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Bryce Canyon National Park Antique Landscape Digital Art

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

Bryce Canyon National Park Antique Landscape Digital Art
Bryce Canyon National Park Antique Landscape Digital Art, 40 by 24 inches

Yesterday I took some time away from my Earth as Art book project to do some experimenting with image processing and converting a digital photo into digital art.
Specifically I took one of my photographs of Bryce Canyon and by using a somewhat convoluted workflow produced what I will call a digitally painted image.

I use the term digitally painted here in a different vein than I normally do. As a rule, when I describe one of my artworks as having been digitally painted it is because the image was created by my using either a mouse or Wacom Intuos tablet stylus or a combination of the two to directly apply color to a digital canvas. Quite frequently this painting involves the use of one of the generative brush engines I created so that the effects of my brush strokes are amplified.
However, in this case I’ve decided to use the phrase digitally painted to apply a label to a photograph that has been manipulated (post-processed) by a series of global image processing actions to create an image that is non-photographic.

The Image Processing Software Used

In producing Bryce Canyon National Park Antique Landscape I used three different graphics programs:

  • Rawtherapee
  • G’MIC
  • Adobe Photoshop CS4

While I am a relative newcomer to RawTherapee I hold it in high regard because of its capabilities. Rawtherapee is a wonderful and powerful alternative to Adobe Camera Raw, Adobe Lightroom, and Darktable as a processor of camera raw data. In addition to being open source, Rawtherapee is also available for those of us running Linux systems.

G’MIC (GREYC’s Magic for Image Computing) is an open source image processing framework that is available as either a command line toolset, as a GIMP plugin, as a Krita plugin, or as an online image processing package. For those who prefer not doing command line work, I recommend using the G’MIC GIMP plugin. Like Rawtherapee, G’MIC is also available for Linux. (For the curious, I am running Ubuntu 17.10, aka Artful Aardvark.)

Lastly, Adobe Photoshop CS4 is my general workhorse in terms of performing global adjustments, layering, adding watermarks, sizing for the web, and adding text to images. In fact Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator have a lot to do with why I still use Windows 7 as an OS. While my version of Photoshop is quite out of date, it contains all the tools I need and none of the distracting elements that Adobe has added to Photoshop in order to turn it into a one-size-fits-all solution.

About Bryce Canyon National Park Antique Landscape

This work started as a photograph that I took while visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. The effect I wanted to achieve was somewhere between that of an old colored etching and a color pencil drawing. I wanted the image to be bright with a low color saturation and evidence of pencil lines.

To achieve this effect I first opened the raw image in Rawtherapee and made a variety of adjustments there. These adjustments including enhancing contrast, increasing color saturation, and sharpening details. I next ran the Rawtherapee output through G’MIC a number of times, each time producing a different output file. I then combined all the files together in Photoshop and used a variety of adjustment layers and layer blends to create the final image.

If you are a person who works with digital photography and enjoys using a fair amount of post-processing work to substantially alter your original photograph, I would like to offer the following advice. If you ever want to reproduce an effect, be sure to thoroughly document every step of your workflow. Personally I fail at documenting what I do and consequently can not easily, if at all, reproduce the style of any particular workflow I previously employed.

Bryce Canyon on Redbubble

Bryce Canyon National Park products on Redbubble

I’ve made Bryce Canyon National Park Antique Landscape available on a variety of products at Redbubble.com. You can see the products, which includes wall art prints, by either clicking on the product image above or the button below.

Bryce Canyon National Park Antique Landscape artwork on Redbubble

Availability of Original Canvas Print

Open edition prints of Bryce Canyon are available as wall art on Redbubble. The largest size canvas or photographic print available from Redbubble is 30 by 18 inches. However, until a print is sold on Redbubble I can offer an original 40 by 24 inch gallery wrap canvas print or a 36 by 24 gallery wrap canvas print in a float frame which will come with a certificate of authenticity. Once someone buys the original print, all wall art options will be pulled from Redbubble and no other print copies will be produced – insuring that the purchaser has the one and only canvas print. This is a limited time offer because once a print sells on Redbubble, the offer of an original print will be rescinded. To clarify, there will be either a single original print or multiple open edition prints in a variety of sizes.

To learn more about purchasing an original canvas print, please contact me

 

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Orbital Decay Interactive Algorithmic Art

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

Orbital Decay Interactive Algorithmic Art
Orbital Decay Interactive Algorithmic Art on Redbubble

Orbital Decay is a work of algorithmic art I created last night and is 25 by 25 inches when printed at 300ppi (pixels per inch). To create this art I used an interactive algorithmic art program I finished writing yesterday. Traditionally algorithmic art was defined as art created by a largely deterministic, algorithmic process using parameters to control the process. Complicating the matter of categorization has been the introduction of that category of digital art known as generative art – which has substantial overlap with the algorithmic art category with respect to how the art is created from a computational perspective. In fact it has been argued that algorithmic art is a subset of generative art – even though the former precedes the later. Wikipedia has this to say on the subject:

Algorithmic art, also known as computer-generated art, is a subset of generative art (generated by an autonomous system) and is related to systems art (influenced by systems theory). Fractal art is an example of algorithmic art. Source: Wikipedia entry for algorithmic art

Why Algorithmic and not Generative?

