Tuesday, December 31, 2013

it works, I'll make it work.

Now having GIMP and Inkscape in an Android app might sound like a good thing. I know I was blown away. Well not blown away, maybe surprised a little. It does work, I keep saying that.

So what is missing besides speed? A mouse! A mouse is missing, you know that handy click and hold to select some objects. I never thought I'd miss a mouse. This is a quick blurb between doing other stuff.

So I think I need to investigate what that little switch on the side of the stylus can do. It is rather awkward to use and I hope it's function is programmable.

I realize I need to explain the need for speed. Speed it reaction time. When you click-n-wait for every action, it can make you impatient. I click on a object, wait for it to fully surround the selection, drag and wait for it to finish. So this app might not be for you if you have that knee-jerk Frisbee frustration reaction.

But still, it works.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

yeah they do

Ok here's my deeper thought about running open source apps on Android tablets. PCs have chips and circuits to direct memory paths and allocate data in fast and efficient ways. These Android tablets do not share the same circuitry. Android apps are optimized for Android hardware. I am in fact amazed at what you can do on Android hardware. If you look at a tablet motherboard, there are only a few chips that do it all. Now cram software into it that is designed to run on a PC motherboard with groups of chips to handle specific functions, it runs so slow.

Some one used the word porting. When you port you recompile the source code so that the software will run on targeted hardware/software combination. To get a picture of that the source code of GIMP written to run in Linux is recompiled to run in Windows OS and have an (.exe) on the end. Compiling adds the necessary libraries, utilities and code instructions that the host operating system understands.

There are cheats like emulators and compatibility layers and virtual machines which allow for instance Windows programs to run within Linux OS without recompiling. This is very convenient, like fooling Linux to think it's running a Linux program when in fact it is a Windows program. A word to the wise, mileage may very. For some combinations of hardware/software it works well, for others a typewriter works better.

Of course another way of doing this is the "cloud" where GIMP would be on a server at some data house and you could subscribe to use it over the internet. Adobe is doing this with it's Creative Suite. This is stupid for GIMP because it's free anyway and brilliant for Adobe cause it is expensive, so you can rent time on Creative Suite and not have to buy it or install it, yet have at it.

Again I think the apps on Android tablet are great. Some have even done finished art on the tablet. Ultimately the tablet is cool for portability, taking notes, doing sketches in odd places. A regular PC can do the heavy work at home with full blown software. Ok it wasn't that deep.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

aaah! they do exist......on Android

Well, on my tablet I just installed Gimp Inkscape Android. I am in shock........it works, slowly but it works. If you have great patients, it works. It opened with both Gimp and Inkscape on the desktop. A side bar with tabs for each program because they are separate. Then I made two squares, blured one into a shadow, oooh! I shut down Inkscape, then Gimp, what!!!, it's XFCE desktop! They put two powerful programs and Linux XFCE on Android!?!

Slow but it works. Patience Luke, use the open source.

I had to run, fight Vader, so now I'm back.
This is what came up. Gimp and Inkscape together. I figure if this is what is in store then the future is bright. Now most Android devices don't have the memory or the CPU power to run this thing at a descent speed (my opinion) but it does work. What's the point? I have Linux albeit a very thin Linux running Gimp and Inkscape my favorite open source apps, slowly but they run on Android OS. I also have a version of Open Office for Android, gee feels like I'm on my laptop. 

Now when you are using Inkscape you can't use Gimp. You can close one and full screen the other. I have used other vector apps but what's sweet about Inkscape is the alpha channels. You can blur things nicely, man I love shadows. Slow but it works. My Galaxy Note 10.1 came with 16 gig of RAM memory, I wonder if the 32 gig model runs this better and if a larger RAM model is in the works. Graphics apps use lots of RAM. AAH! they do exist on Android.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

ghost in the machine debunked

Ok, so there's no phantoms in your machine besides the usual malware and occasional user error. Some mmmm....mis.....mishaps (mistakes) that occur in drawing are due to the machine itself. There a number of very good tablet apps for drawing. It is hard to choose between them especially if you like the interface. I am talking annoyances here.

I was using Infinite Design, which is no drawing slouch by the way, to pull in one of my line drawings as a base image to trace over. Layers are a thing of wonder. The pen touches the surface and does it's thing, so does the edge of my hand resting on the tablet, in particular my little finger. It's like another person doodling on my doodle while I'm doodling. At it's worst you have to stop the flow of genius to erase the madness. Several solutions to this problem are on the market, one of which I have yet to try because there are certain personality enhancements attached to it, powerful, ooh!.........LOL!

Here is the problem in scientific terms. You as an electrical conductor have the ability, I mean capability or better yet capacity of capacitance with the surface of your tablet. That is why your finger works, and special pens and not your ball point. So if you are drawing with your special pen you have to hold it so that your fingers or palm do not both make marks on the screen. Ask yourself why the British, traditionally big on etiquette, hold their tea cups with the pinky extended, hmmmmm? Balance my man, balance and control. You couldn't possibly appreciate the nuances of the tea if you're gripping the cup like a mug. Unless it's a hot toddy of course. So on the market is a glove with the fingers cut off to reveal the capacitance yet cover the resting palm and I would hope the pinky. Don't worry about M. Jackson copyrights, archers, hunters, safe crackers all have variations of fingerless gloves. Can be very stylish, you don't have to be symmetrical and you could make your own glove.

Now the other solution is for the software to only allow one point of screen contact and better yet only the input of the special pen or stylus. Personally I think that should be built in to Android OS since it is a touch screen and stylus input OS. It's not because of user confusion. The Autodesk app for Android called Sketchbook Pro has a setting in the app to limit screen touch to the pen. This is great because I hate stopping to erase, undo and redraw when I'm on a roll. No more second hand drawing so your creative life is longer and better.

The other apps I use are Vector Artist and ArtFlow, they have the same problem as Infinite Design, too much touch. A glove might be better, a software switch is better yet. The phantom drawer is uncovered.    

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

phantom of the opera

Listen to the sweet sound of birds chirping in the trees. If you listen to gulls sing, well they might call it song but squawk is more fitting. Still compared to penguins, and I am willing to bet they squawk also, there could be a harmony of sorts. The secret of this working together is sharing. VirtualBox allows sharing folders between the Linux host and the XP guest operating systems. So the work I do in Sketch Up in XP can be seen by the Linux system.

Speaking of birds of a feather, digital artist are the rare flock of dubious reputation in the field of art. Most of the blame is put on the device called a printer. It is the output of this device that has the art world in a tizzy. It messes up the engineering world also, why? Because once a digital file in a computer gets printed out there is no differentiation between the first print and the last. This is accounting for the usual glitches, hic-ups and imperfections of printing the same thing over and over. Then there is the thing about the quality of the printer and the quality of the paper and the quality of the ink. You could very well have a cheap print being the same or better than a higher quality print. I think that is more improbable but sometimes a gritty, grungy outcome fits the bill for the art at hand. A printer is a tool of the digital artist.

So what constitutes the artist's original in digital art. The original in digital art is the indecipherable file that the artist worked on, regardless of if it needs a video display or printer output to see. What art sellers can't accept is that digital art defies the value of rarity. You could print one piece and destroy the file that made it. That is like shooting your dog for the artist. Many recommend printing a limited number then destroying the original file. I really can't answer this dilemma for you. Disney will store them away and reissue them for the next generation. That is cool also.

Now digital displays are not immune. Various manufacturing materials and specs produce displays with grades of visibility. Trying to match a display with possible printer output is a science by it self. Quite a number of the digital artist do work that is typically viewed on the video screen.

What about......photography? Today many are doing digital photography which involves both digital cameras and picture processing. Even film photographers use digital processing of film negatives unless chem processing is the art.

Saying all the above, I want to explore the digital arts in the gallery setting. I want to give digital art a good consideration as we are so immersed in media. Still art as display art is different and more varied than TV and movie art. Perhaps this is what we need to see added to the display of traditional arts, the arts of our present age.

Monday, November 18, 2013

return of the birds

I had to slowly approach my dilemma with caution, stepping ever so quietly past the seagulls. They pecked at my feet as I crept by. I sneezed, they fluttered, I made a dash for the phone booth. Wait, I thought phone booths are extinct. It was cracked and spattered with bird gook, just my luck a used phone booth, I thought. I grabbed the creaky door, flung myself in and hit the emergency dial button and the booth sunk into the ground before the first bird thud. Let me explain......Maxwell Smart!!

Always always take time to approach a problem with a calm head. After a day of fussing I removed the offending XP VirtualBox installation and all of its supporting files. Then I slid in the XP disc again and started VirtualBox. This time I did not choose to help the process by adding my so-called tweaks until after the install. I let the program install itself, lots of deep breaths here. Then I followed the install stack exactly, first XP, then SP2, SP3, AVG anti-virus, then SketchUp. I had two SketchUp 8 programs a small one (just SketchUP 8) and a larger one that had some upgrades to version 8. I chose the smaller because it worked in the past.

