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CamoPicker User's Guide, version 1.n

NOTE: I wanted to get CamoPicker into your hands as soon as possible, so I skimped a little on the initial documentation here. If something isn't explained to your satisfaction, please let me know via the supplied email link.

The following information assumes that you've installed CamoPicker, have started it up, and are currently staring at the main window, and wondering what to do next.


The Main Window

When the program is first started up, the application's main form looks like this:

As you can see, the various sections are labeled as steps to perform, and we'll go over each step in detail. Generally, you need to load an environment image (any picture will do, even if it's a picture of the side of your house or something like that), select your desired paint system, and then visualize a weapon (or other object). The gray bar at the bottom:

...is merely an information strip telling you how many of the citical data tems were found on your system. The following is a detailed explanation of each of those steps.


Step 1 - Select Image

Click the Browse... button to find the desired image on your system. It can be any image you have on hand, but the idea of the program is to present reasonable camouflage color recommendations based on your natural suroundings, so let's stay real here. Sure, you can have fun using pictures of your mother-in-law, or the inside of a closet, but all that's going to do is provide some mild entertainment for about 30 seconds.

Browse to the desired landscape image and select it. When you do, it will be displayed in the big blank spot under the Browse... button. For your convenience, a number of sample landscape images have been provided so that you can immediately start using the program.


Step 2 - Select Paint System

CamoPicker supports multiple paint systems. A paint system is comprised of one or more paint colors, and is intended to be representative of products from a specific paint manufacturer, such as Duracoat or Cerakoat. CamoPicker provides four paint systems of its own:

  • Cerakoat

  • Duracoat (*)

  • Federal Standard 595B (the default selection)

  • Krylon Camouflage

(*) Duracoat colors displayed (in the program) with an asterisk at the end of their name indicate a color that is also available in the Durabake line of paints from the same manufacturer.

Each paint system has its own unique set of colors, and the number of them varies as well. By selecting a paint system, you are restricting the color-matching capabilities of the application to that specified paint system, so that recommended colors are limited to those supported by the selected paint system.

You can add your own as they become available, and you can even expand/modify on the ones that are there. Instructions are (or soon will be) provided under Advanced Topics.

Once you've selected the desired paint system, move on to the next step in the process.


Step 3 - Determine Colors

This panel determines the dominant colors in the loaded image, and then matches those colors to colors in the selected paint system. There are three components to this panel. They are:


  • Pixel Factor - this control allows you to determine how many dominant colors will be "interpolated" from the envirnnment image that you loaded in Step 1. These interpolated colors will then be matched to their nearest equivalent paint system color. The factor values and their approximate color count are as follows:
    • 1 = 1 color
    • 2 = 4 colors
    • 3 = 12 colors (the default selection)
  • Matching - This control allows you to determine how the colors are matched. The possible values are:
    • Exclude Duplicates - if more than one of the dominant colors matches up to the same paint system color, the next best macth will be selected for each subsequent matches.
    • Allow Duplicates - allows more than one color to match to the same paint system color. This will result in more than one instance of the same paint system color being used.
    • Remove Dulicates - Multiple instances of the same paint system color will not be permitted at all, and you may see fewer color matches as a result.
  • The Get Colors button - This button kicks off the process of determing dominant colors and then matching them to the selected paint system. Once clicked, the colors will be displayed in the next panel.

Once you've selected your paint system, and matching mode, click the Get Colors button and move on to the next step in the process.


Step 4 - Select Paint Color and Sequence

This list shows the matched paint system colors, and shows the color it was matched to in the next column. Sometimes,the match will be pretty close, and other times the match will seem fairly bizarre. Sometimes, this is caused by your Matching setting. Other times, it's caused by the paint system data (if you're interested in why this happens, refer to the appropriate section of this web page for a paint system color explanation).

Once this listbox is populated, you can drag/drop the items it contains to new positions in the list and even select the colors you want to use for simple visualization (by default, all of the discovered colors are selected). If you're going to use Advanced Visualization, you can pretty much ignore this list of colors.


Step 5 - Visualize Weapon

You're now ready to see your eweapon overlayed on your environment image, and you have two options - simple and advanced visualization.

  • Simple Visualization button: Clicking this button will take the colors displayed in the list above that are selected (checked), and will apply them to the default weapon template, which happens to be an AR-15, and painted in the default camouflage pattern. If you want to change the order of selected paint colors, you can do so, and then re-click the Simple Visualization button. If you want to be more selective in what weapon is displayed, and what camouflage pattern is used, click the Advanced Visualization button instead.
  • Advanced Visualization button: Clicking this button will cause a second window to be displayed that allows you to get much more involved in the wqeapon rendering process. It is discussed in detail in the Avdanced Visualization section.

