02 August 2021

drawing/dessin: suricate Afrique

 

A trip to the zoo with my 2 year old nephew let me take some reference photos of animals I might not see while riding my bike around MontrĂ©al, including these guys. 

I used Sketchbook Pro on the iPad pro as I was reminded about it recently by reports online that has left Autodesk and is now an independent application run by artists. It has been free, but will now be paid. It will be pretty cheap and it's great they will continue to develop and improve it. 

The drawing itself is nothing to brag about. I haven't drawn in a while and I did a photoshoot with some acrobats for future art and felt I needed a "warm-up".  This came together in just a few hours. 

11 July 2021

August updates? Affinity, Procreate and Krita

 While no official dates are announced, it seems a few software companies have some updates happening  most likely in August. 

Affinity Suite:

Designer was just demonstrated with some pretty powerful speed updates, all software based so every computer should benefit. In the demo, 600 000 (!) layer objects were panned and zoomed with no redrawing to be seen. I don't anyone who uses that many objects but the point is to get the suite ready for some new features. Affinity is reasoning, rightly, that it's better to get the bugs out and really have sold base before introducing some calculation heavy features. Photo and Publisher will benefit form this speed enhancement and I have my fingers crossed that there will be an update in August that includes Publisher for iPad. 

Krita:

Krita is about to go to version 5 and there are a ton of updates planned. For me the new animations features will be really helpful. I liked drawing in Krita but the animation functions were buggy, slow and lacking. They seem to be addressing all that and updating the interface. I would love to be able to use it for drawing and animating since the drawing the tools are so amazing.

Procreate:


Procreate teased us with some video of the upcoming new features which included 3D objects you can paint and add to real world images and maybe video?. I can see a use for say making a some stuff in Blender and then sending the object file to procreate to make detailed backgrounds or as the base for a drawing but I'm not sure about anything else. Photoshop added 3D many years ago and I never used it for anything. They already tweaked it for the M1 chips in the iPad pro so I have a ton more layers to work with and Apple seems to have heard the frustration about the 5 gig max for apps that Procreate brought attention to and iPad OS 15 will address that. 

Blender:




Blender is close to a 3.O release and the new Cycles render engine loose amazing and makes me feel the need to switch much more acutely as I don't think I'll be updating my computer anytime soon and really could use a boost in render speed! 

30 June 2021

A second self portrait - sort-of


 I recently updated the design and re-arranged the stories in my first book of short stories. I cut one and added a new one and also added illustrations for those that didn't have them the first time out. The story "The Face in the Glass" was a head scratcher in terms of what sort of image to make and I ultimately deiced something "punk-ish" might be good. Originally I was going to do a mohawk only from the side. I decided instead to really simply and stylize a photo of me from the 80s. So not sure it counts as a real self portrait or not. I wasn't really going for resemblance as much as I was going for a certain look - much like I was going for for myself in that era! It would have been cool to colour the make-up but the book is printed in black & white so greyscale had to suffice. 

The book is for sale on Amazon as a printed book and a Kindle book.

The new price is 5.99$ (CAD) and the print version should be updated in the next few days, but the Kindle version is ready now. 

19 June 2021

illustrations: Trois femmes influentes Louise brooks, Pam Grier, Nichelle Nicols





A style I wanted to try out. I also wanted to do them all in Affinity Designer  for yer iPad since I am not really familiar with the interface and want to use the iPad pro much more for design, graphics and art over the next year. 

Nothing special about the images really. I don't exactly have access to any of these women to take my own references so I used pretty well known photos but the point wasn't originality but to play with this style of portrait.

11 June 2021

iPad IOS 15 announcement : did it live up to the hype and rumours?

 


One of the problems with Apple announcements is all the hype and speculation about them months ahead of time. This time was no exception and while iPad IOS 15 didn't fulfill all the dreams about it, it probably did more than anyone should have really anticipated. 