Taking my time resulted in a working XP in VirtualBox and a working SketchUp 8 with bells but no whistles. My other installation of Sketch Up 8 in Wine boots but crashes. I hope the Wine community fixes that someday. Close but no bananas. Sketch Up is the most intuitive 3D drawing I ever used and as a formed AutoCad user I didn't have to learn a new language. Half the battle to learning any program is knowing where stuff is and what to expect when you click it. They say don't get it but try it and choose wisely because learning a workflow makes you ingrained. Other applications can be an annoyance if they are too different from your main tool of choice.

Done, I popped up with confidence, bopped out of the phone booth wearing a gull hat bobbing my head like gulls do. Penguins waddle, gulls bop. All is well among the birds, for now. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

penguins 99 seagulls 0

Seagulls are a strange lot especially in parking lots (sorry Johnathan). They sit on the pavement, lamp post and building rims all facing the same way. All someone has to think is "The Birds" and phone booths are extinct and............ So far we have got Mr. Poppers tux brood and "Happy Feet" concerning penguins although those birds in "Madagascar" could be seagulls in disguise.

The real deal is that I installed Android on my laptop's Virtualbox along side Microsoft XP which in turn installed Grub to be able to choose an OS at bootup. Taking Android off was not painless nor Grub editable and my installed Sketchup in XP was DOA. Then I reinstalled XP in Virtualbow which walked instead of ran and Sketchup which totally ignored I had a grahhics card that worked correctly. Uninstall X3. So....... I installed WINE which is not an emulator but a Windows compatibility layer application, then reinstalled SketchUp which didn't run last time I used it in Wine and runs perfectly this time, God be blessed to updates.

The moral of this story is both gulls and penguins will eat fish but penguins will balk at bread. They won't eat a fish sandwich either. Gulls will peck and gulp anything that has food on it, all while facing the same direction. Which brings me to another thing, science. After careful observation, recording and testing a procedure for repeatable results, computers are able to spit up garbage because they themselves are a tad bit different. Just because it worked to a tech wiz doesn't mean it will work for a nerd, let alone a dweeb. Buy the shoes of a pro but milage may vary.

I hope you all can receive deep insight to the mystery of computing by my words above, all confusion is because brains are different no matter what the physicians chart says. Always have a backup plan in place, that is why zoo birds are replaced and you never notice. Oh, there's one seagull facing the other way, must be a glitchee-dee.

Monday, November 11, 2013

deep tablet therapy

Ok folks, I think we have a favorite between Artflow, Inifinate Design and Autodesk Sketchbook. They each have logical interfaces but the slight edge went to Sketchbook for me. Seems it better accommodated my way of fussing and fidgeting. The clincher was that Sketchbook also had a pen setting to prevent the hand/fingers from marking the canvas while using the pen. If you don't know wonderful this is try drawing with your hand resting on the tablet surface. Erasing erroneous finger marks can be annoying.

Another drawing problem I have is my fingers passing over the lower right hand corner where the settings pop-up gets activated. I gets this when holding the tablet with the wide side horizontally. When I turn the wide side vertically I can draw higher in the screen avoiding the active area. There are some who wear a "drawing glove" to disrupt the capacitive connection between the screen and your hand. Ooh, that sounds cool, gotta get me a drawing glove.

So, what is missing in the tablet that would make my day, a big honking solid state hard drive of about 128 gigs, but it's OK.

Also on my wish list is Gaussian blur on the Vector Artist app and all the drawing apps having that pen setting that is in Sketchbook or put it in Android OS for tablets.

There is an app that looks very interesting and I want all you 3d tablet jockeys to check it out. Spacedraw is the only fully functional 3d modeling app on the Android platform. Some said it is like Blender only lightly so. The interface is made for tablets and quite agile but, not a easy learn for me. I will keep poking at until I can do something with it. I am grabbing Trimble's Sketch Up on my PC, that is fairly easy to use compared to Blender. Still, Spacedraw has potential, good potential. When you "get it" please do some tutorials, please.......

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

feeeeeeel the power

As you all know I've been totally taken by my new tablet. It's starting to get forensic evidence embedded in the cracks and crevices. If you have one of the various tablet devices, especially with a stylus, and can do drawing on it, you kind of know where I'm going. Getting the feel of drawing on the slick screen is awkward. My Wacom Graphire had a slick surface and a hard plastic pen point. There was not enough traction and I tried to tape paper on the tablet to work better. Better was not great, just OK. The new tablet has a protective film over the screen. This helps but the real thing is that the stylus has a hard rubber tip. The combination is perfect for a good control and feel, like a felt pen.

Now when you draw because it is a capacitive relation between the pen tip and the tablet surface, there still a connection when the pen is barely touching. The effect is like a nib that is fine on the line part but splotches at the start and when you stop. You learn the feel to put it down to draw and pick it up when you don't. Believe me, DustyGhosts' tutorial is good practice. Starting and stopping lines, circles, shapes. Here is a project. Get a pencil, a ball point pen, a felt tip pen, chalk, charcoal, crayon. Then do the same exercise. Each has a feel, the digital stylus is no different, depends on your feel of it.

I saw on line people using their Galaxy tablets as input devices for their PCs. I think it is a remote connection. I haven't tried this my self but to use my wireless tablet to control the graphics apps on my laptop PC would be sweet. I will investigate further, perhaps I might give it a shot.

I have talked about Xubuntu Linux in the past. It is Ubuntu Linux with the XFCE desktop suitable for older PCs and a light weight Linux for low resource PCs. I found another Linux called Lite, that's Linux Lite. It is also XFCE desktop but tweaked a little different. At least the looks are different. It is snappy and if you are new to Linux, there is nothing to scare you away. It works great, looks cool, gets the job done, with flair. I like it. Got a power machine, Linux Lite will not clog the circuits with extraneous business. This means even more power to run the applications, paint effects, 3d drawing and games. Did I mention it looks good? 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

a few more tablet discoveries

I'm back, had to do an oil change to re-slick myself. I have the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet, so far it is wonderful. You iPad users are safe with me, though I reserve the right to differ. Android OS which is basically an smartphone OS enjoys expanded use of the larger screen and the pen. The pen centric apps are not as numerous as touch apps but I find that many people are more prone to give the finger rather than the mighter pen. BUT, digital dabblers, scribblers, doodlers, stick pokers, sand tracers and wall scrawlers will find the pen as handy as a light sabre.

So, I discovered on the Galaxy is Samsung Screen saver app. It can play endlessly displaying some tips on how to use the Note tools in multi-tasking mode. This is sweet because 'show you how to do it' videos are the best things in the world. Now having said that, there are not many if any in-depth Android app tutorials. I think because there are so many apps that do the same things and the changeableness of Android users. As platforms go long term usage of any application is fleeting. But with the advent of the larger Android tablets as a useful and dependable assistant, the need for a stable set of tools is evident. Will the artists' apps gain a following to the point that tutorials are developed? Probably not and this is because the interfaces are not difficult to figure out and the tools in them are basic. If you have tinkered with PC art applications then the tablet apps are simple. I will say that the people who use the PC art applications are finding the smartphone and tablet apps cool for graphic notes and sketching. In this vein there are YouTube videos that show and tell. I myself am totally amazed when higher quality artwork is done on a small device. For instance, in our gallery is a set of note cards for sale with some cute geeky art on them. Last night I saw the the app that produced the art. The print quality is very good. I am inspired, I can do that.

Well let me go, I've got to get moving and seeing where else I can take my tablet and doodle.

Oh wait and let me add. Go over to DustyGhost.com click on tutorials, then the graphics tablet tutorial. Read it, do it, thank the man profusely. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

a docu-mercial

 the promise of multi-purpose snake oil

There are many stories in the "Ole West" about the Mr. Hannie types who sold snake oil and medicinal spirits. LOL, you can do the same with olive oil if you are from the Middle East, coconut and kola nut oil probably have their equivalents from Africa and the Caribbean. Nothing in the world though is like cold pressed whale oil and we all have greased pans and palms with butter as Ms Dean will attest, is the best, lard knows.

The only real difference in snake oil is the kind of snake it comes from. It is guaranteed to work no matter what and be of fortuitous benefit even though the sacrifice of a snake to give up his life sustaining oil for your anointing is a small price to pay. What shall this oil exactly do for you beside the customary making you as slick as the guy who sold it to you? Depends.

You see, snake oil is a suspension. Meaning it will hold other ingredients in place until you get the benefit from them. I guess the word they use today is a topical. The really good oil will open your pores so that what ever is suspended will soak in. This explains why medicines are expensive and makeup is cheap. It goes way beyond the physical application of minerals to the human flesh. Snake oil in it's various forms is also used to administer cultural pathologies, kingly and priestly authority and prevent diaper rash, interchangeably and simultaneously. Human history is both taught and learned via this way.

We flaunt our ability to market and apply snake oil to every facet of our lives. We are pickled in our own juices to the point we can't tell what is oil and what was added. We dig up "original recipes", ancient sauce, primordial stew, and alien mash. We add new packaging, snappy commercials, instill need and limit access, availability and quantity. We offer the same oil, tell one group it's diluted for mild application, another group it's so concentrated the smell alone will grease you.