No matter which visualization technique you select, the end result will be a fully painted weapon overlaid on top of your selected environment image, as shown below. At this point, you can move to the next step in the process.




Step 6 - Adjust Scale/Rotation

Congratulations! You've generated a camouflaged weapon! It is initially displayed at the top/left of your landscape image. You can now move the weapon, rotate it, or make it smaller in size.

  • Moving the weapon: To move it to another location, simply move the mouse cursor into the rendering panel, click and hold the left mouse button, and start dragging the weapon around. When you're happy with its location, release the mouse button.
  • Scaling the image: Use the Scale slider to make the weapon smaller/larger.
  • Rotating the image: Use the Rotate slider to rotate the weapon the desired angle.

The Monochrome Button

Someone in the AR15.com forum (user ID of "brass")mentioned that a good way to determine if your pattern/color choice was going to be effective was to view the background/weapon as a black and white image, and if your weapon because reasonably well hidden, your choice of colors and pattern would be effective in the chosen environment. So, I thought I'd throw in this button. It converts the weapon and envirnoment images into gray scale, and back to color again. In monochrome mode, your render panel will look something like this.

Each time you click the button, the text it displays will indicate what the next press of the button will do. So, if you've clicked it once to set the images to grayscale, the text will read "Color", as seen below.




Advanced Visualization

The Advanced Visualization window allows you to really get your hands dirty with regards to how the weapon looks, including using colors not previously matched to your surroundings, changing the orientation of the selected camo pattern, and even selecting different weapons (or objects). The window looks like this:

When the window initally opens for the first time, a camouflage pattern and weapon are already chosen, all of the layers are defined and configured, and an initial weapon image is displayed in the work area. In terms of the weapon image, what you're seeing is a similar result that you get when you click the Simple Visualization button on the previous form. The paint colors are applied in a different order, but they are the same colors (because it ignores the order they appeared in the main window) used on the simple visualization. At this point, the weapon is your oyster (whatever the hell that means). Let's start looking at the different ways you can change the weapon's appearance.


What to do First

The very first things you most likely want to do is select the desired weapon and camouflage pattern. This is done by selecting those items from the drop-down lists at the top/center of the window. Once you've done that, you can start playing with the individual camouflage pattern layers. Keep in mind that any change of wepon or pattern will cause the render to update immediately, but your selected layer colors should remain intact.

NOTE: Yes. I acknowledge that the layout seems wonky, and in the next version of the program, the layers panel will probably be on the right side.


The Layer Manipulation Panel

The Layer Manipulation panel is where you do most of your work. The first thing we see is the Color Source panel.

This panel allows you to select from either the colors discovered in the main form (the "environment" colors), or a set of preset color groups defined for the currently selected paint system. Duracoat is the only paint system that has color groups defined, but you can define your own if you desire (instructions will be forthcoming). If there are no color groups defined for the paint system, you will be forced to use the environment colors.

The next thing in the panel is a list of layers, each beginning with a number from 1 to 6.

The number of layers you see depends on how many layers are available for the selected camo pattern. Each layer item also has a background color associated with the matched colors found in the prior window (when you clicked the Get Colors button). You can't change the porder of the layers, but you can make the following adjustments.

In the image above, we see a row of buttons. These buttons allow you to manipulate the selected layer by flipping (flipping vertically), mirroring (flipping horizontally), or restoring the layer to its original orientation. Beneath those buttons, you see a slider control that lets you set the blur amount (from 0 to 25), and a checkbox that lets you turn the layer completely off (or back on).

Finally, you'll see a list of ALL of the colors available for the selected paint system, with the environmental matched colors at the top, and remaining colors in a subsequent section.

When you select a layer, the Available Colors listbox points to the color currently assigned to the selected layer. By clicking a color in the AvailableColors list, you assign athe selected color to the selected leayer (and no, there is no undo feature - yet).


Applying Layer Changes to the Rendered Weapon

As you make changes to the desired layer(s) the program is notified that the pattern layers have somehow changed. When this happens, the Update Weapon button is enabled. Simply click that button to redraw the weapon in the render panel. If you setup any layers to be blurred, this will cause a bit of a delay in the rendering but be patient, it will finish soon enough, and your weapon will eventually be redrawn.

Once you're happy with the way your weapon looks, click the OK button. This will cause the Advanced Visualization window to be deleted, and the weapon you configured to be overlaid on the environment image.

If you come back to the Advanced Visualization form in the same application session (without closing the program), your last weapon, pattern, and layer settings will be used as the initial display.


Other Notes

You may have noticed some buttons I didn't talk about. Well, that's because they're not enabled/coded yet. They're in the windows to support future enhancements to the program.