The Photoshop toolbar is deceptively simple looking, especially to a beginner. It’s amazing that this simple, thin bar has hidden inside of it 73 different items (in CS6 anyway). I’ve found it helpful to give my students a flayed-out version of the toolbar to help navigate the many different tools and actions that can be done with it. Below are the toolbars for CS6, CS5 and CS4. I hope you find them helpful.
Most of the art I do, I do for other people. Sometimes I can’t find the time to make art for myself, and sometimes I just don’t know what to make. A blank page with no direction or goal can be daunting.
Back in March, a couple of friends of mine, Leanne Pedante and Kati Driscoll, started the first annual Fun-A-Day in the First State. It is what the name implies, you make a piece of art every day for a month and then at the end there is a big show. This was exactly the kind of thing that I was looking for! Unfortunately I had a lot going on that month (I chickened out) and didn’t participate. I will definitely participate next year.
Luckily, Leanne has come up with another great project: Art Assignment. This is a slightly more directed activity where you are given a word every week to create art about. When you complete the assignment, you upload it to the website. The current word is “transmute” and I have no idea what I’m going to make, but my creative juices are flowing (I do not actually excrete fluid while creating).
Join us! Anybody can be an artist. You can include audio, video, poetry, whatever! It’s fun and it gives you an excuse to make art for yourself.
Below are some examples of past assignments from various artists.
I love optical illusions. Nothing gets my attention more than an impossible shape or a scintillating pattern. Optical illusions reveal the limitations or foibles of our brains. What’s a better artistic subject than something that shows us our senses can be tricked.
Most optical illusions are tricks that can be performed by transferring three dimensional shapes to a two dimensional surface. The best example of this is Ascending and Descending created by M.C. Escher. This is a staircase that obviously cannot exist in real life, but it’s difficult at first to see why.
Then there are simpler impossible shapes like the impossible fork.
I love this table illusion. The two table tops are exactly the same shape. But your brain won’t let you see that until you take the shapes out of a three dimensional context.
Another kind of illusion is one of context. We can easily be tricked about the size, color or shape of an object depending on what it is placed next to.
This is the most important illusion to be aware of when designing. A single color can look like two completely different colors depending on what colors are placed next to them. A center line can look off center depending on what’s near it. As designers, we have to take these tricks in to account and try not to let them ruin a good design.
There are a lot of logos that employ the ambiguous illusion. This is when you can flip between two different ways of seeing an image. My favorite example is the Yoga Australia logo.
Of course you don’t want to have this happen accidentally…
Some illusions use motion. The dancer below is twirling clockwise or counterclockwise depending on the way you look at it.
If you stare at the target in the center of these circles without blinking, the magenta circles appear to get swallowed by a green circle.
My favorite kind of illusion is when a still, two dimensional image looks like it’s moving.
If I ever get another tattoo, it will be something like this. Talk about making your skin crawl.
A while back I had a project where I needed to draw a person in a specific pose. Usually when I’m confronted with this kind of situation, I try to find a stock photo or some other image with a person in the desired pose and use that as a source. In this instance, the pose that I needed was very specific and I couldn’t find the correct angle that I needed. I tried drawing the pose without a model, and I just couldn’t get it right. I needed a model.
I thought back to the little wooden poseable figure that I used to have. Although somewhat useful, they have their obvious limitations. For one thing, my pose had a focus on the hands. This guy’s hands are ovals. I would have thought that artist model technology would have improved since I was a kid.
In my search for a physical model, I did find this metal “poseable human artform” made by Mark Ho which is pretty bad-ass. I would get it if I could afford it, but since the price is only available by demand, I have a feeling it’s a little out of my range.
So I started a hunt for some sort of computer program that would give me a 3D poseable human figure. Poser by SmithMicro Software is the obvious choice, but at $250.00, it was more than I was willing to spend. It took some searching, but I eventually found just what I was looking for. The program is called DAZ Studio. The best part is that you can download the basic program for free. Anyway, this program has just what I needed. The current version of the program comes with the Genesis model which can be manipulated into any pose. The body form can also be changed to be man or woman, child or adult, fat or skinny. You can even change the expressions on the face.
I admit that there is a learning curve when first using the program. That may be partly due to my lack of experience with 3D applications. But after some practice, I found that I could make realistic poses with the figure. Since it’s 3D, you can also choose any angle you like.
I recommend that any artist that reproduces the human form should at least take a look at DAZ 3D and see if they find it as useful as I have.
I’ve been making digital art since I was a kid. I remember making drawings pixel by pixel in Deluxe Paint on my Amiga. As I got older, my interest in computer art waned and I concentrated on traditional mediums. It wasn’t until college that I discovered the awesomeness of Photoshop and rediscovered my love for creating digital art. Since then, I’ve honed my Photoshop skills and studied other graphic arts programs like Illustrator, Painter, Flash and Maya. I’ve come a long way from drawing copies of Super Mario Brothers in my mom’s basement, but I still have miles to go before I can even hope to reach the level of Bert Monroy.
If you pay attention at all to digital art, you have probably already heard of Bert Monroy. He has been working in digital art since 1984 and has an impressive portfolio. His style is hyper-realism. That’s right, his shit looks so real, it’s realer than real. He wrote the book on Photoshop – literally! He was one of the coauthors of the very first Photoshop book: The Official Adobe Photoshop Handbook. Now there are more Photoshop books than there are stars in the sky.
