Tag Archives: Creature House

So, Chrome then.

Crashes during Comicraft font transaction and now demolishes everything I type into it in here… Odd, strange and bizarre…

Looks nice though and the advert for it is beautifully animated.

Let’s try this again then:

So. Jan 1.

A friend who’s number I do not have in my address book (so have no idea who it is, someone who’d changed number perhaps?) texted me a quote: an optimist welcomes the new year to see what it will bring, a pessimist waits for the previous year to finish. (Or something like that. QUote from memory – not great combination).

Me? Well. Probably pessimistic truth be told. Fora variety of reasons, the seeds sown in late 2008, I didn’t enjoy the year just gone in the main. This year? I hope better, so I guess I’m more optimistic. I do have some stories to tell, so we’ll see if any are liked.

I am a little dispondant, in ways, that my work doesn’t ever seem to get ‘there’ wherever there is. I’d like to see some of it be more recognised and enjoyed yet feel slightly estranged from the creative circles I move around. I’d like to be a little better regarded as a writer, because I think the stories I spin are OK and sometimes better than that, yet because of their basis, or because I spend have my time drawing, I feel that the projects I work on don’t hit a wider mark that they sometimes deserves to.

Similarly I wonder whether my desire to draw for half of the time causes problems with each area. Does my art suffer (HA! Now I AM an artist! Does my art suffer indeed 🙂 )…

…but do the pictures I work on suffer as a result of my lack of focus on that side of my life? I like being a doodler that writes and a writer that paints but…

Sigh… Thinking thinking where does it ever get me?

So! Doodled this in the past hour, just for the fun of i, just to doodle. Am aiming to get back to using Expression (and spent some of my Christmas money on a 4 gig ram upgrade for my laptop to better use Expression Studio amongst other software packages. I’m still primarily using Brushes on the iPod and EAGERLY awaiting the potential iSlate/tablet/nUton news, hopefully at the end of January. If the nUton comes with Brushes in the app store it will be a DAY ONE purchase for me as I love creating art on the iPod… But we’ll see…..

Anyhow: Microsoft Expression Studio Design 3 (Sorry MS – despite being an Apple fanboy I’m by no means an M$ hattorz but you NEED to get a naming thing sorted out for Expression. Let’s look at Adobe for a sec shall we? Fireworks, Dreamweaver, Flash etc all slip off the tongue and you can see the family links. Microsoft Expression Studio Design 3, Microsoft Expression Studio Blend 3 et al? Corporate, comittee silliness…)

Ahem, anyway: MESD3 time (which, despite the silly name I’ll stay and play with as it’s a lovely piece of software. Not as good as it should be: variable line width hallo?  Stroke soften, fringes, fill blur, effect lines? Where did they go? Regardless: lots of Expression love here in Chez Kercal for what that’s worth (not a great deal obv). Have a rabbit as the first image of 2010.


Change of pace.

Sadly not dropping down a gear: moving up one 🙁

Anyhow, just finished (unless changes occur) the medical comic thing I’ve been doing. It’s been a doozy. Lots of info to get across in a very limited space, not the easiest of tasks. As much of a sample as I can add here:


Also did this, ostensibly for War Child which is a charity I support. BAsically I do freelance work and, rather than have to faff around worrying about the tax or anything I just get them to donate my fees to various charities: EngageHIVaids, War Child and Christian AId more often than not. Anyhow I phoned up teh charities the other day to ask if I could put their logos in the back of Sylver 3 – or at least the Book Fest version of the book and the War Child peeps and I got chatting and this pic came out of it. Dunno if it’s of any use to them but it sprung to mind and then onto the iPod.


Apart from that spent a mixed afternoon at the Matrix Trust’s presentation of the Queen’s recognition of the work they have done in the Guildford and Woking area over the past decade. I say mixed. It was a lovely time for a variety of reasons, but I was so tired I could have slept standing up and, in a way, I was envious of their success where I feel I achieve little. Oh well. I did see three ex-youth groupers and all said nice things to me as I went about my work on the day – one saying that he’d appreciated the places he had to sit and chat and work things out – which was very nice. And of course it is good to celebrate the work on the Matrix Trust – the garden in Guildford they’ve renovated looked amazing. Next year will be the tenth Ready 4 Action too 🙂 We’ll have to do something special for that I’d’ve thought. Righto, time to sleep 🙂

Wish list: long dull art software post.

