July 27, 2006

Big Pixels: L, XL, and XXL

Computer displays are growing ever higher-resolution, with ever-tinier pixels. So how about going in the opposite direction–representing data in ever-larger chunks? Three takes:

  • The PingPongPixel project digitizes images, then re-creates them on a 64 sq. ft. surface using 2700 shaded ping pong balls (each a 38mm pixel). Each rendering takes roughly two and a half hours to form.[Via]

  • Going a step larger, check out the video for Faithless’ I Want More. Well-disciplined schoolkids create huge portraits by flipping the pages of large books. The footage of this massive choreography apparently comes from a documentary about North Korea.
  • And for some really enormous pixels (of a sort), how about human-sized Space Invaders? Give it up for a squad of French kids schlepping around an auditorium all day to create this simulation.

Maybe the next step is to go from a particle to a wave: a team at Akishima Laboratories has found a way to print on waves, forming any English letter, if only for a moment. [Via]

1:10 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

July 26, 2006

100,000+ Lightroom downloads in 5 days

Okay, it’s a little immodest to keep mentioning these stats, but I’m pleased to report that Adobe Lightroom Beta 3 for Windows was downloaded more than 100,000 times in the first five days of availability on Adobe Labs. Add that to the quarter-million+ Mac downloads already recorded, and the product is off to a terrific start. Lots of work remains to be done, but the photographic community’s response keeps blowing past our expectations. Thanks to everybody for your interest & feedback so far.

10:59 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

Goofing on trendy logos, bad authors, & photobloggers

Life’s not much fun if you can’t laugh at yourself a bit. (Heck, I used to call LiveMotion Crouching Vector, Hidden Bitmap.) In that vein…

  • The crowd at Yay Hooray has fun reinterpreting famous logos according to the lickably gradiated, bloopy “Web 2.0 look“. (And they remember to drp some vowls while they’re at it.) [Via] [Update: Hah--even Adobe couldn't escape.]

  • Night of the Living Photoshop Books: Tongue firmly in cheek, Mike Johnston takes aim at some of the less-than-excellent titles out there (e.g. “How To Create Totally Alarming and Incredibly Tasteless Pastiche Monstrosities Using Photoshop”). Later he lists some titles he actually does recommend.
  • Same dude, different screed: Mike eviscerates know-nothing photoblog commentators in this wicked parody.
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10 free Photoshop plug-ins

Extreme Tech magazine has posted an overview of 10 free Photoshop plug-ins, yours for the downloading. The list includes Luce (for lighting effects), various Flaming Pear tools, Dust & Scratch Remover from Polaroid, Virtual Photographer, Border Mania (no relation to politics), Camouflage & Night Vision, and Auto FX Mosaic. [Via]
In a plug-in-related vein…

3:00 PM | Permalink | Comments [4]

July 24, 2006

New vids: Illustrator CS2 + Flash 8 Integration

Having wrestled Illustrator & Flash into playing nice for the past, oh, 8 years (even going so far as to write a bunch of tutorials back in the day), I’m delighted to see that Illustrator dynamo Mordy Golding is tackling the subject head-on in a new set of training videos from Lynda.com. The videos (direct link here) cover everything from symbols in Illustrator (yes, Illustrator has symbols) to blends, styles, text on a path, and 3D effects. If you ever stub a toe when moving between these vector graphics heavyweights, Mordy’s tutorials should come in handy.

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Lightroom Podcast #10: Pixmantec + Adobe

In the latest Lightroom podcast, Adobe Raw team members Mark Hamburg, Zalman Stern, and Thomas Knoll welcome Pixmantec co-founder Michael Jonsson to San José, and they kick around some ideas about code integration. George Jardine writes,

This podcast was recorded Wednesday, July 12th 2006, at Adobe Systems Headquarters in San Jose, CA. In this discussion, we talk about the differences between ACR, Lightroom and Raw Shooter raw processing, and explore the best strategies for making the most of the newly expanded team.

