PSCombine - Computer Assisted Art

PSCombine is a program that will import your collection of images or photos and randomly combine them in Photoshop with a random blending, opacity, and filters. I like to think of it as "Computer Assisted Art". One can generate a large set of images and choose the most aesthetically pleasing ones.

Here are a few example images from my Random Set 2008 gallery, this gallery is the result of combining a set of 6,000 output images, about 1 in 150 made my final cut, your ratio may very.

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Download Here:
PSCombine 1.5.1 (Installer with source code)

If you notice any obvious problems please let me know. If you enjoy PSCombine, you can always show your gratitude in the form of a donation, or just drop me a note.

Note on source code:
If you find any mistakes, make any changes, or have any suggestions, let me know and I may include it with the next release.

Requirements:

  1. PC with Windows
  2. Microsoft .Net 3.5
    (You may be prompted to download this if you do not have it)
  3. Photoshop CS3 or CS4

Documentation:

Setup / Start Screen

Log View and Log File

Live View

Advanced Settings

Other Notes

Change log

 

PSCombine Log View

Setup / Start

Input Area

Folder to combine
This Box shows the folder to search for images in, any local folder or network share will work fine
Note: You may have more then one folder to this list by separating them with the pipe ("|") character

Max folders to recurse
The number of folder levels to go into while looking for images

Note: For the most diverse results use as many images as possible
Note: You can add every image on a drive by selecting the top level of the drive and setting the Max folders setting to '99'.

Processing

Files to generate
First box: The number of random combinations to perform
Second Box: The number to start at with this loop

Movie Mode
This option forces the program to process the images in order and combine with another photo that is within the number of frames in the box directly below

Filters

Max number of filters
If you choose more then zero, each of the selected images will also be randomly filtered from 0 to this number of times. To choose what types of filters use the check boxes below this selector.
Adding filtering to the combine process will slow down the process, the higher the Max Filters setting is, the longer the process will take on average.

For an example of some images that have been filtered as well as blended, see my Random Set 1. The Result is more abstract.

Random Image With FiltersWith FiltersWith FiltersWith Filters

Output

Combine into folder
The folder that the combined images will be saved into

Export PSD
Writes the Photoshop PSD file format with separated layers
Warning: PSD files are large and when you are generating many of them they add up quickly

Export JPG
Writes the JPG version of the combination image with high quality compression

Write Log
Writes all the messages from the log screen to a text file

Start / Stop Button
Starts or stops the process
When stopping the process you must wait for the current activity in Photoshop to stop, also some images may be left open

 

PSCombine Log Live View Tab

Log View and Log File

The log view shows a running log of the activity current happening in the program so you can keep an eye on whats happening. When written to the text file it is also useful for refrencing which settings were used to create a certain effect.

By default the log file (if desired) is written to the same folder as the output images are written to with the name "PSCombineLog.txt". If a log file aready exists with that name the new log file will include the date in the file name.

 

Live View

When you are actively generating images you can use the “Live View” tab to view the images that Photoshop writes immediately after they are finished. So you can view your last image while your next one is being generated.

 

Advanced Settings Tab

Advanced Settings

Blending Table
Allows you to change the minimum and maximum opacity for each blending mode, you can also disable blending modes you don’t like. Changes to the blending table take effect immediately, so you can tweak your settings while you are generating random images.

The Filters Table
Allows you to individually control which filters are used. There is also a reference table that shows on average how long each filter takes to run, witch may be useful for eliminating filters that take too much time. Changes to this table will also take effect immediately.

Allowed File Types
You may add and remove which types of files Photoshop attempts to combine, these types can be any that Photoshop understands.

Keep PSCombine on top
Keeps the PSCombine program on top of all other programs, this might be useful in conjunction with the “Live View” option. 

Check for updates
Automatically checks if there are updates to the program are available on the site, and provides a link to the updated installer

 

Other Notes

File Types
Currently PSCombine only searches for these file types: jpg, bmp, tif, jpeg, tiff, psd. If the file is more then one layer, it will be flattened.
Advanced Tip: You can load any type of file that photoshop can read, as long as those types do not open with some kind of prompt (like EPS). To add more file types open the app.config file in the install directory and edit the "AllowedFileTypes" key.

Filter Types
Here is a list of the specific filters that are run for the different types you select:

  • Levels
    • Levels (Standard)
    • Brightness Contrast
    • High Pass
    • Auto Contrast
    • Auto Levels
    • Desaturate
    • Equalize
  • Blurs
    • Posterize
    • Gaussian Blur
    • Maximum
    • Minimum
    • Motion Blur
    • Smart Blur
  • Distortions
    • Smart Blur
    • Diffuse Glow
    • Unsharp Mask
  • Processor Intensive
    • Dust And Scratches
    • Median Noise

Measurement Units
Photoshop reports image sizes in the measurement units you select in your photoshop preferences, if you have your measurement units set to inches, you may notice that your combinations are resized incorrectly for images with different DPI's. To solve this problem change your measurement units to pixels.

Movie Mode
Movie Mode is intended for processing a movie that was exported as an array of images. In this mode PSCombine processes the images in order (instead of randomly), and combines it with a image that is within the number of frames that you specify under the "Movie Mode" checkbox. The result is a very stuttering and glitchy video, perhaps good for a music video or horror movie.


PSCombine Video Example 1

This video shows the Movie Mode of PSCombine, the video starts with 0% of the effect and fades to 100% effect at the end of the clip.

Resizing Images
PSCombine attempts to resize the images being combined to the size of the larger image. If you have images that are not all the same aspect ratio, you may notice some stretching of the smaller images.

Clipboard
Unfortunately the only way to copy images into one another with photoshop scripting PSCombine must use your computers clipboard. If you use copy and paste you'll notice that there will almost always be an image in the clipboard when PSCombine is actively combining images.

Speed
There are many things that effect the speed of how fast the cobinations are generated, the larger in size your images are on average the longer it will take to open and filter them. If you want to combine as quickly as possible use small files and no filters.

Other Ideas
I find that starting PSCombine before I go to bed for the night I can generate a full 5000 images to sort though the next day. That way I don't have to deal with a slow computer and almost no clipboard.

If you want some even more randomness you can run a 2nd pass of combining on your output files, you can get some really interesting results with this technique.

Change log:
Version 1.0.0 - Inital Release
Version 1.0.1 - Changed the installer to automatically register the Photoshop Interop DLL's, also added many usability updates and help tab
Version 1.0.2 - Changed the Interop.PhotoshopTypeLibrary.dll to use the .NET version instead of the COM version, Thanks to John Aho for the troubleshooting help.
Version 1.0.4 - Recompiled on a computer with Photoshop CS3, this should help with backwards compatibility, Thanks to John Aho for the troubleshooting help.
Version 1.5.0 - Added, Live View, Advanced Settings, various bug fixes