Monthly Archives: March 2006

MoOM & more

  • If you’re looking for a visually rich way to fritter away your time on this planet, you could do worse than visiting Coudal Partners’ MoOM, the Museum of Online Museums. Where else can you find links to Bosch’s hellscapes, the history of movie titles, and the graphical history of sweet, delicious meat?
  • Like drawing on a Wacom Cintiq, but don’t want to balance a huge LCD on your lap? How about using it together with this crazy harness-thing? [Via]
  • It’s not of earth-shaking significance, but I thought it was interesting (and kind of charming) to see how random Austrian people draw logos from memory. [Via] I wonder how folks would do with the Adobe logo. It’s not that much of a household item, though it did make an appearance in the Adbusters flag.
  • Motion graphics house Shadowplay Studios has posted a great title sequence from the new movie Thank You For Smoking. [Via] (For more great motion graphics work, check out Justin Cone’s Tween blog & huge set of links.)
  • Illustrator, Flash, AE, and a bandsaw…

    …equals kinetic sculpture. This is one of the coolest customer applications of Adobe tools I’ve seen in a while. Artist David C. Roy builds spring-driven wooden forms that, once given a few cranks by hand, provide hours of hypnotic movement.
    Though the techniques page is out of date (is that Illustrator 6 and Extreme 3D??), David reports that he’s been evolving his technique in synch with the software and cutting tools. He writes:

    I do all my drawing directly in Illustrator, and as an idea matures I “test” it in After Effects. The direct update link between the programs has been a great boon as I can modify the forms in Illustrator, often using symbols, and get almost immediate feedback on how the piece will look in motion from After Effects. The design of my “Variation” series and my new sculptures Illusion and Spectrum were greatly enhanced by the ability to see motion and quickly change the design.

    I use After Effects expressions to simplify setting up the animations. They are nothing elaborate, but they make for far more realistic motions. In the case of the Variation series I use them to keep the orbiting forms counter rotating in time with carrying wheel. In the “bird form” pieces like Migration and Quest I use expressions to keep the bird “level” as the wheels that carry it move at varying speeds. This was very tedious prior to expressions. I’m currently working on a new design where a form that is carried by other counter rotating wheels will pick up a swinging motion but basically stay in a fixed orientation. I was able to add the swinging by simply including a sine function and controlling the amount of swing with a constant.

    (this_comp.layer(“back wheel 6 spoke”).rotation+this_comp.layer(“back
    carrier”).rotation)*-1 + (Math.sin(time)*60)

    The animated simulations can then be exported directly from After Effects to SWF for use on the Web, though David reports he’ll often bring them into Flash or LiveMotion for tuning first. When it’s time to build the pieces in the real world, he converts his Illustrator documents to DXF files using a plug in from BPT-Pro. These files get emailed to a local father/son team who have a large computer-controlled router. These guys convert the DXF files directly to machine code, then send it to the cutter. “It is amazing to watch the machine work,” says David.
    It’s likewise amazing to watch an artist and his work grow with the tools. Seeing the technology open doors makes the long hours of development worthwhile. [Thanks to Photoshop engineering director Marc Pawliger, who hangs Tri-Fusion in his home, for the lead.]
    [Tangentially related: speaking of computer-assisted woodcutting, Turn Your Head will take a picture of your profile, then use a lathe to render your profile on a wooden dowel. [Via]]

    Logo thievery o' the day

    It’s a bit off topic, but consider it a little payback to all the comment-spammers out there. This morning I received a comment linking to a “Vasu Infotech,” who must be big hockey fans, having boosted the logo of the Colorado Avalanche. I’m actually kind of charmed by the total nakedness of the theft (as blatant as when someone did a “Save As” in IE years ago & copied the NEC site my team had built). So here ya go, spammers: you officially get one past the goalie, and it’s so that I can call out your cheesy, design-biting ways.
    [Update: Since their site seems to have punked out (hah!), here’s a screenshot.]