The podcast is available as an MP3 file via George’s iDisk (under “0712 Podcast”). It should also be available shortly via this RSS feed, and by searching for “Lightroom” in iTunes.

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July 21, 2006

Next-gen Web galleries: XSLT, Flash, & CSS for all

As you might have heard in Lightroom Podcast #9 (starting around the 25-minute mark), we’re working on a fresh, new Web Photo Gallery engine for Lightroom. For those wanting to dig under the hood and start creating or modifying galleries, Adobe engineer Andy Rahn has created an overview, which I’ve included in this post’s extended entry.

We think this new engine provides a great foundation for the future, and while we really can’t comment on upcoming products, we’d like to see the engine make its way to, ah, other applications (something something, rhymes with “Shmoatoshop”…). So, with any luck, the time you spend working with this new engine will end up being broadly applicable down the road (no promises, of course).

(more…)

11:29 AM | Permalink | Comments [9]

July 20, 2006

Flash + After Effects text, warping in Photoshop, more

The Adobe Design Center has been updated with a passel of new content:

[Via Jen deHaan]

6:52 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

July 19, 2006

Etchin’ & Scratchin’

If pimping your ride is passé, how about pimping your PowerBook? Cognitive scientist Dan Kurtz laser-etched a Magritte painting onto his machine. Wicked. (Here’s another image of it, plus the original Magritte.) If you’re feeling adventurous (and laser-equipped), see the how-to overview. (You could also go after your machine with a metal drill bit.)
Bringing this a tad closer to home, Adobe’s resident creative whirlwind Russell Brown had a ball laser-etching wood at the recent ADIM Conference (check out these examples). In fact, he’ll be doing an etching class here on Monday and will have his laser in tow. Hmm, I’ve got 17″ of aluminum just itching for etching, and I’m partial to flames
On a similar etch-stuff-on-weird-surfaces, CBS is promoting its fall lineup by scrawling ads on millions of eggs [Via NPR]. Evidently Chicago-area company EggFusion (“Promoting freshness with every impression!!”) is doing the honors. Every bite a delight, no doubt.
And lastly, illustrator George Vlosich is a terror on the Etch-a-Sketch, lavishing dozens of hours on each creation. [Via]

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July 18, 2006

Lightroom beta for Windows is here!

By very popular demand*, Adobe has posted the first publicly available version of Lightroom for Windows on Adobe Labs. Swing by the product page to snag a copy of Adobe’s new pro photography workflow application. A few notes:

  • There is no update for the Mac beta program at the moment. The current Mac version is Beta 3, released in June.

  • The Windows beta will be labeled Beta 3 but is not perfectly in sync with the current Mac build (no Web Module, Identity Plates or ability to add music to slideshows just yet). There’s also plenty of performance optimization left to do (and on the Mac as well, for that matter).
  • The Mac and Windows feature sets will converge before shipping the product.
  • If you have more questions, check out the Lightroom beta FAQ, or see Jeff Schewe’s in-depth coverage on PhotoshopNews.com.

And with that, have at it! As always, your input will be critical in shaping Lightroom before the launch of the 1.0 version, so we look forward to seeing you on the product forum (linked from the main page).
* I’m told that some 70,000 Windows users signed up in advance to receive notification of this launch.

9:52 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

July 17, 2006

The Joy of Text

Being kind of textually fixated these days, I thought I’d share some good type-related resources I’ve encountered lately:

11:36 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]

Great lettering & happy accidents, inside Illustrator & out

Not long ago I came across the excellent hand lettering of Fiodor Sumkin. I love the intricacy with which he fits characters and shading to various shapes. [Via]
In particular, his drawing of these hands got me thinking about the enveloping functions in Illustrator. Click this image for a quick overview of how to fit type to shapes:
Text warping tutorial
Using these techniques, I set out to emulate Sumkin’s work. First I traced the outline of one of his hands in Illustrator, then blocked out a number of regions. The Pencil tool works well for this, as does a Wacom tablet. The result was a skeleton for the next steps:
Outline
Then, needing to turn each region into a solid object, I copied and pasted all the paths into Flash, broke things apart, and then used the paint bucket to block them in. I probably could have used the Illustrator Pathfinder tools and/or the new Live Paint features, but old habits die hard, and I knew I could get what I needed from Flash:
Colored in Flash

