Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sneak Peek: John's Dry Media Artwork Sample

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I'm getting closer to releasing my Dry Media for Adobe Photoshop CS5. I've linearized the paper textures so that all the brushes respond to the textures in a similar manner. I've now got to create the accompanying video tutorials, which will take a few days, not to mention get the web page designed. I'm guesstimating the release is a week out.

This test image was created using a still life by Hawaii-based photographer Randy Jay Braun. Be sure to click on the image to get a look at it a full scale. This will give you a good look at the dry media technique of utilizing the paper grain—in this case, mi-tientes—to overlay complementary patterns of color to create rich optical color mixtures.

John's Dry Media for Photoshop CS5 will be offered for an introductory price of $19.95. I'm shooting for release in a couple weeks.

If you would like to be notified when these brushes will be available, Send me an email.

John's Artists' Brushes User: Lars Bjørstrup

Click to view full size image

Danish freelance illustrator Lars Bjørstrup writes, "Just wanted to say that I am very happy with your great set of Artists' Brushes that I purchased from you last week. Here is my first painting with these brushes as a contribution to your pixlBlog. The painting is a still life based on one of my photographs - and a few notes on the process similar to what you describe in your tutorial videos." Click on the image to see a larger view along with the steps Lars employed in creating the image.

You can view more of Lars' artwork at his website.

John's Artists' Brushes for Photoshop CS5 are now available at an introductory price of $19.95. If you have Photoshop CS5 and are into painting, this will be the best investment you can make!

John's Artists' Brushes for Adobe Photoshop CS5

If you have an image created using John's Artists' Brushes, send me a JPEG and I'll feature it here on the PixlBlog!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sneak Peek: John's Dry Media Paper Textures

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This chart shows the paper textures that will be included with John's Dry Media for Adobe Photoshop CS5. Traditional dry media's appearance is largely dictated by the surface it interacts with. Chalk and pastel are designed to be abraded by a textured, toothy surface. The resulting pigment adheres to the surface of the paper. Depending on the hand pressure applied by the artist, the pigment may fill the grain or it may adhere only to the upper surface of the texture.

It is for this reason that the appearance of grain is a key to dry media—by overlaying increasingly lighter applications of pigment, multiple colors are applied and produce rich optical mixtures in the viewer's eye.

John's Dry Media for Photoshop CS5 will be offered for an introductory price of $19.95. I'm shooting for release in a couple weeks.

If you would like to be notified when these brushes will be available, Send me an email.

Salvador Dali on What's My Line



Surreal!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sneak Peek: John's Dry Media for Photoshop CS5

Click to view full image

I've been busy working on a set of dry media brushes for Adobe® Photoshop© CS5. This set of brushes focuses on media like pastels and chalk. I've created a set of custom paper textures as part of these brushes. Artwork can be created from scratch or use a photograph as an initial color source.

Click to view full image

In the sample image, I used a photograph that I shot a few years ago during a workshop for initial composition, then used pastels that referenced the photo's colors as I drew. The image was completed by adding my own embellishments. Be sure to click on the image to view at full scale.

John's Dry Media for Photoshop CS5 will be offered for an introductory price of $19.95. I'm shooting for release in a couple weeks.

If you would like to be notified when these brushes will be available, Send me an email.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dealing with Pixel Density and Brush Performance


I regularly receive emails asking about brush performance in applications like Photoshop and Painter. Lately, I've been asked about the resolution of imagery used in my lynda.com training titles. I thought it would be useful to provide some explanation here so that it is available to a larger audience.

The lynda.com recordings done in the booth were generally done at screen resolution, but a real-world situation will often require higher resolutions. For example, offset printing generally dictates files at 300ppi (pixels per inch). Inkjet printing is often discussed in terms of 240ppi. For web-based viewing, imagery at 72ppi is considered acceptable. You can easily determine the pixel resolution of an image by multiplying the size in inches by the above ppi (pixels per inch) factors.

Let's use a typical real-world size as an example: 20" X 24". This is a common photographic print and frame size.

20" X 24" @ 72ppi = 1440p X 1728p = 2,488,320 pixels
20" X 24" @ 150ppi = 3000p X 3600p = 10,800,000 pixels
20" X 24" @ 300ppi = 6000p X 7200p = 43,200,000 pixels

Note that each of these resolution factors quadruples the total pixel count—as resolution increases, so does pixel density.

It is the density of pixels being manipulated that dictates both application and brush performance. With this in mind, we can state that performance will decrease as image pixel density increases. A one inch square of a 300ppi image is far more pixel-dense than a one inch square of a 72ppi image. There are three primary factors that affect an application's ability to handle large pixel-based manipulation.

Processor Speed
The faster the processor, the better the performance. Additionally, today's processors generally contain multiple cores. This is akin to having multiple copies of the processor available to simultaneously handle various tasks. Photoshop is multi-core aware and can take advantage of multiple cores when present. Photoshop generally performs better on newer machines because of this.

RAM Memory
Manipulating pixels is a memory-intensive application. In order to process pixels efficiently, Photoshop uses temporary memory containers—a scratch disk or cache—to hold pixels while processing calculations on them. When Photoshop runs out of RAM memory—which is fast because it is just electrons—it resorts to virtual memory, an allocation of physical disk space. This virtual memory is slower because it is a physical medium. It is for this reason that more RAM will improve Photoshop performance. It is often stated that the cheapest way to speed up a computer is to add RAM and this certainly holds true for Photoshop.

