Posted tagged ‘colour’

Trying Out Useful Mac Apps

August 25, 2017

I decided after trying the demo for 15 days or so to buy Pixelmator as it does what I want fairly quickly.

Affinity Photo was a complete wash-out for me in functionality mostly because of its abysmal selection tools. I would scan something in, usually a playing card or similar and it could not select it from the background so I could copy and paste it on a new layer. I tried all kinds of ways and the edges were all raggedy with chunks chewed out all the way around. In Photoshop CS5 which I owned on my old Windows laptop, this was very easily done with one click of the Magic Wand with tolerance set at 65%. After two weeks of frustration I gave up and tried another program.

The other thing Affinity wouldn’t do without some very convoluted steps that didn’t seem to work as outlined in the tutorial, was to put a simple frame on my image. I often post images online and if the background is pale it needs a simple 8 to 20 pixel border to show up nicely on a blog background. I can’t believe Affinity can’t do this.

The third thing is that it does a hazy sort of drop shadow but there is little control over it and it looks okay but not ideal. Okay, it’s a small thing but I use that facility every day and it got completely frustrating.

So, after that frustration I tried out Pixelmator before committing to buy it.

– Selection tools are much better. I have had great success using the Magnetic Lasso loosely around the edge and then clicking Refine and checking the box for Smart Refine. Almost 100 % accuracy and if not I could add or subtract easily from the selection. The Magic Wand is pretty good too with the tolerance set higher.

– To put a frame on you Select All and Stroke however many pixels you want in whatever colour. For my purposes this was adequate and very fast.

– For drop shadows in Pixelmator you can duplicate the object on a separate layer, pull this layer below the object layer, fill the duplicate object with black, add a gaussian blur, and offset it and drop the opacity. Sounds complicated but it gives you a lot of control over shadows and they look good. Miles better than anything Affinity offers and comparable to the Photoshop drop shadow but with more control.

Here’s an example of a fine drop shadow in Pixelmator that looks pretty good.

Beetle1_sm

This particular beetle was a WMF file from an old, old clip art CD I own.  I am currently trying out a program called WMF Converter Pro to facilitate browsing my CDs and converting WMFs to a readable format for the Mac. I’m not sure if I want to do batch file conversions, but at least for single conversions and thumbnail previews this program seems to work. The only unfortunate thing is that it has a black interface that is horrible. This beetle was converted as a PDF and was a bit glitchy due to the file size. I’ll try the EPS format and see if that works better to keep the vector properties without locking up Pixelmator with file size. PDFs can be a bit tricky in other programs, so it might simply be that.

I tried saving another WMF file as a PNG and this is what I got, which is great for my purposes.

Beetle_sm

I want to try further things with the program because it’s $30 to buy and I want to be sure it can do what I want. After the Affinity Photo disaster I want to make sure I put it through all scenarios.

My other two experiments were with the apps Color Palette Converter and Color Palette from Image.  I get frustrated with the Apple colour picker and although I have saved my own swatches at the bottom of the picker, I wanted something to convert .aco files, and then something to get colours from an image, which is something I use a lot.

– Open an image in Color Palette from Image which I bought at a discount for $1.39 I think. Generate a palette up to 20 colours. You can also adjust the Gamma setting to moderate the tones of swatches which is a nice feature without getting complicated. Save it.

– Open this palette in Color Palette Converter and you can save it to the Color folder in the Library file. I suppose I could do this manually but for $2.79 this program makes it easier.

Here’s an example of a palette generated from a photograph of a purse I made.

RunaroundPalette_sm

These palettes are now in a drop-down list in the Apple colour picker and I can choose them quickly and get exactly the colours I want. This might be most useful for people designing web pages, but I just like that I can get the colours and tones I want without trying to sample them individually, plus they are always available across programs.

Not bad for a total of about $4 for these two simple colour apps.

I’m really sorry I bought Affinity Photo, but they are working on a 1.6 version upgrade and I know that will allow you to change the black interface at least. Here’s hoping they improve other simple tasks as well, because I hate to give up on a program I paid for.

