Going off script

For today’s Daily Create, I pretty much immediately decided I wanted to make a word cloud of the Joy of Painting. So I went to a random episode and opened up the transcript on Youtube and copied it. The TDC prompt linked to an archived version of the original Wordle tool, so I pasted the text there… but it didn’t work. I also got a DNS error when I tried to download the desktop version. So I went to an online imitator and used that. Then I thought, “No, that’s not enough.” I took the template from the prompt and brought that and the word cloud into the Gimp and layered them so the word cloud shows through the grid. Wordles old and new living in harmony.


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“I’d Love to Change the World”

Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

We’ve had 10 years of Daily Creates. We’ve had 10.6 years of ds106radio

And I found out that this month I’ve had ten years of ds106. January 2012 was when I initially infiltrated ds106 as an uninvited guest.

Everyone else from those days has fled, away from ds106, away from UMW. Some have even fled the country. But I remain, still haunting this creaking mansion on the web, and still welcoming new visitors

This Will All Be Mine by Tom Mrazek flickr.com/photos/tommrazek/23488328040

Since people are doing ten year challenges lately, let’s see if my GIFfing has improved. The Joker image may be my first GIF. The Bob was from last summer.

It’s been ten years, and like the doubtful guest, I have no intention of going away.

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test post

Is this thing working?

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“Be on my side, I’ll be on your side”

The other day I watched River’s Edge, a 1987 film based on a 1981 crime. I’d say it falls in the Law and Order category of true crime, as a fictionalization of real events. The gist of the story is that a teenage boy killed his girlfriend, then told people about it at school and brought them to see the body. It took a couple days before anyone reported it to the police, due to confusion, loyalty, and distrust of authority. The community, the media, and the film ask What is wrong with kids these days? What is wrong with our society?

The news story:
California Suburb Sorts Out Fear and Confusion in Teen Slaying

I saw this film when it was new in a theater, at a showing that was so packed that we had to sit in the front row. I remember this made for a very intense experience, right in front of the screen, right in front of the speakers, viewing at an uncomfortable distance and angle. The discomfort of the experience accentuated the discomfort of the film. Most of my friends saw the film when it made it to HBO, and interpreted the film as a kind of black comedy. To me, that said something about the difference between seeing a movie in a theater and watching one in the living room.

What is wrong with kids these days? What is wrong with our society? Answers offered included media violence, marijuana and heavy metal music, which were often considered to be causes of the decline of western civilization in those days.

“You interest me” the police officer says as he interrogates the teen for reporting the murder. What interests me is that I can empathize with the kid. Who is prepared to deal with a situation like that? How would they know how to behave? One of the reasons people kept quiet about it was they knew no good would come from going to the authorities. It would only mean trouble. The movie, and the real life story, don’t do much to counter that sentiment.

Rewatching it in light of events of the past few years, I thought of how the kids’ struggle with confusion and loyalty in the face of a heinous crime is hardly just a problem for youth. How do officers react when they witness one of their own doing something wrong? Or indeed members of any tribe? Perhaps one function of true crime narratives is to help us think through these things.

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All the details matter, part 867

The go-to guy for examples of design in storytelling is always @HassanOE. This thread is a great visual example of how typography can support, subtract from or contribute to communication. It can do it loudly and proudly or with great subtlety. Here he is talking specifically about comics, but the message applies anywhere type is used – in a book, as a caption, posters, signs – anywhere. And there is a message that goes beyond typography, that all the details matter. Every little detail has an effect, and impacts the overall message.

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Fab Freddie

I found another artist working in a remix/mashup vein, going by the handle Stuff_by_Mark:

He may have thought this Freddy/Freddie mashup was stupid, but I thought I might be able to outdo him:

The first thing I thought of when I saw the image was Right Said Fred, but I thought I needed to take it a step further. Some time ago, Zach Whalen did an experiment with the Ancestry/My Heritage AI thing that makes creepy animations out of photos of your deceased relatives, only he fed it images from a comic book. I guess they changed their standards, because when I tried it with this image it said:

Cropping in didn’t help, but applying a Gaussian blur did. So I took their animation and stuck it on top of the original with iMovie’s Picture in a Picture function, the stuck the “I’m too sexy for my shirt” sound clip underneath. And so I made a tragedy from a farce. Or something.

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“Are we there yet?”

So here is my painting progress so far. Right now I think it’s at a “stop and contemplate” stage. The scale makes it difficult. At 4 by 5 feet, it takes some distance to take it all in, and my wall space and floor space are limited. I feel more comfortable with the watercolor-ish areas than the areas of busy brushwork, but I may change my mind about that. There is an inelegance to the brushwork that doesn’t quite gel. I think the arcs are working better than in my earlier attempt though, so I got that going for me. Below I have the progress in several steps:

The work is in four panels, two at 12 x 48 and two at 18 x 48. It could be four paintings, or two or three or one. It may work better as separates. The areas that don’t quite gel would then be separated. Each panel seems to hold together with an internal consistency. That consistency doesn’t hold up across panels. And what look like problem areas above don’t seem like problems when viewed separately.