Apparently V 1.5 of my favourite photo editing package (Pixelmator if you needed to ask) is out in a few short weeks time and it, and a small slanging match online, made me think of things I would like to see in the update: layer styles, brush palette coverflow and folders, layer groups, text rotation and manipulation in vector, nested palettes, mask to layer transform, wave filter, filter on filter deformation, CMYK and so on.

Which is actually a long list. Ironically 1.5 seems to be about web graphic manipulation so my little list isn’t likely to be looked at I would have thought, but hey, I am unusual. (The small slanging match was to do with a sadness I expressed that every review of Pixelmator dwells and overdwells on what’s missing, not what’s there. Despite this list – and this is a little like life, kids, there’s loads that Pixelmator does amazingly well and that’s what I judge it by not what it’s yet to be. That was described as irritating complaining but hey ho).

Ahem. /sermon.

Anyhow, the other thing it made me think about was that two of my other favourite art packages are coming towards a refresh also and, in one case, a major update apparently: Blender hits 1.5 (doh! well spotted – 2.5 indeed) and Expression Design hits V3. Blender, we’re told, will have a completely upgraded user interface (which, I hate to say it, is long overdue. It’s intelligent but a little overwhelming and offputting) and Microsoft’s Expression Design…

Hmmm…. Well, we’ll see. ED2 (and 1 as well) are, in ways, a step back from the prior versions of the software (which reached their peak in Expresion 3.3 which is still available as a free download from Microsoft if you’re interested in a try out). I’d love to see ED become the de facto vector tool of choice for designers but there are a good few niggles and that’s a shame. I love it to pieces though, but there’s a fair few things that were taken out for no discernible reason (fill fringes? Effect lines? Fill softening? Variable stroke width?) and a good few things that I’d love to see in there: stroke mixing and blurring, layer transitions (by which I mean strokes moving from one layer into another giving the user a pseudo 3d effect, layer shadows with perspective depth and a better way to look at fill colours, vectors and bitmaps. And also, while we’re on the subject, a flipping Mac version.

Did read a review of Painter 11 which I’d love to play with and Photoshop CS4 needs to have more of a playthrough when I have the time. Good times for art software 🙂 It’s turning into a heck of a year for AAA art software 🙂

Just wish I had more time to play with the software and create more doodles 😉

One more thing…

There’s that inner apple fanboy coming out again…

Forgot to mention a non-related thing mark 2:

Downloaded Expression Studio 2 the other day (as part of Microsoft’s support a student scheme, bless ’em) and have been totally addicted to switching it on (well, the Design part of it anyway) and playing if I get any free time, generally between 10 and half 11 most nights, much to the grumpiness of my wife.

Nearly a week in and it’s a mixed review so far. Expression, for anyone who knows me, is BY FAR my favourite art software with Photoshop coming in second place. Pixelmator is nearly there and Blender, Flash, Fireworks and others all get an airing occasionally. Expression is the only one I play with rather than work in though. Love it to pieces…

Currently I’m in the ‘learning new features, frustrated with changes’ zone and also the slightly sluggish working in virtual mode – it’s currently being used on a lowish end macbook using Parallels 3 as a bridge. However there are some BIG changes that are winding me up a wall.

For a start I was surprised by how much I had come to use soft fills and fringes to give sometimes very subtle effects. They’re not there anymore. Worse still is the exclusion of effect lines! Shocking.

These images have some of the taken out options in. No idea how I’d replicate some of the effects in there without:




((the last one is called faces because every time I look at it I just end up looking at the faces that come out of the lines)).

Apart from that the new effect filters are lovely and I’m aiming to be working with them a lot. Here’s the first doodle done, playing with the new options.

creature house microsoft expression

Frustratingly the colour blend modes don’t seem to work and I’ve got no idea whether that’s the build I have or what… Hoping to get some customer support although, sadly, their forum is filled with people saying the same sort of thing.

Regardless Expression remains my favo piece of art software… I’m just not sure which version of it it is just yet… Or whether I’ll be using both Expression 3.3 (old) and Design Studio 2 (new). Ironically both were free downloads from Microsoft and that’s something that I think the company are well deserving of thanks for over and above the slating they get for many things.

But I still want my effects lines back 🙁