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16-bit alpha inside 3D-Coat ?


Rygaard
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Hey everyone,

I wish I could use a 16-bit alpha in 3D-Coat.
Before importing the 16bits alpha to 3D-Coat, I checked it and it really is 16 bits. Remembering that I saved this alpha in Tif format.

So I created a cube of 500,000 polygons inside the Zbrush and exported the obj. I imported this cube into 3D-Coat.

I used the same alpha in ZBrush and 3D-Coat.
The result of this alpha in ZBrush is better than the result made within 3D-Coat as you can see in the image.

image.thumb.png.9996be8dc6f7ae2fa1df4cd152d0b777.png
Does importing the alpha (even if in tif) into 3D-Coat, will the program automatically convert the 16-bit alpha into 8-Bits? I can not understand this difference that is happening in the picture.

I believe there is an error or bug happening in 3D-Coat when I right-click the alpha, a menu appears with options, when I choose "edit in Ext. Editor", I realize that the alpha is no longer 16 bits and yes 8 bits in the external editor.

And when I choose the "Edit the 16-bit Tif" option a reading error occurs and instead of the alpha appears (no alpha) a dark square.

image.thumb.png.7929d58cd10805845eaca3079b1bcbd6.png
I have already tested on Gimp 2.10.8, Krita 4.1.7, Photoshop CS2 and it always happens the same thing.

Please,
I would like to know what I could do to actually have a 16-bit alpha inside 3D-Coat?

I'm attaching the cube and the alpha.

Thank you

alpha_and_cube500k.rar

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Some help, please:

1) Please, someone could tell me if what I said above are possible errors or bugs regarding the functions of alphas (right button / options)?


2) How could I have the same quality of the 16-bit alpha of ZBrush inside 3D-Coat?

3) Am I doing something wrong importing a 16-bit alpha in Tif format inside 3D-Coat?

4)
I tried importing 16-bits alpha in EXR format, but 3D-Coat does not recognize the format EXR when I hit the Open Texture button.
And when I drag the EXR from the folder into 3D-Coat, a message appears to choose what I like
to do, I choose the Create New Alpha option, and 3D-Coat locks and closes the program unexpectedly, generating a critical error.

Edited by Rygaard
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32 minutes ago, Carlosan said:

Have you read these suggestions ?

 

Thank you very much for replying and giving me the manual link.
In fact, I had read this manual before. I always try to look for answers to my questions or possible errors before creating a new topic that could be a duplicate of another topic.

In my opinion the process of creating a new alpha (Color, Height / Depth, Glossiness & Erase Mask) is a bit confusing and I need to adapt to that.

I'm used to dealing with alpha in Krita / Gimp / Photoshop (making adjustments and turning to gray) and then importing for example programs like ZBrush (when I used only ZBrush) or Blender. For users it is very practical and easy to create a new alpha or texture without worrying about anything because the programs already create for the user alpha automatically.

3D-Coat gives me this option to automatically create a new alpha by opening a new texture or dragging that texture from the folder (windows explorer) into 3D-Coat, giving me the option to choose Create a New Alpha. And this way, by creating the alpha automatically for the user.

Sorry for anything, but please, if possible, could you answer the 4 questions above?

This is very important because I would like to detail my characters with quality through Alphas and Stencils.
This topic may also help many other users in the future.

Thank you very much

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Hi @Carlosan

Thanks again for the return and for doing the test with the Cube that I attached.

The cube as I told  was made in ZBrush, subdivided into 5 times and as a result 500,000 polygons (within Zbrush) and 1 million within 3D-Coat (the same cube imported).
I exported this same cube to Obj and imported into 3D-Coat.
Thank you for alerting me about the scale or size of the cube in 3D-Coat.

I thought that in Surface mode the size of the geometry would not influence the quality of Alphas and Stencils within 3D-Coat.
To be honest with you, I've never bothered to scale the size of a geometry within ZBrush, because regardless of the size of the geometry the quality of Alphas in the carving and detailing will always be good.
I did not really know that it mattered the scale of the geometry within Surface Mode in 3D-Coat.

--> First Important Doubt:
Can you tell me about when you import a 16-bit TIF alpha into 3D-Coat, will this alpha remain 16 bits? Because when I choose the Edit Ext. Editor option, it automatically opens Gimp 2.10.8 and when I check the bits it has, Gimp shows me that they are 8-bits and not more 16-bits. Does this mean that even though it is 16-bit in Tif format, will 3D-Coat automatically convert alpha to 8 bits when importing into 3D-Coat?

