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.

Snap out of it!

*BLINK* So what just happened? NOTHING! As said in a previous post… I relocated to the other side of the world, enjoying a nice sabbatical in Oz. That means heaps of time. Enjoying summer, scenery, short travels and life is pretty good to me. Sounds relaxed ay? Well.. it is… but what about all the plans I have (see About Me)?!?!

Well.. not blogging does not necessarily mean I do nothing. But before that puts the wrong idea in your mind… doing nothing is actually what has been going on. I have browsed a lot. But I have not been productive. So back to the plans!


My computers moved with me. How can I enjoy heaps of spare time without my machines. Unfortunately, the installed operating systems were in my native language. Very useful for me, but not so convenient for native English speakers that I share these computers with… *sigh* so some localisation was at hand. Backed up all my applications, my work, my bookmarks and gave it a go. As I worked with the English versions of the OS before not a too big a change… just a lot of work. But on the other hand… a nice fresh install is not so bad either.


This site was never meant to be an WordPress site. I wanted to implement Umbraco ever since I did a testrun with it. Umbraco is a highly configurable/customizable open source CMS written in .Net C#, and as a .Net developer… that makes me feel happy right away.

Umbraco is installed as an ’empty’ CMS. Not with a zillion features that you probably may not ever use. There are starter kits available tho, which can kick start the launch of a website with Umbraco. I used the starter kits to obtain a good understanding of how Umbraco works, what document types are and how templates are defined. A comprehensive article on Umbraco basics can be found here.

The guys at Umbraco have been working hard lately. And while I was relaxing and happily browsing away… I kept an eye on their blog. They have been working hard at Umbraco 4, which comes with heaps of cool new features. Last Friday they released Version 4 Beta 2… and I read up on ‘why I should be really excited over Umbraco 4‘ … and I got to say that got me drooling *grins*. I am also glad I did not spend too much time on V3 now. I can jump on the next train and implement all goodies right away. The list of enhancements and improvements is impressive and I cannot wait to get started.

In the last few days I build virtual machines to set up a full development environment, got my servers running, Visual Studio 2008 installed and the Umbraco source code downloaded from Codeplex. I am all set!

Creative Designs

I had a basic design layout ready for this site. But it is funny what a few months and a different climate can do to you. I looked at it and took a deep breath. The design did not appeal to me at all! Time to drop it and to go back to the drawing board. Good that I had spent some time browsing tho. Sad thing is that there are many ’13 in a dozen’ type websites, look alikes, uncreative. I want my site to be different! Oh..oh.. that sounds like another good way of putting off some work on it. Will be continued…

RSS troubles

If you read my earlier post, you know that I installed WordPress as a quick way out of getting a blog up and running. Also to not spend too much time on developing my own template … I grabbed this nice open source one made by InfoCreek. All seemed to be working nice and smooth, until a friend pointed out that my RSS is not working for entries.. bummer 🙁

Known problem

It appears that the most common reason is that some whitespace exists (like trailing spaces) in the php files. But it is a great hunt to figure out which. I found a nice work around, which involves cleaning the trailing spaces before rendering, but as my blog is still quite empty.. I have decided to hunt down the culprit … a little patience should do it.

Editor trouble

As I started to inspect the php files through my filemanager at the hosting location, I noticed white space added at the end of each file. Easy to fix wouldn’t you say? Yea.. I thought so too, but seems that backspace, backspace, save does not clean up. I think my online editor is as stubborn as some word processing programs that operate like they know what you want to do… *sigh*… so I think I did not improve the situation *grins* Ah well.. there are bigger issues in this world to take care of. I will fix it.. some time.. soon.

Colours and such

I decided to actually start adding a bit of content to this site. No use of having a site when it is empty right? Maybe some of my friends (since no one else knows about the existence of this site yet) have checked back a few times already and been wondering about the lack of progress.

Real life interrupted

Well.. I got a bit side tracked. I wanted an easy way out, but that clashes a bit with me being a perfectionist. I started out with the idea to host this site using Umbraco, but as I am currently a bit too busy in real life… that must wait a bit. So in my rush to get some creative space I installed WordPress. The 5 minute install actually is a 5 minute install.. so that worked out nicely. But then.. uhm… the default templates… no offence but they were *NOT* what I envisioned. Same problem tho.. I have this nice design prepared, no time for implementation as WordPress template…

So what is the easy way out?

OF COURSE… OPEN SOURCE! There are literally thousands of WordPress templates freely available as open source. Some browsing made me decide to go for the Genesis theme by Infocreek. But that is a dark theme.. all grey.. and uhm.. well I have something with bright and happy colours. So I decided to recolour it. And I used the colour scheme I had selected earlier for my design. No worries.. easy going.

Matter of personal preferences

I tried to create a daring and dashing colour scheme. But it appears not everyone likes this particular shade of green. Actually .. the phrase used was ‘baby poo’ … and I bet it brings a smile to your lips, as it did to mine. So I thought perhaps I should try some other colours too. My friend seemed happy and said ‘So no more baby poo?’.. I just answered ‘Not sure yet.. but no harm in trying alternatives…’

So where is this going?

Not sure yet.. but the next colour scheme that I try will be based on ‘Snowy Glacier’. You can see my header is already prepared for it.. I have added this nice shade of blue at the right side. And with the new colour scheme I will also fix all imperfections that still exist due to my recouloring. It will look good.. one day.. hehe.. just before I will change to either my own theme or an Umbraco template. *grins*