Study in blue

Today I have given Real Draw Pro a testdrive, and it is a program with a lot of good and unique things. Unfortunately, there are some things that irritate me utterly in this program too.

What I like:

  • Creating 3D-like elements with ease.
  • Built-in library with styles, click and apply
  • Boolean operators to make complex shapes from primitives
  • Natural Paint styles (NPR).. applying illustration styles with ease.
  • Push-back option: easy weave one object through another, such as a paperclip over a piece of paper.

What I hate:

  • No align and distribute option. Aligning objects is possible but quirky. Group 2 objects and try to align that group with another object… oops.. objects in group got treated as ungrouped items. Equal distribution of objects, for example equal spaces between 3 objects: not possible. The grid brings some relieve but this is a major missing item in my book.
  • No snapping to objects. Very hard to make objects the same size, or stretch to a specific edge of another object. Exact dimensions can be inputted in a dimension box, but that is slow. Only way to work around it is to make use of grid or guidlines, but I find that method quite restricting.
  • Follow path. Great function, allows objects and text to follow path. I do not like the deformation of the orginal object to ‘fit the path’. It would be way better to have a setting that either allows or disallows it. Example: a sphere to follow a square to get a nice pearly edging. What happened: in the corners the sphere became oval or deformed.
  • Gradients: I have thus far been unsuccessful in applying a gradient area vertically. Horizontally is done with ease, but applying such fill rotated 90 deg seems to be impossible. I use heaps of gradients in my vectors, and having the option to apply direction is a dire miss.

The creators of Real Draw Pro are very well aware of the limitations of the product, and in their FAQ they clearly write that Real Draw Pro is not aimed to be a replacement of any other vector or bitmap editor program out there, but that it complements such programs very well. Real Draw Pro offers some unique solutions and approaches to creating graphics intended mainly for the web. And this is exactly what I believe it should be, an addition to my toolbox. Real Draw Pro is VERY cheap, and a trial version is available for a test drive.

Example of a simple vector pencil created with RealDraw Pro, and 3 NPR styles applied to it.
Vector Pencil made in RealDraw Pro and 3 NPR styles applied

I love graphics!

I do not know how it happens, but I still find it hard to write regularly on this blog. I do have time and opportunity.. so what is keeping me?

Anyways, it has been a busy few weeks. I have been working with Blender to continu to develop my skills, and I still find it an AWESOME program. Further to that I have been working with Inkscape, which has its own peculiarities, but I find it very complete and easy to work with. Vector graphics are fun to create and I have been doing a lot of doodling lately. I started creating patterns and Inkscape offers great options to multiply and copy shapes following geometrical formulas. I remembered a great tutorial in one of the photoshop magazines which shows how to create seamless patterns, and I decided to re-create a similar pattern with Inkscape. Good excercise with great effect!

Today I am working on a new WordPress layout. There are many excellent templates available, and some are free. The fun part about creating templates is that I can both improve my graphics skills as well as my coding skills. I love to play with different color schemes and match them to my moods. As I am not working for any client now, I can do as I wish. I will upload some previews soon.

Blender Materials

sharkI had some serious troubles to assign 2 materials to a single mesh of a shark in Blender. Frankly, it was driving me mad… it looked like the mesh was overlapping and the resulting render looked horrible.

Careful study of the model revealed that indeed some extra faces were created when I added the fins. Also a lot of vertices were doubled, which caused problems with smoothing. I cleaned up the mesh and got rewarded with a nice render. The shark is the last model in the TUFTS course on modelling in Blender by Neal Hirsig. The shark will be animated in the very last tutorial…. after that it is time to be on my own two feet.

Correct rendered shark
Correct rendered shark


Beautiful Bugle
Beautiful Bugle

In my last post I wrote about the free course that TUFTS university hosts on Blender. Over the past 2 weeks I have steadily worked through all the lessons, and I feel I have basic control over the Blender interface now. It was a challenge at some points, as the course uses a slightly older version of Blender compared tomine, and Blender keeps changing and improving.

I can truely say that this course was everything I hoped for to get me started with Blender. I could have completed it quicker, but I was in no rush. I think that it is time for any 3D graphics designer to take this application very seriously, as it contains so much more features now. I have become a true fan of this software and I already made plans for items I would like to model using Blender. It will keep me busy for at least another few weeks, and if anything turns out to be good enough for sharing, I will surely share it.

I will also give Umbraco 4 a go. It is still in my plans and it would be good to get my site up and running using a full CMS. So that provides me with enough tasks at hand to prevent me turning into a couch potato. Updates follow soon…

I have been sleeping…

… way too long. Too busy packing stuff and tying loose ends. Today I found out that one of the earliest 3D modelers I used, TrueSpace is now available for free, gratuit, gratis, for noppes, nada, nix. Caligari is the company that created TrueSpace and the company was acquired by Microsoft a few months ago.

I have used version 4 of this modeler for quite some time, and got accustomed to the somewhat non-standard but highly efficient user interface. Then as technology progressed and I did not want to spent money on upgrades.. I sort of abandoned it. But WOW.. it is there: version 7.6 for grabs and for keep! That got me all excited! The SDK is available too.. so development of plugins is possible.

Oh boy.. that will keep me stuck to the PC for days and days..