    720 hours in Illustrator; Painting with light

  • Think you’ve got patience and attention to detail? You’d need it to match the work of illustrator Kevin Hulsey. His site features a variety of tutorials that demonstrate techniques for building up artwork in Photoshop and Illustrator. Creating “Radiance of the Seas” took some 720 hours, and it’s fascinating to watch a fully rendered ship develop from line work in Illustrator into color in Photoshop, rendered in lavish high resolution. Kevin’s ghosting technique produces some lovely translucent results, too. [Via]
  • Playing with blending modes in Photoshop can enable some very cool painting with light (a la Picasso, not this dude). Computer Arts features a rather neat tutorial on the subject.
  • On a related note, this month’s Surface Magazine features a piece on Swedish collective Front, who use motion capture technology to sketch with light pens, then render the results as functional furniture. Check out images as they move from conception to finished pieces. Kind of reminds me of Moholy-Nagy’s Leda and the Swan. [Via]
  • Why do I have to pay for the Photoshop SDK?

    A. You don’t! Technically, you never did, but a few years back a policy change meant that in order to request the SDK, you needed a paid membership in the Adobe Solutions Network. There are lots of good reasons to join the ASN (co-marketing, tech support, product discounts, etc.), but you shouldn’t have to sign up just to get the SDK. So, some time back (at least a year ago) we changed the policy so that you can simply make the request via the SDK via a Web form.
    We’ve also split the SDK between two different versions, Basic and Advanced. The Basic SDK includes everything you’ll need except the File Format and File Import/Export information. For that, you’ll need to make a request through the link provided above so that we can do the additional paperwork to get you the Advanced SDK (still no charge).
    We haven’t done a good job of communicating this change (in fact, some of the old info still exists & needs to be updated), so I thought I’d blog it here. [Update: There’s also a user-to-user forum for discussion of SDK-related issues.]

    The Best Distress in the West

    If the shiny, happy, fresh-scrubbed “Web 2.0 look” is starting to look a little clichéd to you, check out The Academics of Worn from Airbag Industries’ Greg Storey. Greg talks about ways to leverage the shapes, typefaces, and colors of the past, and he links to Cameron Moll’s popular series of tutorials, That Wicked Worn Look. Besides sharing tips & PSD source files, Cameron also links to additional discussions and a a wealth of examples.
    For more, see also these:

    PS–Hey, no matter what, design these days looks better than ye olde Web 1.0 logos, right?

    Faking tilt-shift with Photoshop

    Heh–a little trend seems to have grown up around giving aerial photos the appearance of miniature models, first by using tilt-shift lenses & now via Photoshop.
    Photographer Olivo Barbieri’s work drew some attention a few months back, inspiring folks without tilt-shift lenses (or helicopters, for that matter) to find other ways to produce similar effects. Writer Christopher Phin whipped up a simple Photoshop tutorial, and now there’s a Flickr photo group devoted to tilt-shift fakery (here’s a good set) [Via]. A similar technique has been applied to a movie, and Boing Boing provides more good examples here.

    Greased Lightbox

    Photographer/developer Joe Lencioni‘s interesting little project Greased Lightbox lets Firefox display clicked images in an attractive floating overlay. Once this script is installed, clicking on an image link (e.g. from Flickr or Google Images) displays the image like this. Greased Lightbox is based on Lightbox JS, and using it required first installing Greasemonkey for Firefox (or this thing for Safari, which I couldn’t make work).

    New Lightroom podcasts now available

    Adobe photography evangelist George Jardine has posted a pair of new podcasts covering Adobe Lightroom. In the first, Lightroom engineers Mark Hamburg & Kevin Tieskoetter discuss printing, color management, and more with George and Jeff Schewe. In the second, Jeff along with fellow imaging experts Bruce Fraser and Tom Fors answer questions that beta testers called in to the Lightroom Hotline. To listen in, fire up iTunes, search the music store for “Lightroom,” and hit subscribe. Alternately you can try this URL (worked well for me in Safari but not in Firefox).

    Photoshop Automator Actions 2.0 released

    Hardworking author/scripter Ben Long has returned with version 2.0 of his popular Photoshop Automator Actions. In addition to introducing 22 new actions, Ben writes, “The biggest improvement is a new architecture that makes it much speedier, and that eliminates the problem of Photoshop having to open all of the documents in a batch at one time.” I’ve heard plenty of good feedback from folks using the scripts in production, and they’re a great example of nice Photoshop/Mac OS integration.
    By the way, if you’re interested in automating Photoshop and plan to attend next week’s Photoshop World in Miami, check out Matt Kloskowski’s Photoshop for Geeks session. I was amazed that the previous installment of Matt’s talk drew more than 100 people to an 8:30pm session (!). It was a great vote of confidence in our efforts to make Photoshop more extensible, and as before my pal Jeff Tranberry from PS development will be on hand to answer questions & gather feedback.