Sunday, May 11, 2008

it's my birthday!

Woo! I'm 21 today.
Here are some finished character portraits, done in Adobe PS CS3.

Still having trouble with that color management...I've been adding 25+ red to the image, and it seems to help a bit. My mom, who's a graphic designer, tells me there's a way around it...she said she'd email me her settings. Here's to hopin'!

Friday, May 2, 2008


Did this like 2 seconds ago:

Nick got me the 6D art pen I've been wanting so badly! It's my birthday in a week, but he let me open it early. I was so excited that I couldn't sleep, so I opened Painter X for the first time and messed around:

So far, it's confusing the heck out of me. I managed to find a brush that sorta kinda operated in a way I understand, but I'm still not totally comfortable.

I've been using oils, mostly. There doesn't seem to be a tempera paint option (that was always my favorite, when I painted traditionally - yay for egg-based paint) and crayon seems to be a bizarre multiply airbrush thing that looks nothing like crayon. But I love the blending. It doesn't get any better than that. And with this new pen, the palette knife actually follows the direction of my nib. It's so exciting.

Monday, April 28, 2008


I was annoyed at Photoshop CS3's apparent disdain for lowly, everyday browser color - when saving for the web, my vibrant Photoshop RBG colors would come out looking like they'd been left out in the sun for several years.

There seems to be absolutely no way to fix this programming error (Adobe insists it's a feature. It's a feature like a kick in the nuts is a Christmas present). However, I found a pretty decent way to compensate for the color loss.

This may or may not be necessary, but I turn on the "convert to sRGB" option in "save for web" as well as the "preserve document color". This alone will not help you. What you need to do is fiddle.

On your finished document (which should be flattened entirely), copy the layer and set the copy to 25% opacity, on "overlay." Copy that layer and set it to 50% opacity on "multiply." (The layer order should be like this: Background on the bottom, overlay layer in the middle, multiply layer on top.)

It will look terrible. Pay no attention to the oversaturation behind the curtain. Save for web - and voilĂ ! When you open it on the web, it should do a semi-passable imitation of your un-enhanced work in Photoshop. It's not perfect (the darks will be darker, for example) but it's close enough for now.

I'd like to take this opportunity to bitch about how idiotic the PS color management system is. PS7 didn't have that kind of crap going on with it. My colors always came out true with PS7. So far, I haven't found a single thing that CS3 does better than PS7, and that bothers the hell out of me. Isn't this supposed to know...better? Not more troublesome?

Why would anyone need color management anyway? I can tie my own shoes, and I can manage my own color. Why in my day, we hand-cranked our computers and plugged in hex codes by memory, consarnit.

Friday, April 25, 2008


I want to be wrapped in linen cloth, buried, and have a tree planted over me when I die. I think it would be good for my family to see a nice big tree instead of a piece of marble...something living, as opposed to something cold and dead. They'll know my actual body went into the earth and helped create new life.

I've never understood people who want their bodies burned, every scrap of nutrients washed away with fire, their bones crunched up and put into little pots to sit above the fireplace (or in a closet for 30 years like my great-aunts). It seems completely unnatural and wasteful to me.

A lot of funereal procedures seem like denial to me. I've been to a few in my lifetime...inevitably, some idiot gets up and says "he's not really dead...he will live on forever" like it's some kind of shameful, horrible thing to be dead. That kind of attitude really just prolongs the grieving process - remember, that five-step program in which the last step is "acceptance."

When did decomposition become a bad word?

I've heard a lot of people, including those closest to me, say they fear the "worms eating them." It's a silly's just emotional hyperbole, if you think about it. Everything you eat was once a dead thing. Food is energy, and all living things BECOME food for something else, or they become dirt in which new food is grown. It's not even a religious thing. That's just a fact.

So everyone has eaten generations of dead things, which in turn prolong everyone's lives. I can't imagine, as a non-theist, a more noble or fulfilling duty. My cells will be passed on to generations upon generations of living things, fostering life in countless billions of forms. I'll finally travel the world!

