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On apps.

Well, not really. I could (and will) talk about creative apps for yonks: the good, the bad and the PLEASE will you update the damn thing.

Suffice it to say that I have a few favourite apps but always look forward to discovering new ones.

Favourite apps at the moment are:

iPad: Brushes v2, Sketchshare, Adobe Ideas, ArtRage, Draw Something, Procreate, Paper, Sketchtime.

iPhone: Brushes v2, Adobe Ideas, ArtRage, You Gotta See This, Autostitch, Portfoliotogo, Manga Camera.

… and then NEW IN right near the very top: Art Studio. Years ago it was a hugely powerful app let down by a significantly clumsy UI. That’s been completely rewritten and it’s a fabulous piece of software. Love it. Spent a very happy hour drawing this:

And fun it was to do so too.

On Android? Slimmer pickings but I do like Infinite painter, Adobe Ideas, Adobe Photoshop, Watercolor pencil app and SNote. In fact I like S Note a huge amount for sketching in.

On Surface? Only had a very slight time to play but I really, hugely, totally fell in love with Microsoft’s own art app: Fresh Paint. Excellent stuff.

Enough to be going on with I think. One day I’ll chat about wh the above apps I love to pieces and why some apps drop the ball so much. You might have noticed that Brushes v3 isn’t on the list. Well, suffice to say that it’s not. And that’s a huge shame as Brushes was, and is, one of my all time favourite apps. V3? Misses the mark in a few ways, some very significant ones, which really does sadden me.

That said? Other apps to play with so a temporary sadness and, as Art Studio has proven, a return to form is only an update away…

I am now a member of the Marmarati :)

Not only that but very happy to see that both my wife, daughter and a family friend are all Marmarati mates together 🙂

So, that was all excellent fun and I hope that they do something similar again in the near future… Well done to We Are Social for putting together a very grand adventure 🙂

Since the competition ended I have done a couple more Marmite inspired pictures, this time on Nintendo DSi using the very lovely Art Academy game/cart/program/doo-dah.

Fun, as ever 🙂 Don’t think I will shake this addiction any time soon…

Learning language via adorable aliens.

I don’t often write about the ‘a’ word as it gets me a little choked up before I even start… (although that said, less close to home, I will have 3 asperger kids and 1 autistic kid in my class next year which I’m excited about and eager to begin. I’ve done prep work with all of them and they’re going to be an excellent addition to my A level graphics class. 3 of them are excellent artists and I’m keen to see how the integration into a mainstream class will help unlock any inner confidence or potential).

Closer to home though, those who know my son know that he’s lovely, funny, enthusiastic and hopelessly energetic. He’s also autistic and was diagnosed at an early age because it was immediately apparent to my wife (a primary school teacher) and year on year apparent to everyone who meets him.

It’s been, and remains, a roller coaster ride. Ten years after his statement we remain in the dark about many of the best ways to work with (or around) some of his methods until, generally, after the event. His obsessions are one of the strange things (at times wonderful and at times heartbreaking. A short while ago he became convinced he had nits and, at unguarded moments would pull clumps of his hair out. That was not a easy time, amongst many non-easy times).

Two of his wonderful obsessions have dovetailed recently in a more calm and beautiful manner. He loves playing computer games but we’re mindful that some aren’t very helpful for his temper or emotional growth. Nothing with a gun gets through the first filter but some platform games have the capacity to set him off big time. Some games are brilliantly calming and whimsical (even if they are not obviously games at all): Electroplankton is fabulous and he’s enjoyed Art Academy for drawing on. We’ve tried (and so far failed but I continue regardless) with Samorost, Animal Crossing and Botanicula, but without a shadow of a doubt the biggest hit, the most closely loved by Stephen is Pikmin (1 and 2, on Gamecube and Wii).

With some games the suspension of disbelief is a problem… With Rayman 3 (another favourite) Stephen often asks how he can do the things Rayman can do.. (With the Incredibles film we had a long running issue of him wanting to go to town to buy rocket boots. Now we have the same issue with the Dolphin rocket from Pikmin. Hey ho).

The problem we now have is the same that many parents face but with the volume turned up to 11. Any shop Stephen sees that has any sort of games content becomes the new battleground. He wants to go in, buy a Wii U and Pikmin 3 out of his pocket money, and take it home now. This became more of an issue when we went to the shops to buy party food for his mum and he found a Nintendo store £15 card. That became exactly enough money to cash in for a Wii U and that became the argument for the rest of the day. Nearly every day we get a variation of the same question…

Fortunately we have some wonderful friends, and some useful skills, to distract as much as we can. The pic below contains a dolphin rocket my wife and Stephen made together. Preston, Louis and Olimar were made with felt and the caps from washing machine liquid bottles and the Pikmin themselves were needle felted by a friend. He was delighted and fell in love with them straight away. That said, what he actually did was snatch them out of our friends hand, turn around and mumble a quick ‘kyou’ but she knows Stephen of old and knew that was a pretty big thing and more thanks than he’s normally able to communicate.

So these are Stephen’s treasures. On a recent holiday club he took his folder of printed treasures and was lucky enough to have a one to one helper who drew him these pictures 🙂 She’d obviously learnt a lot about the Pikmin on the week she looked after him.

And his sister got in on the act by painting this for a Christmas present which was lovely.

Which leaves us with the one question that my wife and I, and most people who come into contact with are liable to get: when’s the Wii U coming out! His birthday money and Christmas money are all set aside, all we need is the hardware and one game in particular (although I suspect my wife is looking forward to the next Animal Crossing and I’m interested to see whether an Art Academy title is likely to come out with the console… seems a no brainer to me…)

And the second obsession? If Pikmin 1 and 2 are the first? Rubber ducks. In the game aliens name a variety of human made objects and the names are wonderful, whimsical and eccentric. A rubber duck is called ‘Rubber Ugly’ (and a separate duck head is called  a ‘Paradoxical Enigma’). So not only do we have a pile of hand made Pikmin toys (and would buy a clutch of official Pikmin toys if they existed) but we also have 112 rubber ducks that get taken to various places in small groups (because we can’t keep track of them all at all times and he would know, probably immediately, if one had gone missing….)

