Digital Lith Tutorials – Preferences

This is the second episode of the Digital Lith processing tutorial series. Here we are going to deal with setting preferences needed for the program to run.

When you start the program go to the Preferences menu. There you will be able to setup some needed settings to use all the programs features. Some of them may not make sense to you at this point, but here is a description of all of them and you may come back to this later to adjust the settings.

Above can see how the preferences dialog looks like.

Let us walk through all of the preferences one after another. For some the need will show later in the tutorial series.

  • Extension Directory – You are able to load different extensions from the exchange site. These might be other process modules and streaking modules (used to add irregularities to the image). These extensions will be stored in the user home by default. That might not be the place where you want them to live – why pollute the home directory. Here you can specify where you want the extensions to be stored.
  • Session/Presets Directory – Digital Lith uses four so-called dot files in the users home directory. Coming from a unix like system you might be used with dot files. For Digital Lith these files are
    • .digital_lith_preferences – to store the preferences you are about to edit in the above dialog window
    • .digital_lith_session – to store the current session so that when you leave the program and start again, you are able to continue the work right where you left
    • .digital_lith_presets – to store the development presets that you create yourself or that you download from the preset exchange
    • .digital_lith_log – to store some logging in case of errors so that we do have a bit more info about what happened

    Here you can tell Digital Lith to store at least the session and preferences file in another location. I would recommend to leave them in the home directory.

