Touch Stylus: The Grail Quest

A Collection of Touch Styluses

Styluses Front to back: swag ballpoint/stylus, Targus stylus, Wacom Bamboo Stylus, Hand Stylus, Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus 2. Rear: Wacom Grip Pen

How friggin’ hard could this be?

If you’ve been reading this blog, or following either my personal or the FRS Facebook page, you’re seeing “from IOS” or “from iPad” on a fair number of them. I have an iPad. I like it. It’s a blast to use and it’s a lot of fun. Sometimes the thing is even useful – for work, reading an e-book, research, communications, more.  It’s surprisingly a great tool for teaching drum and chant, where I can bring along the equivalent of a fat binder of teaching materials and notes, and a chunky box of vinyl and CD’s all in the slim slice of the iPad. Paired with a bluetooth speaker, it’s tremendous.

But I am still an Art Guy. And I’d like to do more with the pad that’s directly creative. So to that effect, I loaded a bunch of creative apps on the iPad and have been poking at them. One of the most fun and intriguing is 53’s Paper, and really quite innovative. I’ve also been exploring Art Studio, Wacom’s Bamboo Paper, Pixelmator, and Zen Brush. I recently picked up Astropad, that connects to a PC or Laptop and essentially makes the iPad a mild analog to a Cintiq graphics tablet. I also had for a while some of the Adobe Creative Cloud Mobile Apps, and Autodesk’s Sketchbook, and a couple of others. I discovered something about iOS graphics apps. They’re chunky, and can eat of a LOT of your precious storage. And so do graphics FILES. I’ve got a 32GB iPad and currently have less than a gig free.

Practical limitations? Imagine that. Next iPad will absolutely be a 64 gb or better. A 16gb model iPad is near useless for professional use. However, unlike the iPhone that people tend to replace every 2-3 years, my current one is going strong.

But like I had discovered years ago as a Design Pro on the desktop, drawing with a mouse is, yes, akin to drawing with a bar of soap. So my Wacom tablets have been next to my keyboard for over a decade. They are still superior to the much promoted (actually not too shabby) Apple Magic Trackpad for speed, control and precision. I use both, context depending. Similarly, drawing with my fingertip on the iPad, while better than the mouse, still is coarse and crappy, the worst being, you cant really SEE what you are doing under your fingertip when you’re trying to draw or sketch. Continue reading

Artz Pushb4ck

Doonesbury Webcomics Snark

A little artz pushback for Gary’s dissing of webcomics artists. Apologies, G.B.T. Click fo’ bigga’.

I was going to post the Printer review of the Canon Pixma MG6220, but this came along. Gary Trudeau is one of my art heros, and I’ve enjoyed Doonesbury for years, right after my first comic love Peanuts. Gary also has the virtue of still being alive and drawing. And I certainly do appreciate the plight of print media. As a Designer, I see it all the time, as my work more and more tilts to the web and small businesses cut back on print projects.

Gary posted this strip on Febuary 2. I know he was being funny. And it is. A little. But my life is far from empty. In this offhand manner, he’s casually dissed a deep and insanely talented pool of webcominc artists creating an amazing amount of work. Some of them are a little miffed off about it. Even some serious criticism went Gary’s way.

“Many webcartoonists took on the question of what happens to comics if newspapers go away by posting the Doonesbury strip with inserted images from their own web comics. Most were well done, but Scott Kurtz depicted one of his characters farting in the blank space of the strip. Adam Manley created a collection of those strips along with his opinion…”

And fans weighed in on Doonesbury’s Slate site. Many readers pointing out that they read the strip online, as many papers have dropped DB, or comics entirely to save money. And strictly speaking, online, Gary enjoys a worldwide audience. One reader comments:

“I completely disagree with today’s strip. I’ve been a reader for about four years now and I have never once read Doonesbury in a newspaper. I have always read it online, and most of my friends (most around my age of 25) have only read it online as well…”

I have to say, that MY life is far from empty, I follow at least two dozen webcomics, my sons even more. Even my wife has a few faves. Many of the creators are proper full on professionals. In the fact they make an actual living creating comics online, all the more remarkable is that the majority of them are free to read. They are every bit as creative and interesting and funny as their print counterparts. In some cases, better, as the elite small crowd that gets picked up by the media syndicates, are often shallow and chosen for their general, inoffensive appeal to the most general of audiences.

