Archive for February, 2013

Something of the Marvelous

I have no witty opening remarks, but I figure that’s okay because I do have sea turtles! It’s holiday week here, and my family and I visited an aquarium yesterday. The photographer in me was really hoping to get some good shots. My little point-and-shoot camera (not to mention hundreds of other people shuffling around) made that a bit tough. But I managed to get these (the second one down is my favorite):

Sea turtle 1 Sea turtle 2 Sea turtle 3 Sea Turtle 4

I think it’d be so easy to just watch these creatures for hours on end. Not just sea turtles, though, but all marine life. Manatees, stingrays, dolphins, sharks, all sorts of fish: all so graceful, all so magnificent.

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” ― Aristotle

Beautiful Monsters

I think, sometimes, re-imagining something is just as important as imagining. I mean, taking something old and maybe forgotten, and rethinking what it could be. Admittedly, this is not something I do too often. But I did it this morning.

Today I was in just the right mood, I guess, so I took some forgotten Apophysis-made fractals, found while digging around in my old data discs, and re-imagined them.

Here are three fractals I used (the first two are several years old and, actually, incomplete):

ea1

ea2

ea3

Here are the speed-scapes I came up with, each with one of the above fractals as a base:

Beautiful Monster by Karissa Cole 2013 ea1701

Bedtime Story by Karissa Cole 2013 ea1701

Strange Happenings by Karissa Cole 2013 ea1701

They’re a bit rough around the edges, as most of my speed works are. I’m horribly impatient, and it shows. I’m a bit obsessive compulsive, too, and somehow both traits come into play when I work digitally. This, if left unchecked, then causes complete and total insanity. See, one part of my head is rushing to get done its brilliant idea, while the other part is freaking out about the little details being wrong. The impatient part often wins out, but the OCD part never shuts up.

Anyway, I had been toying with the idea of working on these a bit more this afternoon, in a attempt to pacify the obsessive bit of my brain that needs things “just so”. I’m trapped in the middle of a blizzard right now, so working on the computer is definitely a decent way to pass the time. And I’ve actually got a few other spacescapes ideas I’d love to play out. But I’m thinking I’ll do that later. Right now might be a good opportunity to put on some Next Generation and work on a new amigurumi pattern I’ve been trying to get done for a good month now, but just haven’t had much luck with yet.

Although, what with this being the biggest blizzard in thirty years (as is what they’re calling this snowstorm here in my neck of the woods) maybe I should work on knitting an afghan instead. You know, in case we lose power and are trapped inside our frostbitten little house for days on end, with no hope of rescue, no way to tunnel back out into the world. Then at least I’d have a huge, hand-made blanket to hide in, savoring as much heat as possible.

Knit fast, die warm, and all that.

Of course, seeing as how the snowfall is still below knee-level, I’m probably safe to just stick with working on some amigurumi today.

All That Glitters – Apophysis/Photoshop Tutorial

What you need:

• the free fractal program Apophysis 7x
• photo editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop
• and basic knowledge of how to use both

What we’ll be making:

PS - 9 All That Glitters - Apo_Photshop Tutorial by Karissa Cole

Personally, I think a good tutorial should both clearly explain how the specific piece was made (so you don’t go nuts stuck with generalities, trying to figure out how they got that one detail just right), and provide several variations to try (so you’re not stuck with an exact replica of someone else’s work.) This is what I’ve tried to do here. If you follow the following steps closely, your result should look very similar to the image above. But I’ve also listed some variations you can try, so you can completely customize your final fractal.

Some things to note before you begin:

• This tutorial assumes you’ve already got working knowledge of Apophysis – how to create a flame and new transforms, where to enter in variations and variables, and how to make overall image adjustments. If you’re completely new to the program check out the Apophysis F.A.Q and be sure to also check out this icon-identifying tutorial as well.

If you use this tutorial – especially if you follow the steps to the letter – please respect my artistic rights and link people back to this blog. This is a courtesy to others who may wish to learn how to use this technique and to me (after all, I spent all this time creating this tutorial – and if you like it enough to use and show off, then I deserve a bit of credit.)

This whole process is fairly quick – less than an hour from start to finish. But as with all digital art endeavors, it might be a good idea to save your progress frequently to avoid losing anything you make.

If you are not specifically instructed to change the value of a certain variation, leave it at its default setting. For example, the default variations for a transform are: linear3D: 1; everything else: 0. If you are asked to change julian to 2 but nothing else is mentioned, only change julian, and leave linear3D at its default value of 1. This applies to weight values (default: 0.5), too.

