21 September 2019

drawing: barn in Vermont

Still working out the Huion tablet pluses and minuses. Overall it is a great tool and I think this is one of my best drawings in awhile. There is a bug where I have to adjust the parameters at the start of the day of the pen gets stuck in the upper left corner of the screen, which is annoying. Still have to do some colour work and see how that goes.

This was the family barn of a really nice guy, Wade, who gave me a ride to my destination when my Garmin GPS took me hours off course on a really hot day. I took a bunch of reference photos and never got around to doing a drawing until now. I wanted to do the clouds in lifework as well, but that looked terrible so back to the old grey scale techniques. To get the natural look I wanted, I went trough my extensive collection of cloud photos and made a little composite to get something that worked with the ink drawing.

07 September 2019

HUION H610 Pro V2 Drawing Tablet

I got a great deal at Amazon.ca and replaced my broken drawing tablets with this one for 80$. Considering my Wacom was about 500$ and had a fraction of the sensitivity and about the same active drawing area, it seemed like a deal too good to pass up. The pen is battery less, something I look for in all things, and it came with extra nibs not just in the pen holder, but also in little bag as well.
*The photo above is the model I bought, I screwed up on the picture search and am too lazy to change it now. It's close enough. 

How does it hold up next to my former tablets? So far, really well. I did a quick (for me - 5 hours) drawing a Canadian Goose I saw on my bike ride last week as a test of how it works with pen work. I am very happy with the results. The only things I am not loving are that the surface of the tablet is a little slippery and the pen nib seems off, but these are likely just getting use to a new device problems.

31 August 2019

New project: 25 Years Later

I have been working on this project in various forms for quite a few years now. It was going to be a documentary, then a live action fictional film and now - an animation. The idea to do it in animation was not mine but from Michael Z Keamy who has been encouraging me to animate something  personal instead of adapting a story or making something funny and cartoonish.

Summary: A man takes on a multi-day ride from Montreal, 25 years after he took care of a sick friend to Boston, where the friend and he lived at the time.

Simple story and I have been able to limit the characters on screen to two making animating it more manageable. The actual script is only a page long but here's the rub... there is something like 15 locations as the cyclist travels to Boston and reminisces about the past. I have made about ½ of those locations so far, but have not started the character design yet. That will be another challenge as they have to age and one needs to get very sick but still be recognizable. Making and rigging characters is my weakest skillset and these need to be better than what I've done before. They won't be life-like depictions, I don't feel that's even a goal when making animations, but they need to feel like real people.

To be honest, this is already one of the hardest things I've ever tried to do in film. The story is based on my personal experiences, mostly with one person but not exclusively as I actually tried to help out a few people who were sick in the 90s when I lived in Boston. So while the 2 characters might be, in effect, much like me and my friend, they are more representatives of people like us mixed with others. This was important for the story to make it flow right but also it's just really emotionally hard to go back to this period and literally recreate it in such detail. Not being "about me" gives it some distance. I had planned to actually do this ride for real 15 yers ago, then 10 years ago but it didn't pan out for various reasons out of my control. Just affording places to stay during the trip is an issue and getting me and the bike back to Montreal is logistically difficult. I am planning to get there this summer, the actual 25th anniversary which gives this short film extra urgency and makes it a bit more distressing to produce. Art is exposing pain sometimes and it should be cathartic. At least I hope it is in the end.

Not sure what I'll do with this animation when it's done, and I wish I had a budget to help me dedicate time exclusively to it.

Exterior shots:
(click to see more detail)

Interior shots:
(click to see more detail)

24 August 2019

dessin/drawing : oiseau - Zoo Berlin

Yet another drawing on Procreate. I have very little idea what type of bird this is but I liked how it looked and thought it might make a nice drawing. It was taking seemingly forever to draw but suddenly - I was almost done. Funny how that happens.

This was an ink only, no shades of grey or colour project. Feels more like drawing on paper to me with those limits.

