1000 Heads: the book

1000 heads, my illustration book

Inspiring books for the creative type


Deep Paint

My goal with this blog was to talk about “real” paint instead of computer applications, but sometimes I can’t help myself from sharing some good news related to outstanding programs. And there is a promise to publish some articles about natural-media painting programs.

Now you have the opportunity to grab a free copy of one of the best painting programs: Deep Paint. Formerly a commercial program, now is available for free.
Deep Paint is a real-time materials-based paint rendering system, similar to Corel Painter. You can use it either in standalone mode or as a Photoshop-compatible plugin. This is an absolutely freeware version and there is no need to register (the developer is Right Hemisphere Software.)
If you’re new to the world of natural media painting in computers, just to get the idea here’s an excerpt taken from the program help:

(...)Deep Paint offers a quick way to create new and exciting images. By using artistic rendering techniques, existing photographic or other images can be transformed to create content with a new look. Photos can be quickly changed into rich paintings or delicate watercolors. Results can vary from nearly photorealistic to extremely abstract.

You can create an artistic impression of an image and specify the type of paint and brush to use.

Almost any image, of any quality, can be used as the base for producing interesting and unique results.Using a combination of effects, you can bring some of the original image back into the final result.

See it for yourself: you just have to help yourself to a copy.

While we talk about this, if you want to try a vector drawing program which is natural media-oriented, take a look at what the people at Microsoft are doing with the former Creature House Expression, now called Acrylic.

Inkscape: new amazing features

screenshot of inkscapeThe new version of Inkscape, 0.42 (available as always as a free download: this is an Open-source project)is full of amazing features. Let’s see:

One of the most important new features in 0.42 is the support for flowed text - text that can flow within a rectangle or any other shape. You can edit the text or the shape, and the text is reflown automatically. Also in this version, you can select any portion of a text object and assign any style to it.

Inkscape 0.42 provides support for running extensions - external programs or scripts (Python, Perl, and Ruby are supported) that can do anything to your SVG document. Aaron Spike has written a lot of cool effects in Python, including path interpolation, randomization, recursive generation, visualization of handles and points, etc. If you have an idea of some cool visual effect but don't want to learn to program Inkscape itself, go to Aaron's page to get an idea of how to create an extension.

With the Tile Clones dialog, you can trace anything by anything, in any way imaginable. If the original tile is a group, you can unset paint on some objects on the group while others (e.g. highlights or shadows) will retain their original colors, unaffected by trace coloring.

The new Trace tab in the Tile Clones dialog can change a number of parameters of clone tiles based on the parameters under the tile, i.e. in the drawing that the tiling overlays. The simplest way to use it is to trace color-to-color, i.e. set the color of each tile the same as the averaged color under it. You can also trace R, G, B, or H, S, L channels separately.

The new Unclump button in the Tile Clones dialog removes the local "clumps" in a tiling, making it look more even and man-made (without losing the randomness). The contrast and detailedness of the dot pattern improve as you apply unclumping repeatedly - even though unclumping is unaware of the background image that was traced by the tiling, it seems to bring out more image details that were "hidden" in the random scattering. You can also apply unclumping to regular tilings, converting them from "newspaper print" to "old engraving".

The new Color tab in the Tile Clones dialog can create an exciting variety of color landscapes, with any amount of randomization, gradual change, or per row/per column alternating. Note the new HSL color sliders (replacing the old HSV). For this to work, the original tile must have fill or stroke unset via the Fill&Stroke dialog.

(descriptions reproduced from the Inkscape official site. Visit it to stay up to date with the project and download the latest version.)


Concerning the spiritual in Art

The famous book by Vassily Kandisky, is available as a free ebook from Project Gutenberg.

Inkspot and Inksmith tutorials

The people at Daniel Smith Art Supplies has put together a number of articles which explain colour mixes and techniques for watercolour and other media. Some of these articles offer detailed explanations and step-by-step instructions.


Exploring again the possibilities of diluted acrylics, resembling watercolours, an article in the Golden Paints site explains the advantages of using acrylics in a watercolor-like fashion. The Golden Paints site offers other interesting articles about acrylic paint technique —they manufacture an impressive range of paint and amazing gels and other acrylic-based mediums, additives, gessoes, varnishes and grounds.


The Art of John Alcorn

John Alcorn illustrationSome very very nice illustrations by the late John Alcorn, collected in a website. The online exhibition features over 300 samples, spanning 45 years of breathtaking creativity, starting in the fifties with his contributions to the Push Pin Graphic, and including many cover books, posters, editorial illustration and more.

What will those plugins do?

If you use Adobe Photoshop, or any other bitmap-edition software which is able to use Photoshop-compatible plugins, you may already be a plugin addict. You know there are so many available plugins, including many free ones, that having them organised can be a serious issue. Not to mention remembering what you can actually do with each filter. A website like Grafnet is very helpful for this: they have a comprehensive list of plugins, and you can see the results of each one in a sample image.


Best Freebie Apps List...

A recent thread in the Talkgraphics forum discusses the best freebie applications you can find on the net. Some you will know already, other may be new: in any case it’s well worth saving the page and check out the links.