The oil is a distraction, used to slip something past your mind so that the real operation can happen. The main drive is always selling, pushing, dispensing, proselytizing and not the actual using. Have you noticed that to use a thing you have to get away from others. Don't know why we are so compelled to promote snake oil to others as soon as we see others, it's an automatic response. All snake oil users have to isolate themselves to have enough wherewithal to apprehend the delicate nuances of the oil and appreciate its subtle effects. If you get to actually use the snake oil it is reasonable to assume you have been duped and will not offer an opinion on the subject due to the embarrassment of being stupid enough to buy into it. But, like the kid who said the emperor has no clothes, you might be the only one aware enough to say it. And who would tell a bully, "your greasy granny too"? Thus greasy emperors and clergy all over the globe assisted by the Slick Willy Corporation, slide past our notice leaving a trail of rancid lard called history.

Having been trained to let it slide, we can not put two and two together even when forensics can tell you the difference between snake oil and lard. You have to cook pork and milk a snake. A little snake can fill a big container. Some folks have been milking the same little snake for generations. Everywhere you go folks are oiling everything, they're marinaded in the stuff and basting everything with it. Snake oil is the reason for everything, the source of everything, damn near the cause of everything. We will cease to exist in our present condition if snake oil is eliminated. But don't worry, untreated lard is a universal snake oil replacement. While it needs refrigeration to keep it you don't have to saddle up to a live creature to milk it.

This documentary is a comment on the world situation and can be applied with a liberal slathering of snake oil. Any use of this text with the aforementioned lard as the lubricating vehicle will result in unfavorable and unstable reactions for which I am not responsible. You'll just have to let it slide.  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

the tablet report, yeah right

I have 3 drawing apps that are similar except their interfaces are different. So I'm cruising along trying to learn and the up dates come. Oh no, everything is better! Artflow is one, Autodesk's Sketchbook Pro is two and Infinite Design is three. So hard to let one of them go. They each make logical sense in their way and I have no favorite, darn! I'm not a big freehand drawer but the worst thing is resting hand on the screen to leave unintended marks. I gotta test to see which app handles that the best, I think it's Sketchbook Pro.

I'm watching HGTV and darn it they just ran a Samsung tablet ad. More power, multitasking, I just got this thing, it's not even warm yet. Anticipation is not going to make me wait. (boo-hoo hoo). The new tablets will have more power with the same size. I'm jealous of the future, lol.

The one thing I can say is that after a time you acquire a feel for drawing on the tablet and there is a vaccine for the "gotta have the latest" infection. Now mind you we are sporting an Android device. Evolution is inching toward laptop power in a thin low power device. I have heard that some programmers think Android is crap for code work, but for users, not bad at all. Me, I use it, like it and it's better than Java, to me. Don't tell anybody, I'm tried to run Android in Virtualbox on my Linux laptop. It ran but no touch screen or mouse.

Next project, elocution lessons so speech to text works. See ya.

Monday, September 30, 2013

tablet in the wild

Well if you must know, owning a tablet is like owing a truck. You are now a useful citizen. Buy a truck and everybody you know wants your help to move something. So the secret to peace and a truck or peace and a tablet is how its decked out. A polished floor on the bed, chrome wheels and really clean interior. "Dude, l was going to call you but I figured you didn't want to mess up your ride." Yes, your truck is a ride. That's like driving your living room sofa.

Your tablet requires some finesse. Have internet but don't develop the habit of using media access services with the sneaky cost extraction methods. Don't use tablet as a phone. If people know you can do all things on your tablet then it might as well be a junky truck. Yeah, they can use their smart phone.............a smart phone is a car, a tablet is a truck. The idea is this tablet is not a mobile access point for others. Families however will have to implement a sharing plan. Oh, what the heck, hook it up to the max and pass it around. Tablet it forward.

I have officially entered the tablet cult. Knowing passerbys always ask "Is that an iPad or Kindle?" "Why no, it's a ZX4j brainwave emulsifier and neutral net stabilizer." You see the smart phone is a "Tweet" machine compared to this.

I had a thought and question as I was going to bed. Instead of running into the dining-room, firing up the laptop (5 minutes), I grab the tablet (1 minute), jot and internet and shut down (10 minutes). The more time I spend with the tablet, the more handy it is. I think I am a teletubbie. I am also getting the hang of drawing, it's a feelie kind of thing. Spend time, doodle, let the tablet into your work flow, less is finally more.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

tablet of the roving artist

Making progress here. I find my tablet useful when I get an idea and can jot it down in text and in picture and in drawing. I want to explain why computer science is a science. The concept is very simple for a user. Follow the exact instructions and get repeatable results. That's it!! Works the same way every time. It's a recipe, no guessing, measure, stir, put in pan and bake, eat it.

One thing I needed to do was transfer a drawing made on my laptop to my tablet and vice-versa. First the transfer, a cloud app called "Dropbox" is handy. I get 2 years of use free. I load the app on laptop and tablet and share the cloud storage, who knows where the server is, but it works great. I could also use a flash drive.

Then the file format. On the laptop Gimp can import, export, save as, etc. On the tablet there is Photoshop Touch and Autodesk Sketchbook and ArtFlow which can import, export in a number of formats. So far I've transfered pictures but not with layers intact. I can work around that but I will read the instructions (RTFM) to see if I can transfer pictures with layers intact.

I should know how to do this, you know how guys are. I put my flexible ego down, pick up the instructions and step by step do it as prescribed. It hurts like hell. I have flashbacks of my old supervisor who said to me "you don't know a darn thing about this job, I am here to train you." The job wasn't that hard or complicated, but instead of schooling him on not bruising my sensibilities, I let him train me (his work-flow), hurt like hell. I got good enough (of course) to invent my own ways of doing things (my work-flow). In the Linux community there is a phrase RTFM which means "read the &#@&* manual". Linux folks are used to reading stuff then doing stuff (after first trying blindly and screwing up everything), so RTFM is a word to the wise. It is also perceived as a forum curse word.

Hey there's a Google app called Voice Search, I just tried. It links to your microphone and to your Google browser. You speak what you want and Voice Search finds it. It works but don't slurrr-yrrr-werds or you'll get strange results.

Well let me go, lots of playing around to do. And I have some projects in mind for you digital artist in the Lorain Ohio area. I want to start an interest group of digital enhanced artists, mostly local. Then maybe an African consciousness book reading and discussion group also local. I'm pretty open but Lorain is lacking in black cultural exercise. This is weird for an area known as Station 100 of the Underground Railroad. (We haven't fully escaped yet and fading away.)

Sunday, September 08, 2013

the crystal tablet predicts

Well it's unofficial, desktops are ancient technology, laptops are old school, and tablets are very hot. Not knocking smart phones, the 10 inch tablet is a tad bit smaller than a standard sheet of paper.

The 10 inch screen is just big enough, the virtual keyboard is fine but with a dock and wireless keyboard, ooh! Looked under the hood (via spec sheet), dual or quad cores for multi-tasking, solid-state memory, flat long life batteries, touch and stylus technology.

Beats the heck out of a slate and piece of chalk. I got ebooks I am actually reading, instructional video clips. I can jot notes like I do in my paper sketchbooks.

This thing is about 3/16" thick. This means they could add a lot of technology and it would be just a little thicker. Come on, its not as thick as a good book yet, can't imagine what else they could put in this thing. It does most of what most people do on a cellphone and computer, just not with big honking hardware.

I got a pic I've been working on, learning how to draw on the tablet. The app is called ArtFlow. It is free from the Google Play app store and only $4.99 to unlock extra features. Lookie!

This is a quonset hut studio with a two cargo container living quarters on the side.

You know you can read all the tutorials you want but the real training starts when you start adjusting and tweaking things while you work through your own ideas. Usually I don't plan to make a pretty picture, just capture the idea, after all it is a sketch and I'm not thinking about a career in architectural rendering. Ha ha I'm free of that kind of striving. Now my artistic stuff I usually use a vector app and there I do aim for a bit of polish.

So here I started with a light pen line adding heavier strokes then using the air brush for washes. Some folks make good use of layers, I have to practice that. You can block out shapes on one layer and more definite forms on the next using the first layer as a guide. When you erase stuff often you worry you can't make the new stuff you draw match the stuff already there. This is just a mind trick, you drew the first part, you are drawing the new part, the SAME PERSON. Just like on paper you blend it together and move on. It takes a little time to wrap your head around drawing on a tablet. I think Deviant Art still has a tablet boot camp tutorial on their site to get you use to digital drawing.

I used CAD tools in my working life, a kind of vector drawing. Very different from this freehand drawing. Exploring and learning is very interesting.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

wearing technology, not

I stopped wearing a wrist watch because they rubbed me the wrong way. My cellphone is a phone, duh! My new tablet does everything the frizzbe does in the movie "Tron", except come back if you throw it or if it's stolen. Who's to say the tablet will be shrunk to a chip and grafted to your scalp? No need for checking in pay pass technology been here for years. If for chance you miss your daily romp pass predetermined checkpoints (hot spots), a hoverdrone will be tracking you trek. Is that seagull really a real bird?

Having a fully activated tablet is like owning a truck, you are now a useful person. No you can't call or txt me on my tablet, this is one of a few private spaces I have left. I would never get any art work done if I have to field calls all the time. So, for creative sanity my tablet is not well connected. The old school has served me well.

