September 4, 2017

Fiddling with GIMP, dumping Corel PhotoPaint

As I indicated in the previous blog entry I got fed up with the Corel PhotoPaint bug of crashing every time when attempting to export images as .png-files, I began practising with GIMP. The latter is an open source image editor which is completely free. Png files are important because they are lossless files, which means they do no lose quality after each time they are opened, like jpg. It is possible to define the resolution and colour profile - these are necessary functions for artists who intend to have their work printed.

I start this blog entry where I left off while creating the Mark Twain portrait project. I resized it to 40 x 40 cm and changed the resolution from 72 dpi to 300 dpi. This required some work on the details since it basically made the image 20 times bigger - 5 times because of the rescaling and 4 times because of the increased resolution. GIMP had no problem whatsoever exporting the image native format into png.

I am still getting used to the program's interface and functions, but I feel I'm getting there. The main thing I appreciate is that the program is stable and actually does the export job very well. GIMP took its time (approximately one minute) to convert the native format (xcf) to png. So far the file size is 8.74 MB. I resized the file for the blog to 888 x 888 pixels, resulting in a 547 KB file size. I work on a computer with an i7 CPU and 16 GB RAM memory. The graphic card is an NVIDIA GTX 750Ti.

I had to create custom brushes to render the skin pores texture, which works quite well once I got the hang of it. I created animated custom brushes, because emulating the skin requires an organic texture. GIMP allows to create very complex animated brushes, but I discovered that an animated brush based on three different layers will do the job. The skin pore texture is made with a transparent background and three layers with different dot patterns that rotate randomly when drawing. The spacing (space between rotations) is kept at a default setting of 20.

I placed the date and time in the captions below the images of different stages. The oldest will be at the bottom, the newest on top.



Sep 05 2017 17:25




Sep 04 2017 22:30







August 9, 2017

Digital portrait of NS Captain World

I fiddled around with Gimp recently and although I think it is a great (free!) program, it lacks the finesse of Corel PhotoPaint. That isn't surprising, since Gimp is built by volunteers who have regular day-jobs, while PhotoPaint is created by an army of professional programmers. What I miss most in Gimp are the on-canvas-controls that PhotoPaint abundantly offers. Such functionality significantly increases the working pace. Also the tools like the brushes in PhotoPaint are definable with greater accuracy, which is quite important when making portraits.

Perhaps because I'm used to working with it, I find PhotoPaint's user interface more logical while less need to dig into menus is necessary to find the desired tool. But I guess the Gimp programming team will at some time in the future catch up more or less, because there will be a decreasing amount of functions to improve in the process of taking a program to the perfect state, which allows trailing competition to catch up with the established players in the image manipulation realm.

The subject of this portrait is the captain Henk Kuipers of No Surrender MC, a motor club of a different kind in The Netherlands. Of course the mainstream media that is controlled by the ruling powers, disapproves of such clubs and does everything within its might to discredit NS, whether allegations are true or not.

The crux of the matter is that ruling class does not like opposition that is well organized and in disagreement with the policies imposed by them, like donating heaps of tax payer money to the unelected EU, destruction of health care and care for the elderly citizens, while implementing hugely burdening tax rules and constricting the educational system. Also the removal of legal restrictions for corporations and increase of limitations of citizen freedom and privacy are opposed by the new political party, named Rechtdoor, which in English translates to: Straight Ahead.

NS was even more viciously targetted by mainstream press when its captain's plan to enter the political arena were revealed. The valid, humane points in the program of newly established party would obstruct the Dutch government aim to impose austerity on its citizens while filling up the deep pockets of the already fortunate. Although the captain specifically stated that NS and his political ambitions would be kept strictly separated, the press willfullly ignored it and started its usual smearing campaign in an effort to prevent him from entering the political stage.

I haven't yet finished the Mark Twain portrait yet, but I may redo it in PhotoPaint some time in future. Like in all posts, the oldest stage is at the bottom and the most recent on top. Desktop computer users may want to click on one of the image to enter Blogger's Lightbox, which allows to swiftly scroll through the various stages in order to see the progress.

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Update September 2 2017
All of a sudden Corel PhotoPaint continuously crashes when attempting to export .png-files. Regardless of the size of the file. This is a basic function of photo-editing software and therefore very annoying. It pretty much renders the program unusable. I currently am in the process of switching to GIMP which is an open source program that actually is capable of performing this job properly. It is somewhat of a learning curve since the approach of the program is different, even tough there are many similarities where functionality is concerned.