At that point I copied and pasted everything back into Illustrator, then picked a font that seemed likely to fill the shapes nicely–in this case Adobe’s 60′s-style Mojo. Using the text “Word Hypnotize” and the enveloping technique described above, I got… this (click for a larger version):
Hand
Hmmph–it’s nothing like Sumkin’s lettering, and were I to try harder to emulate it, I think I’d fit each chunk of text to an envelope mesh, then use the various mesh, path, and warp tools to deform it as necessary. But you know, I kind of like the sinuous, abstract quality that resulted–a bit as if Slim Goodbody dipped his hand in an inkwell.
So, there’s my little happy accident o’ the day. Software generally makes it pretty easy to repeat the same steps over and over, so I’m glad to experience a little serendipity & creative destruction now and then.
By the way, Sumkin’s lettering reminds me a touch of Marta Monteiro’s, and for more cool lettering, you might check out Rodney White (overview/gallery). Oh, and tangentially related (at best): the look of the hand I made slightly reminds me of WWI-era Cubist ship camouflage. [Via]

8:30 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]

July 16, 2006

Lightning, battleships, long exposure, and more

A fistful of photography:

  • Photographer Michael Bath has been capturing severe weather for almost twenty years and has posted hundreds of photos, as well as a range of tips, on his site. In a related vein, the Daily Mail features the interplay of lightning & a rainbow. [Via]

  • “Using such varied subjects as parliamentary sessions, soccer games, outdoor military exercises, and erotic unions,” long-exposure photographer Atta Kim “suggests that it is possible for us to perceive the passage of time in radically different ways. The NY Times features an article on Kim’s work, and the International Center of Photography discusses the show and offers a gallery of Kim’s images
  • Few customers keep Photoshop honest quite like the Times. When you’re pumping 2500 images a day through the newsroom, you have zero tolerance for hiccups and incompatibilities, and the staff have shared a lot of valuable perspective over the years. In “Talk to the Newsroom,” photo editor Michele McNally tackles readers’ questions on everything from the gear used to what staff are (and are not) allowed to do in Photoshop.
  • Slate & Magnum continue their excellent Today’s Pictures series. I’d call this one “Old Women on Rascals with Battleship” (from the “America, Americana” series).
  • “If You Think You Need This, Kill Yourself”: Er, well, that’s not pulling any punches. Mike Johnston takes a rather dim view of in-camera facial recognition.
  • Having your work ripped off sucks, but I guess I’d be pretty flattered if an image I took became African currency. [Via]
7:44 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

July 13, 2006

Keepin’ it frosty, Lightroom-style

Off to the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow, a group of photographers are headed to Iceland for the Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop Adventure 2006. The group will crisscross the country for a week, working to capture its natural beauty with the aid of Lightroom, Photoshop, and 22 hours of sunlight per day. The Photoshop team’s native Icelander Addy Roff will be on hand to help shepherd the group around, and George Jardine will have mic in hand to capture wayward sheep-riding podcast-fodder.
On they sweep with threshing oar*,
J.
[ * I'm sure the prospect of my continuously belting out "Immigrant Song" ensured that I'd be staying Stateside for this one. ;-)]

5:00 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

Lightroom Podcast #9: Next-gen Web galleries & more

In the latest installment, George Jardine puts the thumbscrews to–er, talks nicely with–Lightroom engineers Kevin Tieskoetter and Andy Rahn about where things stand with Print, Web and Slideshow. George writes,

This podcast was recorded Wednesday, June 21st 2006, in the Shoreview Minnesota office of Adobe Systems. George, Kevin and Andy talk about some of the features of the Print Module. We also touch on what’s great, and what’s still missing there, color management in the various modules, Web output, slideshows, and a host of other topics in this casual conversation. For folks who want to dive into customizing Lightroom’s Web module templates, this conversation with Andy will be essential listening.

