Saturday, 14 February 2009

Happy Valentines Day

A picture present.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

This is how I became involved in 3D Art

Is there something you do regularly, at the heart of you that you would feel a lesser being without? It may be music, sport, work, art tools or software? I’ll be asking that question at the end of this post. I looked back the other day in my blog to discuss how I came to use filter forge – one of the programs I use most on my PC, both as a tool and recreationally. If you read the other post on how I used it in my own self prescribed art therapy then you will have realised that I have an emotional and well-being links to my artwork and the programs I use. As a result of that I discovered I wanted to disclose the path I took to use the 3D programs I use regularly. So it all started with me having a sort of story in my head with quite distinct pictures, I have developed this a bit more over at, but not as much as I should have due to time constraints. I really could do with a 55 hour day and only need 2 hours sleep, and a 3 day weekend away from work (or not work at all!). The story idea and main thread came about after a short burst of mentor/counselling I had. So I had pictures in my head. I have a natural ability to draw, and a good degree of training but the pictures in my head this time I knew were not going to be satisfied with what I can produce with my own hands so I waited and they were in my head developing and growing, the ideas pushing on with no outlet that was satisfying. A few weeks into this I opened my PC Pro magazine and there was a give-away of Bryce 5 – I always have installed such packages and never seem undeterred that my experience is often poor and that if I don’t “get it” in the first half hour then I stop and give up. My computer gaming is the same. I won’t persevere unless I can completely foresee that I could with some effort make it work and fun for me. Bryce somehow clicked and I was excited I could immediately make something and it looked stunning. So I read the manual (yeah I bet loads of people ditch software without even reading the manual) and I went to the website of the company who had just taken it on and were now giving it away. Daz3d. From that website I instantly realised that they not only had a cheap upgrade to Bryce 6 from 5 but they had a whole stash of wonderful things (people, trees, vehicles) that were precisely what I needed to get the pictures out of my head and in a format I could share with others. It was like walking into a little software paradise. If I put my business head on here and look at what happened to my experience I can only congratulate Daz on their business sense in their ability to realise that giving something away (loss to them) would lead me to spend loads of money with them (leader). Bryce 5 was a loss leader for Daz. So glad I took it. In my next post I want to develop my stages through various software packages and how I use them. I’d love to know how you came to be connected with the tools you use. Is it pure business or is there an emotionally affinity. This does not have to be about art or software either. Is there something you do regularly that is at the heart of you that you would feel a lesser being without. It may be music, sport, work, art tools or software?

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

How I treated the Blues with Filter Forge

From previous posts you will know that I have found Filter Forge a fantastic tool that I use regularly for art both 2D Digital Art and for developing materials for 3D art. In this post I wanted to mention one other way it has helped me.

In the summer of last year my chaotic life took some even more catastrophic turns. I lost my job, the dog died and I lost my home – any one of those events was enough to put me in poor spirits but all 3 together in one season left me in a precarious emotional state. I blogged a little about it at the time, but not a lot as clearly I was too busy being in a mess and for some time had no internet connection!

Creatively I was burned out and I was having strange visions and quite dark thoughts. Part of me wanted to draw or digitally create the dark pictures in my head to exorcise them but then I rethought that approach and realised that it may not be helpful to my emotional well being to actively focus on the darkness.

So I turned to Filter Forge and chose 2 colours – Yellow because it represents light which can signify goodness and hope. Green because it is the colour of growth and life. I focused on making patterns with these 2 colours – the tasks had to be simple as my mood was making it very hard to concentrate. I limited my palette to focus my thoughts. I already knew how to use Filter Forge and in these sessions I was not creating filters I was simply messing with the basics of the package, tweaking and clicking

At the time I did not feel hopeful or joyful but continued to make patterns with these things in mind. I stored them all in a folder and the ones I liked best I submitted to RedBubble. Some of them are now my favourite work.

The rhythm and patterns and colour I found very helpful and I know there is such a thing as Art Therapy and I wonder if I accidentally self prescribed some Art Therapy for myself in these hard times. Looking back I doubt anyone else could have prescribed better.

If your creativity dries up due to stress, tiredness or depression I personally would recommend downloading the trial version of Filter Forge if you don’t already own it, grabbing some of the nearly 6000 free filters – and then click through and make yourself something beautiful even if you don’t feel it.

Filter Forge is marketed as an Adobe Photshop plugin but it can be run on Corel Paintshop Pro or as a standalone program.

I will over the next few weeks be returning to Filter Forge and have a look at how it is used.

