Tag Archives: Hudl

The Hockney movie.

David Hockney is a national treasure. Let’s start with that as a premise. You don’t have to like him, you don’t have to agree with him, you don’t have to enjoy or understand his artwork but few artists – if any – have managed to ease themselves in and out of fashion, to take on so many styles and media and to stay at the top of their game as well as he has, for as long as he has. David Hockney is someone the UK should be very proud of as one of their most creative sons.

As I’m a touch screen artist you might be expecting this to be an ode to his work on Apple devices but this isn’t the case. Director Randall Wright has created a well rounded portrait of Hockney which focuses on both a wide range of his work and the most intimate part of anyone’s soul: the desire to love and be loved.

Going into the film, reading the advance notes, you could be forgiven for anticipating a sombre piece. The comments alongside the movie suggest a intimate portrait of a man who has suffered personal loss – most horribly during the Aids epidemic of the 80s – and at times rejection at the hands of the established art community, friends and lovers. This is certainly a part of the film but the whole story is far more balanced: it captures the loss but also the joy of confident creativity. In two hours it was never going to tell the whole story – some important pieces of artwork never feature and some, like The Bigger Splash, I would love to have seen extra time given to (I eagerly await a DVD in the hope that extras and deleted scenes might give me more to enjoy and to think about).

Viewers are promised ‘the definitive exploration of one of the most important artists of his generation’. This is, and isn’t, the case. We see him throughout his long and extraordinary career and those lucky enough to be at the premier were granted an additional 45 minutes of live Q and A in his L.A. studio but Hockney isn’t a man so easily summed up. This is an entrancing look at his life and his loves and for that should be essential viewing not only for any aspiring artist but for anyone who has ever asked an artist the question ‘how do you know what to paint?’

On the way out of the cinema (the very lovely Phoenix Picturehouse in Oxford) I found myself looking at the colours and the objects which surrounded me in a different way and I wished that Google Glass could somehow morph into Hockney’s eye (and, of course, we all know what the glass frames would look like from a design perspective). To see the world as fearlessly, as colourfully and as specifically as he does would be a wonderful thing. It’s possible that this film is as close as I’ll get (although it did also make me want to dig out my Bigger Picture DVD as soon as I arrived home).

It also made me want to paint the picture below on the train. Inspiring stuff, I look forward to seeing the movie again.

I was lucky enough to attend the Fresh Flowers exhibition in Paris and even luckier to have been asked to teach Royal Academy staff members how to draw on an iPad using the app that David uses yet in the Royal Academy exhibition it was the multi camera time and space images he made which excited me the most. I could (and did) sit and watch them for hours as they were so all encompassing and engaging. The film, while not similar in terms of scope or subject matter, I also didn’t want to end.

Return of the Hudl.

A year ago I had just come back from Eurogamer. Following a breathless week of tablet and screen art in London’s Earl’s Court arena (ring a bell?) the following morning the Hudl 1 was released and I went to the local Tesco to buy 7 of the 12 they had in stock.

Sounds excessive? Well. I was about to start leading a young people’s tablet art workshop in the Lightbox, Woking, and I urgently needed more tablets. Buying Hudls was a risk but one I needed to take.

Turns out it wasn’t a risk or, if it was, it was one that paid off beautifully. The Hudl (first generation) is a fabulous machine and they’ve served me well since I bought them. A huge range of kids and adults have used the tablets in all sorts of venues and all seven of the machines have held up to the prodding and poking and general art duties with aplomb. And, more tellingly, if I’m heading out with some draw time but nothing planned the Hudl is more often than not the tablet I pick up first.

Fast forward the clock to today which (sort of) saw the launch of the Hudl 2.

I’d phoned my local store and was told that all colours would be in stock (they weren’t. Some were web only. More on that later). I was also told they’d be on sale at 8am. Which is when my son’s school bus leaves so, logistically, the earliest I could get there was 9.30 am. I was slightly nervous that the one I wanted most (the orange Hudl) would be gone by the time I arrived.

