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Posts Tagged ‘Digital Art’

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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From Burma Shave to Digital Art

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Soggy brushes digital art jingle inspired by Burma Shave
Soggy brushes digital art jingle inspired by Burma Shave

The mind works in strange ways, making leaps from one thought to another. That chain can take you to some pretty strange places.

In this case I was watching a movie from the 30’s on Turner Classic Movies (I confess to being fond of movies from the 30’s). The scene is a car driving along a road in the American southwest. A little while later in the movie one of the characters is getting a shave from his girlfriend. Some hours later thinking back on the movie, Burma Shave popped into my head. I headed for the nearest search engine to see if I could find some of those Burma Shave jingles online. Sure enough, I found plenty – in fact an entire web site devoted to them at burma-shave.org.

The following is the jingle from 1947 that I was reading when I made my creative leap.

No soggy brushes
In your grip
You’ve always
Got a
Finger tip
Burma Shave

Now how that led me to segue to thinking about making jingles for digital art is a mystery, but I think it was the reference to soggy brushes. Perhaps my previous experience writing computer programs to create lullian poetry (an example on this web site is The Art of Lullian Poetry) had something to do with it. Perhaps it was because of a period of time when I was writing limericks. Anyway I set myself the task of writing some Burma Shave style jingles that reference digital art. In fairly short order I came up with the following spin-off sticking with the soggy brushes opening:


No soggy brushes
To mess your house
Instead just
use your
laser mouse
Digital Art

Firing up Photoshop, I put together the graphic that illustrates this post. While the Burma Shave jingles/poems used one roadside sign per line of prose, that approach just doesn’t work well on the Internet so I collapsed everything down to a single image.

You can find an excellent collection of Burma Shave jingles at burma-shave.org and the particular jingle that started me off at No Soggy Brushes – Burma Shave.

And here is one more digital art jingle done in the Burma Shave style.

Jars of paint digital art jingle inspired by Burma Shave

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Windycon Science Fiction Convention 2013

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Windycon Science Fiction Convention
2013 Windycon Science Fiction Convention

Once again I’ll be attending the Windycon Science Fiction Convention, which is this coming weekend. My schedule is light this year: three panels and no presentations. That means I’ll have abundant time to attend other programming – although in the past my luck has been such that the programming I most want to see is at the same time as one of the programs I’m participating in.

Here is my programming schedule for Windycon.

Title: Digital Art: The Art for Everyone
Description: Can’t afford a Rembrandt? Don’t have room for the Moore? Well, if you have room for a computer or a laptop, you’ve got art. Art that doesn’t really physically exist (yet). Art galleries everyone with wi-fi can access. Democratic art in a way fine art never was and never will be. Hear our panelists discuss the pros and cons of art for everyone all the time.
Panelists: Brenton Harper-Murray, Robert Jackson, Steven Vincent Johnson, J. Plaxco(Moderator)
Comment This should be a most interesting panel. Computer technologies have done more to democratize art than any other technology. This extends not just to the ability to share finished works of art but also to greatly expanding the number of people involved in the creation of art. And for those people, like myself, who write their own art-creating programs, there is the ability to share source code so that what one digital artist creates can be shared with others who can then modify that art and so on down through successive generations.
With respect to the pros of digital art, they are abundant and I’m sure we’ll spend much time discussing them. As to the cons, they are few and do not detract from the value of the computer as a tool for the creation of art.
Title: Colonizing Space
Description: Will space travel ever be safe enough and cheap enough to really colonize other planets? Can a moon or Mars colony really work? Will space colonization be government sponsored or private citizens? What happens if we can’t leave Earth?
Panelists: Steve Collins, Phyllis Eisenstein, Bill Higgins (M), Jim Plaxco, Catherine Shaffer
Comment Here are my first thought answers to the questions asked.
Will space travel ever be safe enough and cheap enough? Yes – if the space industry is allowed to develop and if the natural economic incentives are allowed to operate.
Can a moon or Mars colony really work? Yes – again given the right operating environment and economic incentives.
Will space colonization be government sponsored or private citizens? The only way for space colonization to have a chance of really working is if it is freely undertaken by private citizens employing Adam Smith’s invisible hand.
And what happens if we are forever bound to the surface of the Earth? Then I fear that as a species we will one day go the way of the dinosaurs.
Title: The Future of Private Space Exploration
Description: Now that NASA is out of the space business private developers are stepping in. Can private space exploration really give us the future sf predicts? How can we help get there?
Panelists: Bill Higgins, Ross Martinek, Jim Plaxco, W. A. (Bill) Thomasson (M)
Comment This is a subject I am particularly passionate about. In fact I have articles in both the previous and next issues of Ad Astra magazine covering this subject. Plus I have a presentation on the subject of newSpace. No, you won’t find it on my lectures and presentations page because it is not related to art. My newSpace talk is a lecture I give as President of the Chicago Society for Space Studies. My next venue for this talk is Nov 18 for a meeting of The Nineteenth Century Charitable Association.