I am quite aware that this may all sound a schmolzy or some such word – but the truth is often stranger or more icky than fiction.

Friday, 6 February 2009

I have actually shot past my 10 day free artrage stencils

But I have so much more I want to give! So I'll do these today and I'll occasionally drop some more in BUT what I will do is bundle all the free ones I do make into a zip file which I will keep updating and I'll put that in my website at which I have now committed myself to updating properly and that will launch properly on the 1st of March -- I'm going to be looking for articles from my arty network too so do get in touch if you have anything. I have enjoyed making the artrage stencils so much that I am also going to make more and create a paid for version too - with a lot more things in! Of course it will be ridiculously cheap and I'll be running some tutorials on how I made them so you can just get on and make some yourself too! Anyway the day before yesterday I hinted at the 8 legged folks and some more interesting lights beams so I'll pop these up now. oooh AND spider webs!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Why I use Filter Forge nearly every day.

I’m taking time out today from creating and giving free stencils for Artrage to talk about Filter Forge. I have mentioned it a lot while creating the filters and when I have made up example work.

I was introduced to Filter Forge in a very round about way. I am a fan of and I put in request for some training to use Mapzone which is a free filter making tool which is very powerful but has a steep learning curve – so steep in fact that I never really got off the ground with – I may yet push on with that – I don’t like to be beat. responded that at that time they weren’t considering mapzone training but they would be putting in some sessions on Filter Forge. I must say I was actually a bit disappointed because Filter Forge wasn’t free and was a Photoshop plug – which at that time I didn’t use. I watched the training anyway which was fascinating and learned that Filter Forge would also plug into Coral Paint Shop Pro AND would run stand alone. Now that I could handle! So I set to and downloaded the trial version.

The trial version is a full version unlimited for a month – which is fabulous as you can get stuck in using the repository of nearly 6000 filters made by the Filter Forge users and Administrators and you can start making your own, use them and submit them to Filter Forge Library for others to use.

When you submit a Filter to the Filter Forge Library it’s use is monitored and if it is used to a High degree (High User – HU) you get a point – and yes POINTS DO MAKE PRIZES! In fact you can win copies of Filter Forge – brilliant!

To quote from the site

To get a reward, you must earn a sufficient number of Reward Points. In our current reward program, 1 Reward Point equals 1 High Usage Rank filter. Once a filter attains the rank, it will count towards your future rewards, even if it loses its Usage Rank later.

Here are the rewards you can receive:

  • 1 Reward Point = 20% discount coupon for any edition of Filter Forge
  • 2 Reward Points = 50% discount coupon for any edition of Filter Forge
  • 3 Reward Points = a free copy of Filter Forge Professional Edition
  • 4 Reward Points = 5 coupons for a 30% discount each for any edition of Filter Forge
  • 5 Reward Points = free lifetime upgrades to all future versions

Filters fall into categories in 2 main camps – 1 camp is where the filter messes about with a submitted image and the other is where patterns and textures etc are created with no image to start on.

These 2 camps are broken down into these categories

Texture Filters

  • Building – Textures found in architecture and building, such as bricks, pavements, tiles etc.
  • Frames – Picture frame textures.
  • Misc – Abstract textures or textures that do not fit into any other category
  • Organic – Organic textures such as meat, skin, flesh, leaves, etc.
  • Patterns – Textures with regularly repeated shapes, colors, motifs, etc.
  • Snippets – Filters that illustrate ideas or techniques of interest to the filter development community
  • Stone – Stone and rock textures, natural and processed.
  • Techno – Any textures related to industry and technology, such as circuits, rusty metal, diamond plates etc.

Effect Filters - the ones that mess with an image

  • Creative – Effects that modify images in various creative ways.
  • Distortions – Effects that distort, deform or reshape the original image.
  • Frame – Effects that create a frame around the original image.
  • Misc – Effects that do not fit into any other category.
  • Patterns – Effects that produce patterns based on the original image.
  • Photo – Photo enhancement operations and effects.
  • Snippets – Filters that illustrate ideas or techniques of interest to the filter development community.

Having played furiously with the downloaded trial I then purchased the standard version (Financial reasons) which was delightful! BUT for me with the programming brain (dying to edit and create my own filters which you can’t in standard version) and wishing to submit images to Redbubble at around the 7000px mark (limited to 300px) it was a bit limiting so I had to save up again and buy the professional version.

I honestly now use Filter Forge nearly everyday – sometimes to do something useful and task driven and sometimes just to play.

