It has been a quiet NYE. Not much happening around here – just a bbq with friends, some music and the sydney harbour fireworks on TV. We did have some “live” fireworks too, but more of the kiddy stuff – so not too many oooohs and aaaahs.
Today I messed a bit around in Inkscape. I have created a lot of seamless patterns in the past, mostly for 3D renders. I usually start with a picture and do some typical things like offset 50% vertical and 50% horizontal, blur and mask to make seams invisible. Of course image editors like Photoshop / PSP/ CorelPaint are very suitable for this kind of jobs. Add to that the procedural rendering that MapZone can do and voila… seamless texture.
So what was new today? I messed (once again) with cloned tiles in Inkscape. I drafted a pattern that is used for some custom stationary, and then I thought that I might as well put it up as free for personal use on VerySimpleDesigns.com.
Inkscape is VERY suitable for seamless pattern creation, but the workflow is not so obvious. I followed the procedure as described in Tavmjong’s guide, but I found it not so easy to follow, and in my humble opinion, some steps are not needed if the only thing you need out of Inkscape is an exported bitmap with your seamless texture. So I think I found material for a new tutorial too – now just to find time to actually write it… that may take a few days. So for now have a look at these pretty textures and grab them at high resolution from VSD.
I made a cute design, with Japanese style Kokeshi as theme. Kokeshi are Japanese dolls. They are handmade from wood, have a simple trunk and an enlarged head with a few thin, painted lines to define the face. Traditionally the body was painted with a floral design in red, black or yellow and a layer of wax was applied. One characteristic of kokeshi dolls is their lack of arms or legs, but “creative” kokeshi allow the artist complete freedom in terms of shape, design and color. Nowadays we can find kokeshi now in many variations, and digital media allows even more creative freedom.
When I finished the design, I figured it is great material for another Inkscape tutorial. As the last one I made was a bit more advanced, I decided to write it to the beginning Inkscape artist. So the tutorial gives explanations of the tools used, and exact steps how to recreate the design. I am currently considering a “cut to the chase” version of the tutorial too, for the more experienced Inkscape user, but that will take another day to complete (I do have a life without my PC.. even tho I seem to make more hours than anyone else I know.. is that good or bad?).
I am still sorting through my designs and repacking stuff to make things available at our new website. But I did find some time to explain how I created an Urban design, so a new tutorial for Inkscape is published too. Cool circles, fancy clouds and flourishing swirls in trendy colours. It is available, as usual, on verysimpledesigns.com. I also made the resulting illustration available in eps format, free for personal use.
My mate Dakka made a cool set of photoshop brushes, the set is called Affects. He uses them to add cool neon coloured flying objects to his art work, but I use them quite differently. I use them to create cool feathers, fluffy fur, flower petals. They are awesome, and I figured you may want to know about them too.
The rest of the week will be a bit quiet, as someone figured we should have a fancy dress party with the Wild Wild West as theme. Now we figured to go as cowboy and indian, but when we looked around for costumes I was a bit shocked. As it is a party amongst friends you dont want to spend heaps on it, and at the same time you don’t want to look like horrible. But the costumes around here are made from bad materials, and do not even come close to something a native american would ever have worn. Now, I am not an expert in subject matter, but I thought I should at least get some things right. So I did a bit of research and I came across this beautiful online exhibition Identity by Design which gave me all basic information I needed. How the dresses evolved over time, how they were constructed, what symbols were used, beautiful beadworks and so on. With great respect to the ladies that made these dresses a long time ago, I decided to create my costume based on a beautiful Cheyenne three-hide dress. And whilst I used a cheap suedine fabric for the work, and replaced the beautiful beading by just a simple bias band, at least it looks like something traditional. The dress reaches over the calves, the ladies were very modest, and they would wear high mocassins so no bare skin is visible. Of course my dress is no where near so beautiful as the real thing, but it looks like traditional wear.
Somehow Inkscape is still not seen as a vector program of choice by many graphics designers. At VerySimpleDesigns we try to use Inkscape almost exclusively for our vector works, and with the new release some seriously cool features have come available. As with any graphics program (or any other feature rich software for that matter), the interface can be a bit daunting for beginning Inkscape users, let alone the advanced features that are sometimes a bit hidden.
I have made a new tutorial available that shows how to create a nice Japanese cherry blossom floral design by using Inkscape’s advanced features. The video tutorial is aimed at beginner Inkscape users and it should be easy to follow for everyone. The tutorial is made with Wink, which is also freely available, and it does a great job at keeping file sizes small. The full tutorial is only 8 MB.
Inkscape 0.47 comes with an implementation of the Spiro curves / splines. Spiro was introduced into the graphics world by Raph Levien, with the aim to make smooth flowing curves especially suitable for font creation. But it can do so much more! I demonstrate the use of spiro curves in Inkscape in a beginner video tutorial. The tutorial gives some background on the use of the Spiro curves as well as what happens under the hood in Inkscape. Spiro curves are cool and with minimum effort they can be used to create awesome flowing swirls. The full tutorial is only 6 MB. Any feedback is highly appreciated.