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. 

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.

03 April 2019

Dog and Weasel: Conquest from space! finished!

Another animation done, this time a much lighter one. I am fairly happy with it, it has a bunch of effects and is going in a direction I think could be fun for the future. I have another one of these planned and the voices recorded, so I hope to expand on this.

23 March 2019

Dog and Weasel in production

My next little animated series is finally in production. I did a lot of pre-production work between other projects so I'm ahead on some of it. Thsi one will have quite a few challenges, the dog is one of the few times I have done a 4 legged creature and making him walk well will be something I have to learn. There is also some laser blasts going on. I did some tests and think I can make that work and look cool, but you never know until you try to put it in a real scene.

Mike Luce did the voice of the Jon Bellette, the weasel and also did the voice for a future "guest star" in the series, so I'm set up for at least 2 of these over the next few months! I am going a little more stylized/cartoon with this one.

16 March 2019

new drawing: Parc La Fontaine

My niece asked me for a drawing for her new place so we went back and forth over what she wanted and decided on a drawing of Parc La Fontaine where she and her boyfriend went running last winter.  So it was decided to take separate photos of them so I could draw them into the scene.

This took about a month to draw. The trees the most forward have a lot of detail and as they go back I decided to make them grayscale silhouettes, lighter and lighter to help give the piece more sense of depth. It's a lot of trees with 1000s of branches but I think drawing them all with a pen brush paid off and let me keep details that would tip off to the real location I used for reference. I didn't make it 100% exact in terms of details. I took out the street lamps, for example. I thought they took away from the setting and they are sort of ugly, even in winter covered in snow. I drew the runners separately so I could work bigger and get small resemblance to the real people easier. I added them into the finished drawing and then did additional work to make them fit in they make the more the centre of attention. I didn't draw logos on the shirts and hats, but I did put my sister's business log on his toque as a little joke. Very little, it's impossible to see!

My goal was to draw something that could be identified if someone visited the location and to give  sense of cold snowy day. I also wanted to push my digital art further than I have been. I have been restricting my work to mostly stuff I draw with real pen on paper and not always doing what I think makes the best image.

09 March 2019

Bad Criticism and Reviews

A small rant, I haven't done one in a while. 

One thing that irks me when searching for information online is the state of reviewing and criticizing.... well almost everything. A review or a critique is simply pointing out something's strengths and weaknesses from your perspective which can be very helpful to someone else who might be interested in that thing. At least that is what  it should be doing. Often it's not anymore.

It's all a conspiracy!
These days, on platforms like YouTube, etc. negativity seems to sell, no matter how good something is, you have to find ways to say it's terrible. I really think reviewers think that's their job, to point out flaws no matter how small and blow them out of proportion. The idea is to get hits and likes and not really tell anyone about the subject. There is also, of course, the people who are just trolling for various "causes" that are there only to sow discontent and spread their often, racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. views. Examples might be some reviews of the new seasons of Doctor Who and Star Trek Discovery where the reviewer bitches and moans about how politically correct they are. It's an obvious and childish attempt to get people to make mean comments and up thier social profiles as well as spew hate. I mean bitching these shows are politically correct is like complaining the sky is blue on a nice day. The sky being blue is one of the things that makes it a nice day! Bitch about how those Klingons look all you want. I don't get it either.

It's not what I want it to be! 
This can apply to media but it also applies to software and products. I have replaced Illustrator and Photoshop with Affinity products and did a lot a looking and listening before making that decision. Far too often reviews centred on missing features... many features that would not be appropriate for the software to begin with.  I can't recall how many reviews lambasted either Affinity Photo or Designer for not having the ability to do multi-page spreads and book interiors. Why would anyone even think they would? A page layout program is what they want and neither Photoshop nor Illustrator have those features either because that is not what they are used for. There seems to a lot of confusion as to what an illustration (vector) and  photo application's (pixel) are used for as well. Some of that is because developers sometimes add the features from one into the other for convenience of the user but if you are reviewing something, please - know what is used for.

It's all terrible! 
Believe it or not, criticizing also means listing good and positive points as well. Those points are often more important than the negative ones as we tend to watch, buy and use things because of what they are and not what they are not.

Not everything is made to please you personally.
Seriously, this has to be stated. If yopu really don't like something, especially a small film or drawing someone else poured their heart into... could you do better? If not, maybe shut your mouth or  be conscious that thing wasn't made with you in mind and likely with limited recources. If you think you can do better, then DO IT. You might find it's not as easy as you thought. If you just don't get it or understand it, ask. People mostly love to have a chance to improve and talk about thier stuff. If you find some mistake or problem, point it out and suggest a solution. everyone starts somewhere, including you so dont expect some one sitting alone in thier room to be able to make something a big studio can with 1000s of people on it.

In summation:
You can be constructive without being needlessly mean and you should have a grip on the subject before you write about it.

23 February 2019

Posters for festival entries

I have to make trailers and posters for 2 films I am currently tryiing to get into the HP Lovecraft film festivals. I woud love to get into at least one of the showings after all the work I've done these past years animating his tales of horror!  Will it work? Who knows? I can't help but think I am going about this thing all wrong. I discovered that Poe's works are also welcome and I just finished the Raven, so in it goes as well!

05 February 2019

The Raven - a new short animation

Based on the poem by Edgar Allen Poe, this was my longest single animation to date at 9 minutes. Michael Z. Keamy did the narration and it was a solid 5 months of full time work to get it done.

This time out with the addition of simple sub-titling tools added to Final Cut X, I was able to add French and English captioning so more people can watch and understand it. I tried for a sombre but realistic tone to present to poem. I have seen a few animations that go wild with abstract shots and ideas but I wanted this to keep grounded. It was a challenge to make something that is basically some depressed dude yelling at a bird in one room for nine minutes until he passes out! I started with longer, lingering shots and then made them shorter and shorter as it progressed to give it a faster pace while keeping the ideas of grief and depression to the forefront.

20 January 2019

Demo reel 2019

A new year, a new demo reel!

12 January 2019

Chicken : 1st drawing of 2019

Just ink this time with no shading and no textured backdrop. Back to the basics in a way. Drawn on the iPad in Sketchbook Pro. Not sure how much drawing I'll get in this coming year, a lot will depend on how many, if any, contracts I get this year.