If you feel like geeking out about the Web gallery stuff in particular (XSLT, XHTML, etc.), jump ahead to the 25-minute mark or so. I’ve been talking to Andy, and we’re working to post the authoring details soon, so stay tuned.
The podcast is available via this RSS feed, by searching for “Lightroom” in iTunes, or as an MP3 file via George’s iDisk (under “0621 Podcast”).

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July 11, 2006

Adobe’s acquisition of Pixmantec: an FAQ

Following up on the announcement that Adobe is acquiring Pixmantec, we’ve posted an FAQ document (60KB PDF). A couple of key points:

  • Registered customers who purchased RawShooter Premium will be able to download the shipping version of Lightroom 1.0 for free

  • Although RawShooter Essentials & RawShooter Premium are being discontinued, there will still be an update to add support for the Canon 30D.

For convenience, I’ve included the text of the FAQ below:

Q: Why has Adobe acquired Pixmantec?

A: One of the great advantages of working with raw images is that, as the technology for raw processing continues to improve, the quality you can bring out of even your older images continues to improve as well. It is for this reason that Adobe continues to invest in our own raw processing technology. The acquisition of Pixmantec will allow Adobe to accelerate our rate of improvement and sets us up to deliver the world’s best raw processing solutions. Combining the best of Adobe’s existing raw technology with the best of Pixmantec’s technology will deliver noticeable improvements to photographers. More importantly, the expertise of Pixmantec founders Kenneth Tang Laerke and Michael Jonsson—developed through their work creating the RawShooter products as well as through their work on Capture One software—will be a great complement to our own expertise and promises substantial technology advances in the future.

Q: What are the plans for the RawShooter line of products?

A: The RawShooter | Premium product has been discontinued and is no longer available for sale. The free RawShooter | Essentials product will remain available as a download from the Adobe Web site until shortly after Lightroom 1.0 is released as a shipping product. The RawShooter | Color Engine will be taken off the market as soon as existing obligations to partners are fulfilled.

Q: Will there be special pricing for those who have invested in RawShooter | Premium?

A: We have listened closely to the opinions shared by customers on the Pixmantec forums and although Lightroom will provide a much broader range of functionality than RawShooter | Premium and will be offered at a higher price point, we will be offering a free downloadable version of Lightroom 1.0 to all customers who have purchased RawShooter | Premium.

Q: Why does Adobe plan to discontinue the RawShooter products?

A: Pixmantec has strong technology which has significant value for making Adobe’s own raw processing solutions better. Adobe already offers multiple workflows for processing raw images. Adobe Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw—both included with Adobe Photoshop® CS2—allow for efficient processing of images within an environment that supports a wide range of graphics file formats. The new Lightroom software—currently in public beta for Mac and soon available for Windows—provides a photography-centric environment that will handle the full workflow from import, sorting, developing, and storage, through to presentation and output. In addition, some level of raw support is also available in Adobe Photoshop Elements and in the free Photoshop Album Starter Edition. The Raw Shooter products do not offer any significant functionality that is not already, or will not be shortly, offered in these other products, so continuing this product line would only cause confusion for our customers.

Q: What level of support will Adobe provide for existing RawShooter customers?

A: Pixmantec’s primary customer support offering has been an online forum where customers can post questions to be answered by other customers or by Pixmantec staff. We will support these forums for the foreseeable future.

Q: Lightroom is currently available only for the Mac platform, and RawShooter is available on Windows. Do you plan to turn RawShooter into your Windows version of Lightroom?

