MacStitch vs PC Stitch vs etc

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MacStitch vs PC Stitch vs etc

by rigel07 » Wed Feb 01, 2017 5:02 am

I realize there is a thread already dedicated to pattern makers; however; I wanted to see if someone who has experience in drawing their own patterns has in using any of the platforms available.
I have a PC, but I also have access to a Mac. These are the two most mentioned programs I've seen the last couple of weeks mentioned on various sites.
What I'm hoping is if someone(s/maybe people with different platforms can post the same picture with similar settings?) could post a side by side view of the these programs in comparison.
Last edited by rigel07 on Wed Feb 01, 2017 5:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: MacStitch vs PC Stitch vs etc

by rigel07 » Wed Feb 01, 2017 5:06 am

Extra info:
I'm looking to decide which program to use to turn digital paintings into cross stitch designs. So these are not/will not be pixelated images, they will be more elaborate detailed artworks.
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1994 Christmas Madonna ~ Freebie/Converted
 
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Re: MacStitch vs PC Stitch vs etc

by richardandtracy » Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:34 am

I do not really think any built-in image editors are up to the sophistication of something like Photoshop in terms of creating images from scratch, so the best alternative is to create the image in Photoshop/similar and convert the image to thread colours in the thread conversion program.

Now, you have mentioned two versions of the same program, PCStitch & MacStitch. The conversions produced by these programs are not as good as 'Pattern Maker'. So I would recommend of the two, consider Pattern Maker (PM). PM is the software used by Heaven & Earth Designs (HaED). The conversions by PC/MacStitch are frequently quite poor & you have very little control on the result. I know a lot of people rave about the quality of PCStitch's conversions, but the quality is really quite disappointing if, like me, you are very picky. PM is generally quite good, but looses definition in dark areas, resorting to large monochrome blobs. This, unfortunately, is visible in some of the HaED charts and is, frankly, not good enough.

However, I would like to suggest a 'New Kid on the Block', a free to download & use Windows program called 'BlendThreads' if you are after the ultimate in accuracy and faithfulness to the initial image. I admit to an interest - I'm the programmer & wanted extreme faithfulness to the image. Pattern Maker and PC/Mac Stitch have a limit of 240 colours in their conversion, and blended colours have to be calculated by the user and manually entered as new thread colours. Blend Threads has no limits on the numbers of colours and at the tick of a box, blended colours can be used - adding 12000 extra possible colours. I have done (but not stitched!) a conversion that with all settings set to extreme accuracy, gave a 7000 colour conversion. That is hard to beat for accuracy, and probably near impossible to stitch. The program allows the user to decide their own limits, rather than have them dictated by the program.

Take a look at a number of images converted using BlendThreads:

1) 'The Ionian Mission' by SteveM. This includes a comparison between Pattern Maker and BlendThreads and shows how Steve was going to the nth degree for precision & accuracy & in the end used BlendThreads to create his 350 colour chart. This can be seen here: http://www.crossstitchforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=28279

2) 'Honeymoon Portrait'. This is an early conversion using the program before I added extra dithering options & the ability to blend threads. I kept the colour count down to 118 (thread here: http://www.crossstitchforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=26356):
Image

3) 'I'm watching You'. First blended thread test piece with the program. 117 colours from 156 floss colours (thread here: http://www.crossstitchforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=27900).
Converted Image
Image
Actual stitched result:
Image

4) 'Gryff'. My current unfinished photo conversion of my cat in the snow (thread in the in the 'Stitch-a-long' forum http://www.crossstitchforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=28246 ):
Image
Image

5) 'Luz'. My current conversion of a Luis Royo painting (with permission from the artist). Thread in the SAL forum - http://www.crossstitchforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=28245:
Image
Image

6) 'Color of the Wolf'. Allyn is re-doing a previous image using BlendThreads, after she couldn't continue with the original conversion (it was just too dreadful). Allyn hasn't got too far yet, and is what has been completed is in this thread: http://www.crossstitchforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=28274. The abandoned original is here: http://www.crossstitchforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=27802

At the moment Blend Threads uses the same public domain colour component values as PM and PC/MacStitch for the DMC range of threads, so any colour errors relating to the colour definition files will be shared between all three programs. It is known that the colour definition files are not completely correct (on average they are too light by around 10%), and I am trying to get a chance to photograph a DMC floss card in good lighting conditions so I can create a more faithful thread definition file. This is very weather dependant and so far I have been unable to get the light I want before doing it. The Anchor thread colour definitions, and the other ranges supplied (including Lego Bricks, 2010 colour range), are all original data for BlendThreads and do not exactly match any other program's thread colour definition data.

I hope this is of interest, and as BlendThreads is a freebie (by way of a thank-you to forum members for their help), it may be worth trying anyway. The program web page is on my website, here: http://www.chestnutpens.co.uk/misc/crossstitchplan.html and can be downloaded from that page or my signature.