As it was I needn’t have worried. Not because the Guildford Tesco megastore had orange ones in stock, but all of their stock was still locked in a cupboard behind the Customer services desk. Twenty boxes of black or white bezel Hudl 2s sat, blissfully hidden from the customers who might want to buy one.

Bearing in mind it was the highly trumpted launch day: a little perplexing. Thinking back on it that’s almost exactly what happened last year.

Unlike last year I had two choices of colour frame and I bought the white one (which I find keeps the eyes on the artwork when you’re making pictures on a screen. Black allows your eyes to drift out on occasion). Which is a vague shame (I also bought a slightly off orange stylus to soften the blow) but I was very keen to spend the day drawing on it so it was a trade off. They had no screen protectors or cases so onwards it was (I was in London drawing at Shake Shack today 🙂 Yum and fun).

Regardless. Review time!

First off. A tiny thing but the box is slightly less good than last time. Silly I know but I thought the packaging for the Hudl 1 was excellent and this time it’s merely very, very good. I like the box, but last years felt just that little bit more like the box of a premier league product. The front flap was attached by magnets and lifted away in a beautifully clean fashion, the cardboard was thick and covered fully in glossy pack shot images.

It was probably a complete pain to make so I can imagine why it might have been simplified this time…

Secondly the screen comes with a matte screen protector/menu to the buttons around the screen. For a split second I thought that they had gone with a matte screen finish (not my favourite) but, again, not a worry. Once the sticker was removed there lay the glossy, glassy goodness, all waiting to be drawn on.

After a short while of inputting email addresses, choosing wifi, updating apps and so on I was ready to go. The setup was pretty smooth and painless and took, roughly, 1.25 coffees.


And then, all of a sudden, I was off 🙂 The remains of the coffee was drained and I was heading towards a train to London, ready to draw.


The first pic was painted in Sketchbook Pro by Autodesk using a Dagi 501 stylus and a Pogo Sketch Pro, both of which worked beautifully on the screen. I’d first tried my go-to fabric stylus (the New Trent Arcadia) which inexplicably didn’t work. This, I think, is a first… That stylus has worked on every screen I’ve ever tried it on. I’ll carry on test driving styli on the screen soon and come back with a report on what does and doesn’t work but, for the moment, the rubber tip (Pogo Sketch Pro, Wacom Bamboo, eBay styli) and the plastic tips (Dagi 501, Jot Classic) work well.

I painted a couple of pictures in Adobe Photoshop (but I can’t share them yet, they’ll be done for next week though) and had a lot of fun while doing so. Photoshop’s a bit of a processor hog on a tablet and, as it does on nearly all tablets, it lagged a little when the brush was enlarged on a low opacity. But if the brush was full opacity I felt no speed problems and was happy enough using the app.

By 3.30pm I was needing to get the train back so I put the tablet away and headed for home. On the train I finished off the Marmite picture:


…and, once back in Guildford I sat on an almost stationary bus (the peril of living near one of the worst junctions in Surrey – hallo A3 turnoff) and drew this:

(both drawn in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro app).

Any other comments? Well after a full on six hours of drawing the battery had drained from 90% to just under 30% which is pretty good. Nothing pushes a tablet or phone as much as a tablet art session.

The screen ratio is somewhere between an inflated iPhone 5S/c, a Samsung Galaxy 8.9 and a Microsoft Surface 1 or 2 (if you’re looking for precise maths look away now. That ain’t me). It reminds me of the finish of a iPhone 5c, a Lumia phone or tablet – although the plastic is matte rather than glossy (whereas the original Hudl reminded me of a 3GS with it’s shiny plastic back and rounded edges). It feels like a premium device, not too heavy but good to hold. The power button is to the right of the volume controls which strained at the muscle memory all day when I expected the volume up and down to be the other way round. I’ll get used to it I’m sure. Interestingly the Hudl 2 is designed to be thought of as a portrait orientated device (whereas the original was landscape which is how I see most tablets). Again it’s not a problem… Bemusing maybe (I would have though the majority use a tablet in landscape orientation – yet phones are more often portrait).