Web comics are free to pursue their vision and find their own voice and audience. The freedom of the web allows developing young talents to get their work out there, seen, and to absorb all the constructive (mostly) criticism that the internet can heap on them… and grow. In the course of a webcomics tenure, you can often see explosive growth in the skill of the artists and writers.

So I felt, as did a lot of other creative sorts, a little pushback was fair play. I also got to draw stuff. Bonus.

Magical…

Magical. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." --Arthur C. Clarke

Click above for Large Image (900 x 600 px)

“Ook ook ack! Eeeeeek! OOOK!” [Trans: "My God, it's full of apps... " ]

I usually don’t repeat subjects, and I JUST reviewed the iPad2. But sometimes a marketing campaign can trod over the same raw nerve so many times before one has to spout off on it.

I don’t want to get off on a rant here but…

Apple’s overuse of the word “magical” when promoting the iPad just gets under my skin. Actually it annoys the poop out of me. Probably because it’s patently horseshit. It’s a piece of TECHNOLOGY, people, not the gorram Philosopher’s stone. We’re not a bunch of knuckle dragging homo habilis hominids howling and flinging rocks, sticks and poop at the frakkin’ monolith. Sometimes I wonder what Apple’s marketing people think of their audience. I do realize what they’re getting at, the idea of an information appliance so immediate and intuitive to use, that the actual interface disappears and you become immersed in just using the thing. Continue reading

Mac Pros. Mac Users?

Mac Pro: 4, 8, or 12 Cores. WORTH IT?

The current Mac Pro update disappoints actual pro users. Image: Apple Computer

Apple recently released, after over a year in waiting, an update to their Mac Pro line of tower configuration computers. They introduced the Westmere line of the Xeon workstation processors and now a version with 12 computing cores is available. But for many Apple watchers, the update was a bit of a disappointment.

For openers, while Apple has been determinedly cutting edge on their new flagship mobile products, iPhones, iPads… were notably conservative on this update. New tech such as USB 3, Firewire 1600, Litghtbridge, or even established desirable standards as eSATA were skipped. Few expected Blu-Ray support, since Steve doesn’t like Blu-Ray. The video cards options offered by Apple are decent, but somewhat mediocre by contemporary standards. But all in all, commentary in the tech blogs has negative commentary edging out positive reviews. The general consensus seemed “meh,” with a lot of dissatisfaction centering on performance versus price issues compared to alternatives on the Windows and Linux side.
Continue reading

Just How Much Design is Worth It?

Adjusting bleed for in InDesign.

Tweaking Bleeds in InDesign for the Tri-fold Cut Line. Yes, I'll explain...

For openers, I have been reminded that if I want to keep people’s attention with a blog, I actually have to POST, at least more regularly than I have been doing. The current occasion is the Hudson Valley Business Edge 2010 Conference, an event that I highly recommend if you’re in the region and work in a small to medium size business, especially as an Owner, Proprietor or Principal. The presenters are all very knowledgeable, and the content is presented in a very dense manner, in short, accessible sessions. Last year I presented on “When Do You Need a Design Pro?”, and hope to do so again on subjects graphic. But to the point, while I fairly recently posted back on June 7th, the one before was March 20th.

I have been busy, hence the lean posting. So this time around I’ll talk about a recent client experience.

This is a long term client that I have been working with for many years. I’ve built and rebuilt his website, will do it again soon. This time around I was updating his brochure. This is a fairly standard tri-fold brochure, a pretty common and useful staple of business marketing. This item is usually not a terrific chore if you have a focused client, and their graphic identity is already in place. Typically brochures are put together after logo design and identity projects are complete.  But what happens when your client is perhaps over focused

The short answer is: 63 design comps, seven candidate “final” versions. Three rounds of pre-press, PDFs and AAs. Hundreds of photo retouches and composites. 2.4 gigabytes of  data. And sent the press proofs back to press… twice. What on earth happened here? Continue reading