in z, i.e. into the fractal space that controls their shape. Combine this with a clever gradient for silver lining around the clouds and you get interesting effects that look like fast moving and shape-changing cloud patterns in the sky.

  You can see examples here:

  Age Decrementing on Particle Brushes:

  One of the better known and fun features of Project Dogwaffle is a type of  brushes called particle brushes, also known under the name of Optipustics  (optical Octopus - see all the way back in version 1.6).

When you paint with particles, dozens or even hundreds
of particles emanate from under your mouse. They shoot out and spread in different directions, responding to gravity, your hand motion, change in direction and speed. They change color according to a color gradient. They can also change size, shrinking from an initial size down to zero. They can split and react to image-based force fields and do lots more, which includes carrying the image from your current 'normal' brush, even an animated brush(!) and apply all the brush parameters such as smearing, color changes, etc...

One of the more advanced features of Optipustics were added in version 3.5 in the form of an image based force field - they
can also auto-generate their own selection masks in the alpha channel, making them great for mapping onto billboard polygons and use in 3D programs.

  A new parameter that was added in 4.0c is called Age Decrementing.

One thing that happens when particles reach their lifespan is that they are
  respawned to begin the cycle anew. The duration of their life cycle is  dictacted by the Lifespan parameter.

  With the addition of Age decrementing, they won't however appear to live  the same duration again and again when they renew. Instead, they live shorter and shorter lifespans each time as they start another one. This is perfect for certain types of roots and twiggs which you want to show shortening and thinning as you go from trunk to tip.

  A good example of age decrementing at work is shown in this tutorial:

  Animated Lens Flares:

  PD Pro was developed by a special FX animator. It's not surprising then to find special effects brushes and tools such as lightning, snowfall and the all-mighty lens flares: Fotographers hate them, special effects animators love'em!

  Version 4.1 of PD Pro saw the addition of new features in the lens flare system, and the fact that they are now also found in the timeline editor, and thus can be animated. You can animate parameters such as position and intensity. It's rather easy to track the moving headlights of a motor bike or car in the darkness of the night through a few keyframes, and add lensflares that way.

  Here are some great examples of animated lens flares:

  Animated Shadow Vision:

  Mystic vision is a very cool filter which does sort of a combination of zoom blur and directional light diffusion. It's great for light rays of the Sun piercing through dark clouds or from behind thick shrubbery, trees and bushes.

  The counterpart of Mystic vision is Shadow vision: very similar in what it does, except that if casts rays off the dark pixels instead of the light ones.

  Shadow vision can be used to simulate volumetric shadows cast by clouds. And because they too are animated and found in the timeline, you can create very convincing effects like the ones found here:

  The Woodcut filter:

  The woodcut filter joins a tradition of Dogwaffle's many art filters, such as

  - apply current paper
  - wet paint
  - brush strokes
  - tarnish
  - weave
  - graphic pen (which has tons of modes and options in itself)
  - oilify, and
  - cross contour

  The woodcut filter takes the current image, perhaps coming from a photograph, and uses a thresholding mechanism that shows it with just one or a few levels of grey. This mimics the look of woodcut reprints. You can  further enhance it with the addition of paper textures that look like wood  patterns.

  Here are some examples and tutorials:

  Evidently, Project Dogwaffle is definitely a tool you should check out if you like to turn photos into works of art.

I am a cutie pie

  Waving in the Wind:

  A custom brush is made of one or several images, potentially a long video clip. A new animated brush fiulter in the Timeline filter collection can take such brush images and apply transformations to them to make it look as if the wind or the breeze is waving and rocking them back and forth, left to right.

  This works also for underwater currents with seaweed.

  Take a look at some examples here:

  Animated Swap Buffer:

  One of the peculiar features of Project Dogwaffle is the counterpart to the Main image buffer: the Swap buffer. It can be used for things similar to what a transform layer can be used for in other programs. For example, the image in the swap buffer can be the source of displacement or embossing of the image in the main buffer. This can be done in the static single-image case from the Filters menu but also on animations through the Timeline editor.

  Moreover, the swap buffer can now also be an animation itself, when used with the timeline editor. In other words, you can have one animation (from a saved .dwa file) affect the displacement and other deformations of another, the currently loaded animation.

  This can yield great effects such as turbulent displacement under desert heat.

  Check some basic ideas here:

  Finally, here's a detailed step-by-step tutorial:


Getting Started

Desert Heat HOT!

To Probe Further...

  This is only a brief review of some of the many great new features.

To summarize, we hope you'll realize that PD Pro 4.1 is loaded with great tools and gadgets to take your digital art and animated media even further. It's not necessarily a replacement for all things you do in other tools - it may just be a great companion for things you can't do yet with your current tools.

 Check for example this last animation:

  and ask yourself: can your current digital painting and imaging program do that?.... for a mere $119 ?

  To Probe Further:

  To learn more, visit these sites:

Project Dogwaffle:

  PD Artist:
  PD Pro 4:
  PD Particles:
  other reviews:

If you have any questions please contact Philip Staiger