Sunday, December 30, 2012

John's Impasto User: Janet Stoppee

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Artist Janet Stoppee of M2 Media Studios recently painted this Blue Ridge Mountains street scene of Sperryville, Virginia.

Janet writes:

I painted this inspired by the Impressionists. It is cloned from a shoot Brian and I did capturing our favorite tree in the Blue Ridge mountain village of Sperryvile. I used John’s Impasto Medium Gloss Varnish on a few places like the tree trunk, steps and a few other areas to give it more movement.

I really tried to step away from too much photographic detail. I used the Fan - Flat Cloner Brush and made different variations of it.

You can see more of Janet's work here.

John's Impasto is available for $19.95. You can purchase them by via the John's Impasto! webpage or use the PayPal link below. Major credit cards are accepted if you don't have a PayPal account.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Holidays from the PixlBlog!


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A holiday vertical panoramic view of the eight-level atrium in Water Tower Place on Chicago's Magnificent Mile.

Reminds me of the ATLAS Detector at CERN!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Elias Mina: John's Impasto & Smart Brushes User

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Toronto-based photographer and artist Elias Mina works in both Painter and Photoshop. Eli writes, "I used your Smart Oil brush in Painter (John's Smart Brushes) and then moved to Photoshop to use mostly your brushes (John's Impasto) to paint inside and around the window. I can't make up my mind which is my favourite! I hope you don't mind me sharing with you my excitement. I am applying textures to selective part like sky, etc. and sometimes to a whole image. What a difference they make when I get it right."

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You can see more of Eli's work at his web site.

John's Impasto is available for $19.95. You can purchase them by via the John's Impasto! webpage or use the PayPal link below. Major credit cards are accepted if you don't have a PayPal account.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Painting with John's Impasto

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This a painting done incorporating John's Impasto!. The painting was built up with several layers, beginning with a set of Photoshop CS6 cloning layers to interpret the source photo to brush strokes. I then added several hand-painted layers for detail work. Impasto layers were then added to incorporate the appearance of depth. This is a 50% reduction of the original. Click on the image to see at full size.

This is a head-on shot of the Commemorative Air Force P-51 Mustang Gunfighter II, owned by Gen. Reggie Urchler, Ret. of Omaha, NE.

John's Impasto is available for $19.95. You can purchase them by via the John's Impasto! webpage or use the PayPal link below. Major credit cards are accepted if you don't have a PayPal account.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

John's Impasto! for Photoshop Released

I'm pleased to announce the release of my latest custom brushes title for Adobe Photoshop CS5 and CS6, John's Impasto!. I've been working on this project for over a year and I'm quite pleased with the result. John's Impasto! enables interactive painting with three-dimensional surface effects. The result is paint that appears to have depth.

Click to watch preview segment


John’s Impasto! comes with a set of 12 Impasto and 12 Varnish Layer Styles. Create art from scratch or apply virtual varnish to existing art. Each set has 4 surface styles: Matte, Satin, Gloss, and Smooth and is further sub-divided into Light, Medium, and Heavy. Impasto! layers can be interactively changed with a single mouse click.

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Integral to John’s Impasto! is a set of six custom textures that interactively provide authentic gesso & varnish surface appearances to brushwork. This textural skin becomes fully visible as pressure-controlled brush strokes are built up over repeated stroke application. Each Impasto! layer’s texture is fully adjustable via the Bevel & Emboss layer style associated with the layer.

John’s Impasto! tool presets are divided into depth-applying brushes and depth-removing erasers. Using one of the erasers on an Impasto! layer is like inscribing into wet gesso. A wide variety of surface appearances can be created using a combination of additive and subtractive strokes. And, any Photoshop brush can be used on an Impasto! layer.

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John's Impasto is available for $19.95. You can purchase them by via the John's Impasto! webpage or use the PayPal link below. Major credit cards are accepted if you don't have a PayPal account.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New lynda.com Expressive Painting Title Underway

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I'll be recording my next lynda.com title, Transforming a Photograph into a Painting with Photoshop CS6, in a couple of weeks. I'm dividing the content into 2 sections: Image Preparation and Expressive Painting. The above image represents the finished result of the example I'll be using.

A key difference between traditional and digital painting technique is centered on the marriage of image content and brushstroke expressivity.