I haven’t yet checked on what other programming Windycon is offering that I may have an interest in attending but if you stop by the Windycon Art Show be sure to check out my art as I will have several pieces in the show.

See you at the con.

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Capricon Science Fiction Convention – Artificial Intelligence

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Capricon Science Fiction Convention
The Capricon Science Fiction Convention: Artificial Intelligence

I am quite looking forward to next week’s Capricon Science Fiction Convention. The theme for this year’s convention is artificial intelligence, which is an area of computer science that I find fascinating. One aspect of artificial intelligence that interests me is the thought of AIs as the creators of art and music. This would represent a significant advance over today’s generative art approach.

Before getting into a discussion of the panels I hope to attend, I’d like to call attention to the panels I will be on.

Riverworlds: The Latest on Mars and Titan
A panel that I’ll be moderating on the finding of features on Mars and Titan that appear to have been produced by fluvial processes. My copanelists will be a pair of friend of mine: Bill Higgins and Jeffrey Liss.
I Shouldn’t Have Blogged That
Sometimes we speak without thinking – which is bad enough but then your only audience is those folks who are within earshot. But with blogging and social media – we all have the opportunity to look like fools to a huge number of family, friends, and strangers alike. Along with Tracy Lunquist, the panel’s moderator, Kathryn Sullivan and I will talk about how to minimize your risks and how to do damage control.

In addition to participating on two panels, the folks at Capricon graciously offered me the opportunity to do a presentation on my digital art.
The title they picked for my presentation is The Art of Jim Plaxco and has the following description:

Explore the visual possibilities of digital art which uses a variety of techniques using computer graphics software, hardware, and both film and digital photography.

I do like that description because my intent is to focus on what it means to work digitally. I’ll cover hardware, software, work flow, and methodologies and will use some of my own art as examples.

As to the panels I hope to attend, those would be:

AI and the CDC
How the Center for Disease Control is using artificial intelligence.
AI Vision: Early AI vs. Current Technology
A historical overview of human imaginings about AI.
AI’s Impact on Religion and Religion’s Impact on AI
The impact of artificial intelligence on religion and the impact of religion on artificial intelligence.
Boundaries Between Science and Pseudoscience
As a skeptic and proponent of fact-based decision making, this could be quite interesting.
Curiosity on Mars Slideshow
A presentation by my friend and fellow JPL Solar System Ambassador Bill Higgins on the Curiosity rover and what it has uncovered on Mars. Note that Curiosity won the 2012 Crunchie For Best Technology Achievement.
Cylons, Cyberman, and Borg, OH MY! AI Destroys!
Ah yes, the dark side of hi tech.
Do AIs Have Rights?
Perhaps a more interesting question is should all AIs be treated equally?
Dystopias and Why We Love Them
I’ve been on a couple of dystopia panels before and wish I had gotten on this one. It’s a topic that has always fascinated me.
Is Google Making Us Stupid? To the Internet! [Is Google Making Us Stupid?]
I guess I better Google this before providing an answer.
It’s All in the Presentation
A panel for artists that discusses various aspects of the art biz.
NASA/JPL Saturn Mission Lecture
A very cool presentation (I’ve seen earlier versions of it) by friend and fellow JPL Solar System Ambassador John Vittallo about the Cassini mission to Saturn.
Non-Traditional Publishing Options
A look at publishing Ebooks, self-publishing, Amazon, etc.
When Does a Computer Become a Robot?
I would think the answer to this is obvious: when it sprouts arms and legs and is able to fetch.
Writing Nonfiction
A panel for folks who are interested in writing nonfiction.

I’ve listed a lot of panels here but have not checked the program schedule for time conflicts and given my luck I’ll probably actually make less than half of them. I also hope to attend at least some of the convention’s art auction on Saturday night. I still have to decide on whether or not I am going to participate in the convention’s art show.

Reference Links

If you’re attending Capricon, I hope that you are able to find the time to catch my presentation The Art of Jim Plaxco.