There are full body technofibers in the works. You can dress to be an antenna, a hotspot or a blackhole but I'd pay extra to be invisible. These fabrics do come with sweat or moisture warnings, you too could be a lightning rod.

What is the biggest blast in owning a tablet? Why the multiplicity of affordable attachments. Walk in any store, even gas stations, there are covers and plug ins galore. I drove a new rental car, ooh man the technology, but two brackets, some velcro and I have exceeded car tech and I can take it with me. No, it's not a purse, it's my tPC. Hey, I was in Sears and the sales people all had shoulder bags sporting iPads. I needed a ziggy-wiggy, they checked the stock room locally and state wide, on the spot.

Seems the glut of personal computing doesn't require a lot of power and internet connection bares the brunt. Still for heavy stuff like graphics and g, ga, gga, games, a desktop or laptop is cool.

Monday, September 02, 2013

digital appendages

911, what is your emergency? I need a doctor to remove a smart device from the hand of my husband. Calm down and give him a few days, the newness will wear off. No miss, you don't understand, the device has a strong pulse and my husband has fainted...... The medics rush in fast, whip out the paddles and apply them to the device. "Clear!" ZAPP!! The smoking device falls from the man's hand. Good thing we came, the device had a virus and your husband didn't have a backup. Oh, I forgot all about the clone in the closet! Lady it's always good to protect yourself and what about your kids? They're fine, they came into the world with wi-fi but my husband and I only had hi-fi. Tell your husband to stick with wired networks and cable till the ear buzzing stops. He can use the TV remote but not the garage door opener. If he has recurring symptoms he'll have to endure hunt-n-peck therapy on a manual typewriter to be reintegrated into the tech community. Mechanical levers, then tactile pushbuttons, then touch screens. Start him with gloves, then cut the finger tips off the gloves one by one. His capacitive discharge levels were unbalanced (that's a ph thing), watch the salt intake, stay away from tap and cheap bottle water. Hook a ground wire from his pants to the ground when he goes out but never bear footed, (bears can smell bear feet from miles away).

So, I just spent two intensive days at the Lorain Arts Council's 2ns Annual Black River Art Walk. It wasn't as packed as the first, but it was as fun. I used the camera on my Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet a lot, almost 100 pictures a day. I also discovered the video making tools and recorded several bands and two dance troops. It was weird holding the tablet, a big thick square of plastic with a little camera square on the back. Takes two hands and looks kookier than holding a cell phone cam. Gives assuming the position a whole new meaning. The tablet has a 5 mega-pixel camera and takes a 2592 x 1920 pixel picture. Good clear pictures just hold it steady but not zombie stiff. Snap it! 

Hey hey!! I just had to come back and add I just discovered that the same hand gestures that allow you to zoom in and out of a picture or web page also works the zoom in/out of the camera. The "Art Boss" asked me "You got zoom on that thing?", I looked in the manual and so it is. Two fingers on the screen and spread'em or pinch'em. It works, I'm too excited, let me stop.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

back away from the tablet

Let's see, the benefits of a tablet over a laptop. I love the power my laptop has to do graphics via the fully appointed software. The one sore spot I have is the lack of battery life. The older laptop might get an hours worth of untethered work/play, less if graphic intensive. Then, I must use a mouse or the Wacom tablet. I always need the power brick to do real work. Yes, I could buy a new laptop but I chose a tablet instead. I saw them, frowned, but picking the tablet up changed my mind.

OK, my tablet has less power and less powerful software but, does well with what it has. Battery life is 7 or 8 hours and I can use fingers and or the stylus. It is small, fits lap or hand-held use. I can carry it all over the place and has a handy camera, keyboard. So, no matter, I'm loving this availability. I have a tiny mp3 player, well the tablet can do that also and better. No worries about software, there are tons of free apps, many of which have advanced functions locked. You can do a lot as is or pay a little cash to unlock the Full Monty. I'm talking $1 to $10. Not bad at all. This tablet fits snuggly between a laptop and a smart-phone, best of both.

To all you tablet jockeys who sport iPads, don't thump your chest, I have a slight aversion to Apple and Microsoft products. Linux guys do look at the world differently. Things that make you go hummmmmmmm! Mind you my iPad friends are mostly content, have considered the tablet I have and made their choices too.

My wife is a little concerned though, she asked my why I was taking my tablet to my dentist appointment. I plugged it into my car's stereo and listened to a lecture on Black history, way better than radio I can't content control. Let me repeat, the tablet is a very good education device. Yeah, entertainment also, I guess I do jam once in a while. And there are gah, gaa, gama, ggames, games (I don't play games).

I ran into my first limitation the other day, I was running an app called ScribMaster, drew a some lines, then a circle, went to use the paint bucket to fill the circle. It told me I didn't have enough memory to complete this operation. What was that! I'll have to investigate further. Also the word processor has hidden actions to get stuff done, you'll have to read the guide to get the drift. But my realization is that the tablet is not the laptop so learn to respect the tablet for what it has and can do.

For me, smart-phone is too small, laptops are good but not really handy. The tablet is the one for me. Now, tablets come in different strengths and capabilities from eReaders to enhanced graphics tablets. Choose well. And you know those tough looking guys with the chunky chain connected to their wallet? Do that, connect the chunky chain to your tablet, if you frequent crowed places. "This tablet will self destruct in 5 seconds" and a smoke pellet will help too. The lock out from the first Jurassic Park movie is the best one yet (ah-ah-ahh!), but I'd have to add the hissing and spitting lizard with pepper spray. You see why I don't do games.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Remote report, tablet in hand

Ok, this is the first post from my spanking brand new digital tablet. Did I jump ship? No no no!

It runs Android, which is open source and has lots of free software. The paid software is not expensive and there are plenty that pushes to the limits of what this tablet can do, which is a lot.

This tablet has three things I want, long battery life and a Wacom tablet and graphic apps for all kinds of drawing. Are the apps the same quality as desktop stuff? Some yes, some not. But then I can't carry my laptop plus support equipment very easily. I also get a reader, video player and sketch pad. Notice, l didn't mention games, they use up too much time.

My personal opinion, I compromised yet I didn't lose anything. I can see myself sitting by the river or here in the gallery doodlling without distraction. So excuse me while I figure this thing out. I'll send pictures, cheers!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I've joined the revolution

The revolution will not be televised. There is a good reason for that, You see, television is for to mesmerize the masses. It works, there is no argument. The screen fixes the position of the head so that the eyes are inline and the speakers keep the ears in the sound of the master's voice (go nipper). Come on, you know how it works, especially if you got the smarter variety of cell phones. I have resisted with some effort, my phone is a phone, I can receive tex but sending tex, I might as well bang the thing on the sidewalk in Morris Code.

As you can tell while I like technology, I don't appreciate innovations so fast I haven't broken in the stuff I already got. I was a desktop jocky, then laptops, the other day, after much thought (since the laptop days begun) have bought a tablet.

I've got friends with tablets from e-Readers to PC's. I doesn't matter if it can't even do what PCs do, the flash of new technology has become an ego thumping replacement. So how do you join this revolution?

First you look at all what is available. Eyeball the thing and ooggle the price tag.

Then do an inventory of what your needs and wants, needs before wants.

This might take a while so read reviews pro and cons and talk to folks who you see are using them. They are usually excited and volunteer a sales pitch.

Narrow it down to the few devices that suit you and make an executive decision.

Now don't forget, the box unit is not all that you need, The game is the same as with PC's (remember). You need accessories and services, not just the device.

Oh, what I get? I got a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. Why, my choice. I like the integrated Wacom graphics technology so I can draw/paint/doodle. That was the plus over other tablets, for me. As far as artability goes, my main laptop will handle the heavy work. The tablet will be the talented extension. It has a camera, ample storage and lots of battery time, 8 hours compared to 1 if I'm lucky on the laptop. I have to juggle my work load for a while but it is looking good. So, excuse me as I assume the tablet position, till next time.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

source vs discourse

I had a friend, in fact several friends who either would engage me on points of discussion via the wealth of supporting knowledge or the sword of sincerity. I would be so so disinterested because there is no need to sing to the choir. Dag man, you trying to convert me more, shore up your feeble conviction with a chest thumping display or sell me a used car?

I am in fact caught up with all these things, until someone finally shined some light. We can live a whole life in assumption and regard and promote it as fact.

So when engulfed in a mystery
don't overlook the history
not just the history of the myth story
but the complexities of the times
that cause the myth story
to be used as history.

tools of the trade are also the weapons of war
they till the soil, they till your mind.
they draw minerals and nutrients from dirt
they draw agreement or blood from you.

they plant seeds but grow fruit with no seeds
what? they don't have enough life force, enough
nutrition to recreate itself to pass on the power of life?
economic dependency = slavery 

every belief that has a literature
if taken literally is like fruit with no seeds.

The problem is not the literature,
it's the reader

I had watermelon the other day,
was up to my mustache in rhines
it occurred to me, no seeds
How is it I get outraged at the thought of Genetically Modified Foods and here I am not spitting seeds like, a stereotype?