WIth the original Hudl the camera was the negative and, having had a quick play around with this one I’d say that’s possibly still the case. It’s an improvement at least and it’s hard to tell what lets the side down: the hardware or Android which I’ve never found focuses quickly on any device I’ve used it on.

The viewing angle is extraordinary. I found it impossible to hold the screen at an angle where the picture wasn’t clear and precise. It may not be retina quality but I found my eyes couldn’t focus on the screen at a distance where I might see the pixels. The colours are a smidge over saturated although we’re certainly not talking anything like Samsung phone and tablet levels of Las Vegas style neon subtlety. I’ve yet to find a screen contrast option in Android but with luck there will be something I can tweak. It’s not massively off-putting though but I could imagine a purist finding it verging on the tail edge of gaudy.

I’ve never used Spotify (or similar streaming service) but, since it was there, I thought I’d test drive Blinkbox Music and it worked simply and well. I’ll probably keep using it I think. The box comes with a small clutch of vouchers which I’ll try and make use of this time (last time I forgot and they all went out of date on me).

I like the fact that Tesco are putting an emphasis on child safety and parental controls. As a growing number of increasingly younger kids are being given their own tablet it’s something that I appreciate the effort to implement. I’m not overly keen on small children being given tablets (it strikes me as something that can’t help long term eyesight for a start and I think there are many more age appropriate toys to grow up with) but it’s going to happen so the internet safety options are a valuable choice.

Anything else? Well. To put the boot in, just before I started to write this, I had a check up on the manual included in the box and all… ALL… of the images used to demonstrate the Hudl options and choices are the Orange Hudl option. So I think they knew it was the best colour too.

Grr.

But hey ho. It’s been a lovely day drawing and the Hudl 2 hasn’t disappointed. A fab tablet. Definitely recommended. A few websites have proclaimed it an excellent budget tablet but I think the ‘b’ word isn’t necessarily needed. It’s an excellent tablet (which also happens to be cheap).

What we done during Eurovision…

A few years ago wife and I were in a pub playing darts with a Swede and a Romanian. In the background was the Eurovision song contest, which was the first time I’d ever watched it.

Since then we always have, either with friends or relatives or just ourselves and the kids. Last night was fairly unusual (in as much as we’d not realised it was on until yesterday and hadn’t invited friends over) so we watched (to be honest half a dozen countries – including France which was my favourite – were robbed) and made things and ate and so on.

Wifey always makes a brilliant European picnic:

And this year she also made me a son to go with my Frog:

And I drew the acts as they happened:

All drawn on Hudl using Photoshop Touch and a New Trent Limir (or Arcadia can’t remember which one’s which) and a Nomad Compose. Hope you like. We enjoyed the evening, not always (in fact fairly rarely) for musical purposes 🙂

The illustrated Sunday Brunch…

I’ve chatted about him before but a good friend of mine is also an amazing inventor/maker. Occasionally he invents things for me (such as this wonderful tablet easel stand called the Eye) and more often than not he comes along and helps when we do amazing events at the college… Nick was invited to have his new one wheeled self balancing unicycle (link goes to last years version) shown off on Channel 4s Sunday Brunch – as part of promoting the Maker Faire happening next week in Newcastle and I was more than happy to help him carry the unicycles when they were powered down….

All in all it’s been a heck of a weekend. Let’s recap shall we?

On arrival, once we’d safely stowed the one wheeled objects away of course, we headed out for dinner. That was always going to be at Honest Burger in Camden. Because pudding in Camden is always:


Chin Chins
, but you knew that, right? This flavour is Mango sorbet with hot sawwce (chilli, garlic and other fiery ingredients) and Pistachio and Cardamon powder. Yum…. However:

Blimey.

