Friday, December 31, 2010

Reference Image Sources 1

Finding good references to use in the construction of images is necessary.  I use them to generate accurate representations of subjects but also to aid in colour design and composition choices.  The idea is that you refer to these while drawing  as much as you can and eventually you build up a mental reference library. 
For me that is a loooong way off so for now I have to find images to aid me.  There are a vast numbers of resources on the web.  My first impulse is to hit Google and perform an image search.  sometimes a good choice but what is pulled up is only as good as the image tags.  If you are looking for references you will be most likely looking for particular subjects, poses and locations.   

While one word searches such as dog (255,000,000 results) or sea (215,000,000 results) will pull up a wealth of images, a search for a Doberman Pinscher by the sea will not be so useful (25,300 results).  

The success and usefulness of image searches is heavily dependant on the filename the user has given the image and the context the image is used in. 

Try to make your filename a good description of the subject matter of the image. For example, my-new-black-kitten.jpg is a lot more informative than IMG00023.JPG.

Also the additional image contained in the alt attribute 

Not so good:
<img src="puppy.jpg" alt=""/>
<img src="puppy.jpg" alt="puppy"/>
<img src="puppy.jpg" alt="Dalmatian puppy playing fetch"> 
To be avoided
<img src="puppy.jpg" alt="puppy dog baby 
dog pup pups puppies doggies pups litter puppies dog retriever 
 labrador wolfhound setter pointer puppy jack russell terrier 
puppies dog food cheap dogfood puppy food"/>

The last one risks being flagged as spam.
Google has made attempts to improve image tags.  Well rather it has tried to use us to add additional tags to images in what I think is quite an ingenious device. 

By using a web based game called Image Labeler  additional descriptive labels are given by users to images on the web.
This will hopefully  improve the accuracy of results. 

While these improvements are been made there is a possibility that this broad search approach will disappoint.  Using specific reference image libraries is an alternative. Next time I will discuss some of the resources I have found to be useful. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas- Ben Bulben oil painting

Happy Christmas / Holidays to all!

Well made it to the big day.  Travelling home just 35 miles away was more like a relief mission than the usual trek to be with family. The extreme cold meant I had to bring heaters and water (in case pipes froze).  

Anyway below is a painting  that I did for my sister as a gift. Earlier in the year she asked if I would do one for her - something from Sligo.   It is of Ben Bulben -a mountain near where my parents home is. It has a very distinctive profile.  It was done on a square canvas which meant I had to think a little bit about composition.  It would have fit a little easier in a landscape format but I think it ended up being more interesting. Anyway I have completed it early November and have been looking at it since. Touch ups and a big rethink on the sky. Originally a lot of Cumulus clouds - it was too claustrophobic.  I think this works way better.  I will be sorry to see it go.  Hope she likes it.    

ben bulben  Sligo

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Getting ready for the big day


I did this a few years ago for a Christmas card.  i was still getting used to photoshop. 
Has a melancholy feel to it which I suppose is how Christmas is for some folk.  

Santa Claus Reindeer Christmas

Monday, December 20, 2010

Over the Wall 2

Following on from the last post this is another view from the the same location on another day

Still a winter scene.  The digger in the shot had stayed stationary for over 2 years.  The bubble has burst and left the country 85 billion in the hole diggers like this dug.  By the the country I mean every tax payer whether they played the property game or not. Wheres the justice and fairness in that? 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Over the Wall

 Had a lot of snow fall here on Friday about 6" (well alot for us).  This caused my 6 mile commute home from work to change from a 15-20 minute jaunt to a long frustrating 2 hour study in traffic chaos.  

