Category Archives: Illustration

Oil paintings come alive in AR

A couple of years ago, Adobe unveiled some really promising style-transfer tech that could apply the look of oil paintings to animated characters:

I have no idea whether it uses any of the same tech, but now 8th Wall is bringing a similar-looking experience to augmented reality via an entirely browser-based stack—very cool:

 [YouTube]

Beautiful illustrations of crappy reviews

These loving treatments of 1-star reviews of natural treasures are pretty wonderful:

[D]esigner Amber Share decided to create a series of hilarious travel posters for all 61 parks, featuring the Internet’s funniest, snarky comments.

Share came up with the idea for her Subpar Parks series as a way to “put a positive, fun spin on such a negative mindset.” Each retro-style poster design features colorful graphic renditions of America’s mountains, lakes, and forests. However, each pretty scene is matched with hand lettering that spells out the bad reviews.

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The charming story of “Red Monster”

I’m a longtime superfan of (now longtime!) Adobe designer Dave Werner. Just as the one good thing to come of my first two futile years at Adobe was meeting my wife, the clear good that came from my final project was hiring Dave. Our project mostly crashed & burned, but Dave hung in there & smartly made his way onto Character Animator. Here he provides a delightful inside look at how the app’s little red mascot came to be.

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[YouTube]

Adobe Character Animator wins an Emmy

Early in 2012, I was lucky enough to tag along with After Effects creators David Simons & Dan Wilk as they dropped in on Pixar, Stu Maschwitz, and other smart, thoughtful animators. After 20 years of building the industry-standard motion graphics tool, they didn’t yet know quite what they wanted to build next, so it was fun to bounce ideas back and forth with forward-thinking creators.

Fast forward to 2020, and the product that resulted from those investigations—Character Animator—has just won an Emmy:

Today, the Academy announced that it will honor Adobe Character Animator as a Pioneering System for Live Performance-Based Animation Using Facial Recognition, showing excellence in engineering creativity. In the biz, this is an Emmy! We might be on a bit of a roll here, for industry bling, since this latest award follows on from our two technical Academy Awards in 2019 for Photoshop and After Effects.

The tool has powered the first-ever live episode of The Simpsons, live interviews with Stephen Colbert that morphed into Our Cartoon President, and more (see recent roundup below).

Congrats to the team (who are now “EgOts,” I think—winners of Emmys & Oscars!); we can’t wait to see where you go next!

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[YouTube]

Google invites kids to illustrate kindness in a new Doodle

Today the 12th annual Doodle for Google contest kicks off:

We’re excited to announce that this year’s theme is “I show kindness by…” Acts of kindness bring more joy, light and warmth to the world. They cost nothing, but mean everything. . 

As submissions open, we’re inviting young artists in grades K-12 to open up their creative hearts and show us how they find ways to be kind. […]

This year’s national winner will have their artwork featured on the Google homepage for a day and receive a $30,000 college scholarship. The winner’s school will also receive a $50,000 technology package.

Can’t wait to see what kids create.

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Roundup: Who’s using Character Animator these days?

So good of you to ask, let’s say!

I’m delighted to see the team’s work bringing new creators into the animation fold.

In this episode we take a look at a wide variety of interesting Character Animator projects, including an Emmy award winning series on ESPN, narration by a T-Rex, a successful Kickstarter campaign around trolley murder, and live events with robots and bunnies!

[YouTube]

A delightfully analog remake of the latest Star Wars trailer

Fantastic:

PetaPixel explains,

Sweded films” are amateur shot-for-shot recreations of famous movies (or in this case, trailers). The term was coined in the 2008 film Be Kind Rewind, in which two video store employees try to replace their entire ruined VHS collection by re-shooting each movie with neither budget nor skill.

The group doesn’t just create these re-makes for their YouTube channel, they also host an annual “Swede Fest” that’s all about screening Hollywood remakes that were created with “backyard budgets.”

Side-by-side with the original:

[YouTube 1 & 2]

“Project Glowstick” brings light sources to Illustrator

Anything that finally lets regular people tap into the vast (and vastly untapped) power of Illustrator’s venerable gradient mesh is a win, and this tech promises to let vector shapes function as light emitters that help cast shadows:

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Requisite (?) Old Man Nack moment: though I have no idea if/how the underlying tech relates, I’m reminded of the Realtime Gradient-Domain Painting work that onetime Adobe researcher Jim McCann published back in 2008.

[YouTube 1 & 2

Illustration: “The Finish Line Is Never The End”

Thrilling stuff for Honda’s celebration of the Japanese Grand Prix:

Campaign writes,

The ad covers Honda’s success on the racetrack through the years, from the RA272’s victory at 1965’s Mexican Grand Prix to Max Verstappen’s race-winning pass at this year’s Austrian Grand Prix. A giant animated bull also features as a nod to the brand’s partnership with Scuderia Toro Rosso and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing.

[YouTube]

Adobe & Apple partner for hands-on sneaks of Adobe Fresco

All through October. Looks like fun—and great to see how far the world has come from the “Thoughts On Flash”/“Sympathy for the Devil” days.