15 August 2019

Sitges - drawing/dessin Procreate

This post is little different as I don't usually do more than show the drawings. This time I am including the layers in Procreate. Despite loving the Apple Pencil/Ipad/Procreate combo, I had planned to do this on the iMac with my tablet becuase it's easier to see and work with details. That was not be. I accidentally threw out the pen for the Wacom tablet after having it about 10 years, but not to fear! I have a back up tablet... that won't work with the new iMac it turns out. No new drivers since 2011. Buying a new Wacom pen is about 120$ CAD, buying a new Hurion (SP?) tablet is 105$ - a deal! Deal or not, I have no money for such things since the old iMac exploded and the dishwasher did too for good measure. So - to the iPad Batman!

As you can see I divided this into several layers. A pen and ink layer, which was going to be the final product until I decided to do a grayscale layer and add some textures. The textures were on another layer but not too visible on their own so I merged them into the tone layer for the blog. Like most drawings I am not sure if I love or hate this one. I went from dark foreground to light background to dive more a sense of depth. I ended up ignoring a lot of the lighting from the actual reference photo and changed/deleted some details I thought were distracting. I worked on this the last 3 weeks when I could, no rush.

20 July 2019

Barcelona photos and my iPad experiment

So I am back from Barcelona and overall, my iPad experiment worked as well as I thought it would. I was able to save all my RAW files to the external hard drive and process ones that interested me on the iPad in Affinity Photo. Since the iPad could only transfer jpg and png files, it did limit how much I could get done. It seems like in September with the release of the iPad IOS, that could change and the who process will be simpler.

I only had the base iPad, so while most photos were fine to work with, HDR and panoramas were really, really slow. Another issue on this trip was when Air Transat lost our luggage until the afternoon before we left! In the luggage was my second camera battery and charger and my plug for the iPad. The made keeping things powered up a problem and I had only one battery for the entire stay which drastically limited how many photos I could take.

With the hard drive option now I can see myself leaving the laptop at home more often. I also has to make a change in a poster for a client that I had uploaded to DropBox, just in case. I used Affinity Publisher to make it and was able to download, open, edit it in Affinity Designer and then send the finished PDF back to the client all while sitting in a park near the Sagrada Familia.

20 June 2019

Affinity Publisher official release / Designer & Photo updates

The official release of Affinity Publisher has arrived and it is bringing with it updates to Serif's 2 other applications, Photo and Designer.

While I have been using publisher for smaller, PDF export only projects in beta form for 9 months, the actual release still showed some noticeable improvements.  For one thing it's much faster (more so on Mac thanks to unprecedented Metal integration) and more stable. Files open rapidly and working on it is so easy and fast it blows Indesign out of the water in that regard. While still a version 1.0 and lacking features many will need before switching from other programs, I would say it's already better than the latest version of Quark and for less complex projects it gives Indesign a run for it's money in many ways. There were a few release only improvements but the most interesting one was the link between Publisher and their other apps. 

Affinity has links it's apps in a way other companies have not done, even though it seems an obvious way to go about it. Because all three programs use the same format, if you are working on project in Publisher and want to rework a photo, for example, you just press the Photo icon on the top left of the screen and you are working with Photo in Publisher, the switch is so fast you can't even see it happening. It hasn't opened Photo as a separate app, it has opened as part of the app you are already in... seamlessly. It doesn't end there. Publisher for iPad is ways off still but while you are waiting, you can now open multi-page publisher docs in either of their iPad apps and edit them there.  That is IMPRESSIVE! 

This is not to say everyone can just dump Indesign and switch. It's missing some important functions for now. I imagine most of those shortcomings will be addressed sooner than later. The ability to open and export .idml files for easy transitioning from Indesign and for printers who won't take PDF files will be crucial to take a bite from the Adobe apple but it's definitely coming. A couple things I would like to see added sooner than later would be more robust find and replace tools, being able to organize a book into chapters and a dedicated persona for making e-books. 

Photo and Designer have also been updated with new features and dramatically increased speed. The HSL improvements were something I didn't know I needed so much and addition of arrows to lines is a long overdue addition. There are new filters and improvements to so many things it's impossible to list them all. Brushes have been made even more customisable, now allowing you to add brushes to other brushes with the new sub brush function. Indesign has gained from node and drawing features that sets it even more ahead of Illustrator and makes it even more of a joy to use. 

While the new additions are welcome, I think this update brings home Serif's commitment to improving the code, even going back and rewriting it over instead of just patching it is what makes their software stand out.