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06 December 2012

GIMP Magazine Issue 2


GIMP Magazine Issue 2


Hot off the press!

GIMP Magazine Issue 2 is now available. You can download it for free, or buy a print or tablet copy. There's also a director's cut and a feature on EP Daily.  They are 19 minutes into the show.

The main feature in the magazine is a master class tutorial by Yeshua Nel with a story wrapper about Wilber by Dave Lepek.

Other articles include:
  • A feature about David Revoy 
  • A glimpse of artwork by Martín Eschoyez, Przemyslaw Geremek, Maria Wendt, and Jeremy Gooch
  • A tutorial about creating a graphic novel by Madeleine Fisher 
  • A tutorial about oil painting by Susanne Bur
  • A tutorial about designing professional brochures by Steve Czajka 
  • A tutorial about using a graphics tablet with GIMP by Rolf Steinort
  • A book review of The Artist's Guide to GIMP by Oma Dial

This issue is gorgeous. Don't miss it!

03 December 2012

GIMP 2.8 Tutorial: Which Tool Should I Use to Crop a Photo? — Conclusion

GIMP Casual User Series — Comparison of Photo Cropping Tools




 
This is the final article in the series about which tool to use to crop a photo. If you've been following along, you'll have seen that there are three tools that can be used in GIMP to crop photos: the Crop Tool, the Rectangle Select Tool, and the Ellipse Select Tool.

27 November 2012

GIMP 2.8 Tutorial: Which Tool Should I Use to Crop a Photo? — Part 3

GIMP Casual User Series — The Ellipse Select Tool


Do you have minimal experience with GIMP, but would like to know more about the best tools to use for trimming photos? Are you interested in learning about the various options that make these tools easier to use? Would you like a method for making a decision about which tool is best for which type of job? If so, read on for an exploration of the third tool in this series— the Ellipse Select Tool.



Giraffes Cropping Grass
Giraffes Cropping Grass

For this article, as in the previous ones, I'll be using GIMP 2.8 and a photo of some giraffes, which you can download by clicking on the picture. (When you get to the full-sized image, drag it and drop it on your desktop.) It is assumed that you have some basic knowledge about GIMP, such as how to invoke it and load an image, how to navigate the menus, and how to save a file. By the end of this article you should have a good feel for using the Ellipse Select Tool, along with all of its options that are applicable to cropping photographs.

06 November 2012

GIMP 2.8 Tutorial: Which Tool Should I Use to Crop a Photo? — Part 2

GIMP Casual User Series — The Rectangle Select Tool


Do you have minimal experience with GIMP, but would like to know more about the best tools to use for trimming photos? Are you interested in learning about the various options that make these tools easier to use? Would you like a method for making a decision about which tool is best for which type of job? If so, read on for an exploration of the second tool in this series— the Rectangle Select Tool.

Giraffes Cropping Grass
Giraffes Cropping Grass

For this article, as in the previous one, I'll be using GIMP 2.8 and a photo of some giraffes, which you can download by clicking on the picture. (When you get to the full-sized image, drag it and drop it on your desktop.) It is assumed that you have some basic knowledge about GIMP, such as how to invoke it and load an image, how to navigate the menus, and how to save a file. By the end of this article you should have a good feel for using the Rectangle Select Tool, along with all of its options that are applicable to cropping photographs.

28 October 2012

How to Create an Evil Red Demon Head

An Intermediate-Level Tutorial


In this article I'll explain how I created this evil red demon head design.

Final Evil Red Demon Head Design
Final Design

24 October 2012

Halloween Pumpkins!

Trick or Treat!


Halloween at the Fort Worth Zoo is great fun for the entire family. They have their Boo at the Zoo event over two weekends at the end of October. You can wander through the zoo and watch animals play with their pumpkin treats, or take the kids to join in with the special events and games, such as the scavenger hunt. I always enjoy seeing the cool costumes that the kids wear. I also appreciate the creativity exhibited in the pumpkin decorating. Here's a look at this year's pumpkin patch.

