Saturday, December 21, 2013

New Painting App Sketchable: All in the Family

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There is a new Win-based painting app on the block, Sketchable by Silicon Benders, now available at the Windows Store. Description from the download page:

Sketchable provides the best creative digital journaling experience on the market. Whether you import an image, snap a photo, or start from a blank canvas, Sketchable puts the creative options in your hands. No matter the context, Sketchable is the perfect app to breathe life into your ideas. The elegant interface is designed to get the most out of each device and fast fluid brushes allow for an uninterrupted workflow.

Sketchable is tablet-friendy and pairs nicely with the Wacom-enabled Surface Pro. The app is a free download with and comes with brush and eraser tools. In-app purchases offer 7 additional painting tools. I'm happy to say that I had a bit of involvement with this new app; I created its textures and brush presets.

Silicon Benders is the brother team of Miles & Ryan Harris. Painting apps appear to run in the brothers' genes: their dad is Jerry Harris, co-author (with Keith McGregor) of early Mac paint app PixelPaint Pro, the first full-color paint application for the Macintosh. Jerry is now a Principal Computer Scientist on the Adobe Photoshop team.

Sketchable is designed to be easy to pick up and start using with a minimal learning curve. It is a particularly pressure-sensitive savvy app offering a wide range of expressibility in concert with its tools. Sketchable has a simple interface with plenty of room for expansion. I have a feeling we'll be seeing this app grow over time. Highly Recommended!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Waterlogue App Advances Digital Watercolor Ease-of-Creation

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My friend John Balestrieri, in collaboration with Robert Clair, have released Waterlogue for iOS. Waterlogue is compatible with both the iPhone and iPad running iOS 7. From the press release:

We wanted to come up with an easy and fast way for people to create images based on the kinds of aesthetic decisions an artist makes when he or she is painting.

The technology we developed for Waterlogue transforms your photos into spontaneous, unique, and brilliant watercolor sketches that look like real paintings. Waterlogue distills your environment down to its essence—just the way an artist would—and turns even an on-the-fly snapshot into something luminous and sublime.

We designed Waterlogue to create the most authentic and aesthetically true watercolor interpretations available, and we hope that as soon as you start using the app, you’ll start seeing the world differently.

I've been playing with Waterlogue for a few days, and I have to say: This app advances the ability to easily create convincing watercolor art from photographs. John and Robert spent a year examining traditional watercolor and have created a deceptively simple app that faithfully replicates all of the hallmarks of its traditional counterpart.

At $3.99 from the App Store on iTunes, this software is a steal. John and Robert have indicated that Waterlogue will continue to evolve with additional features to be added over time. Highly Recommended!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Painter X3 Essential Training Released

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I'm happy to announce that my newest title, Painter X3 Essential Training course is now live and available for viewing by members. Here is the course description:

Get your creative ideas out of your head and onto your canvas. John Derry, one of the original Corel Painter authors, teaches the tools and techniques that will get beginners up and running with Painter X3 and help old hands harness the best new features.

Learn the basics of painting on a computer, and learn to set up your system (your Painter preferences, tablet and pen, and your palettes) so it works best for you. Then John shows you how to mix and manage color, wield Painter's brushes with maximum control, work with layers and selections, and integrate with that other digital painting powerhouse, Adobe Photoshop. John also covers perspective-guided strokes and the Universal Jitter control for adding analog-like sensitivity to your artwork. Dive in now and get your creative juices flowing.

Topics include:
Working with a pen tablet
Creating, opening, and saving files
Configuring panels and palettes
Controlling and mixing control
Calibrating brushes for maximum stroke quality
Working with jitter brushes
Working with digital watercolor brushes
Selecting with the Lasso and Magic Wand tools
Preserving transparency in layers
Cloning artwork
Comparing Photoshop and Painter
Troubleshooting Painter

If you have X3, I think you'll find this course highly useful!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Last Rodeo

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This is a painting I did a few years ago for a client. I had totally forgotten about it. It was a poster for Brooks & Dunn's farewell tour, The Last Rodeo.

The artwork ended up not getting used but I had fun putting it together.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Shadow of a Selfie

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I take a lot of photos with my iPhone when I go for my regular walk...too many, perhaps.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Between Flights

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This is an iPhone image that I shot and played with in between flights at Denver International Airport. I shot the jet at the gate through a window reflecting the interior of the restaurant. I don't remember which apps I used to get to this version, but I like the way the dual reflective subjects integrate together.

For regular air travelers, this is the Cantina in the United terminal.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Long and Winding Road

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I took this shot of Chicago's North Shore Drive from the top of Hancock Tower. A few minutes earlier, I took the photo I used as the source for my earlier Windy City illustration.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Recent Photographic Interpretation

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This is a recent portrait interpretation job I did for Mercer Harris Photography. Mercer is a real master of lighting, making it a joy to work on his portraits. I just love the pose he captured of this girl.