I think a lot of people don't see themselves as a part of this world, and like to believe that they will remain separate from it even after death - "living forever" in some non-corporeal state of eternal benevolence. Human arrogance, I guess. Profoundly depressing to me is the idea that we were not meant to participate in the "circle of life"...that we're somehow above it.

People have told me that I am meant for great things, and I've never liked hearing that. They're always things that are great on a very small scale, like winning awards or making money or inspiring cute children to doodle in the margins. Let's get it out there: I'm largely useless. I create images with little meaning or value. I have no delusions about my worth. When people say I am valuable to the world, they mean I am valuable to humans. I don't doubt that I am, but I wouldn't want to float on a cloud above the world I grew up in and loved. I want to be an integral, intimate part of it, for as long as it exists. I don't "deserve better" in the afterlife because my brain functions faster than a squirrel or an anteater.

I hope my loved ones take my funereal wishes to heart, when the time comes. Funerals are meant to be for the survivors, but I would like to think that someone would remember how I feel about this. It would give me a lot of comfort to know that there's more waiting for my body than just oblivion...and I've always wanted to be a tree.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

this looks shopped

I can tell because of the pixels, and having seen quite a few shops in my time.

(sculpture by awesome freakshow artist Thomas Kuebler)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

so that's what that is

No one tells me anything.

I've been haunted by this single brush, one I see in a lot of speed paintings on conceptart and other places. It's five or so parallel lines that seem to tilt with the brush stroke. It's useful for a few things...robots, speed lines, etc.

For a long time now I've assumed only Painter had the brush tilt function, but aside from those brush strokes, the rest of the paintings always STANK of Photoshop. It baffled me. I've even sent the artists emails along the lines of "Hey, what is that brush? Why is it tilting with your stylus? Is this a CS thing, or what? What the hell? Are you there? Hello?" I've literally been wondering about this for months before Quigley told me about it this morning.

Turns out, they make a stylus called the 6D Art Pen that works on the Intuos 3 (which I have) and adds the tilt functionality. I reiterate: what the hell? How long would it have taken for someone to tell me that?

It's like some kind of trend among digital artists to hide their secrets. I've received more helpful instruction from hobos than some of the high-and-mighty on the internet. It ticks me off.

A month ago, I finally figured out how to make the "dots in a row" brush in PS. I've been using the program for ten years. I'm still discovering things about it, like a nerdy version of "Where's Waldo."

Anyway, I'm getting this pen. It's sweet.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

brave new version

So, in a week's time, I'm upgrading computers and, therefore, upgrading my beloved Photoshop 7.

I've been using PS in its various incarnations since I was in fourth grade. The first time I used it, I scanned a sketch of a cat and applied every filter I could think of. It looked a bit like a pile of shiny crap and I was instantly hooked. I experimented with bevel and emboss, lens flare, dodge and burn, and every other carnal sin in the book.

My englightenment came in highschool - that this program could do so much more than just make my photos look tacky. My first steps into the world of digital art were taken with the pen tool - and I made horrific anime-inspired drawings that should never have been allowed to see the light of day, but are, sadly, archived somewhere on the internet. (I beg you, if you respect me at all, don't attempt to find them.)

Photoshop is a compelling mistress, and I will miss version 7 most of all. Although CS3 has a lot going for it (I'll let you know what), it seems to lack soul. Photoshop 7's soul comes from its hilariously castrated features, its frequent crashes, and its almost barbaric array of available filters. I know all the tricks, and all the shortcuts, and every single key's function, and I'll have to learn it all over again - remake all my brushes, rewrite all my actions, and redo all the standard settings.

What's the point of upgrading? I'll tell you what. The people who pay me money want to see me using CS3. They feel more comfortable that way. To them, PS7 is the digital equivalent of a hammer and chisel on a clay tablet. (No offense to those who do the clay tablet thing.)

PS7 is on its last leg, and the leg is broken and covered in blisters and getting a nasty charley horse. I've reached the point where I have to move on and accept that technology is steadily moving forward.

But it's so sad.