--> Second Important Doubt:
When I choose the Edit the 16-Bit TIF option, Gimp opens automatically, and an alert message appears with the empty alpha (dark square) as the image above I posted? This is normal? Because I can not do anything with this option because of the error that appears to me.

--> Very important:
Please could you share the settings you made to get the alpha result of the image?
. What scale of the cube did you redimension?
. Did you further subdivide the cube?
. Did you apply Smooth to the cube?
. Which brush was used? Draw, Gum or some LiveClay Brush?
. What are Brush settings? Depth? Falloff? Remove Stretching? or something else?

Please,  Could You answer me on the first and second doubts and on the various questions of the very important above.

I would like to learn about how to get alpha with quality, because in my test I have not been able to have the same quality.

For me alphas is a mesh with pixalated result on the surface.
My result with the scaled cube and some configurations without using smooth or subdivided the cube:

image.thumb.png.905391086c338f3a10cda30230141847.png

Thank you very much for your attention

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What scale of the cube did you redimension? - a Lot, half of 3D grid
. Did you further subdivide the cube? - No
. Did you apply Smooth to the cube? - No
. Which brush was used? Draw, Gum or some LiveClay Brush? Extrude, Stamp drag mode
. What are Brush settings? Depth? Falloff? Remove Stretching? or something else? Extrude, 20, 5, no, no 

-------------------------

From my point of view, trying to make a 1 to 1 correlation between the two softwares is a dead-end path that leads nowhere, since you can not share the same variables in between apps to perform the same tests. I advise you to leave aside the technical detail and focus more on the artistic result.

Best

ca.

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1 hour ago, Carlosan said:

What scale of the cube did you redimension? - a Lot, half of 3D grid
. Did you further subdivide the cube? - No
. Did you apply Smooth to the cube? - No
. Which brush was used? Draw, Gum or some LiveClay Brush? Extrude, Stamp drag mode
. What are Brush settings? Depth? Falloff? Remove Stretching? or something else? Extrude, 20, 5, no, no 

-------------------------

From my point of view, trying to make a 1 to 1 correlation between the two softwares is a dead-end path that leads nowhere, since you can not share the same variables in between apps to perform the same tests. I advise you to leave aside the technical detail and focus more on the artistic result.

Best

ca.

Thank you very much for the settings.

For you to have an artistic result, unfortunately or fortunately, in my opinion, you need to know the technical part of the program, otherwise you will not get the result you expect from the artistic point of view.

I agree with you!
You are completely correct my friend that the programs are different, but they share several characteristics in common.

When I made the comparison between ZB and 3D-Coat, I did not understand (even though they are different programs) because in ZBrush I have good results without having to worry about any technical part?
In ZB, I only get the Standard brush with drag stroke, I import the Alpha (which shows 16bits), with brush intensity of 25 (default) and in the end I have the result that I would expect with quality.
I know this alpha is old, but even though it's not an alpha I'd use on my sculptures, you can get good results without the pixallated and dry effect inside the ZB.

I tried doing the same in 3D-Coat, but unfortunately so far I'm not getting a good result. Honestly, I do not know what I'm doing to not have good results.
 
In 3D-Coat, I can make sculptures at a high level, but when I get to detail my characters with the alphas, I can not get results that I would expect to have.

I would like very much to obtain excellent quality details within 3D-Coat and to be able to share with all the potential of 3D-Coat.

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59 minutes ago, Carlosan said:

You are right, thats why dev team are working on brush engine to make it better.

I hope so. This would be fantastic because I can not get good results in detailing.

Carlosan, this alpha that you imported and tested, does it still have 16 bits or does 3D-Coat convert the alpha to 8 bits?

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14 minutes ago, Carlosan said:

I only imported your alpha into 3dc.

I know, I just wondered if 3D-Coat will keep the 16 bits or whether it will transform the alpha into 8 bits. thank you.

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I did another test. From a flat geometry I sculpt textures and then in 3D-Coat I saved the OBJ and created an alpha from the OBJ. The problem is that 3D-Coat created me an alpha that when I apply on the mesh surface there are 2 problems:

1) A square border appears around the alpha.
2) Since the purpose is to detail the surface of the mesh, when I apply the alpha happens a very large deformation into the surface.
For detailing, the ideal would only be to deform the mesh surface as in the image bellow the left.

