10 June 2019

Imac 27 inch 2019 review

A few weeks ago my iMac from 7 years ago exploded. Seriously, it did while performing an update. So repairing it was almost as much as buying new so it made more sense to buy new. If you are going to lose thousands of dollars in one shot, buying a new Mac is one way to do it!

I almost bought a 21.5 inch to get faster processors but it wasn't worth the RAM upgrade and loss of screen space which I desperately need to do my work. I ended getting a bee model, 6 i5 processors and bought third party RAM - going me 40 gigs of it now.

There isn't too much to say about the upgrade... it's faster, the graphic card isn't a Nvidia so I am out of that weird Apple feud. For a week my Myst games even worked! (Then stopped again - the problem is with Cyan's port to the MAC, not the MAC OS for certain.)

Rendering in 3D has improved greatly. The 5K screen doesn't look any better than the old Retina one did except the icons and text is smaller looking. It's a plus overall despite the hit to the wallet and obviously, I needed to do it. There were changes in the ports, something that always bugs me. Can we keep a port connection for more than 5 months before dumping it for something else? It adds extra expense for new cables and adaptors and seems like insult to injury.

Transferring the info from the dead iMac to the new one was pretty easy thanks to me getting a hard drive just as a Time machine backup for the OS (my work files are all on a separate drive already) and it went really, really well.

27 May 2019

design/drawing: dancing boy

Another Procreate test. This time I wanted a subject with lots of exposed skin since I do that by stippling little dots of various sizes and density. Very time consuming, but I really like how it looks. I also added some white and dark grey pencil to give it a better tonal range.  I also added a little noise to give the solid colours a more natural texture.

More or less successful I think.

(close up detail)

21 May 2019

Processing photos using only the iPad

I will be in Barcelona soon to take photos and travelling always has certain problems when you take photos.

Carrying all that equipment on planes, getting through customs, where to store all those photos and the best way to process at some of them while travelling.

My hopeful solution:
Use only the iPad and not a laptop to store and process photos.

Of course using only an iPad has problems. The most obvious when you take 1000s of photos while away is storage. The easiest thing to do would buy a iPad pro with 1 terabyte of storage and use Affinity Photo to edit them. Getting them into that device is fairly simple, a cheap adaptor is all you would need. Of course I don't have 2-3000$ in pocket to just buy one of those so that option is out.

How to get around paying a small fortune:
I was happy to discover, by accident, that there are several devices tha tlet you connect a portable drive to any iPad through a wireless connection. The device I chose is the Ravpower Hub which also has a card reader so I can transfer the camera RAW files directly to the hard drive to open with Affinity Photo later. The hub and external drive are under 200$. Problem solved? Nope!

Drawbacks and workarounds:
So it does work, but with a caveat. For some reason I can't fathom, RAW files can not be transferred across the wifi to the iPad. All you get is a tiny PNG preview file. Some say just upload to a cloud service ike Dropbox and then open it from there, but if you could do that anywhere, anytime - you wouldn't need the device! I rarely have super fast Internet while away. So the workaround I have for now is to transfer all the RAW file to the disk as a backup and then take out the card and import just the files I want to work on right now to Affinity. After I'm done, it's not difficult (but a little slow) to export a PSD file to the hard drive, delete the Affinity files and repeat as I go along.

Not perfect by a long shot, but I think it's workable. At least until I win the lottery and get a tricked out iPad pro.

13 May 2019

Dog & Weasel: Occurrence at Lake Mess

A new cartoon done! This time I tried to make the motion slightly smoother and avoid having too much movement, I sometimes get in the habit of making an action for each sentence spoken and that is just too hectic to be effective much of the time. Poor Mike Luce did 2 voices this time!

02 May 2019

New drawing "Robby" my first using Procreate for iPad

So this is a drawing of the barn cat at Mobius Meadows Farmstead in Vermont, Robby. what's different for me is I did it entirely in Procreate on the iPad instead of in Sketchbook pro which is my usual ink/drawing app on iPad and desktop. I used ink for the detail a light grey layer to fill in the interior of the drawing so I could use a white pencil brush to add highlights and a darker grey background with some charcoal for shadows.

