Tag Archives: Microsoft

Adventures on Touch Screens.

It’s been a busy week at Kercal central on a range of screens…

I had a quick play on an Apple iPad Air 2 following listening to an artist talk at the Covent Garden Apple Store. It’s as nice a device as you would expect (although I increasingly wonder if their obsession with thinness needs an intervention). The screen is beautiful and, with a conscious movement towards Replay and Pixelmator coming for me on tablet I think I should be looking at updating come Christmas time (‘cos there’s no way I’ll afford it sooner).

I drew this in a Moleskine (which  I’ll find and add later) and then on a Surface RT on a train to London (using the very fab Fresh Paint app). Kudos to Arthouse Meath in Godalming for reminding me how funky a flamingo can be.

I am seriously liking the photo sphere camera setting on the Hudl 2. Click on the pic for larger formats…

And on the Shake Shack side I drew this in 11 minutes while they filmed me on time lapse. Look forward to seeing the artwork come to be on the page (well, screen). I am THOROUGHLY enjoying the art residency there 🙂 Bigger blog on that to come.

And finally we have a large touch screen in at work to evaluate. I booked two 45 min slots and came out with these pics:

MS Paint, Photoshop and Clevertouch built in software respectively.

Finally also had a quick draw on a Lenovo tablet in PC World while waiting to see if there was a Google rep near the Chrome desk (only weekends, sigh. But yes, I do want to draw on a Nexus 9 STAT!)

Screen Frenzy! 🙂

Gadget Show Live 2014 video 1.

Ahhhh the optimism in that statement. Video 1. That assumes I’ll have the time to upload more (there are a couple more videos that I could do, a couple of pictures didn’t make it into the video mix).

But anyway, video 1 from #GSL14 which I thoroughly enjoyed. Hope you like too.

Drawn on an HP desktop, a Lenovo 7 inch Win tablet, a Dell 11 inch tablet, an add on screen that turns any monitor into a touch screen monitor, a Sony Xperia Z, a Boogie Board (a simple magnetic sketch type slate) and a Surface 2 attached to a larger touch screen monitor using a Jot Script, a Pogo Sketch Pro, a Stylus Sock, a New Trent stylus and of course my trusty Nomad Compose short hair brush. Mainly using Fresh Paint app (although I did also use Sketches on the Sony).

Could have bought so much at the Show 🙂 As it was I only bought an Olloclip but that makes me smile muchos too. Back to work now though… Sigh…

Screen sharing in Guildford PC World: the video.

Part of yesterdays massive 18k step marathon was forty minutes of popping into PC World while a friend and I waited for some aerospace grade resin was cut to shape for a brilliantly bizarre machine making process. So a vaguely normal Friday then.

Anyhow he agreed to video me drawing while we waited (on my long suffering iPhone 3GS) hence this, pictures drawn on a Lenovo laptop and a Sony Vaio Duo 11 using Fresh Paint and Paint apps using a Stylus Sock and a Dagi stylus.

Music by the very marvellous >>Duke Special<<.


Very fond of my Surface Pro and Wacom Feel but haven’t had the time to sit and play with it as I’m normally in work mode at the moment 🙁

That said… Last night I painted this in ArtRage to wind down from an odd old day:

and this morning I painted this in Fresh Paint to start what likely will be another odd one 🙂 :

Neither painting took much longer than an hour and each was the right way to start or end the day.

I love ArtRage and Fresh Paint equally but for different reasons. FP is free, for a start, and has a lovely  playful feel to it. It arguably contains the closest approximation of resistance and gloop from pixels pretending to be paint. There are limitations (no layers, no palette knife, no animation capture and so on) but it’s a joyous and uncluttered experience and is the first app I look for when drawing on the demo screens of any shop that I fall into. It’s Windows 8 and Win 8 phone only.

ArtRage is similar – in that it mimics real world tools and physics – but contains so many more options it can seem a little bewildering on first install*. Like Fresh Paint it captures the feel, resistance and tactility of paint and is available on a range of devices for a remarkably low price. For what you pay you get a heck of a lot of pixel art possibilities. You can record an animation, upscale, use a wide range of real world tools and play about with the settings of the brushes to your hearts content.

Which app is best? Both are, in the places where they are best at.

Which do I prefer painting with? Both. They are equally good apps and, depending on the mood I’m in and what sort of picture I want to come out with neither make me wish I was painting in the other. Like the stylus blog post yesterday – why choose? Lots of apps do lots of remarkable things and, on the Surface Pro, both are must installs**.