649948845_bordersquare.thumb.jpg.605d73ca59021b478e76306ae716fcb3.jpg

In the image of the left, which does not have the square border around the alpha and the deformation happened only on the surface of the mesh without pushing in the detailing was acquired through the ZBrush. The same flat geometry that I sculpted and generated an OBJ in 3D-Coat, I imported into ZBrush and through the tool MRGBZGrabber I captured the Depth information and the program generated the 16-bit alpha.
With this alpha created by ZBrush, I imported this Alpha into 3D-Coat and I applied it in the geometry the same way I applied the alpha created by 3D-Coat in the image on the right. Without changing any Brush settings on 3D-Coat.

I would like to know how I can only deform the surface without the square border around and without delving into the geometry as in the image above the left?
I tried to use the gray (127-127-127) around but I could not do it right.
If I use falloff a lot of the alpha detail will disappear and still keeps the border around. The word Top will disappear completely, as you can see in the image bellow.

image.thumb.png.58d786d397ce721a790f5d2a5601e714.png

I'm attaching the test alphas .RAR...

NOTE:
It looks like alpha saved in 3D-Coat (save to PDF / TIF) in TIF format gives an error when I tried to open here. I do not know if the reason would be for 3D-Coat to try to save the TIF format in 16-bits. Maybe it's a possible bug.

test2_alpha_from_obj.rar

alpha created by zbrush.tif

Edited by Rygaard
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Though I do not use Zbrush but I saw almost samething when I tried to convert old square alpha brash sets with Gimp 2.10 and Krita. I could not.   And I hope to make alpha with keep 16bit  as same as Rygarrd.

I think it is not about 3d coat exporter importer problem, but feel Gimp and Krita can not import Tiff with layer infomation same as  photoshop way.

What I tried with 3d coat option are 

1. Edit as 16bit Tiff   

It open Gimp 2.10 with my setting, But imported image do not have layer, though it keep 3 Tiff  channell.  I do not know how to edit these correctly. (I suppose it will be loaded as layer as same as PSD) . Then I just save as overwrite in Gimp. 

It cause the brash alpha perfectly break in 3d coat. 

2 Save to (PSD) Tiff

choose Tiff, then open it in Gimp show same things. I can not see any layer . maybe  RGB channell and Tiff 3 channell seems keep the infomation, but I may need many complex step to edit each channell as each  alpha maps.  And even though I edit them, I have no way to save as TIFF which 3d coat can load correctly in Gimp.

3 PSD format  work,, but I do not think  it can conatin 16bit alpha as same as Tiff .

I saved as 16 bit Tiff and import it to 3d coat,  then use "Edit in ext editor" it open the alpha image as 8bit  gamma integer SRGB in Gimp. 

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Then I know current way to manage brash alpha is really useful for photo shop user, but unfortunately,

Gimp or Krita or Clip studio paint, or paint storm ,, these 2d paint aprication can not manage tiff as same as photo shop.

So without buy or use photoshop, other user can not get same result to make brush as 16bit alpha.

What I hope is, there is option, to import each layer ”color" "Hegiht map" "Specular" "Erasemask"  indivdually to 3d coat as 16bit /per channell , alpha Tiff or PNG.  then 3d coat convert it as 3d coat alpha brash.

  I  think (it seems requested) 3d coat can not manage 16bit /per channell, but can manage 16bit/alpha as Tiff only.  So I hope to extend it for PNG (16 bit alpha)  too. (or non photo shop user can not make ,edit 16bit/alpha brash,)

Hope to know non photo shop user how manage brush alpha, in other editor,, (Gimp Krita,, or if there is more good free aprciation which can manage 3d coat 16bit Tiff?)

 

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image.png.cdfb32ceedad96b7ba34abdca53a2b0b.png

Actually I did not know that in Photoshop and Gimp alphas with 16-Bits would be in the Channel Palette and Krita does not exist.

@tokikake I also do not know exactly how to edit the Brush through the 4 channels (channel palette).
I have not tested the process of editing the 16-bit brushes yet, but I think I'll do the following to edit:
I'm going to copy the channels to different layers (layers palette), edit and manipulate, and after editing, I'll copy each layer and paste respectively over the Channel Palette Channels. And then pray to see if I did it correctly without damaging my alpha.

In fact, the only 16-bit extension that works in 3D-Coat is the Tif format.
The EXR option causes 3D-Coat Crash (when you drag from a windows explorer folder into 3D-Coat) and the option to open EXR format by Open Texture does not exist this format extension. The EXR extension would also accept 16-bits, but for me, at the moment it does not work.