What I like most about Monroy’s artwork is that it is all done by hand. He sketches the scene that he’s working on, and although he uses photographs for references, he doesn’t trace them.
His most recent project, which took him four years to create, is a 5’ by 25’ painting of Times Square. No, I didn’t mean inches, I meant five feet tall by twenty five feet wide. According to his website, it weighs in at 6.5 gigabytes – after flattening. It’s composed of almost three thousand files and contains over 500,000 layers! Just the file management alone is a Herculean feat. Please go to Bert Monroy’s website to see this piece as he has it set up so you can zoom in as much as you want to see all of the detail he put into it.
All Images are property of Bert Monroy www.bertmonroy.com.
I don’t want to alarm anyone, but magenta is not a real color. It’s totally not in the rainbow. Every other color can be made from a single wavelength of light except poor magenta. In reality, magenta is how we see a combination of violet and red. Remember that color wheel you learned about in art class? Lies! Color doesn’t exist in a circle; it’s a straight line with red on one end and violet on the other.
Not only that, but we can only see a sliver of the entire spectrum of light. There are colors before red and past violet that most of us can’t see. I say most of us because normally, we have red, blue and green cones (color sensors in our eyes) which let us see about 10 million different colors. But some women may have an extra kind of cone which increases the amount of color they can see! It’s kind of like color-blindness in reverse.
Sight is the only one of our senses that lets us experience things that are billions of light years removed from us. Without sight, we would never know about the stars. And without color, we may never know what stars are made of. You see, different molecules or elements absorb different parts of the spectrum. We can tell the composition of the stars by looking for gaps in the light that they produce. Those gaps tell us exactly what the star is made of.
We can also use color to tell us the age of the universe! Much like the siren of a fire truck will change pitch as it passes by, so does color. This is called the Doppler Effect. If something is moving away from us, the color moves towards red. If it’s moving towards us, it moves towards blue. It turns out that almost everything in the universe is moving away from us. By calculating how far away the stars and galaxies are and how fast they are moving, we can determine when they all would have been in the same spot. Bang! You have the birth of the universe about 13 billion years ago.
I’d like to see sound do that!
Happy Thursday! I stumbled upon this great website, What the Hex where you are given a choice of colors and a hex number and you have to pick which color the hex number represents. I realized that I could actually do this! It takes time and a little math, but when you understand how hex numbers work, you can too.
Every web designer recognizes hex numbers. For those who don’t know, they are a string of six letters and/or numbers that represent one of 16,777,216 colors that can be used on the web. But what do those numbers and letters represent?
First, to understand hex numbers you have to understand RGB numbers. RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue. These are the primary colors of light (you know, the stuff your monitor uses). You can combine these three colors to make just about any color you can think of. These colors are measured on a scale from 0 to 255; 0 is no color and 255 is total saturation. Red and Green make Yellow, Red and Blue make Magenta, Blue and Green make Cyan. No color at all is black. If you combine all three colors at total saturation you get white.
You can get a good idea of the color of an RGB number if you know how they work. For instance, 255, 0, 0 is bright red. Red is as high as it can go, but green and blue are non-existent. 128, 0, 0 is also red, but darker. 255, 255, 0 is a bright yellow (the weirdest part of RGB is getting used to red and green making yellow). 82, 182, 224 is a baby blue. There is a lot of blue and good deal of green which make a cyan leaning towards blue. The added red subdues the color a bit. When all three values are equal, the outcome is a neutral color. 72, 72, 72 is a dark grey while 215, 215, 215 is a light grey.
I look at RGB numbers by highest to lowest number. So if I have 143, 45, 120 I think, red is most prominent at 143, then blue is a close second at 120. The green is low, so I can tell that the color is dominated by red and blue which make magenta. There is more red than blue, so the color will lean that way. This color is a slightly reddish purple. The 45 in the green means that it is a somewhat less saturated purple. The closer the green gets to the other two numbers, the closer it gets to being neutral.
So what does this have to do with hex colors? “Hex” is short for “hexadecimal”, a fancy way of saying base sixteen. We usually do things in base 10. We go from 0 to 9 then we add a digit and reset the counter to make 10. Base 16 is the same way, but instead of resetting after 9, another digit is added after you count past “f”. In hex numbers, “a” is 10, “b” is 11, etc. all the way to “f” which is 15. So if we break down a hex number like “2d”, we know that d=13 plus “20” which instead of being 10×2 is 16×2 which equals 32. 32+13=45. Therefore, “2d”=45. “ff” is 15+16×15=255 (look familiar?). That’s right! A hex number is an RGB number in disguise. The first two “numbers” are red, the second two are green and the last two are blue. Convert the hex numbers to base 10 numbers and you have the RGB value. If you can tell a color from reading the RGB number, you can do the same thing with hex numbers.
Hello, I’m Jason Olney. Welcome to my new blog. I’m a freelance artist, designer and all around graphics guy living in Newark, Delaware. I also teach Photoshop at Delaware College of Art and Design. I started this blog as a way to share my ideas about art, design, Photoshop and whatever else is on my mind. I hope you enjoy it!