  • Pattern Directory – If you are going to use patterns to simulate uneven development (or for whatever reason) then you need to specify where Digital Lith will search for pattern. How the pattern directory is setup is described in a later tutorial.
  • Preview Image Width/Height – You can define the size of the preview image used to make test developments. On a larger monitor you might decide to use a bigger preview. Keep in mind, the preview size also influences the time it takes to run test developments.
  • Size of color balance – In the color balance dialog there are some gradients which let you select the coloring as well as some curve controls to handle the mix of shadow, midtone and highlight colors. The bigger these controls are the finer your control of the values. But once a dialog does not fit to the screen Java does weird things showing the dialog. Here you can select how big you want the controls to appear.
  • Parallel Level – Digital lith is an iterative process which needs a lot of computing to produce the final image. Modern computers run with one or more processors each having multiple cores. This allows the image to be computed in parallel utilizing all processing cores. Here you can set the level of parallelization used by the program. If you run one quad core single cpu machine which supports hyper-threading 8 might be a good choice here. If you do not care about the tech-speak here, just run a computation for an image and take the time it needed. Then increase the parallel level and run the same image again. Increase the level until the computation does not get any faster.
  • History Size – Whenever you run a computation, digital lith puts the used parameters into the history so that you can go back to the very same parameters later. Often you will end up playing around with changing some parameters and sometimes you realize that you want to go back in the history of computations. This parameter defines how many entries will be held in the history. Set it appropriately. Setting it to a high value in the hundreds will be no problem since the parameter set values stored is not that much memory. Remember that the history is saved from one session to the next. So if you quit the program and start it again later the history will still be there.
  • Language – Here you can set the language. We do have two localizations, English and German. If you run in another locale Digital Lith will default to English.
  • The information to be logged in the log file This defines on how detailed the info that is written to the log file is. That can be:
    • Error – only error messages are written to the log file.
    • Error and Warning – only error and warning messages are written to the log file.
    • Error, Warning and Info – error, warning and info messages are written to the log file.
    • Everything – everything is written to the log file. That might be fine info and only useful for debug purposes.
  • Action After Computation Since the compute process might take some time that you do not want to stare on the monitor all the time you can configure what should happen once the computation is done. These are the following:
    • Do nothing – there will be no action at all.
    • Show a dialog and play a sound – this open a dialog window and play a beep once the processing is done.
    • Show a dialog only – this will only show a dialog window but not play a sound.
    • Play a sound – this will not show a dialog, but play a sound.
  • Automatically run on preset selection – Digital Lith lets you define presets so that you can easily re-use settings that you prefer. There are two possibilities to select a preset. First you can click on one of the presets in the list on the right of the program window. The other method is to select one of the presets in the favorites list. Most of the times you select a preset you may want to immediately do a test development with it without changing any development parameters. This setting lets you select to automatically start a test development whenever you select a preset.
  • Show Exchange Previews When you go to the preset exchange you can select info about a specific preset. Part of this is a preview about how the preset will compute your image. It is an overview and a crop showing the details. But if your internet connection is slow you might decide to not download these images and stick with the textual description of the preset.
  • Show Tooltips on UI Elements For some user interface elements there are tooltips. One example is the process parameters. So once you move the mouse over the parameter name you will get a small tooltip window with a description of the parameter. If you are new to digital lith that might be an option to enable. Once you are more experienced you might decide to not show these tips because they are distractive.
  • Show Units for Parameter Names By default, Digital Lith shows just the parameter names. With this option you can enable to show the parameter names with corresponding units. This means that each parameter names contains info if this is a number or a percentage and also info about the range. For the inexperienced user this might be useful. Those who use Digital Lith regularly might choose to leave this off since the UI looks cleaner without the unit info. There is still unit info in the tool tips.
  • Show Headers in Parameter Panel In the parameter panel there are headers for the process, coloring and uneven development sections. These might make the panel more clearly structured. But if you decide that these headers will take too much space in the panel – switch them off.
  • Show Preset Descriptions If you define a preset, besides the name you can also add a descriptive text. This option lets you define if that description should be shown if you move the mouse over a preset.
  • Show Process Selector Digital Lith comes equipped with the standard development process. But there is the possibility to install different processes. At the moment there is one more process you can download from the exchange. This is more of a fun process which shows how the program rendered images in one of the very first versions. There is work on a more complex alternative process but that is not ready yet. And you may develop your own process module using the sdk. If you have installed multiple processes but do not want to show the selector just uncheck this option.
  • Show Pattern Digital Lith allows for different takes on uneven development. One of them is the use of pattern overlays over the image before development. You will find more of this in another tutorial post. But if you do not use patterns at all, then there is no need to show that part of the UI and you can uncheck this option to simplify the UI.
  • Show Pepper Fogging Digital Lith can simulate chaotic infectious development also known as pepper fogging. Usually this is something you want to avoid in the real process. If you do not want to use that aspect of uneven development just uncheck this option to make the UI simpler.
  • Show Streaking Another take on uneven development is streaking. Initially Digital Lith does not come with any streaking module installed. To add streaking module go to the exchange and download the ones you like. There will be another post covering streaking modules in more detail. In the case that you do not use any streaking modules there is no need to show that part in the UI.
  • Use Wide Color Selector In the coloring dialog there are different gradient sliders which let you define the colors. The normal dialog has a resolution of 128 values of 256 possible values. With this option you can enable to show wide sliders which let you select all 256 possible values but might no longer fit on very small displays.
  • Automatically check for new versions There is a new version of the program every once in a while. If you do not want to go out and check the web site yourself you can enable Digital Lith on startup to check if there is a new version and if so let you know that there is.
  • Output to Jpg By default Digital Lith creates PNG output files. If you prefer to create jpgs, here you can define the output quality.
  • Scale with high quality – If checked scaling of the image is done with a higher quality. This also means that when the image is scaled, the scaling of the image on load or on change of the image adjustments takes more time and slows down the UI a bit (especially when upscaling to a large image size.
  • Add size and borders to filenames – This append the used size and border to the filename. You can give a pattern where SIZE is replaced by the size given in the process and BORDER is replaced by the border given in the process. The default will append for example _s2400_b10 if you select 2400 for size and 10 for border.
  • Use System File Dialog – By default DigitalLith uses the standard Java file dialog. Selecting this allows you to use the operating systems file dialog which you might like more and which you are probably more used to.
  • Create Unique Name by Default for System File Dialog – The system file dialog for saving an image warns about a file being overwritten. This behavior can not be configured so that you would end up with the warning coming from the system file dialog and then again the warning from DigitalLith which allows you to create a unique name. To avoid that double warning you can define if you want to overwrite or use a unique name if using the system file dialog. If checked then if you choose to overwrite in the system file dialog, DigitalLith will create a file with a unique name instead.
  • Ignore Case in Presets List – This ignores case when ordering the list of presets
  • Use Native Retina Resolution in Image Preview – When running on a retina display you are able to use the native resolution for the image preview. This allows for finer preview but also means that the computation of the preview takes more time.

That completes the list of preferences. Have a look at them and maybe come back to them once you have more experience using the program.

But now that this is out of the way you should be able to load your first image into the program and run a first development. Here you go: Click!