In all my tests, I can tell you the following:
If you want to work with 16 alpha bits, my advice is to use TIF only.
All other extensions like PSD, PNG, JPG and etc will be automatically converted to 8-bits. 3D-Coat only accepts TIF to maintain the 16-bits.

In my tests, if you use the Edit Ext. Option, when you return to 3D-Coat, 3D-Coat will automatically convert your 16-bis alpha into 8-bits.

In my opinion, to solve this problem and all this work that gives headache to the users, the developers of 3D-Coat if possible could automatically convert to 16-bits (3d-Coat format itself) any alphas, stencils and so on. Regardless of the format extension the user is importing into 3D-Coat (tif, jpg, png, psd and etc). Therefore, we would know that any alpha / stencil we would be using are actually 16-bits.

Another important thing, if this possible automatic conversion in 16-bits (3d-Coat format itself) occurs, when the user chose the option to edit externally, this file generated by 3D-Coat could be more friendly so that a user who had not very knowledgeable in 2D program editions like myself and many other people, could edit or manipulate with ease and then return to 3D-Coat making sure that they made no mistakes during the process.
I think that instead of 4 different channels (color, depth and etc) to edit, it could be just one or the user choosing the type of Channel that he would like to edit and automatically 3D-Coat would change the other channels according to the changes made by the chosen and edited channel.
But I think editing on these 4 channels has its benefits. I confess that I get confused to edit only the Depth and then I get worried about the Color channel and the other other channels because I have not edited them. And in the end I end up
destroying the alpha.
To avoid errors in Edit Ext. The brushes alphas, I end up generating a new alpha through an image.

In my opinion, 3D-Coat automatically converting to 16-bit (3D-Coat format itself), so users who do not use Photoshop could edit the alphas / stencils without having any problems because of the format extension that each software understands internally.

I do not know of any other program to Edit Brush Alpha in the same way as Photoshop.
The free programs I know and use are GIMP and Krita.
Maybe there is some, if anyone knows, please let us know.
 
I think it should be something more friendly and easy since it is a process that is very used and important during the user's work.

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13 minutes ago, Carlosan said:

For better feedback please contact support@3dcoat.com

You're right.
I know that Andrew is completely busy with important implementations. I'm afraid to "disturb" on what he's currently developing since there are priorities in his work.
I think the Alphas issue is very important, but calmly I'll try to contact support soon.

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On 2/1/2019 at 5:03 AM, tokikake said:

It is not directly about current beta, but hope to add request about Tiff for future beta.

The problem is Other many soft ware can not full support Tiff layer. Only photo shop user can manage Tiff alpha as brash :(

I already found same problem , when I tried to convert brush as square size, with 3d coat training video.

I could save as Tiff then re-import in 3d coat only, but I can not edit Tiff and re-import ti as Tiff about Gimp and Krita.

These aprication not full suport Tiff layer.  So I do not hope to use Photo shop and adobe products,, 

Hope if Andrew can offer way to handle 16 bit alpha brash (other format etc,,) for Gimp and Krita.

 

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As I said above, in my opinion, it would be an important step if 3D-coat could convert any image (psd, jpg, png, tiff, etc), even that image being 8 bits or 16 bits, in a format of own authorship of 16 bits.
I do not know if this would be something simple to do, but something very similar when we see in the / texture / patterns folder with the .mclp formats that 3D-Coat creates automatically when we open a new Alpha within 3D-Coat.
I think with this new format of its own 3D-Coat, that independently of anything it would have 16-bits and with it will help users to increase the quality of definition on the surface of the mesh and best of all would solve some problems related to editing of Alpha in External programs such as Gimp and Krita, if this own format of 3D-Coat could generate a simple file so that these external programs could understand how to open them correctly.
A good thing would be for the user to choose through a dialog box that would appear asking the user which channel they would like to manipulate (Color or HeighMap or Specular or EraseMask) or choose multiple channels to be edited at the same time in Gimp, Krita, Photoshop .
This would make editing easier and without confusion and without the possibility of the user to destroy (or make a mess) the alpha that opened for not understanding how to work with the 4 channels at the same time inside the external program.
I've messed up Alpha myself. Currently, I avoid using the functions: Edit Ext. Editor and Edit The 16-bit Tif to avoid errors or confusions.