In traditional painting, these two interrelated functions are simultaneously accomplished: the artist is largely describing the image content while at the same time expressing himself through the manner in which he brush applies paint to the canvas.

In digital expressive interpretation, the image content —typically a photograph— is prepared as a separate function apart from the brushstrokes. Once the image content is constructed according to the artist's wishes, expressive brushwork is applied by utilizing the prepared photo as the color palette. In other words, the image flows through the brush as the artist focuses on expressivity.

By separating the image content and brushwork, the artist is free to focus exclusively on each function. This presents a workflow by which image elements like color, composition, and story-telling are initially portrayed via a thoughtfully prepared image and personal emotional expression is later communicated via hand-wrought brushwork.

Below is the initial photograph prior to crafting it into cohesive story-telling content.

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By carefully preparing an image prior to interpretation, the artist is freed up to focus exclusively on the brushwork that is the essential carrier of the artist's personal stylistic expression.

Monday, September 3, 2012

John's Artists' Brushes User: Roland Saldivar

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Phillipines-based artist & colorist Roland Saldivar has been using my Artists' Brushes tool presets for Photoshop CS5 & 6.

Roland writes:

I want to thank you so much for making your Artists' Brushes available. These brushes are awesome! I have never been this close to the look of Painter in Photoshop before you made these brushes available. Now, I am having so much joy in playing around with your brushes and making really satisfying digital art.

John's Artists' Brushes and Dry Media for Photoshop CS5 & CS6 are each available for $19.95. If you have Photoshop CS5 or CS6 and are into painting, this will be the best investment you can make!

John's Artists' Brushes for Adobe Photoshop CS5 & 6

John's Dry Media for Adobe Photoshop CS5 & 6

If you have an image created with my brushes, send me a JPEG and I'll feature it here on the PixlBlog!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Moku Hanga: Outstanding Japanese Woodblock Print App

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I recently downloaded the iphone app, Moku Hanga, by JixiPix Software. This app does an excellent job of emulating traditional Japanese woodblock printing. Moku Hanga is actually Japanese for woodblock. JixiPix also has iPad and Mac versions of their apps, so I downloaded the desktop version since I was so impressed with the iPhone version.

Moku Hanga handles high-resolution files with ease. I can even feed it Photoshop PSD and Canon RAW files with no problem. The app is supplied with presets for instant gratification, but is totally user-customizable. A set of paper backgrounds and edges fill out the app.

In the spirit of Japanese woodblock subject matter, I used a photo of a pagoda I shot in Sydney, Australia (of all places!). I did do a bit of prep work in Photoshop, using the Adaptive Wide Angle filter to eliminate camera lens distortion (see the original image below).

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The best feature of Moku Hanga is the price: $7.99 (the iPhone and iPad versions are $2.99). JixiPix has several very nice image-filtering apps with highly reasonable pricing.

I have a feeling I'll be getting some more of these!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

How Vast the Universe

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) has released the largest-ever 3D map of the universe. This animation flies the viewer through hundreds of thousands of galaxies...hundreds. of. thousands.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

John's Dry Media User: Thomas Brissot

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Paris-based concept artist Thomas Brissot has been using my Dry Media tool presets for Photoshop CS5 & 6.

Thomas writes:

I purchased your dry media brushes for photoshop, and I wanted to thank you. It is very helpful to me, I always looked for something that could do a bridge between Photoshop and Painter. I now can do extremely playful and fun stuff with Phosothop (and of course, if I have fun doing my work, the result is much better).

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John's Artists' Brushes and Dry Media for Photoshop CS5 & CS6 are each available for $19.95. If you have Photoshop CS5 or CS6 and are into painting, this will be the best investment you can make!

John's Artists' Brushes for Adobe Photoshop CS5

John's Dry Media for Adobe Photoshop CS5

If you have an image created with my brushes, send me a JPEG and I'll feature it here on the PixlBlog!

Friday, July 20, 2012

"Photoshop CS6 New Features: Brushes" Released

I'm happy to announce the release of my latest lynda.com title, Photoshop CS6 New Features: Brushes. This set of tutorials detail the inner-workings of CS6's new natural-media tools. These include the Airbrushes, Artists' Brushes, Dry Media, and Mixer Brush Pencils, which are a part of the Tool Presets' default libraries.