Pumpkin Patch Left
Pumpkin Patch Right

And here are some close-ups of my favorite pumpkins.

17 October 2012

GIMP 2.8 Tutorial: Which Tool Should I Use to Crop a Photo? — Part 1

GIMP Casual User Series — The Crop Tool


Do you have minimal experience with GIMP, but would like to know more about the best tools to use for trimming photos? Are you interested in learning about the various options that make these tools easier to use? Would you like a method for making a decision about which tool is best for which type of job? If so, read on for an exploration of the first tool in this series — the Crop Tool.


Giraffes
Giraffes cropping grass

For this article, I'll be using GIMP 2.8 and a photo of some giraffes, which you can download by clicking on the picture. (When you get to the full-sized image, drag it and drop it on your desktop.) It is assumed that you have some basic knowledge about GIMP, such as how to invoke it and load an image, how to navigate the menus, and how to save a file. By the end of this article you should have a good feel for using the Crop Tool, along with all of its options that are applicable to cropping photographs.


03 October 2012

GIMP Magazine


GIMP Magazine Issue 1


There's a new kid on the block called GIMP Magazine. Issue 1 was published in September. It contains highlights of several artists; an article about Ian Muttoo, a photographer who uses GIMP and UFRaw exclusively; a list of essential GIMP resources; a photography gallery; an article about photography by Tim Stocker; a review of GIMP 2.8; and a tutorial from master GIMP user, Ludovic Celle. It looks professionally done and is free to download.

According to their web site, the first draft of Issue 2 is complete and there's a call for content for Issue 3.

It's great to see GIMP get its own magazine. I enjoy using it and any tips, techniques, and tutorials are always welcome.

Check it out via the link above!

20 September 2012

GIMP Tutorial: How to Make a Hexagonal Pattern

Introduction


I've always been fascinated by patterns. Over the past year I've been playing around with creating patterns from pieces of photographs. This is a fun exercise and can result in interesting, and sometimes beautiful, images.


In a previous tutorial I described how to make rectangular patterns. In this tutorial I'll explain how to make a hexagonal tile from a triangular cutout from a photograph and then show how to tile multiple hexagons to make a repeating pattern.



This tutorial is broken into the following sections:

GIMP
2.6.11 will be used for the main part of the work, but Inkscape 0.47 will be used at the beginning because it has a useful tool for quickly creating geometric objects.

30 August 2012

GIMP Tutorial: How to Make a Rectangular Pattern

Introduction


One of the definitions of pattern is "an artistic or decorative design". Throughout history humans have created patterns to decorate buildings, objects, and clothing. There are many different types of and structures to patterns. I find patterns that repeat in some form and that can be tiled to cover any size area to be endlessly fascinating.

Making patterns from pieces of photographs can be lots of fun. I'm often surprised at the beautiful images that result. I'm especially fond of making patterns from feathers. In this step by step tutorial I will show you how to cut an image from a photograph and create a basic rectangular tile with it that you can then use to make a repeating pattern.

How to Create a Tile Piece


First, load the picture of your choice into GIMP. (I'm using version 2.6.11.) I've chosen a picture I took of a turkey.

Turkey

20 August 2012

Art in the Fort Worth Zoo

A Pictorial Parade


No visit to Fort Worth, Texas, is complete without a stroll through the wonderful world-class Fort Worth Zoo. There are 12 permanent exhibit areas and many many animals to view. But instead of talking about the animals here, I'm going to talk about the art. Or, rather, I'm mainly going to show the art and let it speak for itself.

The Entrance


Fort Worth Zoo Entrance
Fort Worth Zoo Entrance
Fort Worth Zoo Entrance - Left and Right Sides
Left Side and Right Side of Entrance

09 August 2012

How to Create a Vector Clown Fish with Inkscape

Capturing a Fish


I don't remember when or where the idea of a clown fish in clown makeup came to me, but the idea took hold of me and wouldn't let go until I created one. The first thing I did was fire up Inkscape and use the Bezier Curve tool to draw a vector object for each part of the fish that I wanted to color separately. All of the objects are closed paths. Here's the final set of objects that I came up with.