If the seed has been altered
the literature of the discourse is seedless
while convenient for zero waste comsumption
it is a mockery of the natural 

the fruit is still sweet though
intoxicating like a first high
ooh baby I'll never get that buzz again
(but let me try!)

I talk in pictures, my brother taught me that. He requires a certain mental skill called "getting the drift". Hey we all shake the trees, only Newton claimed a head injury.

Friday, August 02, 2013

eye of the bird

Don't know why penguins are classified as birds. Birds fly, that is a universal acknowledgement with respect to the media in which birds normally fly in, the air. But I guess if the media were water and you were to entertain the notion that penguins only fly in water, hmmmmmm!?! Some "birds" fly in the sky, some in the water, some swim on water but do not fly in the water. Penguins are a unique bird, if they are birds, then why aren't platypus birds? Penguins have a beak like most birds, and platypus like a duck but platypus are definitely not birds. The gene pool is a weird place to play in.

What is it that the symbol of the Linux world is a "bird" that only flies in the water? Don't know and if you haven't guessed it the age of the personal computer is over. The new age of the network has been with us for a while. It is the next logical progression. For people who don't care and just plug in, it is the latest gadgets, the social media, the tap in, plug in, connect and go. If you care you talk about who and what holds the info, who authorizes and orchestrates content and what agenda is being managed for what end.

The example is TV. Three channels became seven, then more, all open broadcast. Then satellite and cable with channels out the wahzoo. They feed the lust and the power hunger and thirst for knowledge/info/entertainment. The video distraction market is pay to play and making bucks off of the gotta-have it in you. And you suck in the content (brain straw) without filtering and questioning and monitoring. You have lost your senses. The media defines you and your reality, uh-oh!

No one tells you, you have the power to turn off the TV, that you will go through media withdraw, and that your friends and family are enablers to your TV addiction. They are in it too. It is a cultural construct, a matrix. To limit your involvement in that construct to work on your own construct is the hardest thing in the world. The world being all the ones sharing the same construct.

Don't read the "text", get the "picture", analyze and ponder and apply.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The penguin who sat by the door.

Well I want to tell you PC users who are typical consumer types that you've all been duped but that wouldn't be sporting. I do find it amusing that since I've been using Linux off and on since 1998 and regularly since around 2004 that you are not in the least bit curious. Back in the day when PC's ran DOS and the new "windowed" desktops were emerging, there was a try this attitude. Seems everyone today is follow the leader (buy off the shelf) without question entrenched. There are reasons of course and I can't begrudge anyones logic no matter how flimsy. I got money to what company is behind it to what kind of games to that's for nerds to what is that??????????

So, here's what you missed in the last 15 years that you can add up in dollars and cents. Linux is free today as it was back then and will do all the computing that the other guys do (with various shades of gray, of course).

Interfaces and Desktops:
Not only has the Linux desktop evolved to be as easy to use as any of the commercial brands, but the desktop is such that different desktops are available and can be swapped. There is choice to find a good fit for you. Once you've made a choice, no reason to change just like the commercial brands. Linux versions are based on the desktops available plus a number of tweaks for geeks to make it all work together. It doesn't all go obsolete as fast as commercial stuff, that is a blessing by itself. Linux desktops are easy because the same people but with different brand shirts, make the desktops for commercial brands (Apple and Microsoft) too. Human engineering is what it's called, you can only do so much for us humans, if you want us to use it.

You all know a Snap-On tool is the same tool as a Craftsman tool. What is the diff beside the quality, reputation, pedigree, company name, guarantees, etc; I mean a wrench is a wrench, it turns a nut. A trusted tool however is in the hand of the user. So, in the PC world there are lots of apps that do the same stuff for each platform. It is nuts to compare Apple programs to Microsoft programs to Linux programs. You have to see what is available on the platform you are using, you gets nothing else. That being said, there are application that do all the normal PC stuff, plus a few to do special stuff like Skype and film editing and 3d graphics and software engineering tools. For Linux it has improved so much since 1998 I don't need to talk about it.

Linux has games, not Apple or Microsoft games unless there was some made for Linux. I am not a gamer, but if I wanted to do that, I would buy an Xbox or a Wii or another gaming machine so that my PC is not tied up (ah, can I please use my machine, it's been two days now). Not enough games is not a valid excuse for not using Linux. I think most PC users are looking at laptops anyway. I think laptops don't sport enough power to play the kind of games folks are demanding (please buy a game machine, be done with it). Of course I am a little behind the curve in my opinions because my computing needs are modest and I have the luxury of older hardware, LOL.........

Did I mention Linux is free? Some laugh, you get what you pay for!! Yeah, I didn't pay for it and I got it and it is fine, wonderful in fact! And if I get to feeling all responsible and all, I can donate to any open source software development group to support the fine work they are doing to enable me to compute for free.

Don't under estimate the penguin who sits by the door, he's as smart as the wizard behind the curtain (pay no attention to him!).

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

I is be the man!!

Don't you just hate it when you have to fix or replace something that worked so well and lasted so long you forgot how it worked? Maytag washer repair guys and Toyota mechanics (so they say) and Linux users. We all know about set-it and forget-it.

My PC network is centered on a Linksys WRT54g router. It just stopped getting on the Internet one day last week. I bought a D-Link DIR-601 router about a year back, never installed it. It took me a couple of days to bone up on the network knowledge I thought I knew. Then I had to humble myself to read the instructions and submit to the play-by-play install wizard. I kept injecting my do it this way skills and thwarted the system every time. The wizard probed my system, popped in some settings and it worked and I'm clueless how we both put in the same settings and mine didn't work. I think my settings were only similar and not the same. My defeat issued into a working system.

The worst part of the whole ordeal was having to use XP to use the install CD. You'd think they could write a program that executes in Linux like they do for MACs. I guess they figure Linux users are a minority. Anyway it runs and works fine. I set it and will forget it, until the next time, a few years from now.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

did you catch that epiphany?

Did you catch the epiphany of the last post? A digital tablet lets you draw using the skills you got. It don't do nutt'n to make you an artist. That being said I do recommend you newbe want-to-be digital artist in the making to get some traditional art lessons. If you start out with nutt'n, you'll have nutt'n to work with but hard knocks or knuckles.

We are going backwards because hindsight is a mug. So not to baby you get your Google (or Yahoo ) skills and get "The Complete Book of Drawing Techniques by Peter Stanyer". You can get a free PDF download or a print book via Amazon. It is an Bauhaus art course, it is the basic stuff, can't go wrong.

Then get "Digital Foundations" art course. You have to look around, it comes in two version as far as I can tell. An Adobe Creative Suite version and a FOSS (Free Open Source Software) version. I downloaded the FOSS version as a free PDF. Now this book is the same as The Complete Book of Drawing Techniques but integrates using Photoshop (Adobe) or GIMP (Open Source) softwares. I am a GIMP user.

Now you got two related reference books and you can get an art tutor, art teacher or artist mentor to keep you to task. The point is artistry requires some training to get the mental mind set, mechanical hand-eye sync. To get the basic instruction in "natural media" is the big leg up, then once you figure out how to use the PC hardware and software there is a skills transfer that happens. I can slide lead, roll ink, smear paint and now push pixels. It's the same but different.

Comparing peas to beans, you learn using a steel sword then move to the light saber. Same skills but man, what a rush!!

Monday, April 29, 2013

the digital media input device mod

So I showed you a pic of my tablet work, then the screenshot of MyPaint software, now we will look at the digital media input device.

The story goes like this. I really wanted a graphics tablet, really really bad. I got the least expensive one with the possibility of working with Linux OS. Wacom was/is the way to go with Linux OS. I got the thing and tried it out, hated it. The surface was too slick, it was too small and I really didn't have the desire to actually use it. Up in the cupboard it went. I'd pull it down every now and then to see if I had the gumption. I discovered that I was so used to drafting with instruments and with a mouse I didn't trust my ability to freehand draw.

Then after a few years of sketchbook sketching I developed some freehand skills. It was time to pull it out of the closet. What to do about the size and the surface slickness? I taped the tablet to the inside of an old laptop lid, it seemed better to work with. I found an even older discarded laptop. The old laptops were thick with a 12" screen. I removed the lid and took out the screen. Then I cut the bottom edge of the Wacom tablet off by 1/2". It fit right into the display lid. Then I used foam-board to fill in the sides and covered it all with mylar film for a smooth surface. The display frame snapped on perfectly. The slick surface was handled by a square of paper taped to the surface. What? Oh, you want pictures!
On the left the original Wacom Graphire 2, the right the trimmed down and modded. Yes, it works the same just a little bigger and a lot more fun to use.

Friday, April 26, 2013

a picture jumped on the page

MyPaint is an Open Source painting and sketching application that has versions for Linux, Windows and Mac. It is made for the graphic tablet and is quite intuitive meaning, without fuss you can start making scribbles. Learning how to use it to do something with it however takes time.

I want to be a painter, I buy brushes, tubes of paint, canvas, great desire and go to it. I squirt, I brush, I dab, I smear and discover I needed to prepare the canvas first, then proceed to paint with forethought mingled with invent as you go. I'm not knocking traditional media, just that the process is the same but different for PC art. Put things in good order so as to not waste valuable art materials. On the PC it is not so much a waste of materials but time if that is important to you.