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>Carlosan 

Yes I know, I already have send mail to the support@3dcoat.com ( 2 or 3 weeks ago, about concave brush problem as you suggested in beta topic thank you.   I only need to know some developer have test it or not.  and I do not hope to send many support mail  untill I can confirm clear what is problem and when it cause problem about this Tiff or 16bit alpha issue.

>Rygaard

I see almost samething with my test about 3d coat brash import option.

Today I test with 16 bit alpha psd which I free downloaded.   I could import it as 16bit alpha ,in Gimp. 

And I export it as 16bit Tiff from Gimp. I feel interesting because,    when I just use import option,  by use + > Open texture file

3d coat generate new brush from 16bit Tiff  correctly.  (though the guide about "import texture as alpha" is too complex for me, I may not check brightness etc,, with black background)

after generate brush , I save to PSD/Tiff.  then open the Tiff in Gimp. now it is shown as 16bit but it change channell of the TIFF. when I import PSD and convert to TIff it was greyscale . but save as Tiff in 3d coat it change as SRGB (16bit gamma) and change about alpha channell. but add new 3 chanell ,(and once I load in gimp ,and save again, 3d coat can not use the alpha as height map any more)

So as no photo shop user,

1. I can import 16bit alpha Tiff (grey scale) to 3d coat.  then 3d coat can generate brush from it .  3d coat seems keep it as 16bit alpha for height map.   Only Tiff (16bit)  can generate brush as 16bit height map. 

2 But  there is no way to edit 3d coat brush in Gimp after import to 3d coat brush.(edit specular etc)  or lost 16bit quarity of height map)

after all,  thse problem should be solved when 3d coat perfeclty support "16bit per channell"  and format. (16bit Tiff, 16bit PSD, 16bit PNG for RGB alpha channell, exr too)  

And hope to use same option to edit 3d coat brush as we make 8bit alpha PSD  in gimp as layer,,(it is simple and clear, I feel)

 

 

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7 hours ago, tokikake said:

I see almost samething with my test about 3d coat brash import option.

Today I test with 16 bit alpha psd which I free downloaded.   I could import it as 16bit alpha ,in Gimp. 

And I export it as 16bit Tiff from Gimp. I feel interesting because,    when I just use import option,  by use + > Open texture file

3d coat generate new brush from 16bit Tiff  correctly.  (though the guide about "import texture as alpha" is too complex for me, I may not check brightness etc,, with black background)

after generate brush , I save to PSD/Tiff.  then open the Tiff in Gimp. now it is shown as 16bit but it change channell of the TIFF. when I import PSD and convert to TIff it was greyscale . but save as Tiff in 3d coat it change as SRGB (16bit gamma) and change about alpha channell. but add new 3 chanell ,(and once I load in gimp ,and save again, 3d coat can not use the alpha as height map any more)

So as no photo shop user,

1. I can import 16bit alpha Tiff (grey scale) to 3d coat.  then 3d coat can generate brush from it .  3d coat seems keep it as 16bit alpha for height map.   Only Tiff (16bit)  can generate brush as 16bit height map. 

2 But  there is no way to edit 3d coat brush in Gimp after import to 3d coat brush.(edit specular etc)  or lost 16bit quarity of height map)

after all,  thse problem should be solved when 3d coat perfeclty support "16bit per channell"  and format. (16bit Tiff, 16bit PSD, 16bit PNG for RGB alpha channell, exr too)  

And hope to use same option to edit 3d coat brush as we make 8bit alpha PSD  in gimp as layer,,(it is simple and clear, I feel) 

Thanks for sharing your tests.

I think I've already said that when you use the Edit Ext. Editor option in an alpha and it takes you to be edited inside the GIMP or KRITA. After you've changed, saved Alpha and returned to 3D-Coat the quality of the alpha is no longer the same. Alpha really loses its quality, because with the use of the Edit ext Editor function, 3D-Coat will automatically convert alpha to 8-bit.

I have not yet done the quality test using the Edit the 16-bit Tif function.

As I know I will have problems editing an Alpha through the functions: Edit Ext Editor and Edit the 16-bit Tif, I create alphas and edit alphas as images that have only 1 layer. After working on the alpha, I saved the document in the format of the program I'm using Gimp or Krita and then I export the image in TIF format with 16-bit and Gray scale. That way, if I need to change anything later, I open the saved document in GIMP or Krita format and I re-export the image.
The only thing I do before importing the alpha into 3D-Coat to avoid any kind of problem is that I delete the alpha from the Alphas palette and I go to the \ textures \ pattern \ verify that the alpha has really been deleted I deleted earlier through the Alphas palette.
I currently do not use Edit Ext Editor and Edit the 16-bit Tif, because I do not want to complicate myself and I do not want to get confused in the alpha issue related to Color, HeighMap, Specular and EraseMask channels. And I also do not want to risk losing alpha quality.