I have a course on, Digital Painting: Transforming a Portrait, that goes into all of the details of how I approach and interpret a portrait photograph.

When the subject and photographic quality is as good as Mercer's output, it makes the interpretation easy.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Everything Old is New Again

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I've been going through some of my older photography. I shot this photo of a Buddhist monk in Tokyo during the mid-90's on film and had the roll converted to Kodak's PhotoCD format. Because I was unhappy with the overall quality, these images have languished for years.

Now flash forward to the present. Photoshop CC has so many excellent dynamic range recovery capabilities now that I am able to extract much more contrast and detail out of these images than in the past.

I used Jixipix's excellent Aquarelle app to transform the photo into a watercolor appearance. I used some John's Watercolors brushes to distress the edges, as well as lighten some of the image itself.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

John's Watercolors Compatible with Painter X3

John's Watercolors—brushes that produce a remarkably easy-to-use emulation of their traditional counterpart—are now available for sale. Included with John's Watercolors is an explanatory PDF and links to video tutorials that demonstrate how to use these breakthrough digital watercolors.

John's Watercolors are provided in Painter 9, X, 11, 12, & X3 compatible formats. The video tutorials cover:

Brush Organization
Watercolor Color Set
Demonstrations of the brushes with tips and tricks
Cloning with John's Watercolors
Installing John's Watercolors into Painter
Sample Painting Demonstration

Here are samples created with John's Watercolors:

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Here is a 100% crop:

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Click to play Quicktime movie in a new window.

You can download this PDF that describes each of the brushes in John's Watercolors.

John's Watercolors are $35. You can purchase these brushes by clicking the PayPal "Buy Now" button below. If you don't have a PayPal account, an option to pay via credit card is offered as well.

If you've been frustrated trying to master digital watercolors, John's Watercolors for Painter are the answer!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Windy City Perspective

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I've been playing around with Painter X3's new Perspective Guides, which can be used to snap brush strokes to the lines of perspective. In this image, I started with a shot I took of Chicago from the top of the Hancock Center. I aligned a 3-point perspective grid to match the photo, then drew in the building shapes. The original photo is a daytime scene; I used a new color palette to change the cityscape to a nighttime scene.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Ride Home

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During a recent trip to the Santa Barbara area, I was shooting the sunset from some cliffs near Carpinteria overlooking the beach when this group passed by.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Digital Painting: Transforming a Portrait Released

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My latest title, Digital Painting: Transforming a Portrait, has been released.

From the course page:

Transform a portrait or family photo into a piece of art worthy of framing, in this digital painting tutorial with artist John Derry. John shares his library of custom brushstrokes and years of experience with you, and shows how to combine the powers of Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter to convert your snapshots into art.

Learn to adjust the tone of the original image; paint skin, eyes, and hair; minimize the background; and add subtle vignetting. Plus, John shows you how to bundle and submit your image to online services that will print your painting on canvas.

If you've ever wanted to transform a favorite photo of a friend, family, or loved one into a painting suitable for hanging, then this course is for you!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

If Walls Could Talk

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My brother and I drove down to Topeka, Kansas this past weekend for an air show at Forbes Field. There were 12 DC-3 passenger planes and their military counterpart, the C-47, present at the show.

This is a shot of the dilapidated interior of a C-47 that seen a lot of miles. If only those walls could talk.

It was a DC-3 that I took my first airplane trip in. This was in 1961 (I was 10). I flew from Norfolk, NE to Omaha, NE after a weekend visit with my grandfather. The ticket price? $3.50!

Times have sure changed...and I still love flying.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Exploring Fractal National Park

I was introduced to 3D fractals a few years ago via the iPad and iPhone app, Mandelbulb HD, by Angisoft. These apps enable the user to explore the fractal geometry of the mandelbulb. It has often struck me that exploring this fractal landscape is akin to hiking through a national park and photographing the sights.

The iPad app is somewhat limited by the processing power of the iPad itself. To this end, I discovered Mandelbulb 3D (MB3D). MB3D is written for Windows, but can also run on OS X and Unix without having Windows installed, thanks to WINE, a compatibility layer that duplicates the functions of Windows. MB3D is capable of much higher resolution rendering than the iPad app, which is necessary to achieve high quality imagery.

Below are some recent renderings I've done while exploring "Fractal National Park". Be sure to click on the images to get a high rez view.

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The amount of variation found within the mandelbulb—which is nothing more than a mathematical formula visualized with computer graphics—is nothing short of mind-blowing. And this is only one formula, many of which that can be explored.

Using MB3D, you can even hybridize various formulae to synthesize new worlds to explore. Imagine taking Rocky Mountain National Park and hybridizing it with Grand Canyon National Park. You'd end up with a new national park that exhibits features of both!

