August 30, 2006
Flex Your Textures: New plug-in & free downloads
- Luxology, makers of the super cool modo 3D modeling package, have introduced imageSynth, a $99 plug-in for creating tiling textures within Photoshop. Check out the 4-minute video intro to see this interactive approach to tile generation, or see the press release for more info.
- If you’d rather stick with Photoshop’s built-in tools, check out Dave Nagel’s Texture Generators, a set of 15 actions for creating paper and other rough textures. Dave’s article for Digital Producer Magazine links to the actions and walks through how to use them.
- And if you’re looking for textures that are good to go as-is (or that can be used as nice seeds for imageSynth, etc.), check out Texture King, a great set of free images offered by site creator REH3design. [Via]
- [Update: Enrique Flouret from The Photoshop Roadmap offers a tutorial on texture creation using the new Filter Forge toolset.]
August 29, 2006
Mojizu: Social networking through character design
Like Japanese-style character design? You’ll be among kindred spirits at Mojizu, a site devoted to creating, sharing, and discussing little creations (“Mojis”). Members send their Mojis into battle, and the most popular ones make their way into merchandise & are up for various prizes. (Oh, and Illustrator being involved, there are of course more pinups involved.) [Via Phil "The Phillustrator" Guindi, Illustrator PM]
Pimp My Wildlife, Photoshop-style
Heh–no real attributions to the artist(s) are provided, but these animal mash-ups are quite well done. Sadly enough, no one created a liger (which apparently does exist) or a manticore. Gosh!
[Update: Jeff Tranberry points out the weirdo "carcass art" of MART: the Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists. Much unwholesome madness is in their gallery. If someday I want to get my beloved cat posthumously placed onto a hang glider, or into a Kung Fu pose, etc. I'll know where to turn.
MART in turn links to Beast Blender, a Flash-based tool for banging out custom critters. (Hey, I think I did a portrait of one of my high school teachers.)]
August 27, 2006
Kinetic Sculptures, Paper Tigers
- Dutch artist/engineer Theo Jansen makes unbelievable kinetic sculptures; it’s as if da Vinci had access to PVC. This video (a BMW ad, as it happens) shows off some of his walking machines in motion on the beach. Wired covers the genesis and evolution of Jansen’s work, and you can see his two-ton Animaris Rhinoceros Transport on the move in this video. Many more photos are on his site. [Via] [For more on kinetic scuplture, see previous entry.]
- Thomas Demand is a photographer who replicates regular scenes with cardboard and paper. [Via] His efforts to make the tiny seem large strike me as an exact counterpoint to people making the large seem small via tilt-shift lens or Photoshop.
- Along marginally similar lines, someone (perhaps preparing for a future career as prison escapee) has fashioned a set of amazingly intricate paper guns. [Via]
- And I know I mentioned them not long ago, but Richard Sweeny’s paper sculptures really are worth a look. [Update: so are Peter Callesen's.]
August 26, 2006
Vector Vixens, Belgian Béziers
- What is it with Illustrator artists and scantily clad pinups? Paul Bush creates amazingly realistic portraits of women. To give others guidance, he goes into some depth in his gradient mesh tutorial. Pretty cool to see that the work really is all vector. Wayne Forrest works a similar vein, as does Halim Ghodbane. And at Deviant Art you can see Ussa Methawittayakul’s portrait come together step by step. [Via]
Of course, maybe all these vector women in Illustrator shouldn’t come as a surprise: as this history of Illustrator demonstrates, Venus is the OVB: Original Vector Babe. [Via]
- Belgian illustrator Geert De Clercq does terrific technical renderings in vectors, as well as organic images using more traditional materials. Veerle Pieters offers a brief interview and samples of Geert’s work on her site.
August 24, 2006
Photoshop 9.0.2 update for Windows available; Mac due shortly
The Photoshop 9.0.2 update for Windows is available on Adobe.com. It fixes a handful of irritating issues that weren’t caught for the 9.0.1 update:
- Menus now respond correctly after a single click.