I can even be repetitive (sorry for that), but this could all be avoided if 3D-Coat automatically transforms any image of any extension (psd, png, jpg and etc) into 16-bit. And the way the user externally Edit the Alphas in Gimp, Krita and Photoshop as I tried to explain above in the topic.

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From what I have learned and gather in all the tests I have done with different software is you can't compare edit with PSD vs Tiff, PSD will be 8Bit, Edit in ext. editor will do PSD so it is 8bit, if you want to edit the 16bit, you must use the Tiff implementation, nothing else. and that's where the trouble happens, because it uses Channels rather than layers. so you can't think about Color, HeightMap, Specular and EraseMask like on the PSD version, you can't just grab the PSD go 16bit and save it and import it either, you have to think about the channels and the order that they are done in Photoshop, which is what matters there.

Carlosan's suggestion's link show how the information is read from the Tiff file in 3DCoat. 

1 CH: A&H
2 CH: 1 – A 2 –H
3 CH: 1, 2, 3 – RGB, 2 – A, H
4 CH: 1, 2, 3 – RGB, 4 – A, H
5 CH: 1, 2, 3 – RGB, 4 – A, 5 – H
6 CH: 1, 2, 3 – RGB, 4 – A, 5 – H, 6 – Spec
7 CH: 1, 2, 3 – RGB, 4 – A, 5 – H, 6 – Spec, 7 – Erase mask

 

So using the alpha created by zbrush.tif in 3DCoat does exactly what the list says, since it only has a single gray channel, it will be converted to Alpha and Height by 3DCoat. after that if you if you right click edit 16bit tiff and use photoshop, then the edit version will be the 7 channels version. so the first 3 will be white since there is no color information, Channel 4 will display the Alpha, 5 the Height, and 6 would be white and 7 black. But yes, you need to work on the extra Alpha channels. and the order of those channels will matter.

So you can duplicate and manipulate and paint on the alpha channel, it works okay I guess, but it's a weird system to have, especially when it is mostly compatible with Photoshop.

I could also make Gimp do the same as Photoshop, but the problem with Gimp is how it exports the Tiff, it just won't work, Exports 16bit but only the RGBA which would explain why the alpha would look different if you use to Edit 16bit Tif on 3DCoat and send it to Gimp since it is not using the channels correctly, and only the RGBA which is darker.

But I manually achieved the same channels you get in Photoshop when you edit on 16bit Tiff.  First had to hide all the extra channels on the bottom, then I right clicked on the alpha and duplicated it, it will appear at top of the list of extra channels but it has to be on the bottom bottom, which would be the Channel 4 in Photoshop because it goes from bottom to top. Now the problem is the Height is darker than what you would get in Photoshop, so to fix it all I did was to paint in white color the RGB to remove the alpha and make it a solid color, then having RGBA visible and TIFF Channel (which now is 2nd from bottom to top) I duplicate the channel and it creates a lighter version of it, put it on second place (from bottom to top) and delete the old Tiff channel. Now it will look exactly the same in Photoshop but guess what? You can't use Tiff with Gimp and Gimp exports PSD as 8bit not 16bit for whatever reason so it won't work like I thought it would.

 

So in my tests sadly there is no way to do it without Photoshop and I hope Andrew can come up with a better system for the future, like I don't even understand why he made the the way he made it, since the PSD implementation with layers is better and easier and compatible with any program, while the 16bits one is just not good at all. I even tried Affinity software and Photoline and they can't even read the 16bit tiff from 3DCoat. Affinity just throws everything away and keeps the RGB and Photoline doesn't seem to have any channel editing feature. so no way to do the same you can in Photoshop. I saved the Tiff as PSD in Photoshop and could work a little on it with Affinity, reads the extra channels and all but you can't really do anything with them, just put them on the RGB so unless I go to Photoshop and I delete one of those channels it will be imported as RGB and not separated channels. But that was just a test so I didn't worry about it since I knew the Tiff wasnt work anyway.

 

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 @Emi Many thanks for your explanation and tests done to share with us the results.