It's a solid upgrade with new features in multi-asking and interface improvements adding some much needed and much appreciated (by me) functionality to the devices. I look forward to using them and they will without a doubt help me make the iPad Pro more useful in my professional work. 

The biggest disappointment have little to do with the the IOS itself it seems. Many people wanted and were predicting a slew of professional apps to be released along with it. It's no secret the iPad Pro is far too powerful for any of the software on it and can handle what any of the new M1 chip devices handle. Those apps were not to be seen. I personally don't see myself editing any of my movies on the iPad Pro anytime soon, or coding on it etc but I know some people do. Procreate did an interview and made users aware that Apple throttles all the Apps with a 5 gig RAM limit and that restricts what can be done with any app. The porting of professional desktop apps directly to the iPad is not happening anytime soon. 

I am sure there are reasons to limit RAM on the devices, some good and some not so good but I was happy enough with the update. My big disappointment is that Affinity Publisher for iPad is still not released and no idea when it might be. THAT is the app I need to work from the road much more than Final Cut Pro. I would love to see Blender on the iPad or Krita but these things depend as much or more on what the coders of those products want and can accomplish and less on what Apple does at this point. That hardware is ready and the IOS might not be totally there but I don't think Apple is deliberately hindering them from getting it done for nefarious reasons. 

In short, I'm not disappointed with what the fall update is bringing to device but I am impatient for some apps that will put a little more "pro" into the iPad Pro.  

05 June 2021

NIK 4 Plugin suite by DXO


 I updated to suite 3 last year because it was more compatible with Affinity photo, despite the fact nothing else about the plugins had changed. This update does have more changes and some really welcome ones, but I would still question even the 60$ upgrade fee as only 2 plugins got any love while leaving the others behind. The installer app was updated and improved, it deleted the old versions and installed the new with no problems. Updaters are often overlooked so this was a nice surprise.

Silver Efex Pro and Viveza got a major interface overall and a couple new features along with better U-Point control which is the primary reason to get these plugins - in my opinion. I really like the new look. It's modern, easy to read and better organized. Viveza has needed some love for a long time and it is finally where it need to be. Silver Efex pro got the addition of Clearview, borrowed from DXO Photolab  which clears out haze and can really add drama to a dull photo. I already have that in DXO Photolab thought and adding more presets which was a large % of the update to me is cheating when listing new features. 

To make this worth the upgrade price, they really need to apply the new interface to all the plugins and maybe they will before NIK 5 is released. If not I won't be updating again as while the new look is great, they all work fine as it is and they would have to add really amazing new and unthought of functionality to make me spend more money. They update DXO Photolab quite a bit between paid iterations and I hope NIK will get some of that attention too. 

That said, if you don't have the NIK collection at all, it is well worth having and does amazing things. It integrates more completely with Photoshop and Lightroom but it works nicely with Affinity with the exception of Perspective Efex which you have to run as a stand alone. HDR Efex is my favourite HDR processor but to use it with more than one photo, which is what HDR is really all about, you have to either do the initial processing in Affinity and then open HDR Efex or open is as a standalone to import a series of bracketed pictures at once which is what I would recommend. 



29 May 2021

Days of digital past: Sony Mavica camera 1990s




I started early in the digital revolution having been on the "internet" in the 80s with my Amiga computer. So when digital photography started up I was curious to try it out at our Boston studio. My studio partner and boyfriend bought us a Sony Mavica. 1.6 megapixels! Removable media in the form of floppy disks - many reading might not even know what they were but they held about 1 megabyte of data on a square flat disk inserted into the side of the camera.)


The image quality was AMAZING.... so we thought. I have to say I still have some images from photos sessions I used it on. Usually I would do some digital and a roll of traditional film as coverage and scan those negatives fro processing. We made some money by taking photos for dating apps (mostly Manhunt but not exclusively) and the digital images were perfect for the low-res photos needed to load onto the websites. We would do a full session, do a quick retouching and cropping and then the client would leave with a floppy disk to upload to their home computer. It literally went from weeks to get the photos to a client to them leaving after the shoot with them in hand. 