The drawing took about 12 hours to do altogether, about normal. I am pretty happy with most of it. But how was it working with Procreate?

In total, working with the now app was pretty nice. Its the first time, including photoshop,  krita, you name the software  - that I have found inking and drawing tools as good or better then Sketchbook Pro. The interface is not hard to learn at all even though I still have questions about how to do colour fills and it took me a few tries to export the finished work to Drop Box. In fact, pretty much all the issues I had were not Procreate related. I had to redraw the entire head after getting terrible results that were pixelated. This was because the canvas size was not what I wanted. I used a reference photo imported from the Photo app and that app for some reason always brings in my references at half the size a made them at.

Things I appreciated over Sketchbook were the interface and the easier way to control brushes. The streamline brush feature really took out the wobble from drawing on an iPad on the couch but kept the natural looking pen line I love. I haven't tried colour yet on it but i will. I don't think it has dodge and burn tools like photoshop or affinity photo en lieu of using layer modes for those functions, as Sketchbook does. I usually do colour work as grey scale layers and then colour each layer using hue and saturation so dodge and burn works really well for me to get details into those drawings. Something I will need to get used to.

A big reason I made the leap from free Sketchbook to 16$ (CAD) Procreate was the addition of text to the latest version. Sketchbook has text but it's TERRIBLE to use and I usually have to go into Affinity Photo to add the title and my name, but not this time. Sketchbook seems to have OK palm rejection while this program has a much better result in that regard. I did have to erase some stray lines from my hand now and then but not nearly as much as in previous drawings.

A small problem is the fact there is no desktop version yet, or maybe never. I do like working on my 24" screen with my Wacom tablet for larger and long term projects. It's just more comfortable and I have more options to go into other programs - though that problem is pretty small with Affinity have both Photo and Designer on the iPad now, there is very little missing from my desktop lineup of drawing options. One thing I might do is put a screen protector back on the iPad to give the pencil more of a 'real paper" feel. Right now it glides to quickly over the surface.

In resume: it's a hit and something I see myself using more and more. Though is anyone has a couple thousand dollars to spare, I think using it on an iPad Pro with a TB of storage would be pretty sweet!

(Thanks Mike for singing the praises of Procreate until i broke down and bought it!)

20 April 2019

dessin: la roue

A new acrobat drawing after a little break from them. I used Affinity Photo to draw this from start to finish. I don't get the natural pen strokes I get in Sketchbookbook Pro but I might be doing it wrong in regards to the brush settings. I tried for a few years to get good reference images of this particular act, there are still a few more I want to draw even after 40+ drawings, eventually I'll get them all.

09 April 2019

Software plugin roundup - slightly impatient edition

C4D, in my opinion, needs a slew of plugins to work efficiently and some I just can't live without. Nitro4D has always ben a great recource for both free and paid workflow enhancements and recently I splurged on a few recently released one - Nitro viens, Nitro SVG and Notro relax. beins lets you draw vines branches and trees quickly and even has a way to make them move subltly as though blown by wind (I have osme project that I will need this for soon), SVG lets you import SVG files eaisilywhich avoids the problems importing AI files, exsprecailly since i stopped using Illustrator any more, and relax will square of your geometry which is super important when making things for animations.

X-particles, is an essential plugin as well and as I paid some pretty good money for a maintence version, I was worried there would be no updates bfofer my current contract ran out. Not to worry, they just has a new feature laden update which has a ton of improvements. I am still waiting for faster and easier smoke and fire. I like Turbulence Fd which integrates reall well with X-particles but i would like to have one plugin set up for those sort of things.

My impatience is the result of the wait fo the 1.7 updates of the Affinity line of software. Publisher has been  on the ocming soon list for so long, years in fact it's getting discouraging and it's release is holding up Designer and Photo it seems as they all use the format. The public beta for Publisher has potential and will beworth the wait miost likely but Photo has tome issues, like a crashing bug when when doing batch exports that won't be fixed until 1.7 and it's become a workflow problem. I am hesitant to use the betas for Designer and Photo for real work.

On the more fun side, I have been replaying the Myst saga since they were all released on Steam. They were not updated with new graphics but they they are still fun, if not frustrating at points. I still love the look of the worlds and thanks goodness for cheat sheet and videos online.