If some of these presets sound familiar, it is because they represent a subset of my Artists' Brushes and Dry Media offerings. I additionally created the Airbrushes and Mixer Brush Pencil libraries for CS6.

The image below shows where these tool preset libraries are located in CS6:

My other contribution to CS6 is the Mixer Brush Cloning Paint Setup action. This action enables a non-destructive layer painting environment in which a clone painting is built up via a set of independent layers.

The image below shows where the Mixer Brush Cloning Paint Setup is located:

Starting with a source image (typically a photograph), this action creates a set of unique layers that have the source invisibly embedded in each layer. When painted on with Cloner brushes (found in the above-mentioned tool preset libraries), the colors of the source image are applied to the clone layer utilizing the expressive character of the particular Cloner brush used. The result is as if the colors of the image flow through the Cloner brush onto the cloning layer.

The default setup creates 3 cloning layers: Underpainting, Intermediate Strokes, and Detail Strokes. Using this arrangement, you can build up a painting with progressively smaller brush strokes, with each degree of refinement on its own layer. You can even paint underneath existing brushwork...try that with traditional painting!

Each cloning layer is grouped with its own Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. This enables localized adjustment of each cloning layer. For example, you may want to decrease the saturation of the underpainting layer to emphasize the details of the image's subject.

The image below shows the resulting layer setup when the Mixer Brush Cloning Paint Setup action is applied to an initial source image:

Accompanying Photoshop CS6 New Features: Brushes is my Cloning Layer Extras action set (available to lynda.com subscribers). These actions extend the functionality of the default Mixer Brush Cloning Paint Setup.

With this addition, you can assign F-keys to conveniently toggle the Reference Layer on and off. The Create Cloning Layer Group action is included to enable quick creation of additional cloning layers when you need them.

Does the inclusion of these natural-media tools in Photoshop CS6 obsolete my Artists' Brushes and Dry Media for-sale offerings? No! The for-sale packages have a much larger array of brushes. And, if you don't have CS6, my tool presets are compatible with both Photoshop CS5 and CS6. Photoshop CS6 New Features: Brushes. will enable you to get the most out of CS6's natural-media features. If you're looking to paint with Photoshop, this title will help you achieve your goal.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Don't Adjust Your Display!

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The above image may appear to be waving and composed of parallelograms, but it is actually made up of squares.

Akiyoshi Kitaoka, Professor, Department of Psychology, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan, studies visual perception and optical illusions. A favorite subject is the "anomalous motion illusion", in which our visual system is provided contradictory information causing apparent motion when there is none.

Check out professor Kitaoka's website for a dizzying array of visual illusions.

WARNING: Viewing these illusions might make sensitive observers dizzy or sick.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sneak Peek: Upcoming Project

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This image is part of a project I'm working on that will make its appearance later this year. Don't tell anyone!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

John's Smart Brushes User: Terry Sita

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John's Smart Brushes user Artist Terry Sita writes:

I am sending you two photos of painting I did with your Leroy brush. We raise Thoroughbreds so there are always a lot of horses around to photograph. The foals are born usually between Feb. and May.

I rather like the look of the smart oil, since I am a realist painter, but I am trying to loosen up and get more color in my work, so I thought you would like these better.

After auto painting, all I did was bring back the eyes and a little of the hair on the head. If I used the smart oil, I would have to do a little more work to put color into the piece. I hope you like them. I am still a beginner at Painter 12 and these brushes eliminate much of the work.

You can see more of Terry's work on her website. Terry mentions using the Leroy brush. I named this brush after artist Leroy Neiman. and attempted to imbue this brush with some of the vibrance of his paintings.

Mr. Neiman passed away today at 91.

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John's Smart Brushes come with installation videos for the different versions of Painter, as well as a tutorial video to help you get the most out of these interpretive brushes.

John's Smart Brushes are $24.95. You can purchase them using the PayPal link below. Major credit cards are accepted if you don't have a PayPal account.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Seeing from a Different P.O.V.