Post dinner at Honest (yes, pudding came first) and drinkies at the Grafton we headed back to the hotel to have a very lovely chat with the Tech Camp team about their project that they would be showing off (something very cool called a Time Machine – strobe illuminated water droplets that could slow, stop and move backwards… ) prior to shut eye.

Five hours later and it was back up and running time. But that’s unfair on the hotel, which was excellent. Especially good were the complimentary Dairylea dunkers that had to be seen to be believed:

Ahem.

Onto the production studio for the show and a complimentary bacon sandwich, coffee and time for two pictures to be drawn on my trusty Tesco Hudl:

 

I honestly drew these before ‘the incident’ and no, I’m no claiming some sort of Odessa Effect style pictoral foreshadowing here.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We were whisked past a very cool ceiling window:

before Nick was filmed riding the Jackal:

It was deemed more suitable for Nick to drive the Jackal after Tim the presenter flew off the front of the machine having let go of the dead mans switch (which is perfectly understandable as a thing to do. I’ve done similar myself on the Noway Nick built). I didn’t take a photo but it’s there for all to see on 4OD as of tomorrow I think. He ducked and rolled well though and was smiling/still positive about the invention, which was very good of him. Did cause a slight wound to the Jackal:


…but if you’re going to get a ding then for it to happen on a pre recorded sequence for a live morning show on a major TV network seems the best way of doing it.

Pre-record completed there was a run through of the sequence, which they were kind enough to let me stand in the background and draw:

and then after a short wait (when a slight debate about whether a potentially strobing light was more dangerous than a Tesla Coil or a laser gun):

we were onto the live sequence itself:


…and, since I didn’t get thrown out immediately I drew Yvette Fielding prior to her interview segment which followed the Maker Faire sequence.


… and then I was chucked out 🙂 Partially as a taxi was  due to arrive to take Nick and I, and the unicycles, back to rainy Surrey. Which was a real shame… I’d have loved to keep drawing – especially would like to have drawn Lethal Bizzle and Katy B – but time was pressing and the studio staff had a million thinks to think about without also having to worry about an orange hairy potential trip hazard.

Then it was catch up with the family, sharing Easter presents, watching son play Wii Fit and, to chill, I hooked up with @DQSlothdude on iPad/Drawing Together app (all of the pictures above were drawn on my Hudl using either Sketchbook or Photoshop Touch) and drew this:

Basically? An Easter to remember 🙂

Digital life drawing.


I’ve long been a fan of life drawing to sharpen up/improve skills and, well, just be an enjoyable acid test of drawing skills. A new session has started up near me once a week and, although I won’t be able to get to it quite that often, I should be able to get in some regular drawing and painting practise, which is very nice.

Last night was the first one, and I was sort of on duty as one of my autistic students was there and I felt I should keep and eye on his progress/mood as it was his first life drawing of any kind. However my iPad and Hudl were both kept fairly busy (although tbh most of the pictures didn’t really go the way I’d intended or hoped for). More practise to come, much needed…



Drawn on Hudl and iPad using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and ArtRage apps using, mainly, Jot Script, Nomad Compose, Nomad Mini 2 and Pogo Sketch Pro. More on the Flickr feed. The first picture I’ve got an animation of, just not the energy to edit it at all, but will edit that in later anyhoo.

Why the colours? Well, the theme of the night was to try and implement some pop art techniques, especially with Natasha Law in mind, which I tried…

Forgot about this one 🙂

Hudl, ArtFlow app and Nomad Compose brush, Jot Script stylus.

Plus, in case you don’t notice it in the other post, here’s the process video of the top image, created by pressing the time lapse record in Sketchbook Pro (iPad version).

http://youtu.be/_BWHT8hMHxk

(which won’t embed. Grr).

Android art apps (and styli) in five tweets.