Honestly, summing up in one sentence is very complicated you edit 16-bit alphas by 3D-Coat (Exporting from 3D-Coat and then returned).
I think this kind of procedure was done thought in photoshop (which is natural to think that is the standard program) and not much for other programs like Gimp, Krita and other 2d editors programs.
Then the problem starts for users who do not use Photoshop because each program interprets differently the format extensions as in the case of Tif format in relation to the channels or even as you said about the programs can not even understand what they should do.

As I had already said, for me, it is very complicated and confusing to work with channels. I confess that I have no habit of using channels. So, I'm pretty sure I'll comment on errors by editing 16-bit alphas in that way. For some users who already work and know how to correctly use the channels and other advanced functions in Photoshop, Gimp and etc everything will be fine. But for other users things will get more complicated.

To make my life easier and make sure I have no problems, I simply edit an image (texture / alpha) with 1 layer, export in 16-bit Tif, and then import that image into 3D-Coat. With this process, I do not have to worry about Channels, with 4 separate layers related to Color, HeightMap, Specular and EraseMask, because 3D-Coat will automatically create the Color, HeightMap, Specular and EraseMask channels for me.
The only problem with this is that I can not lose this texture, because if I want to edit the image again and not have this texture, I will have to go through the procedure of Edit the 16-bit Tif (since the alpha was saved in the textures folder \ patterns \ in the proprietary 3D-Coat format).

I hope that in the future, 3D-Coat could automatically convert alphas to 16-bit and when the user needs to edit alpha in a simpler way and without confusion.

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Thanks Emi. Now it seems more clear.  I do not have photo shop (before I installed only once but never hope again) then I can not test at all, how 3d coat brush edit system work with photo shop.

And newest build 4.8.33 have some progress, but to be frankly said, It seems not work correctly with gimp still, 

(edit as 16bit Tiff and up-date in gimp) seems add 2 or 3 brush , and it often change visuall size.of alpha. I see many strange thing,  then after all I almost give up to edit 16bit tiff  with gimp. but I know, somehow import process of 16bit Tiff is improved.  

Though I try to edit each channell with GIMP but after all as you said,  even though I edit them, I can not test it with 3d coat about 16bit Tiff I feel.

As for me, the way (8bit PSD) to edit map as 5 layer (not channell) is clear enough, but I know about 16bit Tiff, I need to controll each channell (really confusing for me, even though I read the doc carefully,)  

then, actually recently,  I can not convince my import brush (it is offered as 16bit alpha) actually generate  keep 16bit as depth. I hope to ask yours,, my process is correct or not,, 

eg recently I found this brush set as free. (serched  to get 16bit tiff brush set by google, then found it)

http://www.zbrushcentral.com/printthread.php?t=75606&s=cdeca48c9ed22f937519c440f487a18c

as you know, it is offered as 16bit gray-scale PSD,,  but when I install it to 3d coat, I do not know, if it keep height-alpha as 16bit.then I load it in gimp , then convert it as 16bit color srgb,  and add alpha channell , convert color "black "to alpha. after that I export it as 16bit Tiff. then load it to 3d coat.

But do you think,,  is it correct way to import these 16bit grey-scale brush? what procedure is correct?   I suppose, 3d coat need to use alpha to keep as 16bit.  (maybe color or grey-scale data are converted as 8bit?)  is it right? or if I get 16bit grey scale brush, Can I directly import it but it need to be Tiff ?

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Yes, pretty much the conclusion of my post was to say that Photoshop is the only way to do 16bit 3DCoat alpha system. Gimp is able to do it, it can read and add multichannel and manipulate it like Photoshop but the problem about Gimp is about how it exports the Tiff files, since it will not be multichannel, and if you have extra channels it will import the first from top to bottom as RGB.

So in the end doing it the color, specular brushes on 8bit files and use the layered PSD to further edit the brush is the best option today if you don't have photoshop and even if you do, because dealing with the alphas and extra channels is weird.

@tokikake  

You got a good question there "but when I install it to 3d coat, I do not know, if it keep height-alpha as 16bit" I made some tests, created a PSD with an angle gradient. I used photoshop for the sake of "compatibility" because I wasn't using it anymore, but should work on GIMP and any program. So with the gradient I saved the file to Tiff and PSD, 8 and 16 bit, and also RGB and Greyscale files. 

With the Stamp Grab mode, and 2D grid mode and snapping enabled 100% depth and layers Opacity to 0% since I don't care about anything but the depth to easily see the result for now but I placed each version on different layers. 8 vs 16 bit, is a huge difference and that's because the 8 bit file will create noise around the whole alpha. and the 16 bit version would not. I just made also a test with PNG and it happened the same, while the PNG with the angular gradient looks terrible on 3DCoat it behaves the same, noise on 8bit, no noise on 16 bit.