I was sitting in the gallery office, had the tablet hooked up and trying out the brushes and backgrounds in MyPaint. Each brush lends itself to a kind of line, texture and evokes a look. Just like with real paints you have to discover what you can do. There are movements that are natural to you, those are sweet spots. There are awkward movements, those are challenges.

Like I said many times I want to start by drawing like I do in my sketchbooks, why? That is what I am used to, sweet spots. Then try to move on. I started with a few pages of brush stroke lines, smears, splotches. Then tried to form some shapes of objects. A picture started to take shape. Ooh, the eraser works and the undo and also the save often (learned that from drafting).

Subject matter is your passion, superheros, spaceships, animals, faces, you know what you want to do. If you give it a start no matter how cock-eyed it looks, eventually you'll work towards a good outcome. Me, I'm not a natural artist which is rare. I'm a home-brewed, dyed in the wool doodler. If you have professional artist desire, go for it, I'm in it because it's fun and I like it. I have a romantic notion of the fine artist of the past. Today most think of a JOB, get some dime for your time. Keep your passions in sight, prepare for opportunity but, do it because you like it.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

let me explain

When I look at accomplished artist's work I realize the time it took to get there plus the start was not via top shelf, top of the line, name brand equipment and materials. My cousins drew on butcher roll paper. My dad brought home scrap paper from a scrap paper store (pre-recyclling centers). Nothing like a clean side of a blank sheet of scrap paper.

The equipment was the same way, but I would have to justify buying the best quality stuff with my proven skills and deep pockets. Now let me hone in. Using a PC to do art in a comfortable way requires a tablet and pen input device. If you are just starting to draw this way and look only at the stuff that accomplished artist use, you will "stifle yourself Edith!"

I am not a school trained or from birth art prodigy. The money I make goes for food, clothes and rent. I do doodle, draw, sketch, etc; and I want to do it on the PC which is affordable. Graphic tablets can be on the cheap end and still do the job. That is allow you to move the cursor with natural hand motions and leave a trail of pixels on the screen. Being able to use hand pressure to mimic a real pencil or pen is great, but if you've ever drawn with a ballpoint or felt-tip pen, the line weight is constant. You don't even have to buy a new graphics tablet. You just need to do it, get into it, get use to it. Then when you can move up in the drawing equipment world, you can.

Spanking brand new, top shelf stuff is fine but used is great. Awkward and unfamiliar stuff test your limits, incites workaround wisdom and inventiveness and work ethnic (I mean ethic). Hey I started drafting with pencils, then pen and ink, then computer aided design (CAD). Even CAD is leaps better now than Cad back in the day.

So, go get a used graphics tablet if you simply need to doodle on the PC and quit vexing your mouse. The fewer bells and whistles the more you have to put yourself into it. Keeps the human touch in art.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

sketch what you like

Sketch what you like. I mean that literally. If you are trying out your tablet via tutorials you may make a good attempt, but if you draw what you like it will drive you to draw it like you want to see it. What the first time is not so good! You'll draw it better the next time. Mind you, I'm not the step by step guy here. I do doodle and to digital doodle is the same. I want you to feel your pen and the tablet.

 When I first used a ball point pen for doodling it was messy. Eventually the character of the pen lines plus the occasional ink globs were no longer an unexpected event. When you know what to expect, you trust your tools. Now you can let ideas come through your tools. It is the same with using a paint brush as with a digital pen. You are learning the parameters of the media, the feel, the control, what the output is. Sketch what you like and think about the process. Adjust your input, grade your output.

What I like about drawing and painting digitally, no waste of paper or canvas when trying out stuff or doodling. I can print if and when I want on what ever media the printer will accept and also print via 3rd party printers.

Again draw what you like, that is a motivator. I've been into designing homes using quonset huts and steel cargo containers. Here is a sketch on the digital tablet I popped just before writing this blog post.
Yeah, the house looks like a camera. There is no professional blah blah blah. But the point was to sketch out the idea I saw in my head. I have done this on paper and now I can do this on the digital tablet. Woo, woo, lookie what I did!!!!!!

Now I can pick up a tutorial or two on fine points like perspective, shadows, texture, color, line types. And make use of computer stuff that makes digital drawing so great like undo/redo, erase, layers and masking.

Now some words from the master Yoda concerning knowledge of the (creative) force. Doodle or doodle not, there is no try, just doodle!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

tablet cronicles from scratch

For me there there are two main kinds of drawing, sketching and single line. Sketching is used for capturing the idea. There is usually the expectation of refining a sketch to bring the idea into focus. You could very well wind up with a photo-realistic picture if you were of that bent. That is way beyond my skills and desire. Now single line is a way of drawing the outlines. To me this requires a level of assuredness to capture a likeness with simple single pen strokes. This is like cartoon drawing. But can you draw like this right off the bat? I'd say not. Try to draw a circle or a box or a shoe or a bike. We might see it in our head but putting pen to paper requires some concentration and practice.

Now doing this on paper is one thing, on the digital tablet is another. Can be close though if you have comfort and control. On the left of the above pic is sketching and I tried to single line the same objects on the right. The confidence of the single is lacking as I am so used to sketching. I don't draw many objects anyway. What has captured my mind is Zentangles. This is a kind of concentrated single line drawing where perfection is not required. Good line quality can be developed over time. And yes most people approach Zentangles with a fiber pen and a 3.5" square of paper. To do digital tangles is kind of new and kind of awkward. Sounds like fun to me. I'll let you know how I'm progressing.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

beginning the art of tablet from scratch

As usual, if I determine to do something that requires habit changing work, it don't work. But if I'm curious, aching to try it or stumble upon, the game is on. This is why I got a pen and tablet years ago but never used it. Now that the thrill is gone and the tablet is many years old, I'm ready to use it.

Hey it still works like new! A Wacom Graphire 2, the working area of the 7 x 8 tablet is 4 x 5 inch. First make it comfortable for me. I took the lid of an old laptop and mounted the tablet inside it. I used foam board to fill out the sides and match the size of the lid. Then I covered the whole surface a sheet of thin mylar. The active area is still 4 x 5 inches but the lid is 8 x 13 inches, a little bigger drawing plane.

The surface of the tablet is slippery for the pen tip. It makes drawing unstable. I taped a sheet of paper over the the active area. The grain of the paper slows down the action of the pen on the surface enough for good hand feel. You got to feel you are in control. Having always drawn on paper, the pen tip across paper feels right. The next thing is to doodle, make lines and shapes to develop stroke skills. It is like drawing with a pen overloaded with ink. The lines start before you really want to write and finish after you intend to stop. Why? because the equipment is sensitive, you have to compensate. This tweaking involves both your equipment, your motor skills and eye/hand coordination.

On that web site "deviantArt", there is a couple of tablet tutorials that have exercises. These are much like the pencil and pen skills you learn in art class.
Now while you have the momentum, start sketching stuff and look at tutorials on you tube. That's where I'm at now. Do do it. Here are my recent attempts.

These were done in the program called MyPaint. I'm not much of a freehand drawer. I want to first draw the way I do in my sketchbooks. Then I will start working on projects for cards and printer art. But what I like about MyPaint is the keyboard shortcuts to control pen size and hardness. This frees you up from clicking menus. And also I like that the drawings look like I drew them and not the computer. On the computer but not by the computer. So, I made the jump, your turn.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

not too late

One of my buds let me fix the laptop of a member of his bible study group. He was an older person who lent it to one of his kids. Now I have done this very thing myself and the results was the same, viruses.

Kids like games and music, only the sites they hit are dispensers of PC pestilence. This also happens when you hit certain advertisers and of course peep show sites. The need for user discretion is not always adhered to.

There is also a crime perpetrated on new PC users called selling an unprotected PC to make more money selling separate protection software packages. Many buyers are unaware they need protection, think they are careful, can't afford the cost of virus protection. My answer is because the viruses are out there, buyers should be informed.

Now, there are free anti-virus software available like Avast, AVG and others. Microsoft Securities Essentials, which I used on this laptop I fixed is also free. This was a Microsoft Vista laptop. When I got it, it had 264 or so copies of a Trojan virus. Just like the Trojan Horse, it looks innocent, packs a replicating mess. Two days of scanning and cleaning removed the viruses from the hard drive. Nothing but mindfulness  will change the habits of the users that allowed this to happen, plus virus protection.

I don't know how well Microsoft Win 7 and 8 handle viruses, XP and Vista are wide open. You need protection, buy it or download a free anti-virus.

I am a Linux user. In my 20 years of using Linux I have not had any problems with viruses. Most viruses are written to attack Microsoft systems. I have had malware added but they were only compatible with Windows operating systems and could not run in Linux. I do have scanning and cleaning apps for Linux just in case.

Some users will fork over a PC to a techie friend and ask them to please fix it. This is not always a quick fix but a intricate tangle that could hose your PC. You could lose important stuff if the quick fix is format the hard drive, reinstall Windows. If the hard drive is large/full, there is no quick fix. Scanning files takes time, the more files the more time it takes.