Regards,

Richard
http://www.chestnutpens.co.uk
Free Charting Program for PC's zip Installation
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Re: MacStitch vs PC Stitch vs etc

by rigel07 » Wed Feb 01, 2017 5:59 pm

Thank you Richard! You've saved me a great deal of money and time!
I had downloaded the MacStitch program that was free and noticed the issue you mentioned and thought maybe my digital painting was not bright enough. *As it was only showing about twenty colors even when I tried editing the "add colors" even with dither; whereas I definitely should have at least 100+. So that answered that issue.
Will your program work on a Mac computer? My personal PC laptop is down due to I need a new battery, but I can still use it with the cord, it's just a hassle.
I appreciate the images and links very much! I will post updates as soon as I receive my fabric and have charted my image.
Thank you.
WIPs
Enchanted Alphabet
Dragon Carousel
Lady of the Flag

Finished
Catch the Wind
1994 Christmas Madonna ~ Freebie/Converted
 
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Re: MacStitch vs PC Stitch vs etc

by rigel07 » Wed Feb 01, 2017 6:18 pm

I have a question about your stitching, I noticed some of the Stitchers have lines like a grid (I suppose per inch) on their fabric, could you explain how you do this? I've only ever seen it done once before in person, but never asked how they did it. How do you remove the thread later?
WIPs
Enchanted Alphabet
Dragon Carousel
Lady of the Flag

Finished
Catch the Wind
1994 Christmas Madonna ~ Freebie/Converted
 
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2017 6:27 am

Re: MacStitch vs PC Stitch vs etc

by richardandtracy » Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:48 pm

I'm afraid my program only works on PC's. The compiler I have cost £48, the next level up, which allows 64 bit PC, Mac & Android compilation costs over £1200, which is a bit much for a hobby!

The grid lines I use are thread or thin fishing lines. Other people use washable markers designed for fabrics. They are useful. I do them every 10 stitches on the tiny 28 count fabric I use, with 5 stitches worth above the fabric & 5 below. It is a pain removing thread as you can stitch through it,which is why I prefer coloured fishing line, as it pulls out so much more easily.

Regards,

Richard,
http://www.chestnutpens.co.uk
Free Charting Program for PC's zip Installation
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Re: MacStitch vs PC Stitch vs etc

by SteveM » Fri Feb 03, 2017 6:48 am

At one point I tried as many programs as I could get my hands on to test their image to pattern conversion capabilities. Richard has already described very well the differences in the various programs. Just keep in mind that not everyone uses the programs for image conversion so a tool or its reputation may be nearly meaningless to people like us (eg. PC Stitch).

Pattern Maker Professional is simply the best commercially available software out there and it knocks the socks off of MacStitch which would be my #2 choice. And it isn't just in image conversion quality, but in the tools to view and edit the conversion result are simply wonderful in PM and missing or dreadful in MacStitch. What I also like about PM is that I asked the designer about a means to import blended thread definitions and he confirm that the export/import feature was for solids only, but then shared the relevant source code with me so that I could develop my own means to generate compatible binary files if I ever get around to it.

Richard's program isn't as well polished, but it has no equal much less any competition of any kind. I personally think it shines best when you have 100 colors or more and especially blended colors. I have put some HAED images through his program with amazing results compared to what they are able to offer from PM patterns.

My suggestion is to plug the PC in and connect to it from your Mac using remote desktop. It isn't quite as good as sitting in front of the PC, but it works pretty well for me when I want to run those PC only programs.

Below is an experiment I ran on an image that has a lot of blues which is a challenge for DMC as they don't have good color options for the sky and water. Some tools handled that well, others not so much to varying degrees. See the full write up here.

Source image:
Image

PC Stitch:
Image

Mac Stitch:
Image

Pattern Maker:
Image

An older version of Richard's Blend Threads:
Image
-Steve

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Re: MacStitch vs PC Stitch vs etc

by richardandtracy » Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:24 am

I will admit that my program is not as good as some for low numbers of colours (say below 75) - though the wide range of dithering options can be used to mask the deficiency. I think it's the 'Colour Space' concept that is different from the way other programs do it, and is both its weakness and strength at the same time. It does make it impossible to decide on the exact number of colours you want, and means you may have to try several colour space divisions to get the number closest to the numbers you want.

If I knew how other programs decide how to select colours numbers, I suppose I could add an option to allow that method as an alternative. The problem is, I just can't think through a method similar to that used by the other programs. Makes me feel a bit of a fraud really, offering a program when I can't even imagine how other people do the same job. Ah well.

Regards,

Richard
http://www.chestnutpens.co.uk
Free Charting Program for PC's zip Installation
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Re: MacStitch vs PC Stitch vs etc

by SteveM » Fri Feb 03, 2017 2:28 pm

My thinking is that the other programs have been optimized for very low color counts for the more traditional stitching people who don't like to use more than 30 colors. They've spent many years and product revisions perfecting that capability. In my opinion PM rarely benefits from having more than about 150 colors and often the sweet spot is much lower.

You've had a different set of goals from the get go and that has resulted in a tool that I see as a complement to PM rather than a competition.
-Steve

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