Studio provides tool for reduction of color count in the image. It is accessible via main menu > Image > Tools > Reduce Colors command.
Raster image placed into to background of the Work Area is typically used as a template to digitize embroidery design from. Preprocessing of the image may save a lot of time on digitizing, especially for complex designs with many colors.
One possible approach is to convert image from the full color scale to a limited palette of colors and thus get a clear idea of final threads count and their layout.
Original raster image - full color scale. We have to decide how many thread colors to use and how to place them
Preprocessed raster image - reduced color scale. If we are happy with this layout, we can digitize it with use of 7 thread colors (the background is left empty)
Color Reduction process uses palette from which it takes respective pixel colors.
Palette is a vertical column of color cells. Default palette has only two colors: 1. white and 2. black.
There are several ways of how to create a custom palette. The first step is to set number of colors in the palette. Use the control with a tube icon to set desired number of colors. This control can be used anytime to increase or decrease the color number in the palette.
When number of colors is chosen, the colors themselves can be either automatically generated from the image (all at once), manually mixed or picked one-by-one from the image. These methods can be combined one with another.
Hit the button with Automatic caption to generate all palette colors at once automatically. Program choses colors from the image and places them into the palette. This is a good start point to create the palette but often not a final step. Manual tweaking of individual colors is usually needed.
Each color can be manually defined or adjusted. Select color cell and hit the Mixer button or double click the palette color cell to invoke Color Mixer window.
Color Mixer window
To pick palette color from the image, select some palette cell first. The cell will be highlighted. Then click the image in the Work Area with primary mouse button. Color from the click spot will be copied into the palette.
It is worth time and effor spent to play with palette colors and tweak them to achieve good color layout after reduction while keeping the color count low. Digitizing on top of such image is much easier when doing a complex embroidery design.
Dithering is replacement of a smooth color gradient with scattered pixels of palette colors. Amount of dithering can be set with a Dither control . When set to zero, no dithering is used. Dithering is usefull when you want to digitize objects with color blending. In such a case, dithered zones serve as a guide to create the blending.
Hit the Preview button to check how reduction with the current palette will look like. Preview will appear on a secondary work area on the main control panel . Preview area allows to zoom-in an out and scroll or pan the preview.
Preview area displays mask until the Preview button is clicked for the first time. Mask is a black-and-white picture generated from selected vector objects. Black means areas to be processed. White means excluded areas.
It is not necessarry to convert whole image at once. This may lead to unwanted interleaving of colors. Studio allows to use common fill vector objects as a mask to mark areas of image for color reduction. If you want to convert only part of the image to paletted colors, first draw fill or column objects on top of the image and select them. Then start color reduction tool. Image will be converted only underneath the selected objects, which serve as a temporary mask and may be deleted after the image conversion.
For example, when preprocessing photo of a tri-colored dog for embroidery digitizing, it is possible to mask each color range and repeat the color reduction to convert photo to the paletted colors separatelly.
Advantage of such approach is that you get cleaner reduced image by using different palette in each pass, for example: 1. black and dark gray palette, 2. brown palette, 3. white and cream palette, 4. pink palette (for tongue). These palettes are applied only to respective masked areas and do not affect the rest of the image.
Pink palette used to reduce colors inside area masked by vector object. Rest of the image is untouched
Note: you can use a Trace Tool to create complex mask objects easily.
Note: another way to simplify image colors is to use a Posterization tool .