Clown Fish Line Drawing


31 July 2012

The Further Adventures of a Vector Graphics Newbie

Beyond Straight Edges — The Curvy Side of SVG


After creating my first vector design of a paper bag, which was mostly straight edges, I decided for my next Inkscape project to create a canvas bag, which would be a bit more complex due to curves on the handles and the wrinkled sides of the bag. I found a suitable canvas bag image to use as a model and got to work.

24 July 2012

A Newbie Adventure into Scalable Vector Graphics

A Short Tutorial


Back in February 2011 I decided I wanted to learn how to create scalable vector graphics using Inkscape. For my first project I chose something very simple — a paper bag. I found an image of a paper bag to use as a model and loaded it into Inkscape. After a quick analysis it was pretty obvious where to draw the lines.

13 July 2012

Art in New Orleans

Picture This


I was in New Orleans recently and enjoyed seeing artwork in several types of places throughout the downtown area.

First off, there are numerous galleries all over the French Quarter, especially on Royal and Chartres streets. Following are a few that piqued my curiosity.

This picture was in the Martin Lawrence Gallery, which had some very pretty things. This gallery has locations all over the world and sells art that is not specifically related to New Orleans.

Martin Lawrence Gallery

 

02 July 2012

And the Winning Blog Site is ...

*** WordPress ***

I scored each blog site using the ranking numbers for appearance, posting, audience, and tracking, with the low number winning. WordPress was number 1 across the board, with a final score of 4. Blogger and Tumblr tied for second place, each with a score of 10 (each having two 2s and two 3s).

If you've read all of the comparison posts, this should come as no surprise. WordPress is by far the most complex and feature-rich blog site in this group. Blogger is less complex than WordPress but has more features than Tumblr. Tumblr is simple, and quick and easy to use, yet gives you the power to edit your html as you see fit. In my opinion, WordPress is aimed at professionals, Blogger is aimed at casual bloggers, and Tumblr is aimed at artists, designers, illustrators, photographers, and writers who want to quickly share their work.

As is often true with many things in life, there is not necessarily one single answer. It all comes down to what's important to you and what you want to accomplish. Have I chosen only one of these sites to continue blogging on? No. Each has its own appeal, and I've found that I reach a different audience with each site. Because my goal is to communicate with as many people as possible, I've decided to run my blog on all three sites in parallel. But, since I really like the quick-posting aspect of Tumblr, I've also started some other simple blogs there just for fun. I'm using it as a visual Twitter.

In closing, I'd like to say that I truly enjoyed the experience of not only blogging about these different sites, but also learning new things in the process. After all, learning something new is what gets me out of bed in the morning. Thank you for following along with me. I hope you learned something, too.

Related Articles


The Free Blogging Site Experiment
The Blogger Dashboard
The Tumblr Dashboard
The WordPress Dashboard
Blog Appearance Comparison
Blog Posting Comparison -- Styles, Tools, and Ease of Use
Blog Audience Comparison
Blog Activity Tracking Comparison

28 June 2012

Blog Activity Tracking Comparison

Sometimes readers of your blog will do something to indicate their presence, such as leaving a comment, clicking a like button, or subscribing. Many readers, however, choose not to leave their mark. As a blogger, it's nice to know how much of an audience you're reaching and which of your posts they find the most interesting. This is where activity trackers come in.

Blogger


Blogger gives you many different views of your blog's activity from various parts of your blog's main page.


Blogger Overview Page


The Overview page displays a graph that shows page views for the past week. You can move your cursor around on the graph to see the number of page views for each day. Text beneath the graph indicates the top website sources for your traffic. The Updates box on the right gives you some quick summary information.

25 June 2012

Blog Audience Comparison

Writing a blog can be fun and satisfying on its own, but having an audience makes it even better. The question is, how hard do you have to work to find your audience?