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My brother-in-pixels, Mark Zimmer, provides a unique commentary on his Relativistic Observer blog about looking at the world:

What you see depends upon where you are. But it also depends upon who you are. If you are here you will see day. If you are there, you will see night. Sometimes there is a sun, sometimes there is a moon. An ocean surrounds an island, but dry land surounds a lake.
The post is accompanied by Mark's playful digital illustrations. If you haven't added Relativistic Observer to your blog reader, you owe it to yourself to do so...now!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Popsicolor App Does Watercolor

Popsicolor Preview from Tinrocket, LLC on Vimeo.

Percolator app developer John Balestrieri has an interesting new app coming out soon: Popsicolor. The app transforms photographic source imagery into watercolors. You can even tilt your tablet to produce realistic runs. Due out for iPhone and iPad this June.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Powell Street Vertical


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When I was in San Francisco last summer, I spent a good deal of time photographing the cable cars. This painting—created with John's Smart Brushes' Impressionable brush—is looking south from California Street down Powell Street.

John's Smart Brushes come with installation videos for the different versions of Painter, as well as a tutorial video to help you get the most out of these interpretive brushes.

John's Smart Brushes are $24.95. You can purchase them using the PayPal link below. Major credit cards are accepted if you don't have a PayPal account.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Future is at hand...literally

If this technology comes to fruition as indicated, the future's so bright I gotta wear shades.

Coming this fall. $70. Wow.

Monday, May 21, 2012

John's Smart Brushes User: Karen Bonaker


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Artist and Digital Art Academy webmistress Karen Bonaker painted Sedona Canyon View utilizing John's Smart Brushes.
"I started with a painting that I had just completed free hand and thought it may be fun to play with the brushes using it as a source.

I started the cloning on four separate layers (using the Impressionable, Smart Oil, Smart Chalk, and Impasto Oil brushes) and then resolved each one until it all seemed to work in harmony.

Finally added a layer and filled with a Canvas pattern. Wonderful brushes!"

John's Smart Brushes come with installation videos for the different versions of Painter, as well as a tutorial video to help you get the most out of these interpretive brushes.

John's Smart Brushes are $24.95. You can purchase them using the PayPal link below. Major credit cards are accepted if you don't have a PayPal account.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

John's Smart Brushes: Hand-embellished Auto-painting


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The above image is an example of an photographic source that I interpreted using John's Smart Brushes (Impressionable brush). I then hand-applied selective blending strokes with a camel-hair brush. Be sure to click on the image to view 100% scale image to view the details.

John's Smart Brushes come with installation videos for the different versions of Painter, as well as a tutorial video to help you get the most out of these interpretive brushes.

John's Smart Brushes are $24.95. You can purchase them using the PayPal link below. Major credit cards are accepted if you don't have a PayPal account.

Friday, May 11, 2012

John's Smart Brushes for Corel Painter Now Available


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I am pleased to announce the release of John's Smart Brushes for Corel Painter X • 11 • 12 • X3 • 2015.

I have never been happy with the auto-painting results generated by Painter's Smart Stroke Brushes brush category. As a result, I created John's Smart Brushes, a set of brushes to be used in conjunction with the Auto-Painting palette in Painter X, 11, 12, X3, 2015.

Literally hundreds of hours of testing went into John's Smart Brushes. The result is a set of 15 brushes that provide a variety of interpretation possibilities. The brushes are: Dry Brush, Fresco, Impasto Oil, Impressionable, Leroy (after Leroy Neiman), Loaded Knife, Mr Goodbrush, Random Stab, Smart Bristle, Smart Chalk, Smart Dab, Smart Gouache, Smart Oil, Soft Impression, and Waterbrush.

Painter's cloning brushes typically apply multiple colors along a stroke based on the locally sampled underlying imagery. I've done a bit of trickery enabling John's Smart Strokes to paint with the initially sampled color only. The result is a more authentic painted appearance.

A photograph is typically used as a source image. The resulting interpretation can be used as either final art or a starting point for further embellishment—the choice is yours.

John's Smart Brushes come with installation videos for the different versions of Painter, as well as a tutorial video to help you get the most out of these interpretive brushes.

John's Smart Brushes are $24.95. You can purchase them using the PayPal link below. Major credit cards are accepted if you don't have a PayPal account.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Tree Grows in Photoshop (CS6 BETA)



Drawing created with the Mixer Brush Pencil tool preset in the Photoshop CS6 BETA. This tool has an Erodible Tip that wears down as it is used, creating a variation in stroke appearance over time.