For care-free, free-wheeling computing, you should do the following. Do regular maintenance (clean up files, stuff folders, defrag), do anti-virus update and system scan (can be done while you sleep), backup your newly cleaned hard drive to a remote USB drive or DVDs and create backup set points so that you will have a copy of "the last working system settings", just in case start up problems arise. These things will also help your techie friend fix your stuff. And just as you learn to check the oil and change a tire on the car, learn a little bit about the PC to save on a repair bill (read the users manual and or get a book on the subject).

Remember, popular computing without protection is a no no.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

even later

Spring has arrived several times this year and I did the cleanup thing. My PC was getting all stuffy, opening windows to air out. AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!

I have been using Mint 13 Linux with the Cinnamon Desktop. Then I added KDE Desktop because it has improved or rather my understanding of KDE has improved. The install was hurried, I put it all on one disc partition. Not  good if you are subject to change like me. I had two other options. The first was put all personal files on a USB external drive or make a separate partition for the "Home" folder which is what I did, on the main drive. Now I can change the operating system partition any time I need to, my separated personal files stay unmolested.

With that said I backed up the personal stuff to DVDs, the address book, hidden email folders and web shortcuts to flash drive, formatted the drive and installed a fresh Mint 14 with KDE. There are few quick and painless installs, ever, if you say nay, you lie or can endure more than most. A good dose of forethought, planning and resolve can help greatly and a mirror to talk to yourself.

I took a chance because when I started the install the screen went dim, stayed that way until I later installed the video card drivers after the OS was running. I was ready to trash it. If something is unfamiliar this is a normal reaction. Don't panic till you see the whites of your eyes in the mirror. A mirror is a good tool. You thought I was kidding.

Then comes the tweak-fest, getting the new setup to act like the last setup. Fonts, browser plugins for video, media codecs, working sound, internet, wireless. Then tweak the window themes, desktop icons, the panels, the clock/calender format and mouse clicks.

Go back to work, you'll notice if somethings not right yet. Hey that's the geek  life. How cool is it? Well as I mentioned I put KDE on top of another system. You can mix it up but they have different window management programs. Apples run better with apples and oranges with oranges. So this time it is just KDE and KDE's window manager. It runs smooth as expected. Only the wireless mouse is edgy at times, the wired mouse is fine. Did I mention tweaking is addicting? Tell yourself in the mirror to don't worry be happy, And quit smiling at that reflection.

Monday, March 25, 2013

the latest

Got a little discretionary spending money, bought a wireless mouse. It is small and great for a rodent, made by iHome. In my car I have a radio that is thief-locked out because the power was removed. I need to have a dealer scan and unlock the darn thing. It has a cassette player (like an 8 track), OK, it's a tape player, sheeesh! Anyway I got an adapter in the shape of a cassette tape. You slide it into the deck, has a cable to connect to a MP3 player and you hear it through the car's speakers. I bought a small MP3 device to listen to stuff I load from my laptop. Hey it's cheaper that a used car radio w/cd.

Speaking of laptops, I'm getting used to KDE desktop, I like it. My daughter came and got her laptop. I replaced a little circuit board that held the power connector socket only to discover the plug on the power supply was bent enough to cause a power shortage. Bought another jump drive, 4 gig for $6 on sale. It is so small I'll have to hide it from the cats. My next thing is wireless headphones for the laptop. Oh to roam the house without an umbilical attached. I found a Bluetooth unit but the laptop doesn't have Bluetooth, so a USB wireless will have to do. A USB wireless network device would be cool too, I'll think about it.

At the gallery we got a flat screen just for display of video art in the gallery. I've been putting slide shows and videos on it. I use VLC for the media player, it does not choke and handles a wide range of media files and does conversions too.

Mostly I've been buying small devices to tweak what I already own. Buying new systems is tempting but I need to get more mileage out of what I got for now.

Spring is here (somewhere), time to scrap the surplus hardware, PC carcasses and junk (2 boxes of floppy disc and CDs).

Now we're all caught up, the do-it list is active and things are progressing. How about you?  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

why is trying so trying?

It is because of habits. Oh, you are so flexible and have wide ranging know how. Not really, you have habits, preferences, comfort zones, patterns, familiarity, a groove, work flows that fit and name brand loyalty. So when change comes along it hurts, adjustments need be made, seems whacked, strange, I'm risking something here, there's a learning curve, it's new, it's different, I've gotta get use to this............

The antidote to computer anxiety has always been good instruction and play time. You learn the basics, accomplish something simple and mess around a little. You begin to build appreciation by figuring out how to do the things you've always done. While you are doing all this you see how the system responds to your input and how to maneuver the screens. Knowing what to expect is a big part of comfort.

I've been a big fan of the Gnome desktop in Linux many years, been my first choice because I understand how it works as a user. KDE always seemed like one extra step to do the same thing. In the past the computer world acted like sugar junkies. The eye-candy in full explosion mode after bootup. You couldn't even see what the heck you're doing for all the whiz bang. It became the selling point or the bragging rights, "ooh, lookie what I can do on this!" You can still have this but now it is hidden behind a control panel. You can tweak to full bloom if you want to or not. So you can see what kept me and KDE apart. Today, I am pleased with a modest amount of glitz. I don't use my computer for showing off, and need that power to do useful stuff. OK, I show off a little.

KDE so far is snappy, some applications open faster than in Gnome. KDE and Gnome are not polished in the same places. Gnome has nicer window trims. I'm trying to do what I've always done, which makes KDE seem awkward. The feel is different. Confidence comes with experience and time. Now, I've got to go so you folks keep on doing what you do and also try something new.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Trying more, enjoying less.....

Hi gang, been doing all sorts of stuff. The art gallery had a whiz-bang Black History Month reception with drummers, dancers, singers, portrayals and artwork.

I got the itch again to explore some desktop options. These things always make me rethink how I handle my PC setup. I did some research on Krita, the drawing, painting program. I am looking for tutorials so I can see what "work flows" suit me. You just can't jump in and start, mess'n around. Well, you can but, some friendly help gets you further down the road.

As you know I am using Mint 13 (Maya) on my laptop. It is a work horse and I like it a lot. The version I am using has the Cinnamon desktop, much like most desktops. I got the urge to try KDE (K Desktop Environment) again. It has improved and caught my attention once more. Installing it I made the mistake of not having a separate hard drive partition for my "Home" directory. So I can't reformat to install a new OS without destroying everything. Let that be a warning to all you "gotta change it" folks. Partition with change in view, have a good backup plan, a big flash drive and maybe an external USB drive. I wanted to install the new Mint 14 KDE version. The live CD causes my laptop screen to go dim. I had to settle for installing KDE from the repositories on to Mint 13. If I really want this Mint 14, I will have to backup all my stuff, darn. But why the dim screen? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm?

I did put Anti-X Linux on my other laptop. I like it and I don't. It is not a good choice because it doesn't allow CD booting without mess'n wid stuff. I will install a friendlier linux on it. Here is one thing I never liked about Linux. On a Microsoft system, you can set it up so that PC's can see each other on a network, to share files. It is pretty easy. It is not so easy to do the same on a Linux network. To say it better, it is not explained so the average sort of-kind of tech savvy person can do it. Linux loses me in the explaining department. I may get it someday but not today. In the meantime, Krita looks promising.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

try try again

There is one little thing in Linux I don't like. It is when programming platforms compete. There pops up a compatibility question. I use the Gnome desktop and the associate applications use a platform called "gtk". The competing platform is "qt" for the K desktop. It is no big thing until you like a "qt" application and install in on the "gtk" platform. I'm glad I'm not a programmer needing to make it all work. Actually it doesn't matter because the required libraries are installed to run what programs you have. I think it is a psychological hassle for me. With testing I get over it.

I have this app called Krita, it is a "qt" program and part of the K office suite. The kool thing is I didn't have to install the  K office suite to use Krita but, it does install the libraries to run the K office suite just to run Krita. Can you see my concern. Some times too much software can mean redundancy and or bloat.

So.....I installed the drawing app called Krita. When I first tried Krita a while back, it was limited. It seems to have been developed further. Drawing apps are weird because they have the same or similar tools but, you have to make yourself like the various interfaces. There is some strange mix of bit-mapped and vector drawing, plus a semblance of paint tools and effects. The best app is one that allows you to quickly find the tool and use it without pain in the creative process. I'm haven't time yet to play with Krita. When I do I will say further. Seems to work fine so far. Over time you can get used to anything, pain and all.

On the pen and paper front. I can't quite call my new hand drawing muse Zentangle, it's sort of more like Zendoodles or something. Anyway I whipped out a few more and am still intrigued by the whole experience. Another class is coming up on Monday, I will try to be there if I can. What fun, I think I am getting use to my own drawing. No, better than that. I am appreciating the line quality of my own drawing. I will not waste my bandwidth trying to be photograph perfect in my hand drawing. Woooah!
My anxiety level just went way down.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

size smatters

Every time I do a digital work someone comments, "you know it would look good really big." This really gets me because my printer only puts out so big. I could go to a commercial printer but funds are limited. I tried to draw big but it's not the same. Drawing big requires a different mindset, larger materials and pens that will administer lots of ink or paint. I thought I would draw small and print big.