After visiting a number of forums I noticed users have encountered this problem since at least version X5 of PhotoPaint. If Corel aims to compete with industry standard programs such as Photoshop it needs to fix this basic functionality or accept that it will not catch up with them (or that it may face even worse consequences). Personally, I'm done with waiting for this fix to take place and am watching GIMP tutorials in order to make the switch to a program that actually works properly.








An other color test




Color test
































August 4, 2017

Mark Twain - digital portrait


I'm a temporary host for two cats that live in my attic, separated from my own cat who lives downstairs. One of my temporary companions lays herself down on my keyboard when I'm upstairs, making it impossible to work on my regular computer. So I am working on the machine in the livingroom that has modest specs. I downloaded the open source program Gimp that I've never used before and try to see if it's an option that works as well as Corel PhotoPaint that I use to make digital portraits.

The learning curve isn't very steep, but it takes some time to turn out a quality similar to that which is possible with PhotoPaint. The latter (2017 version) has a lot user friendly options that speed up working that aren't available in Gimp or perhaps that I just haven't yet discovered them. Besides, Gimp is free, so what the developers have achieved is more than excellent. Below you see the sequence of a portrait of Mark Twain; the oldest stage at the bottom, the newest on top. I forgot the record the first stages and started when I made some progress already.

Gimp is somewhat more coarse than Corel PhotoPaint and lacks on canvas controls (which speed up working significantly), but hey... it's free. I should have defined the resolution before starting to draw, but due to being unfamiliar with this program I forgot. The image size should have been larger as well to make sure prints would have the desired quality.

Tip for desktop users: Click on one of the images which will bring you to Blogger's Lightbox that allows you to scroll through the different stages, allowing you to see the difference between the stages faster and more clearly.























July 22, 2017

Willie Nelson - digital portrait

I used slightly different techniques for this portrait than for the previous one. I will explain them once I have become more experienced in creating digital portraits. Until now I am mostly experimenting. I selected Nelson because he has an interesting head and a matching personality. I don't like smooth faces; they're no challenge to paint. I always try to put an emphasis on the main features of the subject's face, which leads to differences from the reference material, without losing the person's likeness. Typical facial features are subtly exaggerated. As usual, the oldest stage on the bottom and newest one on top.

Tip for desktop computer users: click on one of the images, which will lead you to the Blogger Lightbox. Use the mouse scroll wheel to switch between the various stages, so that you can see the differences between them.



















Intermediate color test 01
































July 3, 2017

Al Pacino


This is the sequence of the portrait containing date and time of each shot. Oldest at the bottom, newest on top. Tools: Corel PhotoPaint & Huion H610PRO graphic tablet. Most detailing done with mouse. I will discusss into detail the techniques used to create this portrait in an other blog entry. Perhaps I must try Corel Painter one day as well.

There is something interesting about Pacino's face. As you may know the right side of the body - including the face - is controlled by the left brain and vice versa. If you vertically cover one half of his face you see two totally different expressions and even tissue texture. The left side of the face, controlled by the left brain hemisphere, is calm and shows relatively smooth skin tissue (relatively low muscle tension = relaxed), while the left side of his face reflects a very investigative gaze and displays more muscular tension, suggesting higher tenseness.

To see the difference between stages, click on the top image and you'll jump to the Blogger Lightbox. Then use the scroll wheel of the mouse to quickly browse through the sequential stage images.



AP July 18 2017 13:07 - head is completed






AP July 17 2017 22:05 - Texture detailing & ears






AP July 17 2017 12:33 - detailing texture left cheek






AP July 16 2017 20:30 - colored version






AP July 16 2017 20:30. Did some more detailing on the base layer.






AP 4x July 15 2017 15:11 - color tests





AP July 15 2017 12:02 - Further detailing textures





AP July 15 2017 00:49 - texturing upper cheeks





AP July 14 2017 03:13 - Updated face textures





AP July 12 2017 17:11 - Forehead texture & color test





AP July 12 2017 01:33 - color test





AP July 11 2017 14:20






AP July 10 2017 23:17






AP July 10 2017 (after computer crashed) 14:07






AP July 07 2017 23:00 






AP July 07 2017 19:43 







AP July 07 2017 17:10 







AP July 06 2017 13:47 






AP July 05 2017 19:54   






AP July 04 2017 15:30






AP July 04 2017 11:27





AP July 04 2017 00:21






AP July 03 2017 17:00




AP July 03 2017 13:30




AP July 02 2017 11:40




AP July 03 2017 09:00