Blogger


Blogger has a Blogs of Note page that shows links to blogs in a format that you can choose, with a seemingly infinite scrollability, and a search box to narrow the field. You can get to this page either via a link from the login page or by knowing the address of the page. I was unable to find my blog here.

Blogger Blogs of Note


21 June 2012

Blog Posting Comparison — Styles, Tools, and Ease of Use

The options that you have and the tools that you use while creating a post are very important. There are some interesting similarities and differences among Blogger, Tumblr, and WordPress. The information that follows is based on the blog themes that I chose. There may be differences for other themes.

Post Styles


Blogger has one post style — a text box in which you can put whatever you want. The text box can be resized to the length of the page by dragging down on the little arrow, which is very useful for long posts. You can switch back and forth between Compose and HTML views.

Blogger Post Page


20 June 2012

Blog Appearance Comparison

Blogger, Tumblr, and WordPress let you adjust the appearance of your free blog to varying degrees.

Blogger


Blogger has several templates, 34 at last count, that are categorized as follows: Dynamic Views, Simple, Picture Window, Awesome Inc., Watermark, Ethereal, and Travel. I chose a simple template whose layout allows me to do the following:
  • Upload a custom favorite icon
  • Choose a navigation bar color and style
  • Enter a blog title and description and upload a header image
  • Add gadgets — such as an About Me link, a search box, a Google +1 button, blog archive links, etc. — and place them in a location and order that I choose within certain constraints
  • Add a copyright footer line

Blogger Template Layout
Blogger Template Layout

15 June 2012

The WordPress Dashboard


 WordPress Main Dashboard

 WordPress has a tabbed main dashboard that gives you access to the following:
  • New Post gives you quick access to creating a post for your primary blog. The post layout is determined by the type of post you choose: text, photo, video, quote, or link.
  • Reader is where you can link up with friends or search by topic and find other blogs to follow.
  • Notifications is where you can see who likes or has commented on your posts, followed your blog, or reblogged your posts. You can also see awards given to you for things like getting 5 likes, for example.
  • Stats gives you information about traffic to your site, including At A Glance, Views by Country, Top Posts & Pages, Clicks, Referrers, Tags & Categories, Search Engine Terms, and Totals, Followers & Shares.
  • My Blog gives you access to your blogs and allows you to create a new one.
  • Freshly Pressed shows the latest blog posts at WordPress.

The Tumblr Dashboard

Tumblr has a fairly simple dashboard for accessing and maintaining your blogs.

Tumblr Main Dashboard

The links across the top of the page give you access to your dashboard, each blog that you've created, the ability to create a new blog, your message inbox, help, preferences, and logging out.

The top word balloon contains links that allow you to create a new post of one of the following types for your primary blog: Text, Photo, Quote, Link, Chat, Audio, or Video.

The word balloons below this show not only the posts from your primary blog, but also posts from other blogs that you follow.

The Blogger Dashboard

Blogger has a simple main dashboard that gives you access not only to your own blogs, but also to other blogs that you choose to follow. Well, theoretically. The All blogs link does not appear to work, but when you click the Add button, you're allowed to enter a URL to follow.

Blogger Main Dashboard


13 June 2012

The Free Blogging Site Experiment

Eenie Meenie Minie Moe


I recently picked up The Blogger's Book in my local Barnes & Noble bookstore. It's one of the many cool computer, art, and design-related magazines published in Great Britain. This bookazine is a guide to blogging with WordPress, Tumblr, and Joomla, and contains Getting Started, Hosting, Customisation, and Themes sections, as well as a section called Tips, Tricks & Social networking.