I am thankfully getting over the shock of switching from Windows and getting used to the way the Mac does things, and the various functions and apps available for it.

 

 

Advertisements

Books on Owls and Colour Mixing Recipes

January 23, 2017

I placed an order at an art supply shop to beef up my collection of Faber-Castell Polychromos coloured pencils. Although I have 60 colours, I was short on the warm and cool grey selections which are good for animal fur and feathers. I ended up getting 18 colours, so I’ll be up to 78 colours in total with this set. I initially bought a set of 24 pencils and then this will be my third order over several years to get the particular colours I find useful.

I was going to try the Caran d’Ache Luminance or Pablo coloured pencils but the cost is way too much. Besides, I like the oil-based Polychromos and want to stick with them. Then I was looking at the Caran d’Ache Neocolor II water-soluble pastel crayons and I realized I was just looking for the sake of looking. Back to reality.

I thought I’d also order a drafting template for small lettering. I got the Alvin Standard Lettering Guide TD112 that uses size: 1/8″, 3/16″, 1/4″, which is pretty small, but makes neat and tidy text.

alvintd112lettering_sm

I threw in a couple of Faber-Castell PITT pens because no one here sells them. I bought a back-up Sepia Superfine pen and a new-to-me Sanguine colour in the Fine size. I love their sepia colour and I think Sanguine might look good for buildings and lettering.

I occasionally buy photographic books for drawing references. I have used my reptiles book so much I thought I’d get one on owls, and I liked the photos in this and the huge amount of information on global species of owls.

Owls of the World: A Photographic Guide by Heimo Mikeola looks terrific and it gets great reviews. He is originally from Finland and has spent 40 years researching and photographing owls; a noted expert who obviously knows his stuff judging by the sample pages I saw of this book.

owlsoftheworld

I dithered over this book because it’s better that people learn to mix their own colours when painting. I’m not too bad when mixing watercolour but in planning a large acrylic piece I wanted a reference for mixing particular colours, so I ordered the book 1500 Color Mixing Recipes by William F. Powell. This is one of those handy Walter Foster publications that have such good information.

colourmixingguide

I saw an excellent tutorial on YouTube for drawing rabbit fur with Polychromos coloured pencils so it got me all fired up. I still have a shoulder injury and tendinitis bothering me but I’m going to try doing small pictures at least. I’m sure a suitable owl with appear in the new book.

I also want to draw a sandpiper because of a story about a sandpiper from my Dad’s childhood, and due to his recent death I’ve been thinking about that. It’s a bit harder to find a large photo of a suitable bird but I’ll keep watch for one. I have some scraps of grey or cream Stonehenge paper that would do well for this.

 

 

Choosing Colours for Embroidered Purse Flap

August 23, 2014

I am trying the Valdani perle and wanted to buy some Presencia Finca perle to try too but with shipping it was too much money for 3 balls. The shipping cost almost $17 (more than the $12 order), so it’s well above my means. Canada Post is going to put many small business owners out of business at those rates.

Fortunately I had the manufacturer’s registration marks for all the colours on the selvedge of the main fabric. From there, I pulled out several suitable colours which you can see in the top tier.

EmbroideryColours_Grapes

Top tier from left to right:

Valdani perle cotton #12 – Maroon Moss – 524
DMC 154 – Red Vy Dk
Valdani perle cotton #12 – Rich Plum – 86
Anchor 218 – Pistachio Green Vy Dk
DMC 3350 – Dusty Rose Ult Dk
Weeks Dye Works Hand Overdyed Cotton – Rum Raisin – 1270
DMC 367 – Pistachio Green
DMC 502 – Blue Green
DMC 598 – Light Turquoise

On the bottom tier are a few odd things to mix in for a bit of zing. I find threads that are too matchy-matchy lack zip so I like to mix in some subtle blends and pops of colour.