- Undo/Redo work properly when multiple documents are open.
- Photoshop no longer produces a program error when encountering unsupported file types through the Acrobat Touchup workflow.
- Supported files that incorrectly produced an “unsupported color space” message now open as expected.
- TIFF files with layer data greater than 2GB now open correctly.
If you haven’t updated Photoshop CS2 with the previous 9.0.1 update, no worries: 9.0.2 contains those fixes as well.
We expect the Mac version of 9.0.2 to follow shortly. The Mac and Windows updates both got posted via the automated update system last week, but we quickly discovered that a fix for a printing issue on Mac OS X 10.4 caused a crash on systems running OS X 10.3 and earlier (doh!). We pulled the update off the server and will repost it as soon as the 10.3 printing crash is fixed. If you’ve already updated and aren’t affected by that crash, you’re all set (and won’t need to install the updated 9.0.2). If you are affected by the crash, you’ll need to reinstall Photoshop CS2, then apply the revised 9.0.2 update. Sorry about the confusion and hassle there.
Photochoppin’ (cars, not broc-co-lee)
Auto enthusiast/Photoshop hoss Peter Smith has gone photochopping-crazy, pimping more than 200 cars on his Digimods site. In addition to the creations (e.g. a lowrider ice cream truck), he offers a a wealth of simple, effective tutorials (complete with charming Brit-speak about modding your car’s boot, bonnet, windscreen, etc.). [Via]
[Note: No broccoli was chopped in the posting of this entry.]
August 21, 2006
Letters del Fuego; Catch Me If You Can
Presenting the Photoshop CS2 “Fauxtography” Edition
Sometimes I feel that Adobe is a bit like the guys who make radar guns and radar detectors–with one hand working on tools for detecting image manipulation, and with the other enabling ever more seamless manipulation. Cartoonist JD Frazer finds humor in the latter with the “Photoshop Tool Palette for ‘Creative’ Freelancers.” (As it happens, a while back at least one large newsroom used ResEdit to hack tools out of Photoshop–not, of course, that there’s a technical cure for human/ethical problems.) [Via Mike Richman]
Lightroom Podcast #17: Richard Morgenstein
During the Iceland adventure George Jardine sat down with photographer Richard Morgenstein to talk about the experience. Because this is an enhanced podcast, you can view images in iTunes as the talk progresses (here’s a screenshot)–very cool. George writes,
Richard talks about the weather in Iceland, the roads, and the “space” he’s found here in Iceland. He walks us through everything from the big views to the small views, and gives us a glimpse into how he found exciting compositional material everywhere in the objects and landscapes of Iceland.
Richard also discusses how the landscape interacts with the weather, and what he was able to capture using various lighting, focus and B&W techniques.
This “enhanced” podcast includes photos taken by Richard in Iceland, and they can be viewed on Photo and Video iPods. Only the audio track will be heard on other devices. I apologize for the minor audio difficulties near the end of this interview.
August 15, 2006
Mo’ fresh type
- I love the old-school poster art quality of these new Toyota ads. (And if you like that style & have a bun in the oven, pay a visit to Rattle-n-Roll.)
- Who would commit the lyrics of LL Cool J to gouache & watercolor? Ray Fenwick would, among many other things. See also his great Flickr collection. [Via]
- BibliOdyssey displays some gorgeous Arabic zoomorphic calligraphy. The entry links to numerous related resources & examples.
- Misprinted Type offers a variety of free & commercial distressed type. (I might have to crack the wallet for Great Circus). [Via]
- If the graffiti thing is up your alley (or under your graffiti bridge), check out the work of Hand Selecta.
- Launched in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the typeface, Helvetica is “a feature-length independent film about typography, graphic design and global visual culture.” I think I’d sneak into this one wearing a trenchcoat and shades, lest my true design-dorkishness show through. [Via]
- On Daily Type, a group of Russian type designers post sketches of their latest works-in-progress. I like the kind of hand-drawn, back-of-Trapper-Keeper “Van Halen Rulez!!” quality of many of the pieces.
