Editorial Cartoon – Microsoft To Discontinue MS Paint!?!?!

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Editorial Cartoon – Microsoft To Discontinue MS Paint ?!?!?” By C. A. Brown

[Update (25/7/17): Yay! It seems like MS Paint has been saved, sort of..]

Well, a while ago, I read the terrible news. I then opened MS Paint and made an editorial cartoon. With a mouse. In “Paint”. It seemed like a fitting thing to do.

Of course, having an older computer, I have nothing to worry about. But, the idea that MS Paint may not be included on new computers or even worse, may potentially be removed [Edit: Hopefully just not updated, rather than actually removed] from future updates to the modern version of Windows, is very disturbing. Apparently, it’s going to be replaced with a program called “Paint 3D” (which looks a little bit like Paint, but doesn’t seem to be the same).

MS Paint may not be a fancy program. But, it works. You might not be able to create good art in it easily (but I tried here) but that was never it’s true purpose. It was a quick, simple program that you could use to correct small mistakes in your art. There is nothing more practical or useful for this purpose than good old MS Paint 5.1 (and earlier).

But, in this modern age of computing, “practical” and “useful” seem to be dirty words. I mean, a few months ago, I happened to look at one of the more modern versions of Paint briefly, and it was a confusing mass of “ribbon” menus and options, rather than a simple, reliable, useful program. So, maybe this shocking news isn’t entirely unexpected.

Still, for those poor souls who get a modern PC in the future, there do seem to be some open source programs out there that are vaguely similar to classic paint. However, the most user-friendly looking one of these seems to be Linux-only [Edit: There’s a version of it for Windows too :)].

Still, with the direction that Windows seems to be going in these days (apparently, the latest Windows doesn’t even have a DVD player program by default!), I guess that Linux may well end up becoming more popular…..

Still, goodbye classic MS Paint (1985-2017). You won’t be forgotten and you won’t go unused!

Four Ways That Making Art Regularly Changes How You See The World

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As I’ve probably mentioned before, making art regularly can change the way that you “see” the world. So, I thought that I’d explain some of the many ways that this can happen:

1) All of the usual technical stuff: This all goes without saying, but there are a lot of subtle ways that the technical details of making art regularly can change how you see the world.

For example, you’ll get a lot better at noticing and discerning exact colours. Likewise, you’ll instantly notice complementary colour schemes whenever you see them (the famous “most modern movie posters are blue and orange” thing springs to mind) Seriously, I’ve learnt more about colours within the past 2-3 years than I have done in the time before then.

You’ll also occasionally find yourself doing things like mentally converting 3D objects and scenery into 2D images, as if you were copying them by sight. Or, if you see something interesting, then you’re probably going to know how to memorise it so that you can paint it later (unless you carry a sketchbook, or one of those newfangled smartphones).

2) You respect artistic skill more: Last November, I somehow ended up reading an article about an ultra-conservative painter from America. My reaction to the rather provocative political paintings shown in the article was something along the lines of “I strongly disagree with the political sentiments but, on a purely technical level alone, these are quite impressive pieces of art – they’re more detailed and realistic-looking than any of my paintings are“.

Of course, when I looked at the comments, I occasionally saw people conflating the unsophisticated quality of the political messages in the paintings with the (much higher) level of technical quality in the paintings themselves. And I was completely bewildered by this for a few seconds. But, I realised that – without having the experience of making art – I also wouldn’t know the sheer amount of effort, time and practice that must have gone into all of these paintings.

So, yes, if you make art regularly, then you’ll tend to notice art a lot more. If you see an interesting illustration on a website, or even in an advert – then you’ll tend to either see if there’s anything you can learn from it or you’ll think “that’s an interesting piece of art”. Likewise, even if you don’t like a piece of art for some reason, you’ll probably still respect the technical skills of the artist who made it.

3) You become an analyst: If there’s one thing to be said for making art, it’s that it teaches you a lot more about images in general. In other words, the kinds of analytical skills that you need when working out how to make a painting (or researching how to draw something) can also be applied to any images that you happen to see.

In an earlier draft of this article, I had originally written a short essay about how a stock image in an online news article about science was potentially misleading (and how I was able to work out that it was a work of digital art rather than a realistic photo). But, then I worried that it sounded too cynical and I noticed that the stock image had technically been attributed (albeit with a potentially-misleading caption which could possibly lead readers to think it was a photograph of a real place). So, wary of sounding unfair, I decided to replace this part of this blog article with this description. Sorry about this.