I really should find time to update my ‘so you’ve bought/been given a tablet’ page as new styli and apps come out all of the time and my preferences have changed a little. However was mentioned yesterday in a tweet that I could suggest some of the best art apps on Android and here are my replies (because 140 chars is just not enough sometimes 🙂

Sketchbook Pro, Photoshop, Didlr, Art Flow, Infinite Painter, Watercolor pencil are my faves (in order).

Clover is interesting too in a hmm way. S Note is pretty good too if you have a Samsung.

Harmony + Webchemy work well if you have a web connection, PhotoViva is good odd. Drawing Pad good for all ages 🙂

Depending on what you have, it’s also all about stylus. Jot Script has worked on 90% of Android screens I’ve played with.

After that I tend to go for Dagi, Pogo Sketch Pro, Nomad Mini 2 or Compose + Stylus Sock for Android.

To be honest I might be being a bit harsh on Clover there. It’s a very cool, quirky and odd art app and I thoroughly enjoyed drawing with it yesterday. The only problem is that the interface is VERY unique and tends to take up a third of the screen, which is quite a lot on a 7 inch tablet. Also – I’m almost embarrassed to admit – I took a while to work out how to save/share a picture, even when I found the save button. It’s THAT obtuse an interface…

That said, in the absence of some of the heavy hitters on the Android store (ArtRage, Procreate, Art Studio et al) it’s growing as one of my favourite real world media apps on a non iOS machine. (That said: Fresh Paint is by far my favourite real world material app when I’m not on ArtRage…)

So there you have it. I can be brief, it seems, but only if I use Twitter to compose my blogs and then I’m not brief where Twitter in concerned.

I should get back to writing books. It’s obviously an itch that needs scratching.

When the Owliens invaded Woking…

For the past few months I’ve been rushing from one job to another, which has been busy and occasionally stressful but utterly lovely throughout. The culmination was everything that the weeks weren’t but not in any sort of a bad way at all.

Confusing? When is anything that I ever do not?

The initial brief was to spend 10 weeks teaching young people to draw on tablets. At the time I didn’t have a fleet of tablets to my name so that was the first problem to solve. The Tesco Hudl came up in the media and was launched a week before the first session started so that seemed the answer to that question (and so it was – the tablets have all performed brilliantly, the negative being that I could only afford to buy 7 and had a class bigger than that so a lot of creativity was made throughout to make each session run smoothly).

Anyhow: ten weeks of drawing on tablets? What could we do to fill that amount of time with 8 – 10 year olds?

In the end I cheated a little, but with a very specific purpose. In addition to the tablet artwork time we also had three weeks of shrink plastic artwork  (because of what came last and also I know it’s something that just always goes down well).

On the tablet side we drew pictures in Photoshop Touch and Sketchbook Pro, created panorama images (a little cheatily again as I couldn’t find a suitable app on Android so we used the excellent Autostitch on iPad) and face mangled pictures in a range of apps on Hudl including Liquidroid, Cymera and Photo Warp +.

And then, when it was week 9, I made a mini book diary/story of all the things we had done as detailed below.

The printed pages.

The pages folded into the component parts, numbered so I knew which ones to stick where…

Venues swapped the sticking process began…

All books stuck together…

A tower of mini books 🙂

Another view of the book tower 🙂 With a mix of artwork – tablet drawn robots and liquified faces…

The handheld library.

… and numbered just for the fun of it. I had the kids pick their book out of a hat so that they all received a random number.

And finally we had the last hurrah of the shrink plastic. Each young person created a front and back cover for their books:

The front covers.

The back covers 🙂

The last one I could picture… By this time the parents were waiting to come in and pick up their kids and the artwork to take home with them.

All in all it was a thoroughly lovely time in a brilliant venue (the Lightbox in Woking). More to come, I think, but this series was a lovely one to be a part of.

 

Painting the World while it’s still there…

In a vaguely unplanned move, bearing in mind this mornings blog post, I found myself on a bus,  then on a train and then on another bus with only the Hudl to draw on and play with… (and indeed I could quite happily have played Plants vs Zombies 2 but I’m stuck on a level and it’s driving me up a wall). So time to draw it was.