Destroy your property value, the Photoshop way!
Now, here’s the flipside to the relentless pursuit of aesthetic perfection: take one pristine Victorian home, apply generous dodging & burning, and you’ll get something fit for Norman Bates’ mom. Sébastien Gaucher offers a nice little set of tutorials on his site, along with other examples of his work. (The sad thing for Bay Area residents is to realize that even the mauled “after” versions of each house would still set you back a few million bucks around here…)
August 14, 2006
Lightroom Podapalooza: #14, 15, & 16
22 hours of light each day = plenty of time for chewing the fat with photographers, and George Jardine has been uploading the fruits of his labors to his iDisk. New podcasts (each enhanced to display pictures on photo- or video-enabled iPod) include the following:
#14: Peter Krogh
Peter calls the Lightroom Iceland Adventure the “lack of sleep adventure”, not only because of the ultra-long daylight shooting hours, but because of the energy the group has found for the project. Peter talks to us about his personal expectations for capturing pictures that appeal to him, and leads us through the photographs he’s captured during the long week.
#15: John Isaac
John talks about how Iceland was still a rare treat, after photographing in over 100 countries during his illustrious career as a photographer with the United Nations. He talks about the landscape, the color, and the opportunities to study the intricate visual details of this fascinating country.
#16: Martin Sundberg
Martin talks about the photographs he’s captured here in Iceland, and how his expectation for what he would encounter was a bit different from what he actually found. We talk about the weather, the geothermal aspect of the environment, and how that plays a key role in the types of pictures he was able to capture.
The podcasts are also available via the iTunes store (search for “Lightroom”) and via the Lightroom RSS feed.
August 13, 2006
Can you trust what you see?
I’ve refrained from commenting on the Reuters Photochopping debacle, figuring I didn’t have much new or valuable to add to the discussion. I’m not sure I do now, but Jim Lewis’ Don’t Believe What You See in the Papers offers good perspective on the long history of manipulated (and manipulative) news photography. He links to Dr. Hany Farid’s interesting tampering gallery, where the chronology suggests that fakery is growing more common.
As I’ve noted previously, Adobe has been working with Dr. Farid & his team on technology to detect digital manipulation. Its arrival in mainstream tools will take some time, and even then it’s powerless against images that mislead in other ways. I’m reminded of the aerial shots in the immediate aftermath of the 1989 Bay Area earthquake, zoomed in on a single burning block that suggested more massive devastation; or Fox News’ decision last year during an LA blackout to zoom in on a fiery exhaust plume at an area factory–never mind that it’s that smokestack’s natural state 24/7.
A lack of context and clarification may be ultimately more damaging than faked pixels, given that it’s subjective & maybe impossible to prove. Technology may help sniff out forgeries, but it has to go hand in hand with the audience seeking out multiple, diverse sources of news.
[Update: Rob Galbraith has collected a variety of additional perspectives on the topic.]
I, for one, welcome our new aesthetic overlords…
Creepiness Level = Orange (Elevated): Some Israeli researchers have proposed a tool that, after analyzing a library of beautiful faces, can adjust anyone’s features to make them more beautiful. Umm… no, please?
Yes, my livelihood comes from making a tool that’s used to propagate standardized ideals of beauty, but somehow having the computer make the call on am-I-hot-or-not, then “fix” my various deficiencies, starts getting uncomfortably weird–a little too Fitter Happier. I’m reminded of a quote from Francis Bacon: “There is no excellent beauty, that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.” Here’s hoping it stays that way. [Via Russell Williams]
Lightroom Podcast #13: Derrick Story
Derrick talks about the thinking behind the Iceland Adventure project, and the idea of “total immersion” for a group of very talented professional photographers. The project provided total immersion not only in the photo-rich environment of Iceland, but also in the Lightroom experience, and we discuss how that experience would work for both the book and for the beta development effort.
