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. 

15 May 2021

Another fish illustration


This one took longer and was harder to  figure out... I didn't really get the scales as defined as I would have liked. Something I still need to get my head around. Fish are hard, the skin is multi coloured and shimmers especially this kind of fish so it is a challenge to get it even close to looking right. The reference photos I used is below for comparison. The photo wasn't great, to be honest I don't know why I had not deleted it from my files - but it was a nice subject to practice with. I might have used it as cut in some animation project but I really do not remember. Adding the deep blue made the illustration look much more vibrant



09 May 2021

poisson - Berlin Aquarium


 Painted in Krita. I had this in the back of my mind as a something draw or paint for years but never did anything about it until I was on a "purge" of old files recently. It took about 3 days to paint andI think it shows some progress in my painting skills. I put the dark blue/black, the fin and the eye on separate layers so I could block out the main colours on the body and mix them easier. then I added details by slowly building them in on top, mixing them and doing it again until they looked OK. The transparency of the fin was a challenge and the fish eye was more complicated than I thought it would be. I thought about adding floating crap in the water but that looked distracting so I decided to keep it simple.  

click image to enlarge

08 May 2021

DAVC logo project

 


I close friend decided to take on more neighbourhood association duties and one was to make  logo for a new committee. He came up with an idea and put it together but he used text edit to do it... I can't even imagine how he got as fas as he did using that! Another issue was he used a copyrighted image in the background. So he asked me to work on it and make sure the end file was usable for their needs. 

Sometimes, a project like this can be nightmare but his original idea made it pretty clear what he was going after and what he wanted the look to be. I made my analysis as I always do, what is the main point of interest, how o make sure the text is readable and how to get the sale across in a way that is clear and reproducible at different sizes and with different mediums. The colour swatches on the bottom can easily be turned into greyscale for a black and white print ad and still read as switches for example. 

It came together pretty quickly and he liked it so I would say it was a success! 

24 April 2021

petit ours (2e animation 2D)


My second attempt at 2D animation. I found some very helpful tutorials that moved me along with Open Toonz and I also looked into Adobe animate which I was fairly familiar with after doing tons of work in Flash back in the day... they are the same program, really. 

I wanted to go deeper and did, but I think I should try vector drawing over raster drawing next time. I did some animation in Apple's Motion app this time and also added the shows and smoke effect there. I played with adding motion blur to the characters but it looked too weird. The rally toy looked awesome but not the rest. I also tried a few tricks for the falling toy. I did a quick sketch animation by hand, then reproduced it in a 3D with some physics applied to see how it might look and need up using a combo of the 2. 

I kept getting disturbed while doing this one and had to redraw it 3 times at one point to get back into the feel of it again. The drawing tools in Open toonZ don't really help thought if I use it next time I'll try some of the new brushes they just added in a new update that also squashed some bugs I had last time out. 

These are just tests to see what I can do and what I have to learn and even if it's something I can get a good handle on. One thing I've noticed looking over the work of others on YouTube and TV is that the tools seem to be driving the styles of animation these days. What I mean that the current crop of animation software is focused less on drawing everything by hand and more geared towards making 2D puppets that sort of look like simple video game animations to me. For sure it's cheaper, faster and less of a headache to make things this way but It is a little disappointing as well.