You can download the Adobe Photoshop CS6 BETA here.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Photoshop CS6 BETA: Galaxy Creation in 2' 56"



The new Adobe Photoshop CS6 BETA is now available for as a free trial download. This version extends its natural-media painting capabilities with a new airbrush tip that utilizes physical modeling to emulate its traditional counterpart.

You can download the trial version here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Last Draughtsman: Robert A. Nelson


Robert Nelson, Professor Emeritus, Millersville University, is a highly respected contemporary painter, sculptor printmaker and collage artist. Nelson studied art education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1950 and a master's degree in 1951. He taught at his alma mater as well as the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg and the University of North Dakota before returning to school at New York University, where he received his Education Doctorate in 1971. The next year he began teaching at Cleveland State University, where he stayed until 1975, when he joined the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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I had the good fortune to meet and interact with Nelson in a printmaking workshop during my undergraduate days at the University of Nebraska. Nelson is the consummate draughtsman and is quickly becoming a vanishing breed. While he handles multiple mediums effortlessly, perhaps his greatest asset is his drawing skill. I discovered this profile video and am happy and surprised to see that Robert still has the gift and is working away at age 89.

I hope I'm as lucid and creative as Robert in my sunset years.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Painter 12 Essential Training is Live!

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The production elves at lynda.com have been working overtime...so much so that my latest title, Painter 12 Essential Training, has been released ahead of schedule.

In this title, I cover Painter 12's newly updated interface and how to customize it to match your workflow, customized workspaces, color, brush basics, cloning techniques, symmetry tools, auto-painting, layers, and more. Included are my auto-painting brushes, John's Smart Brushes, for use with the Auto-painting palette.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Van Gogh's Starry Night Is Alive!

Starry Night (interactive animation) from Petros Vrellis on Vimeo.


Petros Vrellis, artist and programmer, has brought Van Gogh's painting, Starry Night, to life. Utilizing a particle systems approach, Vrellis enables interaction by user touch to affect the dynamic fluid field the brushstroke reside in. The result is a painting that seems alive via touch. The accompanying sound is generated by sampling the fluid movement via MIDI, creating an atmospheric ambient score.

I wish this was on the iPad.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Is Pressure Sensitivity Coming to Tablet Devices Soon?

Click image to jaja Kickstarter page.

Brisbane-based Australian inventor Jon Atherton has developed a unique approach to enabling pressure-sensitive input for tablet devices like the iPad.

The jaja is a stylus that uses high-frequency sound to interpret 1024 levels of pressure-sensitivity which is delivered to the tablet via its built-in microphone. The frequency of the low-volume sound used is above the range of human hearing. This approach bypasses the need for standardized protocols like Bluetooth.

The jaja will utilize an SDK available to developers for implementing the jaja's input into their apps. Expected price when available is $70.

I sure hope this Kickstarter project becomes a reality!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Think You Have Good Color-matching Chops?

Click image to test your color-matching skills

Design website Method of Action has put together a great tool, Color, for assessing your color-matching skills. Increasingly complex matching problem are presented in a time-limited fashion, forcing you to make quick decisions. Your given a score based on your selections (and an opportunity to try again).

Good Luck!

Mark Zimmer: The Relativistic Observer

Click image to visit the Relativistic Observer blog

My brother-in-pixels and good friend, Painter creator Mark Zimmer, has recently launched a blog, the Relativistic Observer. With his terrific insight, Mark covers a wide variety of subjects:
The future, technology, gadgets, MEMS, Painter, creativity, energy, world events, security, cryptography, image processing, mathematics, and my past. Oh, and maybe a few songs.
Mark is an inveterate note taker (a page of Mark's notes is shown above) and shares many of his insights, including the creation of Painter, which I was fortunate to be a part of. He also writes about his musical composition chops and shares some of his songs.

A good read and highly recommended.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

John Derry featured on Photoshop.com

Click image to visit photoshop.com

I'm honored to be currently profiled on Adobe's photoshop.com. This privilege gives me the opportunity to showcase my recent work. Via an interview, I detail my working methodology, as well as offer a downloadable set of free sample artists' brushes for Photoshop CS5.