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. 

22 April 2021

Poster: The Man Who Fell to Earth

 I went through the film frame by frame to find interesting images to work from. I wanted this to be clean and simple and not give anything of the movie away. The image I picked took a lot of retouching to look ½ decent between the grain of the film and the fact it was a screen grab but it works,  I think. I often wonder if there is a remake in the works for this based closer to the book but I think it would be a long hard climb to get over Bowie's interpretation which makes this film. 

04 April 2021

Review: Topaz Labs Gigelpixel, Sharpen, Denoise AI and Jpeg to Raw



 Topaz Studios has enjoyed an expanding reputation for well done innovative plugins over the years, often being ahead of the game particularly when it comes to the new Artificial Intelligence plugins. 

Photoshop has just added the ability enlarge photos with little to no quality loss, but Topaz has been there for a while. Their Gigapixel AI enlarges up to 6 times the size of the original and, while there are simple and sparse controls, they do allow some options over the final result. You can do photos one by one or drag a bunch into the window and  run a batch of them. From what I have seen, the Photoshop version of this is super fast but with no control. Gigapixel is VERY resource intensive and it's hard to run anything else if it's processing a group of images. The end results are worth it. If you have a client sending you small images that need to somehow be used for print, this will help or if you have smaller files from earlier digital cameras (like I do) you can bring those files into a size that is actually useful in todays world. Most of interpretation done enhances the photo, though now and then you might get a weird interpretation and I found that light colours chest hair on a light skin and get a little chunky looking and needs some finessing to keep it looking natural. 


Denoising is now standard is many image editors but Denoiser AI is a step up from most of them, while suffering from the same setbacks that I don't think you can really get around. Some images are just too much for any software, AI or not, to just make up large areas of ambiguous pixels. Overall the images can be greatly improved and if the problem is just grain from lower light but otherwise detailed images it does an amazing job. One thing I found was if you have already demised the image somewhere else, this plugin can't do much more with it. This makes sense as the image has been "smoothed out" so the grain has already been removed so there is little left to read. DXO Photolab has the best denoiser I have seen but it only works on RAW files while Topaz plugins work on any number of formats.

Sharpening is another tool every program has. Usually there are many methods to enhance sharpness. Denoiser AI take the subject into consideration and has setting that allow special attention spent to faces. Of all the plugins this one worked less impressively than the first 2 and getting a good result wasn't as easy or natural looking especially on older black & white photos where eyes can merge into black blobs. It did bring some focus back to out of focus images (within reason) that other techniques can't begin to do. I don't know why but I tried the same images one day and it was really terrible and tried it another day and worked fine... it's supposed to be AI so maybe it learned something? 

Jpeg to RAW was included in the package I bought and I can't say much about it. It refused to open. What it is designed to do is take a jpeg and bring back some of the colour range and information that gets strips away when compressing to jpeg so you can edit in a RAW processor with much better success. I did contact Topaz and they got right back t me, acknowledged the problem and said a fix was in the works and would send me a message when it was ready. Disappointing but also the customer service was awesome. 

Another issue was integration with Affinity Photo. It can do it... but not if you bought the app from the Apple App Store. This is a problem with other plugins as well and the reason when Affinity goes to Version 2.0 and charges for updates I'll buy directly from them. I find the Apple Store updates lag behind the ones directly from Affinity by up to a couple days as well. Luckily,  the Topaz Plugins also work as independent applications 

4x enlargement with original for scale.



27 March 2021

Animation: Nauti :Mordre Moi Pas! (Don't bite me!)

 The last time I did a honest to goodness 2D drawn animation was when I was a teenager. I had built my own animation stand, filmed it with my Bell & Howell Super 8 and edited on my hand cranked film editor.  That animation was a dragon catching the wind then swooping down and then upwards past the camera. I made a pipe cleaner model with plastic bag wings and photographed it in the key frame positions for reference. I sketched it out on paper then inked one side of plastic sheets and hand painted the colours on the opposite site one by one before adding a painted sky and placing them over that to be filmed. It was FANTASTIC. Well, I remember it being fantastic. It's been lost to time so I have a feeling my memory of it has been more than slightly enhanced over the years. 

Times have changed, for the better with computer based animation software. I was going to redo that dragon but instead I decided to try a new idea using one of the many (it turns out) application on my hard drive that can handle 2D animation. I have done some 2D for explainer videos more recently and to add something to3D animations that I couldn't achieve using that software. Out of practice - but not unaware of what I was getting myself into. 