Screen shots follow each step. Click any screen shot to see it larger.

When ready to begin, start off by opening up Apophyis 7x (or whichever version you have – it just must be 3D capable) and create a new blank flame.

Impatient folk – like me – who just need to know the bare essentials of this flame should take a look at the following (however, those who want the step-by-step with pictures can just treat this as a summation of what we’ll be doing):

xform 1)
• Weight: 0.05
• noise = 0.15 (try experimenting with values between 0.1 and 1.0)
• blur = 0.25 (try experimenting with values between 0.1 and 2.0)
xform 2)
• Weight: 0.95
• linear3D = 0.2
• spherical = 0.75 (try experimenting with values between 0.45 and 0.95)
xform 3)
• scale down twice; move and flip
xform 4)
• scale down twice; move and flip
xform 5)
• linear3D = 0
xform 6)
• linear3D = 0
• julian = 2; julian_power = 2

Depth blur: 0.2
Pitch: 60
Yaw: 10
Perspective: 0.7
Scale: 110
Gamma: 2
Brightness: 12

Step-by-step:

Open up the Transform Editor and make the following adjustments to Transform 1:

Weight: 0.05
noise = 0.15 (try experimenting with values between 0.1 and 1.0)
blur = 0.25 (try experimenting with values between 0.1 and 2.0)

Not much should be happening so far, so don’t worry if all you get is a bunch of “static”.

xform1

Add the following transforms with the specified features:

Transform 2

Weight: 0.95
linear3D = 0.2
spherical = 0.75 (try experimenting with values between 0.45 and 0.95)

xform2

Transform 3

• Scale down twice by the default factor of 125 (try experimenting with scaling down (or up!) by a different factor)
• Move the transform to the left and and rotate (see photo for reference but experiment with placement and position)

xform3 - scale twice

xform3 - move and flip

Transform 4

Weight 0.70
• Similar to transform 3, scale down twice by the default factor of 125.
• Move the transform to the left and and rotate. Note that this transform does not need to be placed in exactly the same spot as transform 3. See photo below for reference, but experiment with placement and position.

xform 4

Transform 5

linear3D = 0 (all variations should now be set to ‘0’)

xform5

Transform 6

linear3D = 0
julian = 2 ; julian_power (Variables tab) = 2

xform6

We’ve created all the necessary transforms. Now we’ll open up the adjustment window, and watch our fractal really take shape. Experiment with the pitch, height, yaw, and depth blur values. I used the following:

Depth blur: 0.2
Pitch: 60
Yaw: 10
Perspective: 0.7
Scale: 110

adjust pitch, blur, camera

(A note on scaling: for this piece I increased the scale but drastically decreased the zoom, thus allowing for about only 10 minutes of rendering time. Increasing the scale and zooming out this much does decrease quality somewhat, but as I had processing with Photoshop in mind for the final product, it didn’t matter. Adjust your fractal’s scale and zoom as you see fit.)

Switch to the Rendering tab of the adjustment window and change:

Gamma: 2
Brightness: 12

adjust brightness

Adjust the camera settings (rotate, X axis, Y axis) as you see fit. As I mentioned earlier, I zoomed all the way out. I also shifted the fractal up and to the right a little.

Now choose a gradient you like. I used a default. The gradient you choose will dramatically alter the way your fractal looks, so play around with it a bit. To spice things up a bit, hit the key combination ctrl+alt+n to randomize the color values.

When you’re happy, render your fractal! We’ll then open it up in our editing program to add some glitz (a word I never thought I’d use. Ever).

Open up your fractal in Photoshop. Set it to screen against a black background. (Ignore the fact that the screen shot says the blending mode is “Normal”. Heh heh. . .)

PS - 1

Create a new layer (ctrl+shift+n) [blend mode: normal] between your background and your fractal. With your circular gradient tool (shift+g x2) active, select a midtone color from your fractal (by alt+clicking). On this new layer create a gradient emanating from the center of your fractal. Lower the opacity of this layer, if need be.

PS - 2

Create a new layer (ctrl+shift+n) [blend mode: screen] above your fractal. With the same midtone color and a large, soft, round brush (low opacity) selected, paint lightly near the center of your fractal.

We’re creating our base light source here, so think about which bit of your image you want to be lit the most, the least, and somewhere in between.