Derrick points to some of the specific features in Lightroom that he found invaluable during the trip, as well as talking about some of the areas where the program needs improvement. We wrap it up with some detail on how the experience would feed back into the development effort and ultimately help make Lightroom a better product for photographers.
August 11, 2006
Groovy Photoshop brushes & rendering techniques
Pimp My Pigeon: GPS birds over San Jose
“This is the strangest life I’ve ever known…”
First the Onion’s parody of razor featuritis becomes reality; then San Jose starts getting kind of cool; and now the digitally instrumented pigeon concept has come to pass. According to C|NET,
“Several pigeons, equipped with pollution measurement and GPS devices, were released at the ZeroOne Festival in San Jose, Calif., on Aug. 8. The birds… will be feeding data to the site via SMS. The data provides the location, carbon-monoxide levels and identification for each bird.”
Full, insane details at the PigeonBlog. (And if the pigeons start actually blogging, I’m headed to a shack in Montana…)
PS–Hopefully the birds will not be immolated by large, fire-breathing machines set to prowl the city tonight. Curiouser & curiouser.
August 10, 2006
New tool: Flash -> After Effects
Drew Trujillo, aka Dr. Woohoo, creator of utilities for moving After Effects animation keyframes and audio data into Flash, has returned with Flash 2 After Effects-Transform Properties. This new extension can convert not only traditional Flash keyframes but also ActionScript-based animation into AE’s native format. Nice!
August 08, 2006
My New Clip Art Technique Is Unstoppable
HDR, 3D, plenoptic cameras… who needs all that high-fi chaos when there’s the simplicity of le cinema de clip art? [Via] Of course, I still think it’s got nothing on the (incredibly) profane genius of My New Fighting Technique Is Unstoppable* (speaking of giant pixels…).
See? Clip art is your pal! Now, fire up some fatty drop shadows & bevels, and get busy mixing 384 typefaces per page; you’ll be a pro in no time! Related: Woman Has Perfect Clip Art For Party Invitation.
* [Note: Chock full of bad words. Really. Just in case that's not your bag.]
Flash video & AE tips, PDF searching, more in Design Center
The Adobe Design Center is brimming with new content:
New Dialog box:
- Chris Georgenes (mudbubble.com): Profile
- After Effects 7.0 Classroom in a Book: 3 lessons
- Working with Acrobat 7:
- Find just what you need with advanced search options in Acrobat 7.0 by Garrick Chow
- Speed up searching by creating an index by Garrick Chow
- Discover the best Distiller settings for desired text and image quality by Garrick Chow
- Find Words and phrases in PDF documents by Garrick Chow
- Search PDF comments effectively by Brie Gyncild and Andrew Faulkner
- Customize search preferences for your workflow by Brie Gyncild and Andrew Faulkner
- Enhance an object’s appearance with Live Effects by Mordy Golding
- Plot the perfect course: Media specifications for e-learning courses by Rafiq R. Elmansy
- Work with .rtf and .txt files in Adobe InCopy CS2 by Adam Pratt and Mike Richman
[Text via Jen deHaan]
August 07, 2006
Lightroom Podcast #12: Mikkel Aaland
This podcast was recorded Saturday, August 5th 2006, in Raykjavik, Iceland. Now that the Adventure is drawing to a close, Mikkel reflects back on the genesis of the project and the fantastic events of the week. We touch on our great luck with the weather, the fantastic landscape of Iceland, and the working conditions with a beta software product. Mikkel looks forward to incorporating the photographs that were taken by 9 great professional photographers this week into a new book about Lightroom that will be published by O’Reilly.
August 06, 2006
3D data capture takes a leap
Veteran engineer Steve Perlman has unveiled Contour, a system for capturing facial details in 3D space. The system goes beyond traditional motion capture methods by covering actors’ faces in phosphorescent powder, then recording their movements from multiple angles. The NYT story features a quick video of the results, and Studio Daily’s got more background on these developments.
Speaking of 3D capture,
- Human Eyes offers photographers a system for creating 3D data using off-the-shelf equipment; here’s an example of the output.