The Blogger's Book


08 June 2012

Mod Interrupted

The Plot Thickens


After releasing TGD03 The Lizard's Head, I immediately began working on the next Morrowind mod I wanted to do in my Traveller's Guide to Dining series. I turned my attention to the Plot and Plaster tavern in Tel Aruhn, which had always intrigued me because of its name. First I looked up the various meanings of both plot and plaster to see which kinds of story ideas they would engender. Plot can mean plan, scheme, conspiracy, intrigue, scenario, story, design, or tract of land. Plaster as a verb can mean spread or smear; as a noun can mean a thick gooey material or something to make a molded structure with; or in slang can mean to get drunk (plastered). I eventually came up with a story along the conspiracy and intrigue line that would be weird and Lovecraftian and would be revealed to the player throughout a multi-part quest.

Tel Aruhn is a small island, the home of Telvanni Archmagister Gothren and his entourage, and populated with many local shopkeepers and fishermen. I decided to involve quite a few of the existing characters in my story. To give each one a different character, I came up with personality types: gossip, skeptic, scholar, spiritualist, and weirdo. I also created two new characters, one to serve as a local travel guide, the other to be the waiter in the tavern. I wrote quite a bit of dialogue for at least a dozen characters, making each personality unique and defining their relationships to each other.

01 June 2012

Night of the Lizard

Boring Inn


For my fifth Morrowind mod I decided to do a treatment of The Lizard's Head in Vivec. In the plain vanilla version of the game, this inn is pretty blah. There are five characters in the place, but only one of them has anything particularly interesting to say. You'd think with a name like The Lizard's Head, and the fact that there's a mounted Argonian head hidden away in the storage room, there would be an intriguing back story. But there wasn't, so I made one up.

After considering various ideas and coming up with a story that involved several new characters and some complicated interactions, I eventually simplified the concept to disturbances at the inn seemingly associated with the Argonian head in the storage room. So as not to spoil the mod for anyone who hasn't played it, I won't go into detail here. I'll just say that the player can find out what's causing the disturbances, get some back story that explains something that happened in the past, and do a small quest to resolve the situation in a satisfactory manner.

21 May 2012

I'll Meet You at the Council Club

Mixing Drinks


For my fourth Morrowind mod, the second in the Traveller's Guide to Dining series, I decided to stay within the town of Ald'ruhn and give some personality to the Ald'ruhn Council Club, which is a small tavern with a bar and a few tables. The Council Club gives the impression of being a place for intimate meetings over drinks between friends or acquaintances, or conspirers (the proprietor is a member of the Thieves Guild). In the plain vanilla game, the club is populated with a few generic characters and there is nothing of interest to do. The player can't even buy a drink at the bar.

I decided that the Dunmer proprietor, Darvam Hlaren, should sell a variety of drinks, both local and imported, that he could provide because of his connections and distribution network. I spent a lot of time researching types of alcohol and designing various alcoholic beverages based on in-game ingredients and their effects. I took existing bottle models, recolored the textures using GIMP to make each bottle different, and even added images I found on the web to some of them to make them interesting. A few of the drink names already existed in The Elder Scrolls lore, the rest I made up based either on bits of Elven language from the Imperial Library dictionary, on the names of deities, or on the color or ingredients.

Drink bottle textures

15 May 2012

Cul de Sac - On Art and Creativity

A while back I became a fan of the Cul de Sac comic strip by Richard Thompson. The off-the-wall, quirky humor often makes me laugh, and sometimes makes me think twice (or thrice). There's a daily online strip and several books.

Cul de Sac: This Exit
Cul de Sac: This Exit
Children at Play
Children at Play
  
Cul de Sac Golden Treasury
Golden Treasury
Shapes and Colors
Shapes and Colors

The Mighty Alice
The Mighty Alice

A preschooler named Alice is the star of the show, but my favorite character is her brother, Petey. In the latest book, The Mighty Alice, there are a couple of strips relating to art and creativity that I really enjoyed.

