drawn with Linux MyPaint
Posted this earlier and took it down because it was meshing poorly with the surrounding imagery (no pun intended). This is an ongoing problem with the blog format.
The high contrast rough weave background is a MyPaint default so I'm treating it as a found image. It's kind of nuts -- the "natural" fiber is almost pure pixel art when you inspect it closely. The watercolor effects of the paint program don't so much soak into this weave as hover in front of it. All this puts it into "so bad it's good" territory, at least conceptually.
Update: Reposted the above at its intended size (500 x 500 pixels). The frames were made in GIMP and assembled in my old Windows GIF program. Earlier today I posted a 400 x 400 version assembled in Online Image Editor. It was resizing to fit OIE's 400 x 400 max dimensions and anti-aliasing, which is more tasteful but not what I intended for this GIF.
Update 2: Assembled the frames using GIMP and re-posted. I opened the frames (png files) as layers and exported as a GIF animation with the following items checked: (A) one frame per layer (replace)*; (B) 100 ms delay; (C) use delay entered above for all frames; (D) use disposal entered above for all frames. I left "interlace" unchecked. Per the help page: "Checking interlace allows an image on a web page to be progressively displayed as it is downloaded." Another thing I learned about GIMP: the pencil tool, which can be set to different widths, does not use antialiasing, so it's the tool of choice for pixel artists.
*Actually for a group of opaque frames the "disposal" doesn't seem to matter. The default is "I don't care."
Click for jumbo graphic showing many odious features of Windows 10. [via] Can't vouch for the accuracy of all this but the marginal notes to the company happytalk amuse.
Microsoft isn't even pretending anymore that you have ultimate control over the PC you bought; it's essentially a little outpost or embassy of their company that sits in your home, gathering data and funneling it back to their HQ in Washington state.
Some of these spyware features are even being added to Windows 7 and 8 computers, under the guise of necessary security updates. PCMasterRace, a Reddit for gamers who favor PCs over consoles (because you have more say about how your programs are managed, updated, etc -- ha!) has a cheat sheet for how to remove "telemetry" from a Windows 7 or 8 PC (hat tip rene).
Microsoft apparently isn't embarrassed by the heavy handed tactics that are losing the "nerd" constituency. They just want to imitate Apple (closed environment, surveillance for your own good, treating users like simpletons) but are doing it with less finesse than the "computer for creatives" does.
If you are ready to make the switch to Linux but are concerned about "driver issues" for your hardware, [PLUG] ThinkPenguin sells Linux-loaded desktops and laptops that work with standard mice, keyboards, monitors, printers (HP, though, not Epson), and Wacom tablets. The sound cards and graphics cards on ThinkPenguin gear also come Linux-enabled. The Mint operating system somewhat resembles Windows XP; Thunderbird, Firefox and VLC come pre-installed in the OS (where they work better than on Windows).
One of the reasons I didn't sign up for Facebook back when everyone else did was its limitation on image formats.
For years Facebook's big innovation, which helped them "scale" this Ivy League college dating concept to world-dominating levels, was to take every image you uploaded and convert it to a jpeg. So if I was going to go on Facebook as an "artist working with animated GIFs" I would essentially have to say trust me, I know this frozen, mushy image doesn't look like much but if you click this link, over on my website you'll see it really animates in a cool way!
Years later, GIFs became a thing and Facebook had to deal with them. Initially they came up with a kind of fake GIF alternative, transcoding GIFs you uploaded to mp4 video files. If you had any variations in the frame rate that you built into your GIF, tough luck. More recently, Facebook partnered with a startup called Giphy (pronounced with a hard G -- just kidding -- they don't do that), allowing you to embed a GIF file hosted on Giphy. Either way, it's still treated like a frozen image until you click a "play" button. All this is ludicrous if you have a Tumblr account, or an "indie"-type blog, you just post a GIF and voila! -- it plays in anyone's browser without loading from elsewhere or requiring a plugin.
With all this as background, I read about Facebook's latest attempt to work GIFs into their formula, Facebook Testing GIFs on Page Post, Ads:
GIFs are slowly starting to creep into the Facebook News Feed. While GIFs have been supported (though not in auto-play fashion) for personal posts since May, the company is testing the feature on page posts. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed this to Facebook: "GIFs can be a fun and compelling way to communicate, so we’ve started testing GIF support in posts and boosted posts for a small percentage of Facebook Pages. We will evaluate whether it drives a great experience for people before rolling it out to more Pages."
