Created with Dynamic Auto Painter (DAP7)

Why Dynamic Auto Painter is so much fun!

Why Dynamic Auto Painter is so much fun!

I have talked about Dynamic Auto Painter (DAP) before and since then, I’ve spent some time working my way around the system and learning to perfect, well improve the results I have been getting.

For the most part, if you leave DAP to do its thing, you’ll either achieve a masterpiece or something akin to a disaster, it’s somewhat of a crap shoot although this is very dependent on the start point. Don’t get me wrong, DAP is a great piece of software but it needs help to create the perfect painting. Intrigued? Read on!

SHORT ON TIME? Here’s a quick summary of my article

  • Dynamic Auto Painter (DAP), currently DAP7, is a serious editing tool which transfoms photos into paintings and other artistic media
  • It offers fully automatic, semi-automatic and customisable tools to create your final result
  • Without doubt, on some photos the fully automatic tools will provide an excellent outcome. On others, not so. Choose wisely!
  • Many presets are included, these being for a wide range of artistic styles and tastes, many being based on the work of a particula artist
  • It offers a wide range of masking tools as well as some image processing tools, for example converting RAW to JPEG before commencing conversion
  • There are a number of tools available to help you paint on the canvas as well as a number of tools for post-processing of the final effect
  • The more effort that you put into your work, the better the outcome
  • Some presets are better suited to certain jobs so experiment to find out which ones work best for landscape, portraits etc. Often the artists who inspired the preset will be mentioned in the preset name so use these for their particular genre eg Sargent, Pino for portraiture, Gruppe for nautical, seascapes etc
  • The presets associated with Van Goth are huge fun to play with but the results can be very variable. Like the artist, just enjoy the journey and marvel at the outcome
  • With presets from Monet, it’s best to stick with the types of things he painted as this works really well in those situations
  • A neat trick I have found is to use the Batch Template tool to look at how each style will tackle one image for example a landscape, a seascape or a portrait. You can then use these results to focus on one specific template and work with it during processing gently nudging it towards a final outcome you are happy with

Getting Started with Dynamic Auto Painter

The first area of focus when you start an edit is to understand and to be able to use masks.

Now, some presets ask you to define a particular area (mask) in the image as this area will be subjected to more care and attention. This is notible that on portraits and presets from Sargent, Pino etc that they need this information to work well.

You can also use a couple of other tools for masking, there’s a Mask menu on the top menu for manual masking and there are two options to force DAP to apply automatic masking. These are found under the Panel tab (at the bottom of the editor) and are Auto Quad Tree Mask which is a generalised / wide masking tool and Auto Structure Mask and Auto Structure Mask 2 which are more targetted.

These latter two tend to be used together but don’t use them with the Auto Quad Tree Mask. In some circumstances these masks do improve your image but I have found that in most cases it is often better to watch your painting develop so that you can fine-tune any areas which have lost their way.

Now in no way am I an expert with DAP but with the help of masks and an understanding of using the various tools available to me I am getting more proficient with every painting that I create.

Some of the presets available create amazingly colourful effects. A couple that I particulalry like are LeRoy and Aquarelle Noveau both of which create splashes of colour across the canvas. In my opinion these are best used in portraiture but I guess you could use them for anything, still life for example might also be really good.

I have also found that all of the presets work well with a B&W image – some adding splashes of colour as in the image below while some just paint using a monochrome pallet. I think that the key with DAP is to be prepared to experiment, then focus down on what works best for you.

To my mind I think that the key here is to focus on composition as the better the start point, the better the end result. You may or may not like the image below but it is striking, colourful and for me certainly, very pleasing.

One thing I have learned while using DAP is that very contrasty images don’t seem to work as well as flatter images, certainly in portraits. Strong highlights and shadows on skin do cause some issues with processing so I try to avoid these wherever possible. Now this is contrary to my preferred style which is for lots of contrast, especially in B&W images but with software like DAP you need to compromise to achieve the best results.

Of course DAP is not just a portrait editor. Far from it, it handles landscapes really well as can be seen in the images below.

This secong image is much more powerful to my mind..

Derilict Pump House at Minions, Bodmin Moor
A photo-impressionistic image of the derilict pump houses at Minions on Bodmin Moor


Dynamic Auto Painter is simply amazing. It’s fun, it’s creative and it’s flexible. It can turn most photos into something much more interesting in just a few minutes. Take your time, interact with the process and fine tune the results and you really can create some amazing “paintings”.

That being said, give it a good image as a start point and stand back and you might just produce something really interesting with little to no effort. Like any good editor it takes time to get to know it. I would guess that I am perhaps sitting at around 10% at this point in time.

There is so much in DAP7 that I really don’t know if I will ever become an “expert”. Irrespective, it’s a great piece of software and if you have one ounce of creative spirit or talent, you are going to love it.

Take care

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