Last year we had less snow but very low temperatures.  It provided some unusual landscapes.  This is an oil painting of one of the views from the rear of the house I was in called 'Over the Wall'.  To the left of this view is an abandoned digger and the shell of a new house  build.  The promise of completing that build long evaporated and now probably as extinct as the Celtic tiger that fuelled its creation.  I chose to not show it.  The  only hint of all this is the piece of scaffolding in the foreground. 

oil painting snowy lanscape Ireland

This afternoon I shot this guy hunting for food also in a fields over my garden wall.  The light was fading hence the grainy quality.    

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Snow Time

There is heavy snow forecast here tomorrow and Friday.  On the western seaboard of Ireland I can only remember a handful of winters when there was significant snow or temperatures lower than -5°C.  This our third winter which for us has delivered both.  Maybe that was on my mind when I made this image for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


A few months ago I picked up a request to colourise some engravings.  They were all by a French artist of the mid 19th century called Gustav Dore.  Dore was a prolific artist and created a vast number of engravings to illustrate a number of books. The book in question here was a History of the Crusades by Michaud.

This method of illustration was overtaken by other printing techniques but there are still practitioners.  The spitsticker of the title is one of the principle engraving tools used in the construction of these images.

Andy English gives a good overview of the means by which the engravings are made.   On his site he also has a number of prints of  images which he created.  The beasts and garden ones are definitely worth a look. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tis the Season

 Had a little time this afternoon to do some Christmas shopping.  I confess I don't do the tasteful colour coordinated designer Christmas. I instead revel in the bright colourful stuff and have accumulated a motley set of decorations which carry memories of past Christmases from distant places.  Its dark and cold outside and I need to balance that out.  So today I added to my collection some LED lights (energy kind) and a small angel.  Tomorrow they will be artfully arranged on my tree.

The Guardian (UK newspaper) has gathered a collection of photographs of Christmas Trees (or not) that have graced the Tate Britain.  What you see is a battleground for statements ranging from the obscure - this years by Giorgio Sadotti's to the literal message left by Tracey Emin.  Check it out.   

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Five a Day

Well I got busy putting together a showcase of some of my fruit a veg images.  It was heavy on the bananas and apples as thats what I tend to bring to work for lunch.  I have to take an hour lunch so I can spend 30 - 40 minutes drawing.  A lot of  it tends to be digital but I do break out the pencils as well.  I really like the watercolour pencils for this kind of ad hoc effort.  Sometimes it feel repetitive to work on the same subjects but looking at this collection  should keep working on them.  They were created in the last 2 years.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

So the Dot character was made using 3D printing.  That is achieved by taking model information stored in a 3D modeling program and turning into a real 3D model that can be held and used.  The principle application of this kind of kit lies in the design and engineering worlds where there is a  requirement for prototypes.  With the increasing accessibility of 3D modeling programs such as Maya, Mudbox and the opensource Blender the uses and applications are likely to increase.  
The variety of uses of to which the 3D printing know how can be seen at the Shapeways website.   They can take your design and print it for you at a quite reasonable price. Alternatively you can choose from a range of other designers work.
Below is their 'how its done video'. 

Products available their include Lightpoem for LED candle,  Message Cuff Medium

or this cute fellow  Hoodie 5cm

If you look at these items you can see they are actually printed with a couple of different materials.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Join The Dots

Found the video below produced by Aardman. 

Along with this great clip which is a short 'making of the movie'.

They have already won the award Best Animation at this year’s British Television Advertising Craft Awards and epic awards with this movie.  

Most interesting is that they drew inspiration from the application of the cell phone cameras use in the remote diagnosis of disease in third world countries.

Another cool technology is what was used to create dot.  I will look at that next time. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Start

This is my first post on my first blog. I had a few false starts before this but I have a feeling this will a serious effort- until tomorrow.
I suppose I should set some agenda as to what will be the scope and content of this page. for the most part I am going to use this space to track my artistic efforts. I work full time and in the 'present economic climate' I should be glad of that but in the past 2 years I have put a bit of effort into developing my skills mostly in photoshop and oils and I want to push this further. I hope to use this space to document that effort and maybe some other folks will join in?