After Effects, Motion, Krita, Rough Animator, Photoshop, Procreate, Blender all have 2D potential and components. Rough animator seemed perfect but it was... too rough for what I wanted. I think I will use it for what it is named to do, to make rough tests, in future. The others were Ok if you were mostly using puppets, characters broken into segments and then moving the segments, but Krita has an awesome set of painting tools so I decided to try it out. It had much of what I was looking for and the interface was clunky but easy for me to understand. I got about a second into the animation when I had to stop. Krita was just too slow and buggy in animation mode, it needs some love from the developers still. I will keep an eye out for improvements.


I had downloaded but never really used Open Toonz, a free open source software that had a really large feature set. I would love to have a copy of Toon Boom but it's subscription only and not cheap enough to play with so Open Toons won out. It was faster and handled the layers and number of frames better than Krita but it lacks all but the most basic of drawing tools, something that I think is its biggest problem. Any backgrounds or elements that need any detail of refinement I would do in a paint program and import them.

Though buggy at times, the eraser doesn't always work and the interface is somewhat primitive and one might say ugly, it does do the job. It has vector tools, puppet tools, great onion skinning to see what came before and after you current frame and was free. Exporting is funky and you need an add-on to export to mpg video while jpg and tif exported fine, png which I needed to use dropped a few frames on my first export. Clearly it still needs work but it also provides pretty much everything I needed to do the animation. 

I split Nauti into a frame by frame drawn head, while the body, arms and tail were puppet animated as were the legs. I did a rough sketch animation and then traced that and coloured it before exporting the animation in sections so I could composite it in layers in Motion. It was a pretty straightforward work flow. Originally I thought I wanted a black and white pencil sketch look but decided that something more "fully rendered" would be a better challenge. 

So is it a Disney classic? Hardly. Not at all. That wasn't the point of making it, though. I learned many things about Open Toons and 2D animation. I am not a comic or cartoon illustrator so just making the dog was pretty hard and I found timing in 2D was more different than in 3D than I thought it might be. My voice is as terrible as ever but this is not an audition for my voice talents so it's fine for now.

I will make another, either another Nauti or maybe I will remake my dragon masterpiece. I need to do more and better pencil tests next time, learn more about timing and setting up Open Toonz, and get better with the drawing tools in Open Toonz as well as draw in comic style better. 

22 March 2021

autoportrait 2021 - procreate ink

 


So this is something I have never done in my memory - drawn myself. I have drawn plenty of others and animals and places etc but never myself. 

Took a week doing it at night before bed. The reference is from a  series of photo self portraits, which is something I do reluctantly every few years but I wanted to do something different this time. 

It's pretty simple and basic. Stipple for the skin tones and lines for the rest. I did a little extra work in Affinity Photo because I usually add the title and my name there and noticed that the right cheek was a mess and needed more stipple work to blend it better. The is black fill with white stipple to give it some added detail. 

I avoid looking in mirrors so this was sort of weird, looking at my own face for hours. I think the beard came out well and the hair isn't bad and that is usually what throws me off the most. 

21 February 2021

Animation: A Vine on a House based on the story by Ambrose Bierce

 


My latest gothic horror animation is based on a very short story by Ambrose Bierce, read it here if you like, and is itself fairly short. Like my previous Bierce animation, this one also strays quite a bit from the text as I try to make it relevant and more visual. For all the character, save one (the man on the porch) I used a free character generation application called "Make Human" which lets you create realistic humans with slider controls, including dressing, rigging and weighting. This means you can, hypothetically start using them in minutes and creating them takes only a few minutes as well. It is a huge time saver, especially for subjects that are not required to be created in a specific style or have to do anything unusual or complicated. I used this as a starting point and repainted the clothing myself and added controls to the rigging to make moving then less of a bone by bone affair and it worked for the most part. 

The setting itself took few months to put together. It is one location but one that ages and rots over a long time period. I wanted the fade from past to present to be noticeable but for the house to retain enough features that no one would thing the location had changed. 

I found the Make Human models were not suited for some of my rigging techniques. At least I could not figure out how to use them which was  ashamed because there are some plugins I rely on for every project that I could not use. I did find some work arounds but making them walk was really a challenge so I had to limit that as much as possible. 

This IS a horror short so there is some blood and violence but nothing like we see on TV show everyday. I do hope there is a little shock or 2 for people watching, however.

08 February 2021

recent updates: Affinity Photo, Designer, Publisher and Krita and Sparkle Web Designer

 

There have been a nice amount of updates recently. Some things update more than others and I would say free software like Krita and Blender are pretty fast and furious with updates while some commercial software seems to be slowing down. Maybe it is the pandemic. Free software people might have more time as their normal jobs are on hold while commercial software might be the opposite because it's those companies who might have put jobs on hold. This is just a quick take on my latest updates and not an  in-depth review of any of the software.

