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How to Use Color Mask in Sfumato Stitch

Sfumato Stitch is digitizing tool that creates embroidery design from photo. It is based on digitizing vector boundaries of individual objects which are filled with stitches according to underlaying photo.

Digitizing of all individual objects works for some photos (like portraits , for example), but is not suitable for photos with many small objects. Color mask feature is intended for situations where there are too many different color areas in the photo and it would be hard to draw them all separately.

In such a case, make one large object which includes all color areas and use color mask. Color mask allows to pick a color range within the object and stitch just this part of object. To stitch also other colors in the object, stack copies of the same object one upon the other as layers and select different masks (i.e. color ranges) in each layer to cover whole object with stitches. This approach allows to avoid drawing many small objects.

Sfumato Stitch - Photo to be digitized into embroidery

Photo that we are going to digitize has number of different color areas. These areas have complex shapes which are hard to digitize individually.

1. Digitize the Edge of Sfumato Object

Icon of Sfumato Stitch tool

Sfumato tool

Use the Sfumato Tool to draw the area you want to fill with stitches. As we are going to use masks, it is sufficient to draw one large rectangle.

Simple Sfumato object of rectangular shape

Simple Sfumato object of rectangular shape made with just few nodes.

2. Parameters - Set Masks

Adjustable parameters of sfumato objects are described in Parameters-Sfumato chapter.

If you have already finished node editing mode when creating the Sfumato object, switch back to the node editing mode. In this mode, we see parameters of the object (in the Main Control Panel ) and the object itself in the Work Area . This is usefull when working with Sfumato objects because it alllows us to use Sfumato preview directly in the Work Area.

Icon of Sfumato Mask

Mask controls are located on a tab with above icon.

There is a green background and orange and yellow flowers in the photo, therefore we will need 3 masks. Set Mask Count to 3. Use the eye dropper tool to pick orange color from the photo as a Mask Color 1 . Then pick yellow color from photo as a Mask Color 2 and green color as Mask Color 3 . Order of colors is up to your decision. Because of thread and fabric physics, it is better to sew from center of design out towards its edges, but the layout of colors in this picture does not allow it.

Sfumato Stitch - Three Masks

Three masks are set. Mask no.1 is activated.

Mask parameters are:

Mask Color . Pick mask color from image or define it manually.
Range . Increase or decrease range of the mask to enlarge or shrink the area of image occupied by this mask. Absolute numeric value of the range is not important. Important is its ratio to ranges of the rest of the masks.
Switch . Activate mask with this switch. Only one mask can be active in a each Sfumato object.

When picking mask colors from the photo, respective thread shades are generated automatically for each mask. You can override automatic shades with your own colors, if you wish.

Note : The darkest shade, i.e. shade no.1 - black, is available only for the first mask. Other masks share this shade.

Adjust balance between all three masks with Range value controls that are.next to the mask color boxes. Utilize the Shade Preview to see effect of range changes.

Click on the first (orange) mask switch to activate mask no. 1, because we will generate the orange stitches first.

Sfumato Stitch - Shade Preview

Shade Preview of how all three color ranges (orange, yellow, green) are balanced.
Orange parts are displayed with 5 shades of orange, because mask of orange parts is now focused. Yellow and green parts are displayed as flat single color, because their masks are not focused now. Only one mask can be active in the Sfumato object, the rest of masks will be active on other layers.

3. Parameters - Adjust Other Settings

It is not necessary to use all five available shades for each color range. If color area is small or its colors are uniform, you may switch off some shades to decrease the number of required thread colors.

Also, decrease the Fidelity value to reduce the stitch count. Fidelity affects design stitch count. Flower design like this example can look great even with lower fidelity and it will sew faster and better because of lower stitch count and less short stitches.

Another parameter applicable here is the Style . Different styles produce lighter or heavier stitch coverage in the bright areas, which means that fabric is visible more or less than with other styles. In this example, style no.3 is used for orange and yellow flowers to give them richier color because of higher stitch density in bright areas.