It wasn't long before Sony had a 5 megapixel camera with Zeiss-icon lens that we just HAD to upgrade to but this was the first in our hands and I guess it has some sentimental feeling attached to it. 


Below are a couple of the images I still have from that camera. Not too bad but I did need to use Topaz Gigapixel to get them to a decent size for today's browsers. 



28 May 2021

crapaud (illustration)


 I came across a toad on my bike route and the thing was just not going to move for anyone so I took some reference photos to draw from. I used the my new iPad Pro and Sketchbook Pro. I still like the pen brushes in Sketchbook - especially when doing stipple work which most of this is and it's the reason it took almost 2 weeks to draw. I used a grey background so I could use a white pencil brush to add highlights and a watercolour brush for the shadow. 

25 May 2021

iPad Pro 11 inch 2021

 I have had a 12.9 inch iPad Pro for over  year, it was my brother's old model and I really loved it. The large screen combined with the Apple Pencil was simply awesome for drawing and even though it was from 2015 it was still overpowered for any app I can think of for iPad. So why replace it? 

The problems I had with the device were definitely 1st world. The battery wasn't lasting as long because of it's age but it still was good for 5 hours of drawing which was more than enough. I did love the large screen but it was awkward for me to move around or take anywhere - it wasn't any more portable than my laptop. Portable enough, but heavy and took up too much space where I was using it. I also had really annoying layer limitation with Procreate, 4 layers at the size I usually draw on which is mostly a RAM limitation. 

So I decided to either sell or return it to Apple for credit and get the 11 inch new model that was just released. It arrived on release day and honestly I didn't expect much difference in how it worked with what I do. It has surprised me, though. My layers in Procreate went up to 9... OK not so much but better. This is because I went form 6 gigs of RAM (I think) to 16 and 256 gigs of storage to 1 terabyte. The new M1 processor and graphics card is noticeably faster. Loading programs, even heavy ones like Affinity Photo or Designer pretty much just pop open as did my copy of Real Myst. I started drawing on a regular base iPad with the Apple Pencil and since this is larger than that, the loss of screen space hasn't felt dramatic, but I am missing that extra space for tools a little bit. Manipulating the smaller tablet has made up for that and this is so light and portable it's easier to work on while sitting on the deck or moving around. I am working on a new pen and ink drawing using Sketchbook Pro and so far, it's pretty nice. 

The storage and RAM were good enough reasons to update but the M1 chip, but having the same chip set up as the mac mini, MacBook and new iMacs is hinting that more professional apps should be coming up. The hardware on the iPad has been ridiculously ahead of iPad IOS and I am hoping the next update will allow Affinity to finally have what it needs to port Publisher to the iPad and it should make it easier for developers to add an iPad version of their lineup. My hope is Blender will take the leap and eventually so I can dump my laptop completely and still have a backup system in case my desktop has some mishap. 

A friend bought himself an Apple Pencil 2.... and never opened it so I ended up with that upgrade free of charge. The pencil does seem more responsive but it has a nice feature where I can tap the end to change from my brush to the eraser and back again without thinking. It's really handy! Sometimes the small things count more than any big new feature. The fact is charts by magnetically attaching the the side instead of the super fragile was the original pen worked provides peace of mind of that very expensive accessory. 

Developers Conference update:

I will post about this again after the Mac Developers Conference makes it's announcements because the new hardware updates would be much less a reason to spend this cash without a substantial update to the iOS. I don't think I will regret buying it, but I could certainly use more reasons to love it. 

20 May 2021

poisson 2 - another fish illustration


 Third done with Krita and I think I got the scales much better as they look more defined and I didn't loose the "sheen" I've been working hard to get. I tried to use layers more to my advantage with this one and the atmosphere is a lot darker than the first two. I think that worked better with this type of fish. I have no idea what type of fish any of the three I've drawn are. by the way.