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 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.......