Amazing Speed-Up Trick for Photoshop. . .

Discussion in 'Software' started by thatcomicsguy, Feb 28, 2011.

  1. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Using Photoshop CS4. . .

    When drawing and inking on a big, memory-taxing image with many layers, (20 layers approx), I found that I was running into some line-lag.

    That is, doing quick, flicking "ink" lines caused my machine, (maxed-out Tecra M4) to choke somewhat so that the lines would have to play catch-up with my nib, appearing on the screen a short lag time behind my hand motion --which might be on the fifth line ahead of the one being rendered to the screen. This is annoying.

    Anyway, I accidentally found myself doing some inking on the Background layer, (which I normally leave blank.) The result was a very pronounced speed up of the computer response time. The lag effectively vanished.

    Cool.

    It seems that Photoshop has a much easier/faster time updating the background than it does any of the layers above it. I've switched my work flow accordingly so as to take advantage of this property.

    I just thought I'd share this little discovery. Maybe it will be found useful by others who also happen to be using older machines like mine.

    Cheers!

    ~~~~

    www.iboxpublishing.com
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2015
  2. klachowski

    klachowski Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Hmmm.. that's really interesting. So do you just put semi-transparent "pencil" layers on top and then ink under it?
     
  3. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    What I generally do is pencil and ink on separate layers. If I find there is a slowdown here's what I do. . .

    Pencil directly on the background. This kills the delay.

    Then when you're done, make a copy of the background. (Right click on the background in the layer's menu and select, "Duplicate Layer".)

    Then you ink right onto that, using a black brush. For some reason, perhaps because this layer is solid and not transparent, the speed is still just as fast as if it were the background layer itself. (So I think the lag is related to transparency). When erasing errors, the pencil work from the original background layer shows through, so it's still there. Working in this manner seems to get rid of all pen lag.

    Here's what my process looks like. . .

    Pencils, drawn right on the background:
    [​IMG]


    Inks: inked on a copy of the background, positioned at "Layer one" directly above the background. No pen lag.
    [​IMG]

    Finals:
    [​IMG]
    Grey tone work is done on a flattened image because it works fastest to just use the gradient tool set to "Darken" but it only knows what it's darkening when all the line work is on the same level.
     
  4. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    I didn't feel like I was explaining things very well above, so I just shot a little video of the effect in action. . .



    [​IMG]

    In this video, I show how to solve the lag problems which come up on a Tecra M4 in Photoshop when working on high resolution images. This, I imagine, would apply even to really fast computers when document sizes push the system limits in Photoshop and start to experience lag effects.
     
  5. klachowski

    klachowski Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Thanks for the great video! Just out of curiosity have you noticed a difference in lag or hopefully lack of lag between inking (with black) on a white multiplied layer and inking (with black)on a layer with nothing else on it. I don't see why there would be much of a difference, but then again I don't see why there is such a marked difference when drawing directly on the background layer.
     
  6. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Okay, this update is totally awesome!

    So a poster on YouTube watched the video I'd made describing this speed-up trick, and just so happened to have more digi-wisdom than I do. He explained the mechanic behind why the trick I'd come up with works and pointed out a much better way to achieve the same speed-up effect.

    Long story short: When you start a new layer, just put a single dot in each opposing corner of the canvas; (Top Left, Bottom Right), and pen lag vanishes.

    Why?

    Well, it turns out the lag response wasn't due to the stylus action at all, but rather to Photoshop's efforts at memory conservation. For instance, say you draw a face in the middle of a big, empty canvas, Photoshop only gives that layer the exact amount of memory necessary fit a rectangle around the edges of your drawing and not one pixel more. With every additional brush stroke which extends the drawing size, Photoshop re-defines the size of the rectangle and the memory foot-print required to contain it, and apparently it's this re-defining of the memory footprint which causes the computer to hiccup and register a stylus delay.

    So the fix is simply to force the size of the memory block being used for a given layer to that of the whole canvas, (by putting dots in the extreme corners); this way Photoshop stops mucking around with memory conservation and just gets on with the job of letting you draw.

    Voila! No more delays, and you don't have to sacrifice the benefits of transparency.

    Cool!

    Yet another way to get the most out of an old legacy Tablet PC. My workflow has already become less cumbersome and more fun!

    :)
     
  7. Hattori Hanzo

    Hattori Hanzo Scribbler - Standard Member

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    That's indeed very interesting. Interesting how Photoshop handles this. And a damn great tip.
     
  8. klachowski

    klachowski Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Awesome! Cain't wait to try that out!
     
  9. perdita00

    perdita00 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Thank god I found this thread! So.. putting dots in the corner did not help but just drawing a border around the very outside of each new layer gets rid of the lag! I set up an action so it doesn't become tedious.
     
  10. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    I did find that it sometimes took a little more than dots in the corner to reliably create a fast-stylus response on a layered canvas, but the effect was quite noticeable. I think it might have to do with the way Photoshop uses what it called "tiles".

    In any case, perhaps it has to do with recent Windows updates, but on a 4800 x 7800 grey scale canvas, I find that even without the corner trick, my stylus response is basically perfect. I can't think of what I might have changed other than setting the Cache levels to 4 from the factory setting of 6. I don't know if that was the magic or not, but things are nice and smooth drawing-wise these days on CS4.
     

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