Note the language, GIFs "creep" into the news feed. I had to do some research to understand that "personal posts" means content put up by you, the hapless "free" user, and "page posts" means "paid posts." GIFs aren't really supported in personal posts, for the reasons described above. And the GIFs creeping into ad pages are Giphy embeds.
Why does all this matter? It's funny to me that so much energy goes into taming an anarchic format, especially since we are being told by the art and technology websites that we must embrace the tamers because that's where The People are now.
Drawn with Linux MyPaint.
I still haven't found a brush I like as much as the Chibi Paint "watercolor" brush.
There is a kind of a fine balance where a digital brush pulls the paint and where it is just smearing or blurring it.
The ideal brush for me would simultaneously be loading color and pulling it away from an adjacent mark, and actually looking like a brushstroke without obviously or self-consciously imitating physical media.
Most of the "blend" brushes in MyPaint just dissolve, so everything resembles the Photoshop smudge tool, an effect I dislike.
Here I am compensating by crosshatching, so a volume is built up with fine lines of gradually lightening or darkening color.
The Microsoft Paint brushes in the Windows 7+ versions don't have any dissolve function at all -- they are all very "scratchy." I ended up getting my best results with the "colored pencil," which had a softer, semi-transparent line.
It's hard being a primadonna in a world where the digital tools are conceived by engineers. "Hey ottist I made a brush for ya!"
A friend asked recently if anyone still "surfs the web" now that all net-like activity takes place within one or two large gated communities. The question was related to the topic of Young People Not Having a Clue What the Surf Clubs of 2006-2010 Were Supposed to Be About.
Well, for an hour this morning, I did (surf the web).
Started with links to websites from my blog posts of two and three years ago (random link-rot checking), which led indirectly to:
* A PandaWhale "stash" telling us about lead and cadmium in Soylent (the powdered food that techie types are living on). Great clickbait but neither Panda nor its linkee Takepart say where the heavy metals are supposedly coming from! Isn't that the first question in anyone's mind? A press release from Soylent blames trace elements in the brown rice extract and an unusually stringent California labeling law.
* Another PandaWhale "stash" with a mind-shattering item on cutting soft cheese with dental floss. (Note that the name of the floss manufacturer is covered with white tape.) The source is a "life tip" from iPPINKA, a lifestyle accessory vendor that requires a login to browse its merchandise (see photo of keyboard brush at top).
*A list of companies that make bamboo bike frames. I can't find that link now but I remembered one of the company names, Bamboosero, pronounced BambooSERo. But is that SER as in sear or SER as in bear?
At this point it became too exhausting to continue web surfing.
Above: more thumbnails of paintings I've been doing using Linux MyPaint.
Was looking at Peter Halley's portfolio pages -- you click through dozens of his cell-and-conduit paintings, all roughly the same size thumbnails. It's an intriguing design exercise -- after so many years of production, there are hundreds of variations on the colors and basic shapes he employs. Halley wrote an essay in the '80s about Frank Stella and the simulacrum, arguing that Stella was neither the last formalist nor a "bureaucrat" but a post-modernist emerging early, in the 1960s. Halley's own career continued the logic of ironic serial production. He could even be said himself to have anticipated 3D printed canvases, since the actual objects he makes have a kind of chalky, plastic perfection. All those coats of acrylic could be passes of the print head, over and over until the surface is built up.
The ultimate logic of postmodern simulation would be to bypass the objects altogether and just have the digital archive of patterns. The art becomes more easily transmissible, gets out to more people, and doesn't add bulk matter to the universe.
Drawn with Linux MyPaint and GIMP.
So far these tools are looking and handling similarly to the Chibi Paint plugin used by Computers Club Drawing Society (among other plugins).
Haven't figured out how to use the hard-edged black and white fill patterns as a brush, yet. I had to make an underlayer in GIMP with that stripe pattern and use the eraser in the top layer to pull it up.
MyPaint has more brushes and effects, a few of which aren't horrible.
Addendum: Am thinking I would like to see this Epson-printed at 17 x 22 inches on some kind of hand-crafted paper resembling a rumpled, brown grocery store bag.
Addendum 2: Added an off-white background.
Linux application MyPaint has some possibilities: it's just a matter of clicking through the brushes and separating the tacky from the less-tacky. It's fairly intuitive: you choose a background and start noodling. The main brush I'm interested is "blend," which allows modeling from dark to light. Chibi Paint has an excellent "watercolor" brush that can be used for blending. MyPaint's is adequate -- it may be a matter of messing with the speed and opacity settings.