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From Capricon to Floral Photography

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

The Flyers of Fomalhaut b Digital Art Painting
The Flyers of Fomalhaut b Digital Painting

Part 1: The Capricon Science Fiction Convention

This year Capricon was a short affair for me. While the con ran Thursday thru Sunday, I only attended Friday and Saturday and then only until 6:30pm as I had made plans to attend the opening of a photo exhibition at the Prairie Arts Center in Schaumburg. And because I was not returning on Sunday I did not participate in the art show. On Saturday I did make sure to go through the art show and was happy to see work exhibited by a couple of my friends. What I found disturbing though was the fairly large number of empty display bays in the show. In my experience the Capricon Art Show generally has little, if any, unused space. Unfortunately I had to leave before the start of the art auction so have no idea how well that went.

With respect to programming, my only job Friday was as a panelist on Pluto Is Still a Planet in Illinois with Bill Higgins (Fermilab physicist) moderating and copanelists Brother Guy Consolmagno (Vatican Observatory) and Steven Silver (Capricon Fan Guest of Honor). This was a really good panel given that Brother Guy was a part of the IAU meeting at which the Pluto vote was made and Steven was a friend of Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto. If you were at Capricon and missed this panel – it was definitely your loss.

I arrived back at the con Saturday morning shortly before I was scheduled to give my presentation The Art of the Exploration of Space. I especially liked that I had 75 minutes to speak as this allowed me to go at a leisurely pace and engage in conversation with the audience as I went along. This was immediately followed by my moderating a panel at the opposite end of the convention on Goodbye, Space Shuttle. My copanelists were Henry Spencer, Chris Gerrib, and Kent Nebergall. Kent had the misfortune of being in the audience of my space art presentation whereupon I drafted him for the Space Shuttle panel as I knew that he would have valuable insights to contribute.

I next attended The Coming War on General Purpose Computation presentation by Cory Doctorow, the author guest of honor. It was a fascinating presentation. While I agreed with Doctorow on SOPA and other aspects of attempts to stamp out the theft of intellectual property, I came away dissatisfied that he offered no remedy for the authors, artists, and musicians who are having their work stolen. I was also somewhat surprised by his stance towards Facebook in that he seemed to believe that people should not be given the choice of sharing their information on social networks. I viewed this as being inconsistent with what I would characterize as a free and open internet perspective.

The last panel I attended was the most boring panel I have ever attended at any science fiction convention. Now with a title like Civil Disobedience: Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party Movement you would expect there to be an invigorating debate between the panelists and between the panelists and the audience. However, this panel was run by the brown shirts. No audience participation was allowed. There was a short period at the end where 5 people were identified and allowed to ask one question each with no follow up or commentary by the questioners permitted. In short, this panel was a total waste of time for the audience.

In summary, I’d say that the best things about Capricon were:

  • The accidental meetings
  • The conversations in the halls
  • The food in the green room
  • Prowling the Dealers Room
  • Checking out the art show
  • How well my The Art of the Exploration of Space presentation went and the ensuing conversations
  • Being on the Pluto panel with Brother Guy Consolmagno, Bill, and Steven
  • Friday lunch in the Green Room with Brother Guy, Bill Higgins, and Henry Spencer
  • Drafting Kent Nebergall to serve on the Space Shuttle panel.

Only one more year until Capricon 33!

Part 2: The Photography Exhibition at the Prairie Art Center, Schaumburg IL

Departing Capricon, I swung by home to grab a bite to eat and then headed over to the Prairie Art Center to take in a photography exhibition that was opening that night in the Herb Aigner Gallery. Titled Flowers in Our Soul, the show is devoted to artistic photographs of flowers and consists of 27 separate works. The photographers that I identified as having work on display in the show are Maria Aiello, Mary Angelini, Debbie Beller, Cindy Brumm, Susan Couch, Randee Lawrence, and Karie Strangeway. I had the opportunity to speak with several of them about their work. I was also curious to learn whether they printed their own work or used an outside service. If you would like to see the show, it runs through the end of February. See Prairie Center for the Arts, Schaumburg IL.

The Illustration

To illustrate this post I decided to use a piece of science fiction art that I just added to my web site. Titled The Flyers of Fomalhaut b, it is an imagining of what the life of exoplanet Fomalhaut b is like (note: not only is there no evidence of life on this planet, there is some question as to whether or not the planet even exists). Fomalhaut b appears to be a Jupiter-like planet that is about three times more massive than Jupiter and which orbits the star Fomalhaut once every 872 years. By comparison Pluto takes 248 years to complete an orbit of the Sun.

For more about this digital painting, see The Flyers of Fomalhaut b.

Until next time, Ad Astra, Jim

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