February 2014 update

This winter has just been the worst, and I’m kind of thankful that I have had a lot of stuff to work on…

february-signed-small-darkOn the 18th of every month, I plan to post a new speculative Fringe painting. (So far, so good! I’ve made my deadline two months in a row at least.) I don’t really have a formal name for this project, but in my notebooks I have been writing down the title “Fringe Forward,” so maybe it could be called the Fringe Forward Project.

All of the paintings that come out on the 18th (and many other “extra” pieces besides) are interrelated, and are telling one unified story about the Fringe characters and what they are getting into now. A lot of these were inspired by the speculative entries in the Fringe 365 Project. I’m hoping to wind up with enough of these to eventually create a 2015 Fringe Calendar. (Can’t let 2015 go by without something Fringey…)

The February 18th painting, Wherever You Want to Go, is also available as a poster (mini and 22×17″) at Society6. You can read more about it here, and even peruse my exceedingly wordy and boring day-by-day notebook covering the project from start to finish. (I do the notebooks to keep myself on schedule)

tumblr_n0ecrhgPR71rzirmio1_1280I am also working to get old Fringe 365 entries into the Society 6 shop as I have had a couple of requests for items that aren’t there. Sometimes I did not do the original versions in a large enough size for decent printing, and it takes a little time to recreate them in a larger size. If you don’t see something in the shop, just drop me a line in my Tumblr ask box, and I’ll see what I can do to make something available.

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This month I wanted to pass along some recommendations for iOS photo filtering apps. The App Store is absolutely glutted with filter apps that all seem to do the same thing, but these ones are either basically useful, or pretty unusual. I use these a lot with my artwork, but even if you don’t do anything artsy you can still have a ball with these for your photos (obviously) and Tumblr posts. And some of these aren’t necessarily filter apps, but they can do neat stuff to your pictures.

First, the basics: Snapseed. There are an eff-ton of filter apps out there, but let’s face it, they all do basically the same thing, and Snapseed does those things and does them very well. I use Snapseed for its small but always pleasing suite of “Vintage” filter apps, to add a little texture also, but there is also a nice feature called “Selective Adjust” which lets you touch up contrast, color, brightness and saturation on any particular spots in your image that you define. It also does tilt-shift effects and HDR effects, if you are into that sort of thing. (It is also available for Android)

Now the not-so-basic: iColorama. I could write an entire post about all the things this app can do; it’s a photo filtering app, but so much more. I use it constantly on both finished and unfinished artwork, usually for the filters (literally hundreds of them), but also to apply special effects. I even created some cool animated GIFs using some of the weirder functions on the “Form” menu. I don’t use very many of the special artistic effects in iColorama on my own artwork, but not because they aren’t fascinating. The masking brushes available in this app have to be seen to be believed, but if you want a taste of what this app can do for your photos and art, check out the iColorama tutorial. Just get this app. You won’t be disappointed.

Two apps from the same developer: Tangent and Decosketch. (They also make Lorystripes, which I haven’t tried.) These aren’t really photo filtering apps, but instead they let you apply some very interesting stamping and framing effects. Tangent is the easier app to use and probably more useful for photos. Decosketch can produce all kinds of nifty, science-fictiony embellishments and has a bit of a steeper learning curve. (However, you can actually use Decosketch for standalone art if you are so inclined.)

Along these lines (more an embellishment app than a filter) is Percolator (see the effects of it here!) The interface is sometimes insufferably cutesy, taking the concept of a “coffeehouse” to the limit and then some, but the circle and dot effects are very cool.

Another go-to app for me is LensLight. If you are doing science-fiction art or concept art, you’re going to want this in your arsenal, but if you use the flares and effects with subtlety, you can make a good photo into something special and people won’t even realize what you did to it! (This app used to be split into two – LensFlare was the other one – but I believe they are all combined into one program now.) Some more recent updates to this app include layers (you can put different effects on up to 5 layers) and a filters and textures panel.

There are way too many filter apps on the market, but there are a couple of “just filter” ones that I like, and one of these is Adobe’s PixlrExpress (also available on Android). This one has all the usual filters but also some interesting creative effects, stickers and overlays that I haven’t seen in other programs. They also push out free goodie packs during the holidays, which is nice.

Lastly I’d like to recommend Instashake, which does only one thing – image blending. Unfortunately it’s limited to 1:1 aspect ratio (assuming everyone just wants to post stuff on Instagram) but it is easy to use and has a lot of different sliders for blending two pictures in different ways. There’s also an Android version.

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