Tips for a Speedy Canvas

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Each graphical element you add to a Canvas design can be edited later.  While this makes the Canvas node a very flexible tool, it also means that the more you add to a Canvas document, the longer it will take to render.  Here are some tips for keeping your Canvas nodes speedy.




Use as few Canvas layers as possible


The illustrations below show two different ways to make the same image.  In the left version both circles have been placed on the same layer, while in the right version each circle has been given its own layer.  Although the results look the same, the version where only one layer was used will render at nearly double the speed because the style applied to the circles only needs to render once instead of twice.



Use Fewer Layers

DO: Put shapes in the same layer whenever possible (left).

DON'T: Put shapes in their own layers when not needed (right).



With more complex designs you may be tempted to create additional layers as a means to organize the many shapes being used.  However, the purpose of layers is to combine as many shapes as possible that use the same style in order to maximize render speed.  If you wish to organize your designs, use groups.  As you can see below, although the majority of the shapes for the Greek vase use the same dark brown paint style, and therefore were placed within the same layer, the groups maintain organization by combining the shapes into understandable units.  To create a group, select multiple shapes by holding down Shift while you click (if the current tool doesn't support multiple selections then switch to the Transform tool first), and then click the Group button at the top of the Shapes panel.



Organize With Canvas Groups

DO: Use groups for organization instead of layers.



There are times when using the minimum number of layers can be counterintuitive.  At first glance, the following texture appears to have rivets that belong to two layers: larger rivets are placed in the lower metal plates while smaller rivets are in metal pieces that are closer to the observer.  By placing all of these rivets into the same Canvas layer, significant render time was saved.



Single Layer All Rivets

DO: Find situations where different shapes can be put in the same layer

even if the design makes them look like they belong to different layers.



Multiple layers should not be used in situations where a style could do the job of both.  The following illustration shows an inefficient texture where one layer has been used to create a metallic circle while another layer has been used to give the circle a shadow.



Two Layers Doing Job Of One

DON'T: Use multiple layers to achieve effects that could be created with a single style.



As shown below, the shadow layer is made obsolete by creating a single style that includes both the metallic effect and the shadow.  More information on using styles can be obtained by referring to the Style tool.



Two Layers In Single Style

DO: Use styles to minimize the number of Canvas layers.




Use the simplest styles possible


To make a Canvas node render more quickly, try streamlining its styles.  The easiest way to improve style efficiency is to reduce the number of style layers and noises that are used.



Use Fewer Layers And Noises

DO: Reduce the number of style layers and noises wherever

doing so does not significantly degrade the final texture.




Don't try to do everything with Canvas nodes


The Canvas node has been optimized for design work, while the other nodes are optimized for procedural texture generation.  To make the most efficient textures you should therefore avoid trying to do everything within the Canvas node.



Mix Canvas With Other Nodes

DO: Use Canvas nodes for drawing

and other nodes for procedural work.



Refine Canvas With Other Nodes

Do: Use other nodes to refine Canvas results instead

of trying to get every detail perfect with styles.



Dont Use Canvas For Purely Procedural Textures

DON'T: Use Canvas as a procedural texture

generator when no drawn elements are involved.




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