Category Archives: art

Is ‘art’ still art if an AI makes it?

The picture above was generated by an AI [Futurism].

“The artwork, titled “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial,” depicts a scifi-inspired scene of an opera performance. But Jason Allen, who submitted the artwork, used AI image generator Midjourney to create it.”

https://futurism.com/the-byte/ai-generated-painting-wins-state-fair-fine-arts-competition?utm_souce=mailchimp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=09012022&utm_source=The+Future+Is&utm_campaign=81882d0b81-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_09_01_09_33&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_03cd0a26cd-81882d0b81-247165549&mc_cid=81882d0b81&mc_eid=bbf5c06f50

Further along in the article, Jason Allen talks about how he set up the parameters for Midjourney [the software/AI] to use. Then he chose what he considered to be the best from three outcomes. And it won first prize at the Colorado State Fair.

When I first read this article, my initial reaction was horror. How could a piece of software, no matter how sophisticated, produce something this…beautiful? But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it was the parameters set by Jason Allen that had created an image of great beauty, so in that sense, Midjourney was simply another tool.

I admit an AI is a bit more high tech than a paintbrush, but the creativity still came from Allen.

What do you think? The beginning of the end for artists? Or just one more tool?

cheers,
Meeks


The Acolyte

I was going to do a cooking post today, but everything fell into place with the graphic I’ve been working on so I couldn’t resist showing you:

The blue background is only temporary as it helps to make the image ‘pop’ much better than a plain white one.

Apart from showing off, I’d also like your feedback on what you think is the ‘feel’ of the image. I’m hoping for something to come through the body language, but as I already know the story, I lack the ability to view it objectively.

So, the red beastie is a Tukti. This is the concept image I finished a while ago:

Happy Tukti

The figure holding the Tukti is the Acolyte. I introduced the Acolyte in the first book:

‘The Female was fast asleep when the steady drip, drip of the timepiece was joined by the scrape of wood across sand.

It was a small sound, as was the gap that appeared between the edge of the door and its frame. The gap was just wide enough to admit two twiggy fingers tipped with blunted claws. The fingers strained at the wood to no avail.

A dull thump sounded from the other side of the door as something heavy hit the sand. Two more fingers appeared and four blunted claws dug into the wood as the fingers jerked at the door. Each jerk widened the gap a little further until persistence finally triumphed, and the opening became wide enough for a small black face to appear.

Everything about that face was small, except for the eyes, which glowed huge and golden in the soft, blue light of the chamber’s single glow-worm.

After darting a timid glance from left to right, the face disappeared only to be replaced a moment later by a small black rump. Over-sized, jet black wings swept the sand as the hunched shape of the small iVokh backed into the chamber, dragging a sloshing leather bota. The water sack was almost as tall as the iVokh itself.

Diminutive by any standard, the healers’ acolyte looked more like an iVokhti than a fully-grown iVokh. In fact, the only parts of its anatomy close to normal size were its wings, and they seemed far too large for its small frame.’

Excerpt from Vokhtah, book 1 of the Suns of Vokhtah

The Acolyte, and the Tukti, have important roles to play in the ongoing story so I’d love your feedback on both of them. Do you get some kind of a feel from the image? Does it tell a ‘story’ or is it just a static image? If you saw this image as part of the cover of a book, would it pique your interest at all?

I know that not many of you are scifi tragics like me, but I’d still love to know what you think.

Many thanks,
Meeks


Getting close…

Still some things to tweak, but the graphic is starting to feel more alive. Night all. 🙂


A work in progress

Getting that hand to look as if it’s actually gripping the Tukti has been hard, and I’m not really happy with it yet. But…it’s getting there.

cheers,
Meeks


Jacquie Lawson Retrospective

I’ve been a fan of the Jacquie Lawson, digital Advent Calendars since 2013, when I received my first one as a gift. I wrote this post about it at the time and gave the whole experience an 11 out of 10. Now, a blogging friend – waves to Techie Granny – has created a series of videos looking at the history of the Jacqui Lawson advent calendars.

The Youtube video below is the first in Techie Granny’s series and describes the concept’s humble beginnings:

The research that’s gone into the whole series delights me, and I love the clear, professional presentation as well. Nevertheless, it’s the story of how Jacquie Lawson started that warms my heart. She had an idea and worked bloody hard to make it happen. And then it took off. That gives hope to all of us. 🙂

cheers,
Meeks


The Making of a Tukti, (or digital collage with bitmaps and Corel)

In my previous post I showed you the finished Tukti graphic (shown on the left). In this post, I want to show you a few of the techniques I used to create the graphic.

I call this style of making graphics ‘digital collage’, but real digital collage involves taking whole photos, making them very small and then building an over-arching image out of them. Think tiled mosaic. If you zoom in far enough, you can still see each image in its entirety.

My version of digital collage is rather different. I cut snippets of shape and colour and texture out of photos and then build up a multi-layered image out of all those snippets.

To give you some idea of what I mean, these are some of the 40 snippets I used to create the Tukti:

And those bits don’t include the many transparencies I used to blend the colours and textures into an apparently seamless whole. But before I confuse you too much, let me show you what I mean by some of this terminology.