So why have I categorized Orbital Decay as a work of interactive algorithmic art and not as a work of generative art? That’s a good question because this work does qualify as a work of generative art. However as I am the artist I get to decide what I want to call it – although I could argue that to label this art as generative would be equally appropriate.

You will note I have added the qualifier interactive to the algorithmic label. I did this because the creation of this artwork did require direct interaction from me. Unlike traditional algorithmic art programs which can be driven entirely by parameters and parametric settings (an autonomous system), this program as written could not create anything without the artist’s direct input throughout the creation process.

Orbital Decay is available as wall art and as illustration on a variety of products offered by Redbubble. Clicking either the link button or the image below will take you to the Orbital Decay Redbubble product page.

Orbital Decay Interactive Algorithmic Art on Redbubble

Orbital Decay Art on Womens Tee Shirts
Orbital Decay Art on Women’s Tee Shirts

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Product Sales on Redbubble by Product Type

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Product Sales on Redbubble by Product Type Percent
Product Sales on Redbubble by Product Type Percent

As a part of doing my income taxes, I go through my sales on Redbubble for the tax year and total up the commissions I was paid (aka the artist’s margin). This year while doing that it struck me that I had never really thought about what products people were buying – instead focusing on what artwork/photography was selling.

Having finished my income taxes, I decided to take a look at just what products people were buying. The bar chart above shows on the horizontal axis from left to right and in alphabetical order what products people were buying. The vertical axis shows what the percentage of total sales were for that product type.

As a rule when adding new artwork to my Redbubble portfolio I try to make the art available on as many products as possible. Therefore the range of product types I’m seeing purchased isn’t going to be skewed – except with respect to the very largest product items like duvet covers and wall tapestries.

The first thing that surprised me was that 17 percent of the products sold were throw pillows. Me – I’ve never bought a pillow in my life. On the other hand, our home is well stocked with pillows courtesy of my wife. Not surprisingly, stickers are the number one selling item at 24 percent. Stickers also happen to be the lowest priced item and are versatile in how they can be used.

Closing out the top three sellers is iPhone cases/skins at 9 percent. Not a big surprise. Obviously I wish that art and photographic prints were a greater percentage of the products sold since as the most expensive items that Redbubble sells (true only if you are selling large sized framed prints), they provide the greatest return in terms of dollars.

One factor this chart does not capture and which could skew the numbers is the product’s margin. I don’t maintain the same percentage markup for all product types. Nor have I done any comparisons to determine how my markup for any particular product compares with the markup other artists are using. What research I have done on the subject was with respect to Redbubble’s mugs and was done for an article I wrote titled Selling Art On Redbubble – A Review

See my art on Redbubble

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Generative Artworks: Hades to Oblivion

Friday, March 24th, 2017

A Cool Day in Hell Generative Art Landscape
A Cool Day in Hell Generative Art Landscape

One of the negatives with respect to digital art is that the concept of an original does not apply as it does with traditional art. With traditional art the original is the physical media to which physical paint has been applied and there will be only one. With digital art the concept of a physical original does not apply because of the nature of digital files, which are basically infinitely reproducible. What has long been viewed as a shortcoming does offer digital artists at least one unique capability.

Because the original artwork is a digital file that can be duplicated, it is possible to use that digital canvas as the foundation for the creation of other derivative artworks. One piece I recently completed is A Cool Day in Hell which had as its original working title Dante’s Inferno.

In creating this artwork, I used one of the generative painting programs I’d designed. The program could be characterized as the Adobe Photoshop Paintbrush Engine on steroids. With one set of parameters, I can entrust the program to do the entire painting by itself. This would be similar to the filter features of Adobe Photoshop or the auto-paint feature of Corel Painter. With another set of parameters, the program functions very much like the paintbrushes in Photoshop and Painter when placed under the artist’s control. The most interesting set of parameters are those that blend program autonomy with some degree of artist interaction. It was this third option that I used to create this particular artwork.

It was only after adding this art to my portfolio on Redbubble that I decided to take that artwork and use it as the starting point for another artwork. I decided to use the same generative painting program that I had used for the original piece. This derivative artwork, titled Passage to Oblivion, does bear a resemblance to the original on which it is based.