I am overcome by planning and working to the size. It is killing my urge to have fun and create. This gal, a member of our gallery, Susan Olsen, she is into something called "Zentangles". Man, did she draw some wonderful stuff. I thought that was not the kind of draw to suit me. Recently a Zentangle teacher, Judy Montgomery, taught a class at the gallery, I sat in. Dudes, dudettes, I was into it!! It could help my skills, I'm convinced.

It is sketching on a higher level, opens the realm of possibilities. What was  so killing was we drew in a 3 inch square. I never had that much creativity in so small a space.
Anyway, I am not much of a freehand drawer, more of a doodler, AH!, right up my alley. I have doodled for a long time, somehow this adds to it. Maybe it's the meditative aspect or that it obliterates a blank page with what ever creative juice you didn't know you had.

Here is one of my tiny works:

Of course I had to scan it into the PC and print it out bigger. So, I think I'll dig a little deeper into this and release the inner artist. Then see how I can incorporate it with my computer stuff. Big is good and small is gooder.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

art-o-rama vs art-a-tunity vs art-o-mine

Time for a field trip. Went to a big show in a huge warehouse space. Monster works of art. Dang, what kind of drugs was he on? Over and over, wave after wave, paper and canvas and boards and stone and.......gee my little squirts on paper are nothing.

Another scene, another place. Man what were they thinking, where're  they going with this? It's like they are trying so hard to do something big or complex. It looks so intricate, so elaborate, complicated. I never seen so much work that required sweat to accomplish, so sophisticated.

One more place, the doors are locked, I'll just look through the windows. Yeah, I guess you can call it art. Oh, I'm having a flashback.........remember that movie "Eddie and the Cruisers"? The scene when Diesel was hammering licks on his ax at a bar. Eddie told him he played too many notes to be memorable. Great skill yes, a stunt for sure, memorable?, nah! Then Eddie played straight up'n funky (I still can hear the tune).

What's the diff? It's just art. I closed my eyes, counted the works I did by my own hand reviewing the history of each. My muscles relaxed and my heart stopped racing. I realized I am not competing in the trend wars or the top artist of the world race. The art feat is not me and the starving artist network doesn't need me. I can't see or imagine to see through eyes not in my head and I don't have to forget everything I learned in school so that my natural talent can come back.

I don't try so hard to make art. I just do it because I like to do it. When I play and fuss and experiment and stumble, I do just that. Then when art shows itself, I recognize it, embrace it, I'm done. I used to think a high degree of education and skill is what I need to have. Today I consider myself a "graphics primitive" and "art dabbler" compared to many. But the primary goal is to make art according to myself. That's the thing that makes it unique. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

deeper into my lines

The secret of any artist in any medium is to take what is in the head and make it so others can see it. Sometimes the transition or translation is smooth, sometimes not. Sometimes the outcome is exact, maybe close, and sometimes not as envisioned. We call that artistic process and artistic skill. Drawing is a big part of all that.

I talked with a local artist and teacher, he told me that most people do not know how to look so they can't draw what they see. I say they can't draw what they think either. Why? You have to get used to drawing, making a mark, guiding a pen or pencil. This is about the need and desire to do it. Now, what does that mark communicate? Does it say what you intend to communicate? Just like when you learned to write words and arrange them to convey speech, marks on a page can become pictures. It can start with cartoon like sketches and end up photo-realistic.

I am a notebook fanatic. Back in the day it was poetry writing, now it's sketchbooks. What is this about? You got the knack, you are developing the skill, you need to work on content to make it all relevant. I'm sorry you can't do one thing and then the other. In fact usually content drives you to develop the skills so that you can have your say, express your view, record for posterity in a way that others can appreciate it. What mathematician writes in an unknown language? He or she uses the symbols known by all and if they get inventive, they explain in detail the new form. Drawing even though the outcome can be abstract, is based on primitive forms and shapes common to human thought and physical abilities. I wish they quit trying to get monkeys and elephants to draw, that's fun but lame on too many levels. That's my point, even man's primitive levels are high levels.

So that's my art lesson. Desire to make a mark, learn to make marks. Desire to draw what you see, learn to look. We look through our passions. I was a model in a life drawing class. The class first drew me in caricature, big lips, knobby fingers, wide nose, what they thought a black person looked like. The teacher cursed, scolded and shocked the class, I was so embarrassed. Look dispassionately, like a camera, faithfully recording what is. You can go in and add your passion (details) later. The second round of pics were better, more life-like. The third round I appeared on the students paper. Life drawing, not cartooning.

Me, I'm a drafter, used to shapes and symbols. I gravitated toward more abstract art. It tends to be a different kind of looking than life drawing or cartooning, yet I consider if folks will understand what I'm trying to say or at least be comfortable with it. Lines and shapes and color is a language that requires lots of practice. Today it is common for practice works to be displayed as art. It is common for folks to say, "that's not his best work", in retrospect. The world is a flood with practice or developmental art pieces, so the buying public should be picky, choosy and discriminating. Buy because you like it first, then for the name if you must. Hey I went from drawing art to buying art. Hint! Hint!

Monday, January 14, 2013

my kind of lines

The main problem being me is I do more than one type of drawing. Yes the years of being a draftsperson has taken it's tole. Free hand drawing is still a challenge especially on the PC. I just can't seem to get enough of a handle on it. I usually wind up drawing on paper and scanning the drawing into the PC. This can be awkward at times.

Drafting is somewhat mechanical even if it's electrical, which is the realm my training has been. Electrical drafting can be unsatisfying, schematics are so symbolic. When you get into physical hardware designing circuit boards and device enclosures, things begin to get more interesting. What I am saying is that drawing things can be as intoxicating as drawing people, if you're into that. But mechanical drawing is not what I had in mind. Now architectural subjects are cool to me. This area is what got me drawing in the first place.

I started sketching houses in pencil, then ball point pen. I was fascinated with perspective views. My drawings were all about lines and using lines to represent textures and shadows. I even managed to use lines to show reflection and transparency. Not just exterior views, also interior views. I think my knack was designing. You know, if I were doing it from scratch, I'd design it like this.

When I made the jump into computer aided design, AutoCad was/is the tool of choice. I got to use it because I worked for some industry. I could not afford to buy my own copy and as the machines to run it well went up in price/quality, so did the price of AutoCad. There have been several drafting programs out there of lesser value, usually with awkward or un-AutoCad like interfaces and features. The kicker is that all have run on the MS PC platform. There are to date a few Linux drafting programs but because I am not into that realm anymore I can not elaborate.

BUT what has turned my head is a program called Sketch UP by Google. Sketch UP does 2D and 3D drawing and shading and............runs on MS machines go figure. I tried running Sketch UP on my Linux machine using WINE a MS Windows virtual machine for Linux. Not being code savvy I couldn't make it behave. Then I got Virtualbox which is a virtual machine hosting system. You can load many different operating systems on it, I installed XP. It runs in a Linux window just as if it were installed by itself on a PC. Then I installed Sketch UP onto XP. It works great, plays nice. I do have pictures of progress...........
Not too shabby for a guy just puttering around. I use the free version Sketch UP 8. There is a Pro version I am looking at, the price is nice, but for now this is fine. Oh yeah, the first pic was processed through a rendering program to get the more realistic qualities, the second is in a sketch mode. A heck of fun anyway.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

note from the baker

Hi all, been real bizzy with normal stuff. Baked another batch o'video cards. First batch in August of 2012 and I was real excited. One card lasted only 2 months the second 5 months, not bad. Imagine how long if it were made out of Twinkies!! Now I know I need to get online and buy a new/used card or a new machine, I'm stall'n.

Any way I preheated the oven to 385 degrees and baked for 10 minutes. I used bamboo kabob skewers poked thru paper plates to make a rack to rest the cards on.

The only words of caution, off gassing of circuit board materials are probably not cool in a cook stove used for cooking meals. And if the circuit board has can capacitors do not cook, they might explode.

So here I am staring at two working laptops again, and again I do not know how long they will last. They look clear and glitch free.

Other things happening I am always butting heads with Abode product users at the Art Gallery. Converting things into formats they can use is trying if you convert from Linux app formats to Adobe like formats. I say "like" because often the Linux or open source version of Adobe formats is not always a good fit. I blame this on Microsoft and Adobe. They are companies who change their propriety stuff and don't always think about the open source programs. I have few problems with PDF, JPG or PNG, but Inkscape's SVG (a vector format) doesn't get over for Adobe fans.

I just completed a slide show in a Linux app called Imagination. It takes many kinds of media files and turns them into MP2-3 files to be burnt onto a DVD or VCD. 69 different transitions, various amimations and sound track, it is loads of fun.

So I use different programs to work on the parts of this project, like Audacity to trim an audio file to fit my slide show. Gimp and Inkscape to make and size each picture. Then Imagine to arrange it all and make the final slide show file.

We do get PC donations at the Gallery (sometimes dumped). The older PC's are only cool if they can do graphics. We discovered that even my slide show file requires a little power to do the transitions smoothly. Still slide shows are a great way to make an older PC useful.

OK. I've got to go do the dance of joy and gloat over my two laptops, later!