Conceptual Diagram Symbol Libraries

Conceptual Diagram Symbol Libraries, at the Integration and application network offrers the IAN symbol libraries, containing over 1500 custom made vector symbols (in 32 categories) designed specifically for enhancing science communication skills. The libraries are designed primarily for use with Adobe Illustrator (requires version 10 or better), however they also offer eps and svg versions for non-Illustrator users. The symbols allow diagrammatic representations of complex processes to be developed easily with minimal graphical skills. The libraries are provided completely cost and royalty free.
Very useful, especially for environment and earth science related illustrations and concepts. The site contains detailed explanations of the contents of the library, suggestion uses and tutorials.

Felix Vallotton

example of Vallotton's workI read in Milton Glaser’s retrospective book, Art is Work, that one of his biggest influences, especially in his ink drawings, has always been the french illustrator Felix Vallotton (1865 - 1925). It’s possible to see some of his works online, like in Olga’s Gallery, the Felix Vallotton Foundation or a dot.com site. Certainly, the influence in some of Glaser’s ink drawings is evident.


Layout Master, free

Westciv offers their web design tool, Layout Master, free of charge. They explain it this way:

“When we released Style Master 4 we finally made the decision to put Layout Master to rest as a commercial product, but continue to host it as freeware at our site(...)
If you want to create and edit pure absolutely positioned layouts, Layout Master is a great free option and you are most welcome to give it a go(...) Download Layout Master using the link below, and then when you run it use the registration code and it will not expire after 30 days.”

So, here you have a good, basic tool for laying out your web pages based on standards-compliant code, and it’s free. Here’s the download address and the registration code you need to unlock it: 146793400-VA-332005-2020-13210.

All graphic design

All graphic needs in one spot: Allgraphicdesign.com is a comprehensive list of graphic design-related resources. The links are hand-picked and it has been around since 1998. The forum is also a valuable place to get advice and ideas about a number of design topics, programs and practices.



If you’re involved in periodicals design, or at least you have some interest in printed news-style publications, you should definitely visit (and bookmark) Newsdesigner. The authors review the design from many newspapers, comment the redesigns and the typesetting and typographical details; all of this in an entertaining blog.


Digital design manual by Typephases Design

The Manual of Digital Design is a well-known project originally published in catalan and spanish, and now translated to english. Dozens of articles dealing with graphic design, illustration, bitmaps and vector artwork, web design and typography. Don’t miss it!

Linotype FontExplorer X

Linotype releases a “simple, smart and free” FontExplorer, which, in their own words:

(...)sets a new standard for font management software: font management has never been so simple, and font sorting, font shopping and font discovery are now more fun than ever. FontExplorer X gives computer users all the font functions they could need, and lets them decide how deeply they wish to dive into various font themes.


Lupas Rename 2000

I’m busy reinstalling software on my refurbished computer, and I was searching a batch file renamer (actually I had two on my previous system, but I didn’t back them up and I forgot their names to download them again!). This kind of utility is really necessary for me and I guess for many other computer users as well. I’ve checked in the Pricelessware directory and just found Lupas Rename 2000: a freeware program developed to rename a big number of files, with an unending list of features, and yet lightweight and well focused in its task.


The Screen Grab! Extension

I have been using an incredibly useful extension for Firefox, Screengrab , which saves entire webpages as images in PNG format. Just install it, make sure Java is configured (Java absolutely necessary), and right-click on a page. You can save the entire page as an image (it scrolls around the page taking shots and stitches it together), just the visible portion, or the browser window. Awesome, ultra-simple and incredibly effective.

If you are going to prepare a bunch of screenshots from complete web pages, like I’ve been doing myself lately, this extension will definitely save you lots of time.


The new studio

These last weeks I’ve touched very little the computer, but I’ve been able to draw a lot in my sketchbooks, planning new paintings and other projects (a sample in the first photo, below.) But I’ve devoted even more time to cleaning up and conditioning my new painting studio. These are really very exciting news for me, because this is a dream come true, having a proper studio for my art. The second photo shows a part of the well-lit loft where I’ll be painting.

spread from this summer sketchbooks
one section of my new painting studio

The place itself is ideal: very luminous, warm in winter and cool in summer, there’s lots of space to paint comfortably, even large canvases, and ample storage space. I will have different corners for the different activities: painting, drawing, reading, etc.



At the nvu web editor homepage, they greet the launch of the 1.0 version of the program with these words:

Finally! A complete Web Authoring System for Linux Desktop users as well as Microsoft Windows and Macintosh users to rival programs like FrontPage and Dreamweaver.
A good and free tool to complement your text editor, or a good alternative to commercial software for newbies who don’t want to mess around with html or xhtml.

Here’s a detailed feature article with nice screenshots so you can see for yourself what’s on offer.


The definitive collection of idea generation methods

Idea generation methods is a website that lists and explains every idea generation method the author (Martin Leith) has encountered during the past 15 years. It is the result of extensive research; its many sources include books, management journals, websites, academics, consultants and colleagues.

An excellent, comprehensive resource for creative professionals!


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