4. Create Layers

Click Generate Stitches button or use this command from pop-up menu. Of course, only the orange part of object is filled with stitches.

Sfumato Stitch - First masked layer

First layer contains only the orange color range.

Select the object and Copy and Paste it to create a duplicate objects that lies just on top of the first object. Notice that there are three identical objects in the Object Inspector window.

Sfumato Stitch - objects in Inspector Window

5. Activate Layers

Select second object from the Object Inspector list and invoke the pop-up menu. Select Edit command to switch to node editing mode and to access the parameters panel. In parameters panel, activate mask no. 2 (yellow). Then generate stitches for this object.

Sfumato Stitch - Activate second mask

Mask no.2 is activated.

Sfumato Stitch - Second masked layer

Second layer contains only the yellow color range.

Select third object from the Object Inspector list and invoke the pop-up menu. Select Edit command to switch to node editing mode and to access the parameters panel . In parameters panel, activate mask no. 3 (green). Then generate stitches for this object.

Sfumato Stitch - Activate third mask

Mask no.3 is activated.

Sfumato Stitch - Third masked layer

Third layer contains only the green color range.

Each layer has properly assigned mask and consequently also the color now.

Three masked Sfumato objects as stacked layers with different colors

Three masked Sfumato objects as stacked layers with different colors.

Sfumato objects as icons in Object Inspector

Sfumato objects as icons in Object Inspector.

6. Save Design

Generate stitches for all three objects. The design is finished now. Save design into Studio *.EOF file. Use the main menu > Design > Compile and Put into Embird Editor command to place design into Editor for saving in desired embroidery format. If you are not registered user of Sfumato Stitch, this command is disabled.

Complete Sfumato Stitch design made with masks

7. Another Example of Using Sfumato with Mask

Let's digitize below image in Sfumato Stitch.

The mask feature allows us to achieve two goals:

  1. Avoid tediuous digitizing of each individual object by making just one common Sfumato object.
  2. Eliminate background if we want to.
Sfumato Stitch - Original raster image with white background

Original image with white background

Image contains fine lines in black and gray shades, the background is white. We want this design to be stitched in a single color (black).

Import image into Studio. Adjust its size to fit the hoop or resize it to a proper size. Then create Sfumato object with Sfumato tool. In the example shown below, Sfumato object is of simple rectangular shape. It includes also the background area. Select basic color for the object (black). If we use default parameters setting, generated stitches cover whole area of the Sfumato object (including background) and there are 5 shades of gray thread used in this object.

Sfumato Stitch - Design with stitches in 5 gray tones and with background filled with stitches

Design with stitches in 5 gray tones and with background filled with stitches

We need to eliminate the background with use of the Color Mask . However, program cannot distinguish white color from the scale of gray tones used in the image. Color Mask in Sfumato is based on the chromatic component of the color. The brightness component is ignored. Therefore, black and white are regarded as just a different shades of gray and they cannot be separated with use of the Color Mask.

We will use the image Background Filters to change white to some other color and thus allow Color Mask to separate black details from the colored background.

Yellow-Blue balance of highlighted areas (white areas, in this case) in Background Filters panel was adjusted so that background is yellow now.

Sfumato Stitch - Image with yellow-blue balance moved towards the yellow tones

Image with yellow-blue balance moved towards the yellow tones

Now we can easily separate black detail from the yellow background with use of the Color Mask. Set number of masks to 2. Pick black for the mask 1 and yellow for the mask 2. Adjust mask ranges to achieve best foreground/background balance. Then select the first mask (black). As we want only single color design, disable brighter shades (1-4) and use only the darkest shade no. 5 for stitching.

Sfumato Stitch - Two masks are set. Mask no.1 is activated

Two masks are set. Mask no.1 is activated.

Generate stitches . Finished design has only one color and the background is eliminated.

Sfumato Stitch - Finished single-color design

Finished single-color design.

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