- Capture devices continue to decrease in size and price. Next Engine’s 3D desktop scanner costs $2,495 and is about the size of a cereal box. [Via]
- Microsoft researchers this week unveiled Photosynth, a system for analyzing a large number of 2D photos to generate a 3D fly-through. They depict related research in this video.
- Hardware makers continue to step up and deliver hilariously large amounts of processing power, as with this 80 billion pixel-per-second Nvidia expansion unit. (Somewhat of a bummer, the $17k box is not equipped with actual tank treads or a smokestack.)
Developments like these, combined with tools like Acrobat 3D driving proliferation, mean we’ll be seeing more & more approachable, practical 3D implementations. Interesting times ahead.
PS–On a more analog 3D tip, check out Richard Sweeney’s beautiful paper sculptures. [Via]
GPS metadata for the masses? (+ a secret Lightroom feature)
Sony has announced a funky little GPS device that promises to stamp your photos with geographic coordinates. The 2-ounce tracker clips to a belt or backpack & uses image timestamps to know where shots were taken. Looks like a nice step forward, though I’d love to see this capability built right into cameras as a simple, affordable option. [Via Bryan Hughes]
This widget reminds me of a subtle but cool feature of Adobe Lightroom: if your image contains GPS coordinates, you can click the Lightroom Metadata panel to reveal the location via Google Maps. I did a quick screenshot to demonstrate.
And hey, speaking of Lightroom, the Iceland photo squad has posted Gallery 3 of their images.
August 05, 2006
Was It Done With a Lens, or a Brush?
Thursday’s NYT covers the growing interest in high dynamic range photography (HDR). Though the field and tools are in their adolescence, HDR techniques are enabling photographers to create some unique visuals. The article quotes Photoshop engineer John Peterson, who helped bring HDR support to CS2, and whom we’re keeping busy moving forward. For more examples & tutorials on HDR, see this previous entry. [Thanks to everyone who passed along this article.]
Takagi Masakatsu: Particles & Painting in After Effects
Japanese artist Takagi Masakatsu is a triple threat & then some, setting his paintings in motion to the sound of his original compositions. In this profile on Apple.com, Takagi talks about his creative process & the ways he combines After Effects & Photoshop to create uniquely painterly visuals. [Via] The slippery lines of “Lightpool” (farthest right in the gallery; see also stills) remind me of James Patterson, pumped & shimmering with glows and particles. More pieces are available on his (overloaded) personal site, and the work sets off a debate of the merits of video art on Motionographer.com.
August 04, 2006
Next-gen, multi-touch interfaces
NYU researcher Jefferson Han, creator of a much-blogged large format, multi-touch flat screen interface (see original demo), spoke at this year’s TED Conference in Monterey. In this brief but inspiring video, he talks about the technology’s potential to enable next-generation interfaces that disappear, doing “the right thing” with a minimum of effort. (It’s at times like this that I wish Adobe made hardware!) [Via Mattias Jonsson]
Incidentally, it appears they’re using this morphing technology, or something close to it–well worth a look in its own right. (The server MIME types seem wrong, so to view the very cool video, you may have to download it and change the extension to .MP4.)
[Update: For a non-traditional interface that truly sucks (literally), check out this video from the Yahoo! Design Expo.]
August 03, 2006
Adobe flashes San Jose
Dang… who said Adobe HQ & San Jose could be cool? According to this press release, the company is due to unveil a huge LED sculpture early next week. Evidently multimedia artist Ben Rubin (creator of grooviness like Listening Post) has been commissioned to light up the SJ skyline:
“Located within the top floors of Adobe’s Almaden Tower headquarters, Semaphore consists of four ten-foot wide illuminated disks composed of 24,000 Luxeon® LEDs donated by Philips Lumileds in San Jose… The giant illuminated disks rotate to a new position every eight seconds and pulse out a message using a visual coding system that is intended to be deciphered. An online audio broadcast will provide a soundtrack of spoken and sung letters, numbers and musical tones that may help decode the message.”