But, yes, making art regularly can seriously improve your image analysis skills.

4) You notice beautiful scenery more: If you make art regularly, then when you see beautiful scenery in real life, then your first thought will often be something along the lines of “I should paint this” or “how do I paint this?”.

In other words, you will not only be more likely to look for interesting views of the world when you are out and about, but you’ll also be more likely to see artistic beauty in otherwise “ordinary” places.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

Today’s Art (23rd July 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the fifth “episode” of a new webcomic mini series called “Damania Replicated”. You can catch up on previous episodes here: Episode One, Episode Two, Episode Three, Episode Four

Links to many more mini series featuring (non-robotic versions of) these characters can be found here.

Sorry if this comic update looks a bit rushed and/or if the art looks a bit rough. This is what happens when you pull an all-nighter and decide to make webcomics at the same time. Still, at least I planned the comic a day or two beforehand, so the writing wasn’t affected.

As usual, this comic update is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Replicated - Upgrade" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Replicated – Upgrade” By C. A. Brown

Three Fascinating “Time Travel”-Based Art Exercises

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Unfortunately, apart from following the normal passage of time, travelling through time is something that is impossible in real terms. Yes, according to Einstein’s theories, if you travelled vast distances every day for several decades, you would be a miniscule fraction of a second ahead of anyone else. But proper movie-style time travel doesn’t exist.

Still, if you are an artist, then there are at least a few thought provoking time-based art exercises that you can do in order to see how time affects the art that you make.

1) Work out the earliest date your art could be made: Although I think I mentioned something vaguely similar in a previous article, this is a really fascinating exercise.

This version of it was inspired by an online discussion I read somewhere about a modern fan-made modification (for the classic computer game “Doom”) called ‘Brutal Doom’. Basically, the creator of the mod had worked out that the earliest time that computer hardware could support his mod was sometime in either 2002 or 2003.

Yes, “Brutal Doom” didn’t exist back then. But, the idea that people in the early 2000s theoretically could have been playing “Brutal Doom” is an absolutely fascinating one.

Naturally, this made me wonder if artists can do anything similar. And, yes, we can!

Take a look at the materials you use to make art. Take a look at the common subject matter of your art. Take a look at the things that inspired your art style. Now work out which years all of these things came from. This should give you an approximate time when someone like you could have made the art that you make.

For example, my art could have been made in the late 1990s. The traditional materials that I use (eg: waterproof ink [albeit in rollerball pen form] and watercolour pencils), existed in the 20th century. My favourite digital image editing program (“Jasc Paint Shop Pro 6”) is from 1999. Likewise, although the version of MS Paint I use is from 2007, I tend to use basic features that probably also existed in previous versions of the program.

Likewise, most of my artistic inspirations come from the 20th century. Even some of my more modern inspirations (like this set of levels for “Doom II”) are often heavily inspired by things from the 1980s and 1990s. The very earliest beginnings of my art style were also inspired by animated TV shows from the 1990s like “Pepper Ann”, “South Park” and “Pokemon” that I watched (or, in the case of “South Park”, really wanted to watch) during my childhood.

So, yes, the earliest time that someone could have produced art very similar to my own is probably sometime in the late 1990s. The idea that my art could have existed back then absolutely fascinates me.

2) Remakes: Yes, as I’ve mentioned countless times before, remaking your old art can be a way to see how much you’ve improved. But, in addition to this, it can also be useful when seeing how the passage of time affects your own art. And when it comes to predicting what your art might look like if it had been made in the past or future.

For example, here’s a small chart showing two versions of the same painting that were made (but not posted here) pretty much exactly a year apart from each other:

Click to see a larger version of this picture. The full-size version of the second painting won't be posted here until the 1st September though.

Click to see a larger version of this picture. The full-size version of the second painting won’t be posted here until the 1st September though.

Doing this yourself and comparing the two pictures will show you how your influences and art style have changed over the past year. This can, of course, make you think about how some of your current artwork might have looked if you had made it a year or two earlier.

Since you’ll be able to notice and categorise the technical differences in the art you made in the past and the art you make today, seeing a comparison of two versions of the same picture from different times will help you to imagine what other pieces of your current artwork would have looked like if you’d made them in the past.

3) Predicting the future:
One easy way to predict what your art might look like in the future is to look at the types of art that really inspire you, but which are way above your current skill level. If you keep practicing, then there’s a good chance that your art might eventually end up looking a bit like a combination of these things.