A: No. Our Windows version of Lightroom is already well under development and will be available as a public beta shortly. We will be taking the best technology in RawShooter and incorporating it into both the Mac and Windows versions of Lightroom, as well as into Adobe Camera Raw as it appears in Photoshop and other products. Incorporating RawShooter technology will take development time and may not be available within immediate versions of Lightroom. Customers who would like to be notified when the Windows beta of Lightroom becomes available should visit http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/lightroom/ and click on the “sign up” link.

Q: Will Adobe continue to provide camera compatibility updates for the RawShooter products?

A: No. Because these products will be discontinued, we will not be focusing our efforts on any updates. Based on strong feedback from the community, Adobe will make an exception for the Canon EOS 30D and will add support for this model to the RawShooter | Essentials product this summer.

Q: After the discontinuation of the RawShooter products, which Adobe product will be the right choice for RawShooter customers?

A: Of course, customers can continue to use the existing RawShooter products for as long as they like, but they may want to move to another product to gain compatibility with raw formats from future cameras. The most appropriate Adobe product for RawShooter users will be Adobe Lightroom, because it provides efficient raw processing within a photography-centric environment. With its image management and flexible print and Web output options, Lightroom provides a more complete workflow than what is currently offered by RawShooter, and its modular architecture will allow it to expand to do even more in the future. Current RawShooter customers are encouraged to participate in the free Project:Lightroom beta program, so that they can make sure that the features they like most about RawShooter are included in the shipping version of Lightroom. Though only the Macintosh beta is currently available for download, the Windows beta will be available soon, and Windows customers are already encouraged to participate in the online forums to have their wishes known. To participate in the beta, customers can visit http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/lightroom/.

Q: Will Adobe support the effort I’ve put into editing images in RawShooter Premium with their current line of raw processing software?

A: Adobe is investigating the technical possibility of providing a conversion of RawShooter | Premium settings to match those of Adobe Camera Raw and Adobe Lightroom as closely as possible. Because the controls are different between applications, the results may not produce an exact match to the original.

6:05 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

Smokin’ AE particles, complex Flash masks, more in Design Center

The Adobe Design Center offers a trunkful of new content:

New Dialog box:

New Gallery:

New Tutorials:

[Text cheerfully boosted from Jen deHaan]

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July 10, 2006

Reminder: PUG Life (PS user group) tomorrow

The Bay Area Photoshop User Group is meeting tomorrow, July 11, at the Adobe San Jose office (map). Pizza and drinks kick off at 6:30pm.
Guest speakers are photo illustrator Stephanie Lim (more details in previous entry) and Gerry Davis, a photographer and business and copyright lawyer. Gerry has offered to do a short talk on copyright issues for photographers and illustrators. He’ll be going over the benefits of the copyright law, what is protected and what is not, why registration is important and how to go about registering your images.
If you plan to attend, please shoot an RSVP mail to Dan Clark (dan at weinberg-clark com). Hope to see you there!

1:46 PM | Permalink | No Comments

Rotoshop, Darkly

In anticipation of the debut of the new film A Scanner Darkly, animator Greg Geisler points out that the team behind the film has created a site that showcases their work and provides artist bios. The animators use the home-grown tool Rotoshop, and the NY Times has posted a 3-minute audio slideshow that gives a little insight into the process. On a related note, RES magazine has announced the winners of the Adobe-sponsored trailer remix contest.

1:32 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

July 08, 2006

Lightroom Podcast #8: Color Geekery & Wry Observations

Recorded in the Ann Arbor, MI, home of Ruth and Thomas Knoll, the latest Lightroom conversation features color master Bruce Fraser, Adobe engineers Mark Hamburg, Thomas Knoll, and Zalman Stern, and photography evangelist George Jardine discussing color science, asset management, and selective editing in Lightroom–not to mention such esoteric bits as “BastardRGB,” “creamy software,” using Perforce for asset management (!), and “Trash with Extreme Prejudice.” George writes,

In this discussion, we talk about color space choices made in Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw, tone curves, and colorimetric vs. perceptual mappings, before wandering off into a somewhat cynical look at more esoteric subjects such as software development at Adobe Systems, the role of image management in Lightroom, and other inconclusive ramblings. I probably would have edited much of this second half, but for the sake of honesty, I’ve included most of it. It serves to highlight how complicated many of the decisions are that have to be made when designing a new piece of software in a rapidly changing space, and I so think it actually adds quite a bit of value for listeners who wonder why we make the decisions we do.