Wow. The Adobe building is quite nice, but it’s a bit on the cold side (former Macromedians said it “looks like a bank“). And as for San Jose… Feh. But now, it’s like my teammate/neighbor Hughes said: “SJ Grand Prix?!…art festival?!…what’s going on around here!? I signed up for strip malls, traffic and urban sprawl…no one said anything about culture!”
I can’t wait to see the work, and I’ll pass along photos when they’re available. I just wonder whether we could get Jenny Holzer to be a guest artist. Now that would be edgy…
Protect me from what I want,
Photoshop Action Pack 3.0 now available
Photographer and author Ben Long has released version 3.0 of his Photoshop Action Pack, leveraging Automator & AppleScript on Mac OS X. v3 includes 11 new actions – Add Layer, Add Empty Adjustment Layer, Add Graphic Watermark, Channel Mixer, Duplicate Current Layer, Paint Daubs, Photo Filter, Resize to File Size, Scale to X by 10%, Swap Colors, Exposure, and Reduce Noise – while improving batch processing with Camera Raw. If you like the scripts and find them useful, please kick Ben some bucks through his online tip jar.
Photos from Underground
As a kid I loved the books of David Macaulay (Castle, Pyramid, etc.), and his Underground opened my eyes to hidden worlds that lie deep beneath city streets. Now photographer Joe Nishizawa reveals the huge, otherworldly spaces below Tokyo in this photo essay for PingMag. Additional images are available on Joe’s site.
In a similar vein, I used to love visiting the captured U-505 submarine on display in Chicago, and now a Russian photographer reveals the subterranean world of a former Soviet submarine pen. [Via]
- If all the underground/undersea imagery gets you down, clear your palette with some beautiful Atmospheric Optics [Via David Metzger]
- On the Russian front, an illustrator has interpreted modern movies as Russian folk art [Via]
August 02, 2006
Lightroom Podcast #11: Bill Atkinson & Michael Reichmann
These two very accomplished photographers shed some light on the spectacular environment for photography here in Iceland. This podcast was recorded Tuesday, August 1st 2006, in Nesbud, Iceland. Michael and Bill are interviewed as part of a group of 12 photographers that are here to work with the Adobe Lightroom team on Mikkel Aaland’s upcoming Lightroom book project.
While listening, you can peruse the great images these guys have been taking. The podcast is available as an MP3 file via George’s iDisk (under “0801 Podcast”). It should also be available shortly via this RSS feed, and by searching for “Lightroom” in iTunes.
August 01, 2006
Lightroom Iceland Adventure is underway
The photographers of the Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop Adventure have arrived in Iceland and have hit the ground shooting. They’re blogging up a storm, and they’ve posted some beautiful images in a first photo gallery (made with that new Web gallery engine we’re developing). Look for more good stories, tips, and galleries to follow.
Blood, Guts, Adobe, & Octane
A fair bit of what I post here is somewhat tangential to Adobe, but this time the subject is literally, physically tangential to the company–or just about. Sunday saw the second annual running of the San José Grand Prix and featured Champ cars screaming past our downtown HQ at a buck 80, rattling windows, dental work, and everything else with their 750hp turbocharged engines.
I walked around the building with my Rebel XT, and though no one from SI is going to fear for his or her job, I came away with a handful of shots I liked. My 17-85mm glass left me thinking–to paraphrase Roy Scheider in Jaws–”We’re gonna need a bigger lens.” Note to self: sell left kidney, do more curls, and then step up to a suitable monstrosity. You can see more images courtesy of Adobe engineer Winston Hendrickson and his 300mm lens. [Update: Craig Schamp, also part of Adobe engineering, used Lightroom to produce this gallery.]
By the way, a word to the wise: If you ever find yourself spinning out in a Grand Prix, then attempting to re-enter the race & getting T-boned, do not try to punch the other dude while he’s still wearing his helmet. Watching all this transpire down below, someone remarked, “We went to a car race and a hockey game broke out!”