11 May 2017

Picktorial - DAM and image editor


In my quest to rid myself of Adobe products I have discovered something I hope to replace Adobe Bridge with. I mostly use Bridge to look through my images (photos illustrations files etc) and not to edit them but this new software offers a nice range of editing tools so I might just try them out. 

The app is called Pictorial and I immediately liked the interface and speed the images loaded. I did notice a couple hick-ups for my workflow, however. 

Since I use Affinity Designer and Photo over Photoshop and Illustrator now, I noticed those files simply were not visible in the Pictorial window. A huge disappointment. Affinity is working on it's own DAM software, but when that will get released is anyone's guess, could be as far as a year off or more. I contacted Pictorial to ask if at least seeing the preview images was in the roadmap and it wasn't... until I asked. Within a day they sent me a test version with the ability to see small .aphoto previews in the viewer! That is service! They also explained clearly what the problems were in getting larger images and that seeing eps, illustrator and other files in the viewer would be possible but isn't immediately available and why that was. 

So while this isn't the perfect replacement for me, it's the one I am using exclusively on my laptop and more and more on my desktop. I don't think it will be long before it does everything I need. 

27 April 2017

Blast from the past - my old training logo


This was the logo I designed for my years as a personal trainer in the 80s. I still like it today even if it is a little dated. I put it in the workbooks I gave my clients, t-shirts and in ads I put in the newspapers.


I created it in Pagestream on my Amiga, an early page layout program that had added vector drawing (limited but still innovative at the time) to it's list of features. It's still for sale! If I had 100$ or so lying about I would seriously consider trying it out again. It was way ahead of it's time but unfortunately the Amgia basically died out and I had to start with pagemaker and then to Indesign with brief times of using Quark.

09 April 2017

Staley Fleming's Hallucination by Ambrose Bierce : New Animation Preview

My new personal project is Staley Fleming's Hallucination by Ambrose Bierce and  I am far enough into it to give little preview no one asked to see.


I think this will be better in set design design than my previous projects, partly because I have a better grasp on what I want and mostly because there are only 2 (really 1 ½). I am using a mix of stuff I make myself, free models already made and modified models to fit the needs of the shot.


If you have read the short story, you'll know there are only 2 characters and ghost dog. The titular character is haunted by a spectral hound hallucinations each night and he has called in the the village doctor to rid him of them. I had to modify the text little and added some Lovecraftian details (Bierce and Lovecraft were friends) and so far have decided to use the same title design as the Lovecraft films so they will look part of the same series of gothic horror animations. (I plan to work on a Poe story next).


As I make the characters, I have seemingly worked out most of the technical problems a hell hound brings with it and how to have a fire in the fireplace flickering light into the room. So I am on my way to having this done by fall - I hope.

05 April 2017

Over the internet?

(Just random thoughts/ miscellaneous rant)

I use the internet  quite a bit, mostly for work - researching techniques or finding information or images for project and clients. I also get much of my news through RSS feeds in my iPad mini. I have noticed that, maybe inevitably, I am not really finding anything new to do online. In a way it is similar to my experience with app stores. At first the app store seemed to offer unlimited ways to improve my workflow, fun etc etc but soon you are not finding anything really helpful or new…just alternate versions of things already there.

I’m not saying the internet isn’t expanding and spreading out more every instant, but I am wondering if, while there is more of everything already there. 

More ways than I realized at the start, the world wide web has exceeded it’s expectations. I remember when there wasn’t any browsers or search engines. As those things were developed the web grew and my interest grew and I was soon downloading programs, sending email to the 5 people I could persuade to use it. I was fascinated by the expanding access to information and ability to get software, and images without leaving my house. 

As time goes on I use the internet more than ever but like the app store, its more and more to do the same sort of stuff and there doesn’t seem to be anything really new out there anymore. It’s become like a fridge, you can get one with a screen on it or can make calls or whatever, but face it the function of a fridge is only to store food cold. Seems like the internet is being pushed into doing stuff it really isn’t needed for or I’m just not interested in the new stuff.


I guess I am sort wondering if all that cool stuff at the start of being online was really more of less the limit of what its best to use it for? At the moment, the compulsion to connect everything to the world wide web has far too many downsides. I would rather have the house controlled by my home computer than by someplace/somewhere on the internet. I also don’t really do any social media and that is a more recent addition along with true online shopping(which I do use) that really did bring new functionality online. It’s probably just a lack of imagination on my part but I just don’t see where something new will come from. I am not saying the internet is useless or will become obsolete. I am saying there we might be reaching the limits of what is really good for - at least for now. 