I have a feeling I'll be hiking through these parks for some time to come.

Monday, April 15, 2013

C-47 Interior

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I just noticed that this Boston Globe photo, showing a runner that collapsed near the initial terroristic blast, was serendipitously taken at the moment of the second bomb detonation (original photo published by the Boston Globe).

A tragic day for Boston.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Wacom Essential Training released on

I'm pleased to announce my latest title for, Wacom Essential Training.

Here's the course description:

Wacom tablets are a popular alternative to the mouse for painting, drawing, and navigating your computer in a more natural position.

In this course, artist and teacher John Derry shows how to get up and running with a variety of Wacom tablets (Intuos, Cintiq, and more), covering everything from setup to stylus selection. He then shows how to speed up your workflow and enhance your command of the drawing surface with ExpressKeys, the Touch Ring, and other controls. Plus, learn about tablet ergonomics—which makes your Wacom even more compatible with your working conditions—and follow a few exercises to warm up your drawing arm.

Topics include:
• Drawing freehand
• Tracing existing images
• Determining the correct tablet size for your work
• Understanding relative vs. absolute positioning
• Working with control surfaces like the Touch Ring and control keys
• Selecting the right stylus
• Working with the Bamboo, Intuos, Cintiq, and Inkling

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Up and Down

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As I've been playing around with this composited shot of the spiral staircase in the Santa Barbara County Municipal Courthouse, I've come to enjoy its Escher-like point-of-view. Consequentially, I decided to reduce it to a monochrome image to play up the Escheresque resemblance.

Friday, March 1, 2013

View from the San Andreas Fault

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During my recent stay in Southern California, I visited the Carrizo Plain. The San Andreas fault runs through the plain, producing a long scarp of high rolling hills.

I took this shot atop the scarp looking south towards the snow-capped San Emigdio mountains to the south. The San Emigdio range form a part of the southern edge of California's San Joaquin Valley. Santa Barbara and the Pacific coast are on the other side. The snow on the peaks is fairly rare and completes this vista.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lone Eucalyptus

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Whenever I'm recording a title at in Carpinteria, CA, I often enjoy a craft beer at the Island Brewing Company.

Island Brewing's outdoor patio is situated across from an open field with this lone eucalyptus tree at the edge of the beach. One late afternoon, I set up my tripod and camera to capture this shot. The beer is really good, too...especially the Jubilee Ale!

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Monarch Clusters at Pismo Beach

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On my work trip to Santa Barbara, I was pleasantly surprised to drive by the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove. When we lived on Monterey Bay, we used to visit the butterfly grove in Pacific Grove but I didn't have the camera gear I now own. So I took this serendipitous opportunity to photograph these marvels of nature.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Accidental Art Amidst the Oilfields

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During my recent trip to Santa Barbara, I spent a day photographing the area around the Carrizo Plain. There are a huge number of oilfields located to the east near Taft, CA., which I drove through to get to the high hills of the Tremblor Range. These unusually-shaped expansion loops are peppered throughout the hundreds of drilling sites. An interesting example of accidental art!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Santa Barbara Spiral

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I was recently in Santa Barbara, California and had the opportunity to photograph the spiral staircase in the Santa Barbara County Superior Courthouse.

I created this image from 4 photos. Superior indeed!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Webinar: Revving Up Painter's Brush Engine with Painter Master John Derry

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I will be participating in a free Painter webinar Corel is hosting tomorrow Thursday, February 21, 2013 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EST, Revving Up Painter's Brush Engine with Painter Master John Derry. Registration is free and you can register for the gotomeeting webinar here.

Here's the blurb from Corel:

Painter has a lot of expressive power under the hood, but many users are terror-struck by the thought of altering—and possibly losing—a beloved brush's individual character. Join John as he demonstrates how you can fearlessly explore fresh possibilities and expand your expressive voice.

I look forward to seeing some of you there!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New John Derry Title Released

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I'm happy to announce the release of my latest title, Transforming a Photo into a Painting with Photoshop CS6.

Here's the blurb from

Learn to think like a painter and render images that look like they were created with oils or acrylics, using the latest digital artist's tools. Author and artist John Derry introduces the process of interpreting a photograph into a painted work of art.

He begins by explaining his system of visual vocabularies, which describe how to replace the visual characteristics of a photograph with that of expressive painting, and also shares the custom brush sets and actions he uses to achieve these results in Adobe Photoshop. The course also covers working with filters, layers, effects, and more to add further detail and texture.

Topics include:

• Setting up a Wacom tablet
• Removing lens distortions
• Correcting distracting image elements
• Making shadow and highlight adjustments
• Simplifying details with filters and Smart Blur
• Modifying color
• Cloning layers
• Using a traditional paint color swatch set
• Using custom actions
• Working with canvas texture
• Creating physical surface texture effects
• Painting with custom brushes

Happy New Year!