*That said ArtRage has a very good interface and shows off the range of options in, generally, a very gentle and sensible manner. There’s just a LOT more choice and that can be a bit scary. We’re not talking Flash or Photoshop levels of ‘Blimey! Buttons!’ interface though.

**Didlr is a must install too imo, and I’ve got a lot of love for that app, but it’s not working on my SurfyPro at the moment 🙁 boo.

The Frog and Flamingo at PC World. 25 mins of tablet art show-offery.

Took a small walk earlier today in the lunch break and, for 25 happy minutes drew on a couple of Sony tablets just for the fun of it.

I’m tempted to bill it as one of the tablet art events I’ve been doing as I ended up with a fair crowd of staff and PC World customers behind me, all asking questions and watching me draw so was a shame when I had to dash off back to work… Dare say I’ll be back 🙂

The Frog, The Flamingo and the Gadget Show Live. Behind the scenes and initial thanks.

Oh my golly, oh my goodness.

It’s been a week. I fully intended to blog throughout but… Well, we’ll get to that. This is NOT the blog about the show. That’s to come.

A few short weeks ago, in the middle of February, the idea was mooted that the event co-ordination we did for the World Skills Festival could be replicated at the Gadget Show live. It seemed a HUGE amount of work at one of the busiest times of year (academically) but one that would be far too cool to turn down.

So I did. Exams and time and pressure and money won. But fortunately for me (and, hopefully, others) the Gadget Show Live team were persistent and somehow we managed to find a happy middle ground that saw me saying yes to 64 square m of space in one of the coolest tech hubs in Europe.

So far so good. Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

Then, at one point, we were ROYALLY done over by Travelodge (quoted just under £3k final bill nearly £5k. Long post about that to come) and, despite support from Microsoft, SMART board, Autodesk, ArtRage, Sampli, Wise and others it all seemed like it would all come crashing down. On one of the planning days – the worst planning day – I managed to catch a glorious 3 hours sleep – mainly because I fell asleep within ten seconds of sitting at the laptop with a coffee perched in my hand. Fortunately I didn’t move I was so deep asleep and the coffee was removed from my hand as soon as my wife realised I was solid gone. This has been a month of 18 hour days and, ironically, it told during the Gadget Show week itself, although hopefully no-one but me noticed…

Somewhere along the line (I’m looking at you Sally) I received an email that, I quote, asked us to take on a “small bump” in space. From 64 sq m to 84 sq m. And then, somehow, it turned into 119 sq m. I should learn to say no. But my inner egozilla believes I can do anything so I didn’t.

It was pride – my pride – that caused some of the issues we had in the final two weeks… I was so determined to make it not cost any money for the College I work at that I should have asked for money earlier. As it was I didn’t and tried all other avenues but time, by this point (far) less than a month away, and Travelodge seemed the enemy. Well. Travelodge mainly, but the clock was certainly ticking.

And then, somehow, despite all worries to the contrary, it all came together. The College I work at put in £2.5k which means, on a budget on less that £8k we managed to run, very successfully, the 10th largest stand at the show (if you exclude the speaking stages, 18th if you include them…) You can check out the floorplan here: http://www.gadgetshowlive.net/birmingham/files/gadget_show_final_201327.032.pdf

I absolutely could not have done it without the staff who helped on the stand and looked after the students as I did my thang: Dave, Kath, Helen, Terry (stand and minibus) and Chris (also a fabulous minibus driver who’s also a new dad, hurrah Team Chris).

Nikki was, of course, fabulous. She did all of the risk assessments as a: she’s one of those strange people that likes paperwork (sorry, still doesn’t compute) and had an interest in doing so as 5 of the students we took were Aspergers or Autistic and she is the ASD specialist in the college. She was on the stand every day an ASD student was in need of her skills but also ran everything brilliantly as I ran from one side of the NEC to the other when we needed a camera or similar.

Nick Thatcher was, of course, (cue the A Team soundtrack) the person behind the Tablet Eye Stand, the easel security system and much more and, sadly, the only thanks I could give him was a 15 sq m stand for him to show off his AMAZING one wheeled Raptor arduino controlled “Segway” like device. He is amazing, you should check him out.

The visiting artists were brilliant: Kyle Lambert rocked every screen he came into contact with and Stefan Marjoram – who I found out a couple of years ago that I went to college with – was as awesome as he is modest. It turns out I was also at college with is wife who is as lovely and generous as Stefan is. They’re a good match.

Paul A was a brilliant in house film maker and I can’t wait to see what he puts together of the week.

Fiona from (cough: the Marmaraiti :cough) was a brilliant visitor as was Ewen Rankin from the British Tech Network.

