you can fly!?
Planet 'Dogwafflia'

Experiment with filters and displacement tools to make planetary textures in the free version of Project Dogwaffle v1.2

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1. First Steps: Getting Started

You can get the free version of Project Dogwaffle from many places including the official website:

It is available from many mirrors sites and shareware/freeware download sites.

Install Project Dogwaffle and fire it up. You will be asked to select a buffer size. We'll select 1024x1024 in this example but you can use different sizes if you have a small screen resolution or don't feel comfortable with the dynamic viewing options.

  • Interactive Viewing Controls

In the Tools panel you'll find a mini icon looking like a hand, to move the image and next to that a zoom icon (nested boxes of various sizes). There's also a resize to 100% and fit-to-window button. Use these interactive viewing controls if the window or image is too big to fit on the screen.

You can also interactively pan and zoom through the iamge: Just press and hold the Control  and the Shift keys, then use and drag the left or the right mouse button for viewing control.

  • Preferences, Undo Memory

Let's also increase the numbers of undo. In the menu: 

    File > Prefs

click the Memory options button and set the undo memory amount (slider) to the max (96 MB). This will make more undo-levels available. The number of undo depends on how much memory is used in each image. The smaller the image the more undo levels. The more the max undo level memory the more undos are possible.

You can use 'u' as a shortcut for undo, and 'a' for again (i.e. redo).

In the Help menu you will find a keyboard shortcuts summary.


2. Filter: Dread Plating

Select menu: 

   Filter > Render > Dread Plating

Use the defaults. This filter renders in two phases, but you'll only see the end result. Still, you can undo through two phases. The first phase paints the dread plating, a sort of fractal set of squares of different sizes. The second adds a wet paint effect for additional weathering, if the appropriate checkbox is set.

You could also start from your own image, perhaps something coming from a digital camera or a scan.

3. Main and Swap: Two buffers

Use the shortcut 'j' to jump between the two buffers. Dogwaffle has a main buffer and a swap buffer. The swap buffer is still blank at this time.

Hit 'j' to jump back to the main buffer.

And then 'j' again to stay on the swap buffer for the next step. Note that you can find buffer jumps and copies and other tools in the Buffer menu.

the Buffer menu with controls for Main and Swap buffers

4. Plasma Noise: An Image for the Swap Buffer

We already have an image in the main buffer. We will now load another image or render one into the swap buffer.

Select menu:

   Filter > Render > Plasma Noise
If you like, use the color mode. Then make it so. The second image is now in the swap buffer. Jump back to the main buffer.  (shortcut 'j')

5. Paint mode: Quick dabble with Rubthrough mode

The default brush is an airbrush. Its default mode is shown in the Tools panel at right, below the three sliders (Size, Opacity, Step). The default 'Mode' is shown as 'Default' and is is equivalent to 'Replace'. Click the menu and change it to 'Rubthrough'. You can now paint and will see the image from the swap buffer being rubbed through to the main buffer.
This is a neat technique when you want to blen parts of an image into another. But we have other plans now. We want to make a planetary texture using filters and displacement maps. Let's move on.

6. Filter: Displace by Swap

The image in the Swap buffer can be used to morph or displace the one in the Main buffer. This is simply done by the menu:

   Filter > Displace by Swap > ...

There are several options. Try the first one,

   Filter > Displace by Swap > Displace

Move the slider. You will see distortions on the main buffer's image caused by the image from the swap buffer.

7. Filter: More Displacements Methods

Try the other modes on top, like the Pool displace.

8. Buffer menu: Greyscale

If the image in the Swap is in color, and depending on the displacement tuype used, you may have color left. Let's convert it to greyscale. Select menu:

    Buffer > Greyscale > ...

Of course, there's nothing wrong with color :-)  But the next step will be more impressive if starting from a greyscale image.

9. Filter: Map to Gradient

 The Color Gradient is a powerful feature that can be used by various tools such as the Fill tool or the Linear tool and even the fractal particle brushes (Optipustics). Use shortcut "p" to view a color gradient.

There are several predefined gradients, and they are all changeable and customizeable. Plus you can select more from the several gradient sets. There are gradients for reds (e.g. fires), gun metals, blue skies, etc...

10. This and That

You will find that some methods of displacements will bring back other colors than that of the gradient. This can be because the image in the Swap buffer may contain colors. So, you could j)ump back to the Swap buffer and convert to greyscale there too.

Next, try the Pool displacement and other gradients. Make time to play and discover.

11. Embossing

Project Dogwaffle is particularly strong as a paint tool, and yet we haven't been painting at all. It turns out that Dogwaffle is also powerful with its set of plugins and filters to create new images by modifying and combining existing ones.

Use the menu:

   Filter > Convolve > Color Emboss

for a fast/realtime embossing filter. Move the slider to add a little bit of 3D relief to the pattern.

12. Light Diffusion Blur

This is starting to look like a pretty good planetary surface, perhaps for a frozen, distant planet Dogwafflia.

To convey a hint and impression of a touch of atmospheric haze, we could use the Light Diffusion filter:

   Filter > Blur > Light Diffusion

Brighter regions will then softly bleed into neighboring darker areas, adding a mist and veil of atmospheric blur.

13. Polar Caps.

We're probably still using the defaultbrush but possibly also still in 'Rubthrough' mode. Set the 'Mode' back to 'Default' (which is the mode that will replace pixels rather than modify or combine them, so essentially the same as 'Replace'). Then freely paint a white band of snow along the top and another along the bottom. These will represent the arctic region's polar caps.

If you want a little bit of texture and structure you could enable the paper texture. At the top of the Tools panel, there are three larger icons (larger than the many other mini-icons for the many tools). Click that middle one which controls paper texture. Left-clicking will toggle (enable/disable) the paper texture for the current brush, so the texture appears while you paint. Right-clicking the icon will show a panel with paper texture details. You can select from several built-in textures such as paper, stucco, dinosaur skins etc... but also load your own images and make them be the current textures.

While the paper texture is enabled, you will see a small orange triangular mark in the icon's upper left corner.

Paint the polar caps and then add another pass of light diffusion. If the whole image is getting too bright and has no more dark regions you could quickly fix this with the menu:

  Buffer > Dynamic Range

This is by-the-way a great one-button action for poorly exposed photographs (too dark or too bright).

14. Make Seamless, and render

Turning this into a seamless texture would be nice. The free version 1.2 doesn't have that. But the commercial version of Dogwaffle is very affordably priced. It can turn a brush into a seamless brush, and there's a new plugin also which is called Seamless Plus, and which works off the brush or the image in the buffer.

For more info be sure to visit  and check what's new. There are tons of free tutorials.