Graphics Card
Graphics cards have an onboard GPU (graphics processor unit) that is designed to specifically handle sophisticated pixel-based calculations. GPUs initially gained popularity to improve 3D game performance, but have evolved to become an important secondary processor for applications like Photoshop. CS5 specifically targets the GPU for a variety of tasks and this trend will continue in the future. As a result, higher performance graphics cards improve Photoshop's pixel handling.

Now let's look at a comparison of two systems. I'm currently using a 2.4Ghz MacBook Pro and I often find my brush performance wanting—as brush sizes get larger (a.k.a. pixel density), there is a decided lag in the drawing of the stroke. When I recorded the Mixer Brush title at lynda.com, I used their machine, which was a 2 x 3Ghz Quad-Core Intel Xeon Mac Pro—this machine easily handled anything I could throw at it (I probably could have taxed it with very large brush sizes).

Having been in the software development business, I can tell you that applications are generally developed on the then-current fastest processors. This ensures that the resulting app will run well on future, faster processors. The down side, of course, is that many users have older machines and will experience less-than-ideal performance.

There are two short-term fixes for this scenario. One is to use brush size as a performance throttle. The idea behind this is to adjust brush size down until you get acceptable painting performance. The caveat here is that you may find that the largest acceptable brush size—performance-wise—is not acceptable for your style.

The other performance enhancer is to add more RAM memory to your system. Photoshop is a memory-intensive app. When it runs out of RAM, it resorts to virtual memory, which is an allocation of your disk space as a "scratch disk". Because this is disk-based memory, it is obviously slower than physical RAM. So, an increase in RAM will enable Photoshop to do more work before resorting to the scratch disk. I've maxed my Mac Pro out to 6GB RAM for this reason and it definitely helps—but don't expect it to be a miracle cure for a dated processor. I recommend Other World Computing as a source of RAM upgrades—their prices are good and they supply quality RAM.

The ultimate solution is a current high-performance machine. Be aware that the merry-go-round never stops spinning and today's flame thrower will eventually become tomorrow's boat anchor. Riding the crest of technology requires periodic hardware upgrades.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Photoshop CS5: Painting with the Mixer Brush DVD Released


I'm pleased to announce that my lynda.com title, Photoshop CS5: Painting with the Mixer Brush, has been released on DVD. With this release, you now have two options to access this training content: you can either purchase the DVD or access the content at lynda.com. Here is the lynda-supplied description of the title:
Join John Derry, a pioneer in the field of digital painting, as he shows how to master the natural-media painting features introduced in Photoshop CS5 in Photoshop CS5: Painting with the Mixer Brush. This course shows how to use the Mixer Brush, the Bristle Tips feature, and a new mechanism for blending colors in Photoshop to add beautiful, painterly effects to photographs, enhance artwork with paint-like strokes and illustrations, and paint entirely new art from scratch. This course also covers customizing brush characteristics and surface textures, applying keyboard shortcuts to paint smoothly and efficiently, and using a Wacom tablet to get the most out of Photoshop CS5’s painting features. Exercise files are included with the course.
Here's a segment from Painting with the Mixer Brush:



The Painting with the Mixer Brush DVD is $99; the same content is available on lynda.com via subscription. For more information, visit lynda.com.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

America in Color: 1939-43


The Denver Post has published a rare set of color photographs taken by photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information, some of the only color photographs taken of the effects of the Depression on America’s rural and small town populations. The photographs are the property of the Library of Congress and were included in a 2006 exhibit Bound for Glory: America in Color.

Bound for Glory: America in Color is the first major exhibition of the little known color images. Comprised of seventy digital prints made from color transparencies taken between 1939 and 1943, this exhibition reveals a surprisingly vibrant world that has typically been viewed only through black-and-white images. These vivid scenes and portraits capture the effects of the Depression on America's rural and small town populations, the nation's subsequent economic recovery and industrial growth, and the country's great mobilization for World War II.

The photographs in Bound for Glory, many by famed photographers such as John Vachon, Jack Delano, Russell Lee, and Marion Post Wolcott, document not only the subjects in the pictures, but also the dawn of a new era—the Kodachrome era. These colorful images mark a historic divide in visual presentation between the monochrome world of the pre-modern age and the brilliant hues of the present. They change the way we look—and think about—our past.

John's Artists' Brushes User: Anastasiy Safari

Click to view image larger

Magicpicker developer and photographer Anastasiy Safari writes, "I want to make a small contribution with a small painting I finally made with your amazing brushes. Thanks again!"

The Magicpicker Photoshop panel finds daily use in my workflow. This panel provides a visually intuitive tool for selecting color in Photoshop. I find it particularly suited for "painting from scratch" painting. Magicpicker is available for Photoshop CS5/CS4/CS3/MAC/PC.

Click to visit Anastasiy's website

John's Artists' Brushes for Photoshop CS5 are now available at an introductory price of $19.95. If you have Photoshop CS5 and are into painting, this will be the best investment you can make!

John's Artists' Brushes for Adobe Photoshop CS5

If you have an image created using John's Artists' Brushes, send me a JPEG and I'll feature it here on the PixlBlog!