Monthly Archives: September 2006

I {Heart} Pixel Art

David Pogue in the NY Times recently posted links to a number of great examples of pixel art:

Elsewhere, DSicons.com is devoted to pimping Mario Karts on Nintendo DS’s & will design artwork on commission. [Via] And meanwhile citizens of Taiwan are protesting their government through this virtual sit-in.
Slightly related: I love the line art in Röyksopp’s “Remind Me” video, and though it’s not pixel art, I like Adam Simpson’s bleak little isometric city. And posted previously, here’s how to draw a pixel portrait tutorial.

Visual Trickery, Vol. III

  • Bad Maggie, no biscuit: The Mighty Illusions blog features two takes on Margaret Thatcher’s face, highlighting the way our brains interpret shapes differently based on orientation and context. (Try scrolling the page slowly, so that you see only the first pair of images before looking at the second, inverted pair.) [Via]
  • Artist Harvey Opgenorth does “Museum Camouflage,” placing himself in front of well known pieces of art, using thrift-store salvage to blend into them. [Via] He shares some theory on it here. (Reminds me of that wallpaper shirt from Garden State.)

[See previous I and II.]

Crazy umbrella-cam/Flickr browser

I’ve mentioned some unusual cameras before, but this one takes a Special Jury Prize for Weirdness: The Pileus System is a functioning umbrella that can also capture still images and video, upload them to Flickr, and project other users’ creations onto the umbrella’s skin. Uploads are automatic, and twisting the grip browses Flickr and YouTube for related tags.
Marginally related: UMBRELLA.net is an art project that links umbrellas via Bluetooth, making them light up in one another’s presence. And the iBrella consists of “a Pic Microcontroller, a 2-Axis Accelerometer, Hall-Effect Sensors and a Gyroscope”–all so that you can gesture wildly and thereby control your iPod.

Seetharaman Narayanan (three times fast!)

Heh–the fascination goes on: the excellently named killer coder and all-around good sport Seetharaman Narayanan of the Photoshop team has been interviewed by David Friedman of IronicSans. Seetha talks about his fan club, history with Photoshop, and enjoyment of “Playboy’s number one Party School in 1987” (wha? though it does help explain why I once got a feature into PS in exchange for a bottle of Don Julio). Now that Boing Boing has picked up the news, we just need someone to make a techno remix featuring the phrase “Seetharaman Narayanan”… [Via]

Lightroom Beta 4 has arrived

Beta 4 of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (note the new name) has arrived on Adobe Labs. This release incorporates a great deal of user feedback* and is the first to offer feature parity between Mac (Universal since day 1) and Windows. Important changes include the following:

  • Groundbreaking changes in the way tone curve adjustments are made and displayed, giving you the highest quality results in an interface that’s easier to use than ever before. (See Martin Evening’s excellent overview of the Develop module for more details.)
  • More streamlined and elegant user interface – We’ve made several changes to the look and feel based on your feedback in the earlier beta releases.
  • Customizable interface – You can now display only the controls you want to be visible.
  • Precision white balance selection tool
  • Facility to easily rename and convert files to DNG after they’ve been imported to the Lightroom library
  • Increased interaction between Lightroom library organizational structure and the underlying file system
  • Filter and search presets to more quickly find the photographs you want
  • Better performance and improved interface for the Web module features
  • Support for the Nikon D2Xs and Sony A100, as well as preliminary support for the Canon Digital Rebel XTi (400D) and Nikon D80
  • Develop control improvements based on community feedback, including comments from the Pixmantec user community (welcome!)

PhotoshopNews carries a more detailed list of new features and known issues as well as the the press release, and the Labs site hosts galleries from Lightroom users. Let us know what you think!
* 325,000 downloaders & 3,400 participants in the Lightroom forum have provided a wealth of good info.

Mona's from Mars, Photoshop's from Venus

Photoshop’s use in the sciences has been getting some good press lately:

(See the Science & Tech category for more stories.)

Flying with your cam? Better bring a pistol.

Having borrowed some nice photo gear from the Photoshop QE locker this weekend, I’m getting acquainted with the travel pains it brings. New TSA rules mean anything from hassle (at best) to smashed glass, lost lenses, etc. This state of affairs drives quite a bit of commentary from photogs, culminating with a rather brilliant suggestion: why not ensure the safety of checked gear by packing a starter pistol in each camera case? Check out the post for full details, and happy shooting (ba-dum, tssch!). (Hmm, I wonder if a Jerky Cannon would suffice?) [Via Andrew Shebanow & William Gregory]

Iconfactory talks, Illustrator listens

In case you don’t know ’em, the guys at Iconfactory have been making some top-notch pixel art for more than 10 years. (I seem to remember using their stuff back in the System 7 days to get that ultra-mod “Copland” look.) Anyway, they’ve been migrating from FreeHand to Illustrator & posted their Top 5 Adobe Illustrator CS Pet Peeves, plus the provocatively titled follow-on “Et tu, Adobe?”. It’s all good feedback, if a little frustrating (only because we’re always needling one another about these things already).
So, a bit of good news: Illustrator PM Phil Guindi dropped these guys a note to let them know of some welcome changes coming down the pike, prompting Gedeon Maheux to write, “Phil, all we can say is…wow! We had our finger’s crossed that someone at Adobe would see our post so your email has made our day, and probably our year. :-)” Nice! It sounds like we’ve kicked off what should be a very fruitful dialog with these talented artists.
The other key point here, I think, is that what Gedeon & co. want isn’t more features per se; it’s functionality that simply works better. This is true across the board: no one says, “Oh, Photoshop? Yeah, I’d buy that, but there just isn’t enough stuff in there…” Rather, people mainly want things to work more smoothly, to just flow. I’m happy to report that the Illustrator team has a whole bunch of spit & polish tasks on their list, and I’m keeping a list of “Brain-dead things we fixed in Photoshop CS3”–now somewhere around 20 items. And that’s the goal: saving the world, one non-slapped forehead at a time. 😉

HP camera puckers up

As in-camera processors get faster, what can they be used for besides grabbing more and more pixels? HP has one answer: apply slimming right in the camera. Heh–I wonder what else they could do with this (maybe reverse the effect to make me look yoked on the beach?). [Via Tom Attix]
Of course, doing too much in camera can alienate some photographers. Earier this summer, Fuji’s in-camera facial recognition feature earned the comment “If You Think You Need This, Kill Yourself” from The Online Photographer. Then again, some purists still swear that no significant work has ever been done with a zoom lens, so what can you do?