Way back in the dim (me) and distant (past) I used to time my pictures by the bus journeys  I took to and from work (45 mins either way). Nowadays I tend to walk to work (different place, would be ten mins on the bus what with all the stops and traffic but is only twenty mins to walk so seems a no-brainer to me) which this gives me less travel drawing time. Today was nice in that it gave me an hour and a half to draw and I do like to create images while commuting. Hence this:

Initial scribble.

 

Cleaned up scribble. At the time I was going to do something with tablets in the paint coming out of the tube… However…. 

…when I started to block in the colours I found myself with a world/land and sea sort of colour scheme going on, so I swapped over to that.

And then, just at the end (of the train journey) I added in a background colour just for the fun of it. Probably needs muting a little, that said it looked better on the tablet and it may be my laptop which isn’t showing me the correct colours.

On the bus journey back home I made a couple of quick edits to say a ‘good luck’ to a friend who’s the excellent masterbrain behind the amazing Art of the Street coolness about to take over Maidenhead on Saturday morning.

So there you have it. An hour and a half of doodling with not much in the way of thought process. Hope you like.

Disconsolate Godzilla and the thought process…

I’ve been noodling around on a picture for a couple of days now and thought it sums up the creation process in a couple of nice ways. So here, for a change, is a little bit about the thought process of a pic and the creation of it from start to near finish.

I generally start with a series of quickly drawn lines and squiggles. More often than not I don’t know what I’ll be drawing until I’m half way through them and I’ll say to myself ‘that looks like a…’ and go from there. Occasionally that’ll inform where some of the squiggles go next.

Once that’s done I’ll start blocking in colours – I’ll try and save some process pics sometime soon. This one was being drawn on a Hudl tablet (currently my favourite) in a pub where I sat down to chill between doing a couple of hours of tablet art youth work and getting my bus home. From squiggle to this point the above pics took about 45 minutes.

Once that parts done I try and take some time way from an image, but I don’t always (very impatient, me). In this case I carried on working on the picture on the bus home and found that I liked both the text and the buildings so chose to move a couple of things around.

When I moved the text I found that the right hand side of the image was pretty empty so I  added some planes and explosions in… but that unbalanced the left hand side so I added a spire in to the left most skyscraper.

The next morning – I tend to wake up a little too early – I added some more details in, fine detail stuff like the dragon skin which isn’t very noticeable but I like the texture it adds.

And there you have it, I think. Don’t think I’ll do any more so it’s on to the next thing (which turned out to be >>this<<, ironically). Top to tail the above pics probably took  three hours to draw but that was all forwards momentum stuff, sometimes a picture fights and sometimes it goes onto the screen fairly naturally.

All drawn on Hudl tablet using a Dagi and New Trent stylus and Nomad brush, all of which are a joy to use. The app was Autodesk’s Sketchbook Pro which I like loads and more every time I use it.

And why (as I’ve been asked on Twitter) is Godzilla sad? Well, I guess life isn’t always too kind to lumbering, graceless creatures sometime. But hey ho, I’m sure he’ll be up and running, knocking over buildings and eating cars soon enough…

Collab Hudl pic.

So yesterday I took the students to London to do another fab Teentech show (more on that later) and, when back I sat down with one the staff members to talk through the day (and the year).

While doing so we both decided it’d be nice to sit and chill out and draw so I drew on his iPad Air and he drew on my Hudl. I drew the outlines, he did the colours and I shaded it in at the end.

(Hudl tablet, Autodesk Sketchbook app, Dagi, Nomad and New Trent styli in case you’re interested…)

Not bad for an hours winding down from an ultra busy day…

The astronaut is named after the lead singer of my favourite band – Five Iron Frenzy – ‘cos today is the release date of their new CD which means it’s going to be played LOUD all day.

It’s a bit of a remix of this image:

… which I did a while ago when I first bought my iPad 3 using ArtRage app. Took more than an hour though 🙂