The Affinity Suite

I won't lie, I was really hoping for an iPad version of Publisher to get released as it was sort of scheduled for last year. That aside the 3 desktop and iPad apps got nice improvements and Serif as a company seems to really listening to its users. 

Photo has a great new blend mode, Divide that is wonderful for taking a colour tint from photos. I tried it with a night shot from Budapest which had a very strong yellow tint because of the lighting and it was impressive as you can see.





Designer has a nice contour tool that is hard to describe as it have a few uses that really give you more options for designing and vector drawings. 

Publisher had PDF passthrough now which makes adding them to existing documents super easy. There were problems still with adding them. I have a project which uses a 300 page PDF and it works like a charm... at first. Reopening the file was a nightmare and I had to split the PDF up into sections and export each section as jpg pages. Smaller Pdfs were better but slow to open. It's edging closer and closer to having all the features I want form Indesign so - progress. For the next big update, 2.0 which will be paid most likely, I would love to be able to group pages in the page window so you can drag them around higher or lower in the hierarchy. This would make book with chapters that get moved around much easier to accomplish. Right now there is some limit to how many pages you can select and move and it's not easy to drop them in the right place. 

Krita

This has been moving along nicely and is more and more my choice for drawing on the computer. The blending brushes and the natural look to the painting, drawing etc brushes is really amazing. It's a little buggy now and then but this new update has been bug free for me so far. It needs better text handling if only for adding my name, title and date to a finished piece easier. 

Sparkle Web Designer

This software is always fixing bugs and improving. This time is had a blog feature I would love to use as some point. If I continue to have almost no one reading this one it might be easier to just switch the blog to Sparkle and integrate with my home/portfolio page. 

31 January 2021

drawing: acrobate suspendu 02


 Another in my acrobat series but this time done with paint brushes in Krita. It looks a lot my colour drawings but that isn't really a bad thing. I often work in colour by doing it all in grey scale and recolouring then adding addition touches, but this time I just picked different paint colours and blended  them in. 

Definitely a challenge but it was easier than I anticipated. I think all the drawing I have been doing lately especially in Krita has paid off in being comfortable trying this and not automatically thinking it was just going to fail big time. 

Sadly, my ability to get tons of reference images from all the free cirque shows were normally get here in MontrĂ©al was cut off this past summer because of the pandemic cancelling everything. So this is something I found in a folder from years ago. Maybe this summer I can get new references to work from? 

27 January 2021

Poster project: Dracula


Took many references to get this one going. Overall, I like it but the likeness is still not where I want it to be. I do not have a solid grip on the new techniques I am using. The background is from an image of the underground crypt at the start of the film but I tried ot be loose, well, loose for me, with it. The red touches were from when I saw the play in the 70s with Louis Jordan. Everything on stage was black and white with one red coloured element. The logo is copied from a title card for the film. One thing I noticed researching these is there seems to be no official logo for any of the films. They differ from the actual film titles ot the posters to the lobby cards. 

26 January 2021

Illustration: barn


 I have thing for delapitated barns, I think  many artists and photographers do. There is something challenging and cool about a solid structure collapsing in on itself that turns lines into curves and wood into splinters. This is a barn in northern Quebec from a photo I took while ago on a long bike ride. I plan to visit more barns someday when I and everyone else can get outside and travel again. 

Drawn in Procreate on the iPad over several months when I had the time to dedicate to it, 

18 January 2021

In production: A Vine on a House

 Opening shot completed. It's good the characters are too small to really see clearly as I fully animated them and found some issues that would have been more serious in a close up. I finished the second shot and went OK. I don't think anthropomorphic animals would like they did in "Cask of Amontillado" but I prefer animated those sorts of characters it turns out. This should be very short, maybe only 3 minutes as there is no dialog and not much story. 

11 January 2021

Poster: The Wolfman

 

Click image for larger version.

This was the one that started it all and almost anded it all. I tried several times to do a Wolfman illustration/poster over the years and never came close to getting anything close to what I envisioned. This is pretty far from what I going for back then, but I have been fairly successful or at least having enough fun with making monster poster more recently and gave Lawrence Talbot another go. 

I made a pretty detailed sketch based on quite a few reference images. I wasn't sure how much I wanted to show his shirt details and decided to try a style in-between the giant monsters and the classic horror monster posters. So mostly black and white wth hints of colour and still used the charcoal brushes in Krita  for the character. I used some brushes in Affinity photo and modified a 3 moon image I made a long while back which I painted over. The logo is from the opening credits of the film and remade in Affinity Designer. 