31 March 2017

Mobius Meadows Farmstead website


It's literally been years since I have designed a website. (Other than my own that is).  One the last year my good good friend Art Klossner has decided to sell some of the products he makes on his farm in Vermont and wanted to help out so I volunteered to design the site.  Now it's finally up and running. 

Mobius Meadows Farmstead website


I also design the original logos, but in the end he decided to use one from someone else who incorporated a little ball of yarn into it and its quite nice. My first thoughts were to do something classy that included a mobius loop which was the logo for almost right up until the site went live. He was feeling not great about ti so I made another more fun and light. Honestly I like them both and designing logos while frustrating at point can be fun. I guess the same can be said of websites, though I enjoyed this one much more than those in the past because I stopped using Dreamweaver and switched to Sparkle which is much more like a page layout program and doesn't even allow you to code. The closest is comes to that is letting you embed things but even that is very visually done.



So I'm glad to too this on and glad it's finally online! Not sure I'll be doing more sites in future as that market share has been mostly eaten up by do it yourself/design in your browser companies that set up for free and make their money by selling you the domain and renting the server space. 



This is the logo decided on in the end by Tim Palin.  

21 March 2017

New(ish) Macbook Pro (2015)


My old MacBook Pro had been showing serious signs of decay over the last few years, not a surprise since it was over 6 years old and well used. It took 5 - 10 minutes just to fully turn on. I was becoming unusable for my work so I started looking into new laptops to replace it. Luckily, my brother had bought a MacBook Pro less than a tear before and wanted to sell it so while it’s used, it’s practically new - to me anyway. 

This past weekend I transferred my old files and programs to the new computer. I used Apples Migration software and it was going pretty poorly. I was using wifi for the transfer and it just wouldn’t work. To top it off, the new machine did not have an ethernet port, the way I usually transfer from one computer to another. In the end I had to buy a Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt cord and the transfer flew by with no more issues. The next day, I tried to wipe and re-install the OS on my former machine so I could sell it - dead… it couldn’t do anything. I guess I waited until the very last moment to make my upgrade. 

How is the new MacBook Pro?
This is the pro before the new miniscreen on the keyboard that takes place of the F keys and gives more functionality to certain programs. I was interested in having that but the price to get a new  MacBook with it was too high. There were other reasons to reject that newer model, however. The new models have one port… one! This MacBook has USB, A flash card port for my camera, 2 thunderbolt ports, hdmi port… all of which are useful to me and I really did not want a portable that needed 100 widgets to connect things. 

There is a vast improvement to the screen, I can now do colour corrections and work on my photos with less worry it won’t look the way I want on my bigger home system. The updated graphics card and 16 gigs of RAM really make it a real alternative for my 3D work and should help me with rendering complicated projects. The i7 processor and flash drive boot it up in seconds and all my software just flies on it. No more beachball of death as I try and save a photo or Indesign file.  It is also thinner and lighter, features that don’t really impress me much but are nice to have  just not essential from my point of view. 

Conclusion

This was a great purchase for me. It’s fast, practical and should service my needs for at least another 5 years. It will have to, my lack of actual paid contracts and home renovations this year with cripple my finances for years to come. At least now I can continue to work no matter where I am. 

As an aside, I also stripped the application folder to the bare minimum of software, which means only the Adobe program I can't replace with something else. (Namely Indesign and After Effects). This, I think should save me from running low on RAM as much and frankly, the Affinity products I am using are much faster and practical on the laptop. 

13 March 2017

Auto portraits 2017


So every ten or so years I do a profile portrait to embarrass myself. I guess it is good thing to do, especially now since I really don't get photograph people much anymore.


Since I had to set everything up in my studio, I took a variety of portraits, including some with "my hair up". It looks like this when I wake up so I'm sort of natural punk rocker. When I was younger it was more Ziggy Stardust-like, it just stood straight out (and was often orange, red, or... well name  a colour).


Since going to digital, the voice of doing colour or black and white can be put off until you are processing the photo instead of having to start off with that choice already made for the next 36 photos. I tend to go b&w in the end but here is a comparison of my choice with one of the photos.


I am actually always embarrassed by how I look and very private so it is always odd for me to put images of myself out there. I had to set up the backdrop and camera and be on my knees to keep in the frame for these so it felt a little silly. Luckily I have a remote to set off the shutter or I would have to set a time delay and run into position before it goes off!