The podcast is available via this RSS feed, by searching for “Lightroom” in iTunes, or–by popular request–as a straight MP3 file via George’s iDisk. And Jeff Schewe at PhotoshopNews has a photo gallery from the event.

4:14 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

July 03, 2006

Camera Raw Version Control

Author/photographer Ben Long has created Camera Raw Version Control, a “simple package of droplets and Automator actions [that] let you easily create and manage multiple versions of your raw images.” Since ACR edits are stored as tiny, easily portable XMP files, this method lets you create versions with almost no hit to your disk space.
Ben has been busy elsewhere as well, updating his Photoshop Automator Actions to v2.2 (offering full compatibility with Intel-based Macs as well as 2 new actions) and producing an excellent Digital Camera Buying Guide for CreativePro.com:

  • Part 1: Budget, SLR vs. point-and-shoot, and resolution

  • Part 2: Exposure controls (program modes, shutter speed, aperture, white balance, and ISO)
  • Part 3: Light meters, lenses, image stabilization, autofocus, and flash.
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Lo-Fi: How to create a pixel portrait; tracing photos

  • Craig Robinson has posted a tutorial covering how to use Photoshop for pixel portraiture. He uses techniques to give himself hairstyles from Lennon to Bono. [Via] By the way, if you like this kind of pixel art and have somehow missed the work of eBoy, check ‘em out.

  • Greg from TheManWhoFellAsleep has devised an interesting approach to tracing photos, creating a kind of hybrid 2D/3D look (reminds me a little of stencil art). “Yeah, I know,” he writes, “Anyone can trace a drawing. But so what? I am doing it, and you’re not.” Well, okay then. Actually, I love the candor. Art museums wouldn’t drive me half as crazy if many artists said, “See this totally arbitrary thing I’m doing here? I just happened to think of it first, and now I’m a ‘genius’ with a permanent income stream. Sucks to be you.” [Via]
8:22 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

July 01, 2006

Illustration sensations, vol. II

  • TechVector.com shows off the work of Reggie Gilbert. “All vector work is created 100% in Adobe Illustrator,” he writes. “No Photoshop ‘touch-ups,’ no 3D rendering software.” Outstanding. [Via]

  • Veerle Pieters highlights the work of Paul Rogers, whose illustrations nail the look of classic poster art. Love, love, love the Incredibles and Dos Equis pieces, to name just two. (His Strange Cargo design could have worked well for Photoshop 5.0–a.k.a. Strange Cargo.)
  • Chris Rhoadhouse points out Real Trace, the work of Takashi Morisaki. What Takashi pulls off with the gradient mesh is completely out of hand. (The actual cat on my lap looks comparatively crude.)
5:10 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

Legos + Jackson Pollock

  • Having logged an insane number of hours playing with Legos as a kid, I loved seeing this tutorial on how to create Lego Photoshop brushes. You can check out the tips on using the Photoshop brush engine, or you can jump directly to downloading the brushes. [Via]

  • JacksonPollock.org * offers a fun little drawing tool, good for biting the master’s style. [Via] This kind of simple, playful tool makes me want to combine the innovation happening online with desktop creative tools. How can we make extending Photoshop as simple as creating a SWF? Hmm… (For other Flash drawing tools, see TYPEDRAWiNG and Click Three Points.)

* There’s some controversy here, as these guys, ah, colorfully assert that the Pollock site rips off their work. (Heads-up via Jon Williams.)

4:37 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]
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