Tag Archives: Microsoft Expression Design

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.


Sigh… sometimes I only feel I get to do artwork when I’m ill*…


Long been a fan of Marvel comics (and comics in general but the X-Men were the ones who hit most at that time in my life) and the Sentinels were possibly my favourite bad guy: hostile yet unfeeling. Fancied doodling as I try and get better sooner and this is the result.

*Actually the title is blatantly not true as I’ve been lucky enough to be doing artwork all over the place recently but this is the second time recently and nth time this year I’ve been sick and it’s a bit dull lying here not able to do much bar squeak.

And a little bit of Cerebus created in Expression while I’m at it:


And then it was quiet…

So, Big Book Draw weekend last week and it was a corker. Slightly lower numbers than last year, the first year we’ve not grown by exactly 20% in fact, but a number of people said to us that they’d been surprised by it not being in half term week (again a first for us). Still, the 120+ people we had join us enjoyed it massively and it was a complete success. We had a huge piece in the Surrey Ad too which was glowingly positive and a nice read.




And then, almost directly after the Book Draw I went down with a cold which then turned into laryngitis and aches and pains. Fun. Went into college on the friday (didn’t want to but had an email to say there was no sick cover) and lasted as long as I could. Then headed home and been in bed ever since.


Which allowed me to, at least, finished off this picture in Brushes on the iPod touch. Time wise I didn’t manage to do the iPod exhibition, which was one of a couple of small disappointments on an otherwise lovely day (we were out of canvas at work hence no chance to print it out), but I did do one pic to prove that at least the pictures do print out well at A1 size. Hopefully an exhibition soon, depends on budgets going through at work.

So, maybe not so soon… 🙁


And, lastly for this update, installed Windows 7 on my mac which means I can get back to using Expression. I’m trying to focus on fewer projects post Book Draw and have some time off, if that’s possible. We’ll see. I’ve got two freelance projects on the go to finish off then I’m hoping to say ‘no’ to everything that I can for the rest of the year. Doodled this in Expression Design last night, was fun to start using it again.

Also, news to come about Sylver… But that’s for another post. Let’s just say that this has been the hardest project to work on and the most under attack one. I suppose I should see that as a positive thing, if its worth attacking it’s worth something, but it can get a bit wearying, especially when it feels like I have a coal fired frog in my throat and sound like I’ve been smoking 20 an hour. Ah well, onwards as ever.

The assassination of Jesse James by…

… the robot driven Ford Ka.



… Seemed funny (ish) at the time. It’s a riff on this:


although mostly the image was done on a bus and then finished off in a bath. That lettering took FOR-flipping-AGES and yes, I know, I could have done it in Pixelmator in a squillionth of the time. Wanted to do as much in Brushes as I could. In the end I just added the vignetting in Pixelmator and that was that.

In other news I’m excitedly downloading the Expression Design 3 demo at the moment. If I had the time to do so I’d spend all day playing with a ummm quadumvirate? of art packages: Pixelmator, Brushes, Blender and Expression Design. All of them (bar brushes) are hitting pretty major updates soon (1.5, xx, 2.5 and 3 respectively) and that always makes me wan to play and see what’s new. Surprisingly all are allegedly the less well known applications (I also own Photoshop, Freehand and 3dsMax – legally I add) but these lower league programs often show themselves to be better than the big boys…

Anyhow: it’s downloaded now so time to play 🙂

((Sigh, take it back, time to download Net framework 3.5 – which keeps bombing out, and then install. Grrr)).

(((and… to be fair to Microsoft, it’s not just their software that’s giving me grief this morning: iMovie is crashing out repeatedly while trying to convert a clip too 🙁 ))).

Lastly: while I’m waiting for things to install, download and upload, here’s the timelapse of the Assassination picture with not particularly great garageband soundtrack. Hey, what can I say, I was multi-tasking and doing this and kids brekkies and everything…


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 😉