Passage to Oblivion Generative Landscape Painting
Passage to Oblivion Generative Landscape Painting

While similar, the two have different color temperatures, textural feel, tone and contrast. Compositionally, the large, open, somewhat mountainous subterranean landscape of A Cool Day in Hell is transformed into a claustrophobic feeling of being inside an eerie underground cave.

To see either of these two artworks on Redbubble, simply click the appropriate image above and the Redbubble page will open in a new tab on your browser. It’s particularly interesting to see how these two artworks look when applied to apparel.

Passage to Oblivion on Redbubble Apparel

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Earth, Islands, Moon, and Music Calendars for 2017

Friday, November 18th, 2016

2017 Calendars - Earth, Islands, Moon and Music Calendars

Last month I added four calendars to my Redbubble portfolio. Three of the four calendars involve space in that the source photography for the calendars is from space-based cameras. With respect to the images from space, image processing was performed on all the images in order to:

  • improve contrast
  • enhance color and detail
  • remove imperfections and noise

Islands of the World Calendar

Islands of the World Calendar

The first of the calendars is the Islands of the World Calendar featuring images of islands taken from my Planet Earth Satellite Imagery Collection on Redbubble. The islands in the calendar are

  • January – Andros Island, Bahamas
  • February – Maui and Kahoolawe Islands, Hawaii
  • March – Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands
  • April – Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands
  • May – Boa Vista, Cape Verde Islands
  • June – The Island of Hawaii
  • July – Isabela, Galapagos Islands
  • August – Tortuga
  • September – Faroe Islands, Denmark
  • October – Socotra Island, Yemen
  • November – Catalina and San Clemente Islands, California
  • December – Bermuda

 

Planet Earth Views from Space Calendar

Planet Earth Views from Space Calendar

Next up is the Planet Earth Views from Space Calendar which consists of images of Earth taken by a variety of manned space missions, primarily from the Apollo program.

 

Moon Views – Photographs of Our Moon Calendar

Moon Views - Photographs of Our Moon Calendar

The Moon Views – Photographs of Our Moon Calendar consists of lunar orbit photography taken by several of the Apollo missions to the Moon.

 

Synthesizer and Electronic Music Art and Photography Calendar

Synthesizer and Electronic Music Art and Photography Calendar

Lastly there is the Synthesizer and Electronic Music Art and Photography Calendar which consists of photographs I took at a synthesizer convention with some of the images having been subject to a strong dose of image processing.

 

I hope you find these calendars attractive. If you’re in need of a present (Christmas or otherwise) for someone, I hope that you consider one of these calendars as being the perfect gift.

Strangely I haven’t assembled any calendars based on my digital art. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like I will have time to create any art-based calendars between now and Christmas. But then again … maybe I will find the time.

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Computational Synthesis Generative Algorithmic Art

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Computational Synthesis Generative Algorithmic Art
Computational Synthesis Generative Algorithmic Art

Computational Synthesis is a work of digital art I completed a few days ago which combines elements of algorithmic art and generative art with continual input from the artist. At the time I created this work I had no idea what to title the piece. In creating this artwork, I did have a clear idea visually and aesthetically of what I wanted to create but had given no thought to a title. After completing the piece, I turned to social media. I posted the artwork in a few places and asked for suggestions as to a title. Some suggested titles were:

  • Abstract Structure
  • Digital City
  • Discreet Time
  • Constructor Theory
  • Shifting Perspectives
  • Cityscape, Sky View
  • Aerial View Of Cyberscape
  • Monolith Metastasis
  • Fragmentation

While I did not use any of these titles, I do owe a thanks to the people who suggested them as they served as input to my thought process. Giving a title to a work of art can lead the observer in a certain direction when they are viewing the artwork. In choosing a title, I had to determine how well the title fit with what I was trying to say artistically. And therein lay my chief problem in coming up with a title.

I finally decided on Computational Synthesis as the title. Typically when one thinks of computational creativity, it is more in terms of the "machine" itself being the creator with the source of its creativity being within the framework of its design. In the case of this artwork, the computational component refers to my use of computational methods to produce a particular aesthetic style while synthesis points to the fact that I, the artist, was an equal partner in the creative process.

I created this artwork using an evolved version of a program I created and wrote about in Artistic Creativity and the Evolution of an Idea. For comparison, take a look at a previous artwork I created using an earlier version of this program:

Android Vision Generative Algorithmic Art on Redbubble

Following are links to the open edition version of Computational Synthesis on Redbubble and Crated, as well as a link to my contact page if you are interested in the availability of the limited edition print version of this artwork.

Computational Synthesis artwork on Redbubble

Computational Synthesis artwork on CRATED

Contact Jim Plaxco about Limited Edition Print availability

In closing, the question I ask myself is am I satisfied with the state of the program I used to create this artwork or do I want to continue to explore evolutionary pathways? I have no answer at the moment but ultimately that answer may well depend on whether or not I have a Eureka moment.

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