Photography: A hyperkinetic maelstrom of patterns

Irish photographer Páraic Mc Gloughlin has a real knack for finding patterns among huge corpora of data (e.g. from Google Earth; see previous). Now he’s making music videos:

Mc Gloughlin’s latest work is for the band Weval’s track “Someday,” and features the filmmaker’s signature fusion of geometric shapes found in historical domes, skyscraper facades, and farmland irrigation systems. The tightly edited video shows quickly-passing frames that shift in time with the music, visually quaking or smoothly transitioning depending on the percussive and melodic elements of the song.

Brace yourself:

Musicians zoom in & comment on paintings through Google’s Art Zoom

Ever wondered what Feist thinks about Bruegel the Elder? Well wonder no more, my friend! She & other musicians have recorded their thoughts on the details of famous paintings. To wit:

More than 10,000 artworks from 208 partners worldwide have been captured with Art Camera and digitized in ultra-high resolution, from the fluffy fabric from which Vivienne Westwood tailored the Keith Haring “Witches” dress, to the almost photographic View of Delft by Vermeer. You can see these works in intricate detail simply by browsing on the Google Arts & Culture app. Explore Art Zoom online at g.co/ArtZoom, or download our free app for iOS or Android.

[YouTube]

Check out Fresco, Adobe’s new tablet drawing app

People have been trying to combine the power of vector & raster drawing/editing for decades. (Anybody else remember Creature House Expression, published by Fractal & then acquired by Microsoft? Congrats on also being old! 🙃) It’s a tough line to walk, and the forthcoming Adobe Fresco app is far from Adobe’s first bite at the apple (I remember you, Fireworks).

Back in 2010, I transitioned off of Photoshop proper & laid out a plan by which different mobile apps/modules (painting, drawing, photo library) would come together to populate a share, object-centric canvas. Rather than build the monolithic (and now forgotten) Photoshop Touch that we eventually shipped, I’d advocated for letting Adobe Ideas form the drawing module, Lightroom Mobile form the library, and a new Photoshop-derived painting/bitmap editor form the imaging module. We could do the whole thing on a new imaging stack optimized around mobile GPUs.

Obviously that went about as well as conceptually related 90’s-era attempts at OpenDoc et al.—not because it’s hard to combine disparate code modules (though it is!), but because it’s really hard to herd cats across teams, and I am not Steve Fucking Jobs.

Sadly, I’ve learned, org charts do matter, insofar as they represent alignment of incentives & rewards—or lack thereof. “If you want to walk fast, walk alone; if you want to walk far, walk together.” And everyone prefers “innovate” vs. “integrate,” and then for bonus points they can stay busy for years paying down the resulting technical debt. “…Profit!”

But who knows—maybe this time crossing the streams will work. Or, see you again in 5-10 years the next time I write this post. 😌

[YouTube]

Upcoming Illustrator feature promises color extraction/remapping

Color me (🙄) skeptical on this one:

Import images or photographs into your library. Illustrator will analyze the images in order to extract the color palettes. If there’s a specific palette that you want to try, simply select the image to easily apply the color—you’ll notice that all fill colors in your artwork updates simultaneously.

This all strikes me as eerily reminiscent of the Live Color demos from CS3 10+ years ago (or hey, if you wanna feel even older, remember Adobe Kuler? no, just me?). I don’t doubt that the color remapping work, I just doubt—with extreme prejudice—that any normal humans will know how to take the time to set up these themes in their artwork.

[YouTube] [Via]

NYT explains the Notre Dame fire in 3D

The Times staff put together this impressive piece in less than a day, using scrolling to control a glTF file rendered via Three.js (see 10s recording below). Creator Graham Roberts tweets, “This approach/style stems from our AR efforts over the past 18 months. Originally built as a fallback to camera mode, but now also a great way to make the web more dimensional towards a spatial future.”

Tangentially related: Firefighters used a half-ton robot named Colossus to help battle the blaze:

[YouTube]

Tilt Brush is coming to the Oculus Quest

Man, at $199 & sporting this creation tool, the forthcoming standalone device is starting to seriously tempt me. As for Tilt Brush specifically, the Verge writes,

After its original release on the HTC Vive back in 2016, Tilt Brush quickly became a mainstay of headset demos. It’s easy enough to start painting basic 3D structures, but in the years since, artists have painted some pretty stunning pieces in the app. The Quest version of Tilt Brush will continue to support uploads to Poly, Google’s online 3D object library, if you want to share your work, or just gawk at what others have made.

Check out lots more details on the Oculus site.

Scribble to create photorealistic landscapes via NVIDIA’s new tool

Whoa:

Users can use the input tools to draw the shape of a tree and it will produce a tree. Draw a straight line and it will produce a bare trunk. Draw a bulb at the top and the software will fill it in with leaves producing a full tree.

GauGAN is also multimodal. If two users create the same sketch with the same settings, random numbers built into the project ensure that software creates different results.

[YouTube] [Via Eric Porres]