Bottom tier left to right:

Silk Twist #12 – Vicki Clayton/Hand Dyed Fibers – Holly Berry
Silk Twist #12 – Vicki Clayton/Hand Dyed Fibers – Pansy
DMC 208 Lavender Vy Dk
Threadworx 1083 Hand Overdyed Cotton – 1083 – Romantic Wedding

I am using the Valdani Maroon Moss with occasional dashes of DMC 154 (which is a deep purple-red) for the variegated outlining in chain stitch and single or double stem stitch. So far it looks great, I like the extra subtlety of the DMC adding a purplish tone among the black and maroon of the Valdani.

EmbroideryVariegatedOutline

I managed to scrounge up a package of proper crewel needles. I was finding the needles I had were shredding the Valdani, so needed something bigger with a large eye. I am slightly disappointed in the Valdani, nothing really beats the sheen and durability of DMC floss, and they have such a gorgeous palette of colours.

Onward!

 

The Botanical Geek Squad Swings into Action

May 23, 2014

Ah, there is nothing like the satisfaction of identifying a plant. At least twenty years ago my husband and I bought a single-stemmed plant that was in the bargain bin for $1 because the coloured cactus that had been grafted onto the top of it had fallen off. We thought it was a cactus, but over the years it blossomed into something with leaves, so we then knew it must be some kind of succulent but never tried to identify it. Here it is in the corner of my living room with the aloes:

EuphorbiaTrigonaRubra

My sister recently purchased a book with full-colour pictures of cacti and succulents, and when I looked at the preview at Amazon I noticed mention of a Euphorbia that looked quite a bit like our plant, but wasn’t quite right. So I searched around and finally found my plant: Euphorbia trigona rubra, which is often called the African Milk Tree and originally comes from west Africa. The red variety that we have is lovely, really handsome, and it does well outside here in Canada during the summer. In fact, the growth on this one took off when we started putting it outside.

Every year when my daffodils come up I vow to sketch them and then lose the opportunity when they die off. This year I nearly missed them again, but managed to find a few to sketch. I was working very fast as the mosquitoes were swarming us and the poor dogs had their noses bitten repeatedly.

Daffs_sm

I am hoping when I get my books on watercolour flower painting that I can do tutorials for daffodils, as I got a bit stymied by the shading of these, particularly the lighter petals. I never even attempted to sketch the white Narcissus beside them for that reason.

Live and learn.

And in the realm of colour, the talented Karen Bailey mentioned a site where she likes to view colour palettes called Design Seeds.

These remind me so much of the images and photographs Owen Ransen includes in his program Gliftex, which generates a colour palette when you use the “Colors from an Image” facility. You could use a palette image from Design Seeds as inspiration in Gliftex. I have used Gliftex (formerly Gliftic) since 2000 and it always surprises and refreshes me with regard to colour, so there’s another way to use interesting colour palette for projects.

Just to experiment I took a lovely screen shot of a palette from Design Seeds. She has a Creative Commons license for these, so no commercial use is allowed, they are only for individual inspiration. As a stand-alone for painting you could work your watercolours or coloured pencils out from this.

DesignSeeds_Sample_sm

I took a snippet of the palette into Photoshop and saved it as a 16-colour PNG to take into Gliftex. Then I loaded it into Gliftex so I could use it to generate a palette in Colors from an Image.

Screen_Gliftex

And here are some seamless tiles I created in Gliftex using this palette. Gliftex designs are almost like abstract paintings themselves and the colour gradations are a beautiful expansion on the original six colours. All kinds of inspiring here and a few surprises of attendant colour.

GliftexTiles_sm

As always when you do digital things, the colours will not be exact because of computer sampling issues (a problem that Jessica explains in relation to Design Seeds), but as a jumping-off point to inspiration and colour palettes it’s a great place to start.

There is just something about colour and plants and shading and gradations and the whole world of geeky people tweaking colour and identifying plants and looking for just the right shade of yellow for daffodils.

Isn’t it great?