Interesting times… But I do look forward to Pikmin 3 almost as much as he does… It’s nice to share in something that is delightful and odd and inventive and creative.

In search of Heston and Charlie Blimey…

So, was off for a week last week over on the Isle of Wight. Very pleasant 🙂 Sunny and easy and lovely views and countryside and beaches. Kids loved it too, which is a distinct bonus.

Rather than take a holiday book or anything I decided to work into a digital finger painting (I know, surprise, right?) I was determined to enter the Deviant Art competition as it was such a lovely idea (create a piece of art from one supplied ‘skribble’. Could be anything as long as the original lines showed through).

The original lines:

My variations:

You can enter as many pictures as you like, the rules seem to state, but these two are enough for me I think 🙂 The deadline is tomorrow and tbh my eyes are tired enough. One added complication, which didn’t make things any easier in the drawing of the pictures was that my daughter slammed my arm in the car door on day one of the holiday (before we’d even boarded the ferry in fact). There was a large crack which we couldn’t tell was the arm, the door, the coffee cup I’d been passing in or what. As it was I spent three hours at the Isle of Wight A and E department which was fun. As it was the result was bruising, swelling and soft tissue damage which meant I had to grin and bear it rather than anything else.

And then my son shut the car boot on my head but I saw that one coming and managed to get away with a small bruise.

Apart from all that – a nice holiday. Pics to come 🙂

You can see Youtube vids of the images being made here too: Charley Blimey  |  Heston Blumenthal.

The Louse Guard.


Low day yesterday. Sent off a good few Sylver and Wombat emails over past week and had one reply. And taht was about something different. Hey ho. The path to any sort of visibility on both projects seems to be steep and rocky and (ironically) I’ve also done my back in yet again and am shuffling around like a Zombie film reject. And I mean a proper zombie, not one of the rubbish running ones.

Anyhow, when things are tepid I do seem to hide back into Brushes and I doodled this yesterday during my lunch hour. Normally I don’t get one, just a sequeway between one project and the other, but yesterday I had an idea, gleaned from an off hand Twitter post, and this came out of it. I’d change a couple of bits if I did it again, one arm seems confusingly attached to the Louse’s head, but for 59 (ahem) minutes it’s not so bad.

Music by the mighty Open the Skies. If you ever see their name attached to a Boileroom gig get thee there. They OWN the place. Very good stuff indeed.

Hmm anything else? Nothing springs to mind and 4% battery so onwards again. Oh yeah, one thing – quickly 🙂 – the image/vid is a nod to the Uber Brilliant Mouse Guard comics by Mr David Petersen. They are an artistic wonder, beautiful books and well worth a look see. Not only that but in reading various blog posts (and the odd email we’ve exchanged) David also comes across as a thoroughly nice guy, which is good. I’m glad a few of them walk the planet 🙂


Dad’s birthday card…

So, apart from the fact that my wife was sick as a sick pig today, and it was my dad and daughter’s birthday, I drew this on Brushes. It reminded me that it was drawing a card for my dad’s birthday that started me off on Brushes in the first place so here’s a post with the first image I drew in Brushes (two years ago? One year? Wow I think it was only a year… ) and the most recent one I’ve done today. Hopefully they’re pretty easy to work out which is which.

mmmmm Coffee…

Yesterday was comic museum, Forbidden Planet, GOSH and Saatchi gallery as part of the take the kids out of the classroom where they all get grumpy day. Was a LOT of fun, mainly because I like the class and the other teacher a lot.

Today, I’ve just been informed, is International Paul sorts out some of his junk day. So if it doesn’t start with coffee then it’ll not go well (this was doodled while having a coffee in the newly (ish) opened Jamie’s Italian in Guildford… It was too busy to stop and eat in but a friend and I had a coffee there anyhow, which was OK and a pudding, which was less so – a little cloying and imbalanced imho).


A smorgasbord of possibilities and entertainment angles, provided I can evade the kids and family long enough to keep up with them. Was going to watch Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (awesome film – up there with the best 3d adventures and proof finally that Mr T can act rather than just be Mr T) with family, with one eye on the Apple tablet announcement, but that’s postponed til tomorrow so that some members of the household can go out and cheer up other family members not in the household. Which leaves me on child end of day duties, with one eye on the Apple tablet announcement.

These things WILL happen:

No-one will talk to Mr McGraw Hill. He’s either a twit or a shill and everyone will shun him and he will stand in a corner alone eating canopes.

Stevie J will take to the stage wearing an artists smock and beret.

The naming game will end. It’ll be called the Apple PaintSplodge.

The PaintSplodge will eat newspapers for fun.

It will be the best comic reader known to man.

My wallet will cry.

It will have Pixelmator and Brushes built in, or easily buyable from the SplodgeStore. I will be very happy about this.

Molly Wood, CNET’s Apple antagonist par excellance (and the person who sings the word ‘awesome’ better than an-e-bod-e), will be the Chun Li to Stevie J’s Ken.


The internet will buckle and crash and burn as a million twillion uber nerds refresh Engadget every four seconds. Twitter will cease to exist after the first four seconds of the iNote under a deluge of mostly related hashtags. Lots of people will say it’s just a bigger iPhone.

Apart from that it should be quite a quiet evening I’m a guessing. I’m also guessing I will end it substantially poorer than I started it.