Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rembrandt’s Huis

Pentax D20 DSLRHTC Wildfire Android CameraPhoneEnhanced with Photoshop Express

There are museums a plenty in Amsterdam, and a lot have very long queues or complaining tourists, yet Het Rembrandthuis seems to be slightly off the main tourist trail.It doesn’t deserve to be and if you are interested in the life and works of the great master it is worth a visit. It will include demonstration o his etching methods and how paint was mixed, in his studio and printmaking work rooms.

The image on the right is the camerphone photo of Rembrandt’s house, in the middle, that has been enhanced with the Adobe Photoshop Express app. Just a little contrast and colour enhancements, don’t expect to be able to do much more.

Messed up with Oil Paint AppRembrandtWhat happened next may well make the great artist turn in his grave. I tried out the Android App called Oil Paint on the enhanced wildfire image above. Oil Paint is one of those “nag-ware” products, it wanted me to connect to the app store and rate the product before I even could run the application (I had downloaded the free trial version).This nagging behaviour alone was enough reason to delete it but the result was just simply so bad I had to show it. This is not artistic its a mess. Sorry remy mate! I have deleted the app I promise.

Very distraught about my former support  of  the fun side of “artistic” camera filters for phones.  I went back at night and took some more cameraphone filtered images. These I can excused as fun, and recommended both the HDR Camera and Camera Fun Apps and worth a bit of playing with.

Created with HDR CameraCreated with CameraFun - CanvasCreated with CameraFun - Sketch

Friday, August 26, 2011

Things I wasn’t expecting to find in Groningen


I have already mentioned that I was surprised to see the spiegel tent here in Groningen, a university town in the northern Netherlands. Well yesterday I found the statue of liberty on the south side of the Grote Markt. It wasn’t lost it was part of the side shows being set up for this weekends carnival. Harder to explain is all the evidence that other Ausies have made it here already!


Thursday, August 25, 2011

How to survive as a pedestrian in Groningen

IMGP4659Groningen is supposedly one of the top five bike cities in the world. It is flat, has narrow street and one in five of the population goes to the university, so I’m not surprised that almost 60% of transportation is by bike, yet it is hard, and very risky to be a pedestrian. So here are a few rules I have learned, often the hard way.
1. Always take the first open bridgeIMGP3812 (because the other bridges all likely to be up and waiting for a slow progress of boats, barges and yachts). The highest right of way goes to boats, and no ones seems to stress out, no matter how slow the boats are.
2. Biker riders usually look calm and nonchalant, but don’t be decided the lake of helmet doesn’t slow them of seem to make then alert to other bike riders or pedestrians. Some how the lake of eye contact seems to work most of the time. In fact the tinkling of bike bells isn't that common in Groningen. If you do hear a tinkle of a bike bell from behind it means that you have already been hit from behind or will be in the next split second!
Bike seem to have the highest priority on the road, not officially. Their riders happily cross at read lights, and IMGP4757worse the official bike lights (only installed at a few major intersection go green in all directions at once and every pedals like mad crossing at right angles. There is some help with the pavements, grey is supposedly safe for pedestrians, whereas the red pavements are for bikes. But that apparently just means that bike riders can target slow pedestrians. there must be a secret point scoring system for cyclists and pedestrians on red bricks must score highly.The challenge sometimes is figuring out just which colour pavement you are on!
3. Next priority goes to cars, which are largely excluded from the inner city streets and further slowed by a complex one way street system that possibly takes several years to learn and the added complication of virtually no free parking spaces. (There are a well established out of town parking areas). cars will mostly slow and stop if you are using a designated pedestrian crossing. Still I don’t take the chance with the slowing car and it frequently zooms through, no eye contact of course.
4. The lowest priority goes to the pedestrian. Take a deep breath look both ways, then check again! Pretty girls never seem to get run over so maybe you just need to follow them.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Some interesting photographic assistance to a cartoonist

It has been a while since I have posted a cartoon, over on meet the people, primarily because I’m travelling. So I don,t have my scanner or access to the myriad things in my normal software in my corel draw and paint tool kit. It was rainy today so I decided to investigate if I could achieve the typical “alvin look” (hand draw, but computer inked) cartoon with a simpler kit. Turns out I could, and it was easy once I assemble the right tools.

2011-08-23_11-55-08_831origI started as usual with a pencil sketch in my sketch book. Then did some basic inking of the main linework. Now the tricky bit, how to scan it and clean it up. Using a camera gives a grey image with poor line definition and uneven illumination. Not the greatest starting point for cartoon. Then I remember a utility that I had reviewed years ago that lets a cameraphone function like a scanner. That system is still around but a quick look on the android app market revealed CamScanner. It worked like a charm, not only doing the basic scanner stuff, you can adjust for perspective, IMGP4653cropping and stretching the image and it will also write to nice compact PDF files.

Then I just used paint.net, a much under-rated general graphics program, to do the colour fill, and linework tidy up. I then did a bit of magic wand selection to cut and paste my characters onto at photo I had taken. Ok it took a lot longer than the 30 minutes I had set myself in the quick pic days, However developing the new technique was fun on a rainy afternoon.

See the final cartoon over in meet the people.

There are a couple of earlier post about my original technique and then the Big Step Forward.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Gratis Musiak–Jazz op Zuid

The better weather has bought a lot of the local folk out to visit the Noorderzon festival and this afternoon the free Jazz was a great New York group called tweed & sneakers, playing mainly 60’s Jazz. The crowd where impressed and danced enthusiastically, well some more enthusiastically than others..

Collecting Photographic Reference as an Artist

As an artist I must admit I seldom paint from my photos alone, I much prefer beginning with a sketch of two “on location”. Most often I just have time for a couple of pencil sketches and possibly a quick watercolour wash over some composition sketch. Further I seldom sketch from prints but rather I much prefer sketching and painting for a screen (can be computer, TV or projected image). This is for two important reasons

1. The colour intensity and dynamic range of tones is better. Its the old slides versus prints issue.

2. I can zoom in, and pan around or tweak the image a little, such as to alter the tone or play with the colour curves) to explore what I am trying to achieve in paint.

Android PhonePentax D20Anroid Cameraphone using HDR Cameraquick composition pencil sketch with simple washes

If possible I like to take the same scene at different times of the day, and under a variety of lighting conditions, sometimes a bracket set of exposures or a HDRi image can enhance the painterly feel. Also zooming in (on detail –see below) or out (on the broader picture – see previous panoramas) can help a lot afterwards re-establish what is important as characteristic of the subject and also get an overall feel for the place. All this means maybe 10 or more photos to support the one or two sketches.

So I must admit I am leaning more and more towards a reasonable smart phone with a camera (eg an android or IPhone) as being more than adequate for collecting photo reference for later painting. The cameraphones are certainly less bulky than any DLSR. The number of digital photos you collect is not significant as they are truly “weight less”. More room in your art kit bag for extra sketchbooks, papers and paints.