Sally, Helen and Anne were fantasticaly helpful, patient and kind. I spoke to some of the other exhibitors and their teams, and their 10 x my paltry budget, were, I’m sure, far less bother than I was. But we all managed to come together with something magical in the heart of the show and loads of people started their questions to me with ‘yes, but what are you selling…?’

We were joined brilliantly by the lovely Lumilyon. If you don’t know her name you should – she is one of, if not the, most prominent and fabulous phone photographers I can think of. No-one shoots more diverse images and cleverness than she does and integrating her into the mix was one of my dreams come true. And, of course, when you have a world famous Phoneographer in the house, a Lumen Prize Finalist, a world exhibited artisan of high regard, you can’t not have her on the stage, so, on the Saturday and the Sunday, without fanfare or prior notice, hundreds of people were given an explanation of her artwork and working process. Lucky people! I was so busy I only caught a quarter of an hour of the two 45 min sessions 🙁 But if I could afford her for every event I would do so – she is a star and, in this case, I was lucky.

But the biggest thanks goes to the students. Without them it would not have worked. 40 of them spent 3 – 7 days holed up in a Travelodge (more on that later*) and the Birmingham NEC without complaint, without pause, without hassle.

DO NOT DISS STUDENTS. Some can be, yes, moany alcohol fuelled brats I’m sure. We all were weren’t we? But  I took 40 to the Gadget Show for a week and they were awe inspiringly amazing. I shall write more of them later I think. But to spend a weeks residential, working 12 -15 hour days, walking around 8 miles a day or so, showing them off as possible work experience stars? Never anything less than a pleasure. I like my students a HUGE amount and if you need digitally literate IT or graphics work exp kids give me a shout..

Only at one point did I have to tell anyone off for noise past the 11pm curfew and, it turned out that it was a non-College Travelodge user. Still, after I gave him my patented death stare

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. But… not just yet ok? I’ve honestly never been so tired.

More to come – pics, vids etc… but for the moment – that was the College at the Gadget Show Live 🙂


#Catching the 365.

So, a week and a half ago (I REALLY should have blogged about this earlier but it has been that hectic for the past ten days) I was delighted to be asked to be the artist in residence on the 365: Microsoft’s launch bus for new Office.

It was a wonderful day as, I hope, the photos attest:

(Painted on the moving walkway on the way to the bus… Couldn’t resist)..


The bus at Marble Arch.

(this picture was drawn using Snap – trace – paint. Which I like. But… well… there’s some issues…)

There was an absolutely fabulous band who performed both on and off the bus. Wish I could link to them but in all of our chats about life and gigs and cider and busses I completely failed to ask the band name… (aha! A quick search finds out that they were called the Ray Guns… Amazing they was. Very cool stuff…)

(Not my favourite picture of the day and I do keep intending to come back to it… But most paintings here had to be completed in around five minutes with strange and odd viewing angles so I did the best I could throughout 🙂 )

I got to sit behind, and listen to, and paint while the bus was moving, Will Greenwood. Which, when I got back to College the next day had a few of my students grumpily green with envy.

For a start, and I probably shouldn’t be surprised, but OH MY GOODNESS he has got huge hands.

Painting on the bus was… well… not always easy but not hard either (it’s one of my zone choices if time allows. That said drawing on a new tablet and a new app on an old style bus that was a smidge trickier.. Still, it all came together in the end – was a very concerted and concentrated 7 hour stint of drawing and, like I said, an extremely cool bunch of people to be around. And to be honest Will looked he was having difficulty even standing up as he was talking; at least I managed to find a seat to draw from 🙂 ).


And, throughout the day, a slightly hobo chic dressed doodler was a part of the show, drawing the talks and the gigs and so on and explaining, to those who asked, what it was like to draw on a tablet and which app I was using and which stylus and so on and so forth. If you were one of the people who stopped to ask if I was part of the show – thanks! I loved being a part of it but can fully understand why the magicians, guys on stilts and rock stars got the bigger applause 🙂

More to come, I hope. I’ve certainly not stopped drawing on Surface and Fresh Paint…

All images here were drawn and painted using Fresh Paint app and Autodesk Sketchbook Espress (bar one which I made using a different app as noted). Both have capacity to grow and I look forward to seeing where updates take them but, if you’re drawing and painting on a Surface RT they’re excellent apps to take advantage of.

Another post to come later on working with the Surface RT and a variety of apps but suffice to say I REALLY like Metro, I love the industrial design of the Surface and Fresh Paint app has a feature so good that if I could marry it I would consider it as a viable option.

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 🙁