Here's what Alice has to say on page 115:

The Mighty Alice, page 115, bottom strip

And here's my favorite comment from Petey on page 77:

The Mighty Alice, page 77, bottom strip

14 May 2012

Waiter, There's a Rat in My Pot

Cooking up a New Menu


After the success and fun of working on my second Morrowind mod, What's on the Menu?, I decided I wanted to create a menu for each dining establishment in the game, which was around 29 pubs, taverns, and inns. My plan was to develop a unique menu for each one, creating dishes that used local ingredients and reflected the personality of each place. The entire series would be called Traveller's Guide to Dining.

The Rat in the Pot menu version 1
My favorite place was The Rat in the Pot in Ald'ruhn. It had the atmosphere of a pub and was the local headquarters of the Thieves Guild. I did some research online, looking at the menus of pub-type restaurants to get a feel for the kinds of food that might be offered.  The first menu I created contained five items — two appetizers and three flatpies (a.k.a. pizzas). I used a curvy typeface called Radaern that I liked because the lower-case d was reminiscent of a little rat body with a tail sticking up. The corner art was a free image that I found on the web.

I didn't have any expectation that I'd be able to draw a decent rat in a pot, so I went into the Construction Set and tried to make a composite image from the in-game pot and rat objects. The low-resolution meshes and textures and the dark dull gray/brown color looked awful, so I poked about on the web and found a decent looking gray rat and black pot that I combined into the image on the menu.

07 May 2012

A Typographic Digression

Reading Between, Among, and About the Lines


The Non-Designer's Design BookAfter being lambasted for using Comic Sans in a menu texture that I created for a Morrowind mod, I developed an interest in typography, so decided to read up a bit on the subject. The first book I read was The Non-Designer's Design Book by Robin Williams, since my husband happened to have a copy of it. This book explains several simple concepts and gives plenty of examples. The first half of the book is about four design principles: contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. The rest of the book talks about designing with type. There are little quizzes throughout, with answers at the end of the book, plus a two-page bibliography, a list of all typefaces used in the book, and an index. (My favorite index entry is "crap, 14".)


This excellent introductory book inspired me to do some more reading, so I acquired two more books: Thinking with Type and Typography Essentials.

04 May 2012

Morrowind Alchemy

A Budding Alchemist


In the spring of 2010, I was replaying Morrowind from the beginning. After joining the Mages Guild in Balmora, I did several quests for Ajira, a Khajiit novice alchemist. Her first task was to bring her samples of mushrooms; her third task was to bring her samples of flowers; and her fifth task was to recover the reports she had written that were stolen by a fellow student. The rewards for doing these tasks were several different kinds of potions. It occurred to me that after wandering around in the wilds looking for various plants based on their described characteristics and then reading the reports that Ajira wrote about her experiments with them, that my character should have improved in alchemy skill. Wasn't that the point of going through these types of exercises?

This thought led to the creation of my first mod. I ran The Elder Scrolls Construction Set (TES CS) and poked around until I found the two reports. It was a simple matter to change one attribute on each report to cause each one to give a skill point when read. Thinking that other players might like this mod, I decided to upload it to Planet Elder Scrolls. I gave the mod a simple and obvious name — Ajira's Alchemy Reports. It was a big hit and that was all the encouragement I needed when I got an idea for another mod.

03 May 2012

Back Story

Greetings and welcome to my blog, which is about my life in relation to art and computers. As a child in the 1960s, I had fun with creative toys and games. As a teenager in the 1970s, I fell in love with computers and have enjoyed both working and playing on them ever since. Read on for some background.

The High School Years


When I was in high school, I had trouble deciding where to concentrate my efforts for a foundation that would take me into a job in the real world. I had always been on the creative side, but math, logic, and solving puzzles were my strong points. My first inclination was to become a commercial artist, so I took art classes. Even though I enjoyed all the drawing and craft exercises, I eventually decided I didn't have the innate talent that would carry me in that field. Rethinking my options, it occurred to me that being an accountant might be interesting and more in line with my skills, so I took bookkeeping, typing, and keypunching classes. Strangely enough, the keypunching class is what started me on the road to my first career — computer software engineer. (Well, that and being a die-hard classic Star Trek fan and devoted Spock-lover.)