Speaking of playing! -- My 12 year old God son came to stay for a weekend the other month. I gather he was a bit reluctant and would rather have stayed at home and hung about with his best mate (as you would!). On this occasion the adults ruled and his stuff was packed up and he came on over to stay. I can’t say I really went out of my way to entertain him in fact on Saturday I had a bit of a bad head from indulging at a party the previous evening and I skulked off back to bed for a bit. What I did do was set him loose with Filter Forge – I have never seen the lad so engrossed! And his Mum when she picked him up was overwhelmed by how much he prattled on about the fun he had had and that he should come round more often!

It was nice to share and that’s what I’m trying to do here.

So ……

If you need patterns

If you need to design materials for characters

If you need funky alien skin

If you want to make stencils

If you want to brighten up your art work and photos

If you want to entertain a teenager

If you want materials for any 3d project

If you want to self medicate pattern making to get over the blues (I’ll explain that one another time - probably next week)

If you want some fun and excitement

Then download Filter Forge – try out the trial version and see what you can come up with.

Look out for Blurtsmum – I’m in there and I have a few filters.

Hope to see you submitting filters.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

You light up my life - with free artrage stencils

I'm going to post this set of free stencils today and then tomorrow I'm going to take a break and have a chat about the product I used most in developing the stencils and one I use everyday. Filter Forge This set of stencils is about adding light or the illusion of light at least - I worked with flares of light the other day and on this post I'd like to share beams of light. I'll continue the following day with some more intricate beams and a set of organic patterns by some eight legged friends.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Sunsets and birds free stencils for artrage

I posted last week a few simple sky stencils for artrage. This week I'd like to advance on that with some more intricate sky stencils which can be used as sunsets. Experiment with these to develop interesting texture and don't forget you can invert them to enhance highlights AND you do know you do not have to set out with a simple white piece of paper. Use your layers well and experiment a lot. Also last week I started off a picture using the stylised trees and a sky and the hills - it became clear to me that we needed some birds so as a special sunset treat I have here 3 stencils of birds winging their way home for the evening. These last stencils with the birds on were made using Ron's Brushes Which is a great product and if you need a lot of birds to compliment your outdoor scenes then you will get them here at a very reasonable price.

Solar Flares and such stencils for artrage

Here are some flares so you can add lights stars and solar flares to your artrage images. You can use these with the heavenly bodies that I put up earlier or any other images you are creating in artrage. If you put them to good use I would love to see your work. Happy Creating.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Heavenly Bodies Artrage Stencils for Free

Last week I produced a bunch of stencils that could be used for developing landscapes. After I had done the sky I thought some more and realised that we needed some heavenly bodies -- you know planets, moons etc. So that is what this post is for. I doubt I'll have spare time this week to play with artrage myself but if you do and you use any of these then let me know and we could share them here if you liked. OK then heavenly bodies There are only 3 here but I'll make it up by adding some solar flare stencils before I get to bed.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Playing with arty stencils.

Took a few minutes this morning while waiting for my breakfast to settle to have a go with the arty free stencils for artrage posted yesterday. This example here is one of thousands of ways you can use them. In this one I squeezed some (lots actually - I have been taking tips form blurt) white and pale yellow all over and then used the palette knife to spread it but not smooth it over too much. After that I took one of the stencils sized it up to cover my paper and I chose to rotate it too because I fancied the flower at the top right and the stripes at the bottom. I added a layer on artrage so it would be like my bottom layer is dry paint and not wet squishy stuff that would blend with anything new I added -- on this picture I was trying to capture the texture as much as the patterns of the stencils. On the stencil and new layer I squeezed purple paint and spread it with the palette knife. Then I added a new layer and a different stencil - without removing the first. On these heaped stencils and new layer I painted on black with a roller. Then I hid the second stencil so I could return to it later in active stencils if I thought I needed to. (I didn't but I didn't know that then!) Adding another layer I inverted the first stencil I used and using a paint brush with white - I used it again to power up the highlights. Then I stopped and took a look -- I swapped the black and purple layers and changed their blends - I wasn't working scientifically I just tweaked them until I felt happy. This is what I had when I finished in Artrage it's OK but I wanted to add a bit more bumpiness so I took it into filter forge and added in bit of simple bump and then I decided I liked it and left it as the first picture in this blog entry. Now I wasn't making this picture for any purpose so now I need to decide what I can use it in. I may use submit it as a card to redbubble, I may add it as a picture on a wall in some 3d Art. I may use it as a posing backdrop for one of my characters - who know I'll let it rest and come back to it in a couple of days and see how react to it then.