PS - 3

Create another new layer (ctrl+shift+n) [blend mode: screen] and repeat this process, only this time narrow down the beam of light you paint.

PS - 4

To add a lens flare create a new layer (ctrl+shift+n) [blend mode: linear dodge] fill it with neutral (black), and set the lens flare at the epicenter of your light source.

PS - 5

For more lighting effects, duplicate your fractal layer [blend mode should still be screen], rotate it 180 degrees, stretch it and position it so it looks like a light trail from something crashing into the center of your fractal.

PS - 6

Continue duplicating your original fractal layer, warping it and positioning it in your image. Play around with the opacities of each duplicated fractal. (Be sure to erase any hard edges you may have during this part.) Optional: Create a color balance adjustment layer to fine tune your colors.

PS - 7

To add some neat finishing touches create a copy of all the visible layers (crtl+shift+alt+e). Duplicate this layer. To create a “glass-like” look apply the Smart Blur filter (default settings) to this layer. Lower the layer’s opacity a bit.

PS - 8

Fuss around with the colors and sharpness of the image until you’re satisfied. Then save your image. Done!

PS - 9 All That Glitters - Apo_Photshop Tutorial by Karissa Cole

Each of the following images were made using the techniques above:

All That Gliggers - Wishing Well's Magic by Karissa Cole 2013

Party (2) by Karissa Cole 2013

All That Glitters - Epiphany by Karissa Cole 2013 all rights reserved (2) All That Glitters - Original Glitter by Karissa Cole 2013 all rights reserved

I only just stumbled across this method yesterday, so I don’t doubt that there are limitless variations one could come up with using these steps as a base. I highly encourage anyone to experiment and have fun!

Colored Flames and Crashing Silence

The idea of breakfast didn’t seem all that appealing for some reason this morning, so instead I decided to pick up where I left off last night in my Time and Space (and Fractals) post and just slipped right into Apophysis. At this point I’m a little lightheaded from not eating or drinking anything yet, but I freakin’ love what I came up with, so I figure it’s worth it:

Epiphany by Karissa Cole 2013 all rights reserved (2)

Crave You by Karissa Cole 2013 all rights reserved

I think I like working digitally when I’m a bit on the groggy side. It makes everything I accomplish seem that much more awesome to me.

Time and Space (and Fractals)

I was sitting here for about 30 minutes trying to figure out how to begin this post. I was aiming for something elegant, sort of smooth that just draws you in, and laced with a fair amount of levity to keep things fun. But I got absolutely nothing, so I’ll just jump right in.

Recently, I was perusing my favorites on deviantART and I came across an Apophysis-created piece I faved a while back made by love1008. Almost all of the Apophysis works he has in his gallery are stunning. If you have the time I highly recommend checking it out.

The beautiful creations got me thinking about working in Apophyis 7x again. Fractals were the first kind of digital art I ever really got into. These days I don’t dabble too much; my computer can’t handle rendering so well. But I thought I’d play around with it today, my day off.

Here’s what I came up with:

Cosmic Order - ea1701 art and design blog

ole 2013 all rights reserved

Primary Core - ea1701 art and design blog

Computing (2) by Karissa Cole 2013 all rights reserved

When I Think of You by Karissa Cole 2013 all right reserved

Each was made in Apophysis, and then edited in Adobe Photoshop. I had both love1008’s and JP-Talma’s works in mind for most of these. I haven’t achieved the style I was shooting for yet. But I thought these ‘not-quite-rights’ were still worth something.

I can never tell when I’ll be in the mood to work in any given medium. And since my creative side is somewhat akin to a bratty, scheming child who throws and fit and then gives me the silent treatment when upset or pushed, I just usually go with the flow and work with whatever feels right at the time. I find that I make nothing worthwhile if I try to force things. But I’m hoping maybe I can bribe that little digital artist in me to be willing to play around with this stuff more this weekend. I think I could come up with some pretty good stuff if I waded around in the program for a bit.

I still really like the general effect of one of my oldest fractal pieces, “Ok, Go”:

I think I’ll rifle through my old data discs to see if I can find the original flame. It might be fun to work off of this, an image from 2009, to create some new stuff for 2013.

Now, normally, I’d like to end this post with something witty. But I can’t think of anything. So I propose a compromise: I’ll pretend to say something humorous, you pretend to laugh (or at least chuckle half heartedly).

I figure it’s really a fair enough deal.

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