I was going to show the individual panels as an animated GIF, but that didn’t seem like the best way to display them. It doesn’t give the viewer control over the amount of time spent on a panel. So I just installed a Smart Slider plugin and spent about three minutes figuring out what to do with it. The controls don’t seem to be visible though. You can click and drag the image to move to the next panel. I recommend swiping right.

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IMG_113911_0002_Layer 2
IMG_113911_0001_Layer 3
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Where do we go now…

I tried working with curves before, and very quickly found myself at a point where I couldn’t figure out where to go next.

So I hung it on the wall where I can think about it for months on end. In the meantime, I thought I’d be a glutton for punishment and try again. I’m working at a larger scale with mostly bigger arcs, which I think helps. I expect that I will end up breaking some of the arcs up too. I started with a rudimentary plan:

I ended up shifting the upper circle up a bit though. I used a yardstick as a beam compass to draw the arcs, and that worked out better than I expected. Then I filled in color.

I like how the rose/earthtone combination is going so far, and I can see some possibilities. I need to decide where to go with the brushwork and blending. There is some splotchiness which doesn’t work at this point, although it might be if I separated the panels. I like the flatness in the left panel, but not the transition between the off-white and the brown. The left-middle panel has its own thing going on, kind of like it’s speaking in a different voice from the two adjacent panels. Where the transition between the right two panels intersects with the circle is a problem.

My plan was to bring in my rectangles after laying in the arcs. What if I didn’t? I could use color and brushwork to animate the spaces. I could keep those large whitish flat areas and the watercolor-like immediacy. But I think that’s overthinking it. Apply more paint. See what happens.

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The GIF by the Window

Several weeks ago I was out for a walk and the proprietor of the neighborhood vintage clothing boutique called out to me and asked a barrage of questions about my t-shirt. “How old is that? Is that an original? Can I buy it off you?” It was a shirt with a reproduction of Edvard Munch’s The Scream, one of the more famous works of fine art. He has many other interesting works though.

So when I was looking for something to play with for this years GIF It Up competition, I was happy to find The Girl by the Window. I guess the story in this GIF is that lightning gets the young woman’s attention, then she sees the flashing in the window, then turns on the lights.

It took me a while to figure out what to do with it. It would be a challenge to move anything and make it look right, given the nature of the brushwork. I could play with illumination though, like lightning flashing outside. Then I thought about having the light in the window in the distance flash on and off. But to what purpose? This gave me the idea to use Morse Code. I googled for Morse Code for SOS – 3 dots, 3 dashes, 3 dots. I could do long and short flashes in the window. I darkened the interior of the room by adjusting the saturation and brightness, and turned out the light in the window with a content-aware fill, using Photoshop functions. To get the long and short flashes, I adjusted the frame timings to 0.2 and 0.8 seconds, while leaving the other frames at 0.1 seconds.

It came out okay. I think it would have been better to have more lightning flashes interspersed with the window flashes. I could revise the GIF, but I already submitted it so I’m not too inclined to bother.



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“Just tap it…”

Our friends at Creative Commons reminded us a while ago that there is a #GIFItUp competition going on. So I thought I’d try something with this Salvator Rosa image from the Art Institute of Chicago:

This is kind of like the Animated Comic Book Cover assignment, in that it makes a GIF from a still image. To make it work I had to dissect the image to separate out the parts I wanted to move. Then I had to fill in the background where those parts were, so there wouldn’t be empty holes. Photoshop has a Content-Aware Fill function, where the software guesses at what should be in an area based on what’s nearby. It’s far from perfect, but it will do.

In addition to having separate layers for each part, I had to make layers for each change in position. I made a layer group for the spinning arm, and rotated the arm 30 degrees at a time. I probably should have kept the shoulder aligned better so it doesn’t dislocate, but oh well, he’s a warrior so he can take it.

Normally when I make this kind of GIF, I just have a few layers and let the GIF cycle through them. In that case, each layer is a complete image. My plan here was to make various combinations of the layers, and export each combo as a PNG. Then I would import those into one image and export it as an animated GIF. The problem was going to be: How to keep track of all the moving parts? I had already labeled each layer as a way to keep them organized. I had the bright idea to use a spreadsheet to keep track of the permutations and their order.

With this, I was able to export PNGs for each unique permutation and name them by frame number. The first column shows where frames get repeated. My layer stack in GIMP followed that column. When I exported it as an animated GIF, it moved too fast, so through trial and error I settled on a frame delay of 300 milliseconds.

It might be helped by a rhythm track. The spreadsheet is sort of arranged in beats and measures. That’s not my forte, but if someone wants to try it, I will work on combining them into a video.

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