There is also a difference between how Photoshop exports the PSD vs TIFF or how 3DCoat imports PSD and Tiff or both. Because for example if you chose "Subtract depth" from the layers option, which is the way I tested about the noise and compared the layers. You will see that PSD and Tiff don't subtract each other 1:1, I mean. 8bit TIFF vs 16Bit TIFF would only display the noise but they would cancel each other. but PSD 8 vs 16 would still leave some elements behind besides the noise. and 16 tiff vs 16 PSD has a slight difference, a tiny difference but still visible, 16 tiff vs 8 PSD would display some of the difference between layers, not as many besides the noise but still the expected difference, PNGs would also look different when subtracting each other, but PNG looked bad in general.

Grayscale tests, they PSD 16 RGB vs PSD 16 Grey look the same, Tiff 16 RGB vs Tiff 16 Greyscale look the same, 8 bit tiff RGB vs Grey look slightly different. it left noise behind don't know why. The big difference is PSD 8 bit didn't import, it was a flat square brush, nothing about the gradient happened. I don't know why, but it just didn't work.


SO the question is What does 3DCoat import? 16 bit files were double size than the 8 bit version but still the mclp file would be the same size on PSDs and even PNG and Tiff had the same mclp size. So 16 bit images make a better alpha but I guess I won't know the exact reason why.

 

So making these tests and now talking about the PSD brushes from Zbrush forum and GIMP, I think in my opinion that the best way to deal with is to conver them as TIFF files. Since they are grayscale images, then Gray = 1 channel and that means that it will take the pixels and convert it to the Heightmap and Alpha. Like the 16 bit manual says. If you want to add color, then convert it to RGB, but then you are limited with just that and you have to add the Alpha channel in GIMP, because if not, you will only use RGB that means that Green channel (3 CH: 1, 2, 3 = RGB, 2= A, H) would be the one in charge with the Alpha and the Height. which makes it awkward because in the end, only colors that are on the Green would be displayed on 3DCoat and depending on how much green it has or not, it will vary on heightmap and the alpha on it, so other colors might look faded and weird.
So using the Alpha channel would make it easier (4 CH: 1, 2, 3 = RGB, 4 = A, H), It seems that GIMP exports TIFF as RGBA, and while Photoshop didn't read it, 3DCoat did and that's all that matters, but of course if you want the Alpha+ Height on the Alpha channel, from a grayscale image you would have to send the RGB to the alpha and that might make the alpha look slighly different from the original 1 channel grayscale. But you can add color,  why would you add color? I don't know, and I would not complicate myself and just go 8 bit as usual, because you still won't be able to add the Specular, since Gimp wont export Tiff multichannel.

 

Of course if you only want to import the grayscale brushes like the ones from your link, then you can either, import them directly as PSD into 3DCoat or convert them to Tif.

I made a test with an alpha from the link you gave, and testing PSD vs Tiff you will have a tiny difference between how they are imported. I used Affinity and Photoline to compare the images and apparently they should be the same but still 3DCoat when doing the depth add vs depth substract it would still be different. I don't know which format is the one that you are suppose to use, I would trust more Tif since in my test it gave a 1:1 extraction from 8 vs 16 for example minus the noise, and Tif format has the advantage of not getting deleted if you decide to directly place the files in any folder on Documents\3D-CoatV48\textures\patterns and that way you would only need to delete the mclp file (and probably the xml as well),  and if you make some change, the mclp file would be created again when you refresh the folder (switching folder tabs on 3DCoat), something PSD wouldn't allow and you would have to import it manually by drag and drop or whatever.

 

But yeah, if your alphas are only grayscale, and you won't add color, then using the 1 channel since the channel will be converted to Alpha and Height and you dont need to worry about it and then you shouldn't have any trouble with them and you you can edit them on any software if necessary, which is the easiest way since it is only 1 channel, and if you need color for whatever reason for 16 bits, you can use the RGBA I explained.

 

About the change of size, I guess that happens because 3DCoat brush engine is a circle, which was a weird decision so the only way to support the squared alphas few updates ago, was to scale them down to fit the brush inside the circle, so maybe it detects some alphas like the Cross_xxxx and then mess with the thumbnail vs the real size of the brush, of course most brushes seem to behave nice though so I never worried about it. I hope that will be changed in the future.

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