First up, you need to get an idea of the difference between bitmap images [derived from photographs] and vector images [derived from geometry]. The image below is part of the original concept drawing and shows the Tukti eye blown up so you can see the pixels:

Pixels are tiny squares of colour which is how digital devices represent an analogue image – i.e. a photo, drawing or painting. There are literally millions of pixels in an average photo, and the gradations of colour help to create both smooth colour transitions as well as ‘outlines’.

By contrast, vector graphics are all about outlines. You have lines, closed shapes and solid colours like the image below:

The beauty of vector graphics is that images have transparent backgrounds. That means they can be layered, one on top of the other. Bitmaps can’t.

In the example shown below, the two images on the left look as if they have a transparent background, but that’s only because the page is the same colour as the background. When you place the bitmap on top of a darker coloured background, like the image on the right, it becomes obvious that the red circle sits inside a white background.

Luckily, Corel has a couple of ways of creating a hybrid vector image out of a bitmap. The first method uses nodes to draw the outer perimeter of the bitmap into the area of interest, node by node:

If anyone’s interested, I gave a fairly detailed explanation of this technique in a post entitled How to vector a bitmap. This is the technique I’ve used for most my graphics, but for regular shapes there is another way of ‘hiding’ the background of a bitmap:

Using the example of the eye again, you draw a vector circle on top of the eye image [white circle on top of left image above]. Next, you select the circle, hold down the Shift key, and select the eye image so you end up with two objects selected.

The sequence in which you select the objects is important because it tells Corel which object is the ‘do-er’ and which is the ‘do-ee’. In this case, the circle is the ‘do-er’ and the eye image is the ‘do-ee’.

Next we click the Object function and select Intersect from the Shaping menu:

The Intersect function uses the circle to create a duplicate of the image, but only of the bits inside the circle. The new object is still a bitmap, but all the bits outside the circle are hidden.

Hidden but not deleted.

This is important because each ‘snippet’ you create still has the entire bitmap image in it. That means Corel is working with the whole image even though it looks as if it’s only working with a small part of it. That can, and does, chew up computer resources.

Despite the issue of resources, I love this technique for the images it allows me to create. I hope you enjoyed this small insight into my techniques and how vector graphics work. 🙂

cheers,
Meeks


Ballet as you’ve never seen it!

My thanks to My OBT who posted about this incredible duo and introduced me to their unique synthesis of ballet, acrobatics, music and the glorious shapes that two bodies can make. Think of a moving work of art, or multiple works of art all telling a single story.

There are some truly fantastic video’s showcasing the work of AcroDuoBallet, but this is my favourite:

Click here to be taken to their Youtube channel, but be warned, you may not leave for a while, a long, long while…

-Meeka-acting-like-a-stunned-mullet-


How many writers/poets also love creating visual art?

The idea for this question arose from a conversation I had with Chuck Litka, about typos.

I find typos very distracting when I’m reading as they seem to leap off the page at me. And I can’t ‘not see them’.

I hypothesized that the reason might be because I do digital graphics where I’m used to working at the pixel level. The more I thought about those typos though, the more I saw a pattern emerging. And it had nothing to do with typos.

See what you think:

Chuck Litka is a writer and painter.

I love words and digital graphics.

Diana Peach loves digital graphics too.

So does Audrey Driscoll.

Chris James is a writer and photographer.

Frank Prem is a poet and photographer.

Yorgos writes and draws.

Candy Korman is a writer, lover of art, and dances the tango.

Robbie Cheadle is a writer and creator of art with fondant.

And my crafty friend Anne is a botanical artist who paints and embroiders whilst also writing interesting posts on her blog…

And those are just the creatives I can think of off the top of my head. Apart from Anne and Candy, I believe we all create our own book covers, so there is an element of functionality about our art, but I suspect we’d want to be involved even if we weren’t DIY Indies.

So I’m throwing the question out there:

Is it possible that wordsmiths need to create some form of visual beauty in order to recreate it with words?

Or is there something even more fundamental going on?

Is it possible that wordsmiths are also into music? Or dance? Or food?

Food is such an elemental part of life. Do you have to be a good cook in order to write convincingly about food?

Lots of questions and not a single answer, so I’d really like you to share your thoughts in comments. And by ‘you’ I mean Indies, traditionally published writers, photographers, painters, graphic artists, musicians and cooks. If I’ve missed anyone please share that too.

-hugs-
Meeks


Mini House Artist

I blame Widds for this, I really do! I had such good intentions until I saw the diamond pane windows and the guttering…and downpipes.

And there are others, lots of others… -cries-

Meeks


Innovation, art & craft [for fun]

I’ve reblogged articles from My OBT before, and they all showcase beautiful things, but this one delighted the child in me:

Somewhere, in a quaint little village in Mumbai, India, lives an couple who make some of the most darling, beautiful, needful paper thingies I’ve ever seen. Welcome to Amit and Misha Gudibanda’s Sky Goodies. The pair designs darling little paper things in their shared studio and shop “in the giant metropolis that is Mumbai, in India.” They then digitize them and sell them as downloadable PDFs so you can print them and make them yourself!

https://myonebeautifulthing.com/2021/06/16/sky-goodies/

The video below shows how to assemble a ‘Masala Chai Kettle & Cups’…from paper.

And best of all, you can download these lovely craftables without having to worry about Covid! Enjoy.

Meeks


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