Yes, developments to your art style can be unpredictable (after all, you don’t know what else might inspire you in the future). But, taking a careful look at what the things that inspire you have in common with each other can be a great way to see how your art might change in the near or distant future.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (22nd July 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the fourth “episode” of a new webcomic mini series called “Damania Replicated”. You can catch up on previous episodes here: Episode One, Episode Two, Episode Three

Links to many more mini series featuring (non-robotic versions of) these characters can be found here.

And, yes, I had to rein in my innate sense of cynicism quite a bit when I was writing this comic. My pessimism, on the other hand…

As usual, this comic update is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Replicated - In Other News" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Replicated – In Other News” By C. A. Brown

Leaving Room To Imagine – A Ramble

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Although this is an article about creativity in general, I’m probably going to have to start by talking about computer games for a while. This is mainly because, as regular readers of this site know, I mostly play old games and/or low-budget indie games these days.

Anyway, one of the interesting things about old and low-budget games is the fact that they often don’t include “realistic” graphics. Likewise, really old-school/low-budget games sometimes don’t even include voice acting – choosing instead to use text for the dialogue. Here are some examples of the types of games I’m talking about:

This is a screenshot from "The Last Door: Season 2" (2016).

This is a screenshot from “The Last Door: Season 2” (2016). Note the use of text-based dialogue and the impressionistic graphics.

This is a screenshot from "Zombie Shooter" (2007)

This is a screenshot from “Zombie Shooter” (2007). Note the “unrealistic” graphics.

This is a screenshot from "Eradicator" (1996). Surprisingly, it is the only game of these three that actually includes voice-acting.

This is a screenshot from “Eradicator” (1996). Surprisingly, it is the only game of these three that actually includes voice-acting.

Yet, surprisingly, these games are often a lot more engrossing than more “realistic” games would be. For the most part, this is because these games don’t try to look ultra-realistic. In fact, they often leave a lot of visual details purposely or accidentally vague.

This, of course, means that not only does the player focus more on the events of the game than on the graphics, but it means that the player also has to actually use their imagination to work out what the locations are supposed to look like. These games give the player enough visual details to give them an idea of what the setting is meant to be, but it is left up to them to fill in the fine details with their own imaginations.

Likewise, the lack of voice-acting in some of these games means that it is left to the player to work out what the characters’ voices sound like. Like with reading a novel or a comic, the audience’s imaginations are probably going to come up with better voice acting than most voice-actors could probably do. After all, your own imagination is better at coming up with things that are well-suited to you than anyone else is.

In fact, comics are probably another good example of this sort of thing.

The artwork in many comics is deliberately unrealistic (for both time reasons and creative reasons). They don’t include voice-acting either. Likewise, they only show still “frames” from a movie-like series of events. And, yet, a good comic can often be more immersive and interesting than a film for the simple reason that the audience is left to imagine things like the fine details of the world, the sound of the characters’ voices etc… And, well, imagination is usually better than expensive special effects or A-list actors.

The best way to see how important leaving room for the audience to imagine things is to start by watching a film adaptation of a novel you haven’t read. Then read the original novel. I can almost guarantee that you’ll probably imagine the characters, voices, locations and events of the novel in a pretty similar way to how they looked in the film.

Now try the same thing in reverse. Read a popular novel that you enjoy, then watch the film adaptation of it (that you’ve never seen before). Chances are, the film will look at least slightly different to what you imagined when you were reading the novel. In fact, there are actually a few film adaptations that I absolutely refuse to watch, lest they ruin my imagined ideas about what the characters and/or settings of several novels look like.

So, what was the point of all of this? Well, the point is that – if you are creating something – then you need to leave room for your audience to use their imaginations. You need to give them the space to come up with their own custom interpretation of the story you are telling.

In other words, you don’t have to make the art in your comics hyper-detailed, you shouldn’t worry if your fiction never gets adapted into a film etc… The more room that your audience has to imagine things, the better.

———-

Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (21st July 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the third “episode” of a new webcomic mini series called “Damania Replicated”. You can catch up on previous episodes here: Episode One, Episode Two

Links to many more mini series featuring (non-robotic versions of) these characters can be found here.

And, yes, some older movies actually do look better on VHS (especially when watched on a CRT television) since the blurriness can cover up all sorts of clunky special effects. “Gremlins” is the perfect example of this – it’s an amazing Christmas movie, but the special effects look really clunky if you watch it on DVD.

As usual, this comic update is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Replicated - Mixed Feelings" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Replicated – Mixed Feelings” By C. A. Brown