Despite the references I have myself  much more liberty to use my own imagination in the pose, details and lighting than in previous projects. Sadly the TONS of detailed I put into the fur on the head is now hidden in shadow but it looks better this way in my opinion. 

This one has a true "move poster" vibe to it. 


09 January 2021

Poster: Frankenstein 1931


 
A real challenge, this one. The references were taken from the scene where the creation sees light for the first time. The camera is on his head then pans done to the twisted hands trying to catch the light. Title was done in Affinity Designer ands the rest in Krita. 

I think I only got a kind of-looks-llike-him version of Karloff. It a strange angle and the hands were a nightmare that I reworked and reworked a bunch of times.





08 January 2021

2020 is finally over and 2021 has begun!



Last year was terrible, let's not mince words about that but there were some high points as well. It seems free software really came into it's own with Blender 3D, Krita and others starting to take more space in my workflows. Others like Opentoons, might soon be part of my work as well as I think about 2D animated projects for future. 

My films "The Raven" and "Cask of Amontillado" were shown in festivals and some interest is being shown in once of my older documentaries for a history project in Boston - that could be big news for me and is a really nice pat on the shoulder. 

Work was scarce and a few new projects got cancelled but I have been expanding my drawing skills and looking forward to continuing that and a couple of my regular clients are still there, less is going on but they were not knocked out of existence so I can be thankful for that. 

What will 2021 hold? I hope to get enough work to somehow justify updating my computer to something faster for 3D and be able to have a few less restrictions on what I can accomplish. There were delays with Affinity product updates, but they are chugging along and I hope the iPad version of Publisher will come out the start of this year since it never got released in 2020. They have some interesting updates coming up with the betas well underway that should make Publisher better competition of Indesign and should fill in a couple gaps in functionality it still is missing for me. I have a new animated project started, going slowly but it's at least moving along. 

I have been thinking of selling art on Etsy or someplace and maybe starting a Patreon to help pay the bills. I have zero social media skills or networking so that might be fool's errand but it might be worth a try. If anyone knows anything about that stuff, comment and tell me about your experience! 

I have been happy to see some of my friends getting involved in art again and trying new things as they are stuck at home for months on end.  Exploring creativity is always a plus and can really carry one through the dark times. My friend Mike Luce is forging ahead with his art and that always inspires and keeps me on my toes. I am looking forward to maybe getting out of my neighbourhood and going somewhere for a photo vacation. Vacation seems like a dirty word but I hope by summer it's a possibility or maybe fall. I haven't seen my family or many of my friends in well over a year now - something many people are coping with for sure. 

So here's to a brighter year than the last, more creativity and mobility and the hope that everyone has learned the importance of creativity, what's important and how important it will be to work together to make things better. 

06 January 2021

Poster: Gamera


Yes Gamera, the giant flying turtle and friend of all children. My mom's favourite giant monster so I had to do it. 

I used my "giant monster style" I didn't know I had. Simple background, silhouette with white ink lines to add details with hints of colour. I really like drawing white on black. I used to do scratch boards in secondary school and every now and then and I just like the look of it. 

03 January 2021

Poster: King Kong



 I love the original King Kong, it was my Aunt Helen's favourite movie. She saw it many times when it was released. The looks of the creatures and the jungle scenes are just amazing and Kong is one of the few effects that really reads as a real character even today. 

This went through something like 30 iterations before I stopped changing things. Should Fay Ray be on the top of the Empire State? Should I draw the planes coming for Kong? At first it was to be just a long shot of the Empire State with kong seen tiny at the top and the planes arriving.  Finally after going though the film a few times I saw some interesting shots I had not seen used before and decided a mostly silhouetted Kong hanging off the building inspired by the screenshots and Willis O'Brian's preproduction drawings with an art deco design inspired by the opening credits might be best. 

The logo was interesting. It looks normal enough watching the film but if you start to recreate it it's sort of Escher-like in its construction. The letters looked carved but actually could never exist in the real world. I drew a simplified version of the tower and kept Kong mostly black with white highlights and some subtle dark greys to fill in details around his face. I looked at how the stop motion puppet was constructed to draw the feet and hands. 

There were a bunch of RKO logos in the 30s and I picked one that looked the most interesting with the other deco details. I added grain to the background elements so it would have that airbrushed from the period but excluded Kong and the titles so they would be super clear and stand out more. All things considered I am happy with this as it looks like what I was going for and combined my drawing and design skills in equal measure. I think so, anyway. I struggled with where to to put the title as it was on the bottom and small for most of the process and I did not want to cover his upper hand but it fits more on the top and larger and gives it more a feel of a poster from the time the film was released. 

A good start for 2021!