Tips for web-ready images

I originally posted this over on SONSI, where I practice my webmaster skills.  I thought it might be useful to some Flying Trilobite readers.

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Recently I was asked,
“Could you help me with understanding how to format my photos for upload and how to add the transparent © symbol? (see below) If these are questions that many have already asked, maybe a FAQ on the site would be a good idea?”
We discussed it, and I thought I’d share my quick tips here and the whole intertubes.
If you use software like Photoshop or Gimp to alter the size of your files, aim to make them 100kb or less in size.  (Most of mine fall into the 75kb range).  There’s generally three things that affect file size: colour, dimensions of the image and quality of the image.
Colour: Typically, you are not going to want to reduce your colour range, unless it’s a colour scan of a black and white image.  So let’s leave that alone.
Dimensions of the image: you can often find ways to alter this (keep your proportions the same) under names like”canvas size” or just look for how many pixels wide and high the image is.  Typically, I tend to make things somewhere around 500-800 pixels on the larger side.  Most people don’t want to click to enlarge an image and have it expand to be bigger than their monitor.
Quality of the image: This is a dodgy one, since most of us want everything crystal-clear.  However, jpeg files can be compressed quite well without losing a lot of resolution, at least for posting online.  Not good for submitting to a magazine or for getting prints, but online it’s great.  In Photoshop, use the “save for web” feature (you can monkey with canvas size there too).  In Gimp, you get the option when you save the Gimp file as a jpeg.
I’ve mentioned Gimp a couple of times – it’s a decent, FREE alternative to Photoshop that can do (kinda-almost) everything Photoshop Elements can.  There’s no insidious pop-ups or programming.  It just works really well.   (I do not work for them or receive any cool kickbacks.)   You can find it here.
To put a copyright symbol on your work, go into the text tool on software like Photoshop, Gimp or many others and hold down ALT and type 0169 .  Let go of ALT and the © should appear.  Or you can cut-and-paste it from this post.
Anyone have any other quick tips?

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
Creative Commons Licence.

Print Shop

Tips on web-ready images

One of the Southern Ontario Nature & Science Illustrators' members asked for a few tips on making images web-ready, and putting the little © copyright symbol on things.

Head over to the
SONSI site for some of my quick tips.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
Creative Commons Licence.

Flying Trilobite Gallery *** Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ***

ScienceOnline2010 tablet workshop; or, playing with Bora's face

Click on the scio10tablet label to see all posts. Many thanks to Darren of the Park Research Center for the enthusiastic help setting up Gimp and the drivers on the session laptop!(picture by Ben Young Landis and tweeted during the session. Thanks Ben!)

After a mad dash from the airport, I settled in at ScienceOnline2010 to do a workshop about digital tablet technology. Bringing two tablets through customs wasn't hard, though I had to explain what they were a number of times.

The two models we played with were a Wacom Bamboo and a Wacom Intuos 3. The Bamboo had been solemnly lent to me by my 8-year old sk8tr nephew who said he was "giving you -no, lending you this on one condition: you bring it back." Fair enough.

Our workshop attendance was relatively small, which was perfect. After a quick introduction to tablets, the group split into two groups of three and began to play. We used Gimp, which as an astonishingly versatile free program able to do many of the things Photoshop and similar programs can do. My hope was that the group would enjoy the pressure sensitivity of the pen and tablet, and begin to think of how that could be fun to make images.

Here are the results of the workshop! (And apologies for the long wait! Has it been 2+ weeks already?These exercises were to allow everyone to get a fee for the pen and tablet, and try a bit with how the sensitivity responds. The initial drawings above were cautious and careful, as it can be disconcerting to move your drawing-hand while looking elsewhere at a screen at the result. This technique however, is a one made popular by the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, a traditional pencil and paper book. It includes exercises doing just this: follow the contours of the object you're drawing, and don't look at the page you are drawing on. It allows your eyes to have time to practice moving in unison with your hand.
Here's the examples when we tried varying the line pressure:

We played with Bora's image a bit. Everyone took a turn on separate layers, including Bora himself adding a dapper aviator's scarf (later made hard to see by the Magic Wand tool).

Original photo:

Completed image:

Many thanks to Janet, Ben, Evelyn, Bora, Allie and John! And Bora's dinosaur.
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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.
Work above by conference attendees - thanks for playing everybody!

Flying Trilobite Gallery *** Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ***


Computer Transitions
Immediately after logging out of Blogger on last week's Art Monday, our Compaq Presario R3000 with the busted screen froze and restarted with an error we may not be able to fix. Thanks to a couple of helpful bloggers, (Thanks ScottE and Lousy Canuck!) I may be able to rescue the family photos we were still in the process of backing up. My artwork is relatively safe on an external hard drive and USB key and my iPod Touch. Back-up your files, kids!

At the moment, I'm working from a loaner pc my wife's mom lent us: Thanks bunches, S! I was hoping to budget a new inexpensive pc for my return to my undergrad this September. Innumerable people have suggested I invest in a Mac, but I'm not sure that's in the budgetary cards right now. At any rate, even an inexpensive Acer or equivalent will seem like
a dream after what I've been using since starting The Flying Trilobite.

Our laptop had a number of problems. We bought it lovingly used from a friend and it was great. After one cold night walk outside to a friend's place, the top right of the screen lost half of its pixels. You could kind of bend it and they'd snap back on for a few seconds. A few months ago, our old Photoshop CS stopped working, due to the software licence number not being registered - I was sure the copy we purchased with the laptop was legit, but at any rate, the operator's recommendation was to sink $700 into Photoshop CS4. I'd love to. For the moment though, I downloaded GIMP free software, and I have been eyeing Artrage for the new computer when we get it. My Wacom Intuos 3 came with some nifty software I'll load onto it as well.

And that's something important that needs to be said to all the aspiring artists who m
ight read this, or colleagues who fall on hard times. Your tools only carry you so far. If you think the art I produce has any degree of technical ability at all, keep in mind I've been using a 5+ year old laptop with a busted screen that takes 15 minutes to log onto DSL connected internet. I'll say it again: your tools only carry you so far. The rest is practice practice practice. Do what you are good at. Expand your skill set by experimenting a bit at a time, pace yourself at integrating new lessons.

School Transitions
I'm a student again. This is a weird feeling, but in a few weeks I'll be headed back to York University to complete an undergrad I left incomplete about 12 years ago. My wife and I met shortly after I left school, so she doesn't know what I'm lik
e as a single-minded obsessed art student. Oh dear.

It seems like a fool's hope that I will go beyond the undergrad, what with working, food near a table, roof in the vicinity of heads etc., but I admit I've begun to think about it. What I'd really love to do is illustrate full-time. I think my personal life is gonna be busy this year.

Blog+Art Transitions
I think this blog is slowly expanding into some new areas beyond the art. I'm commenting more on the nature of being an atheist today, and being
a tad more personal.

Art-wise, expect to see some new themes as well. It'll always be Art in Awe of Science, I'm simply adding more things to the mix. I aim to do some pop-nerd culture drawings for the August Art Mondays. 'Cuz why not?

I have loads of artwork I'd like to wrap up in this month before school starts, and I've bought my supplies (except that pesky new computer). Always willing to let a contract interrupt though! I promised myself I'd stop announcing artwork I haven't completed but here's a list of things on my slate to be checked off when I can. (There, that's nice and vague.)

-New Diatom Fairy piece. Sketch here and at right. Diatom Fairies are basically my wife Michelle who doesn't like looking at herself in paintings. Which is weird because she's gorgeous.
-My submission to the Coyne/Benson/Myers/Haubrich/etc accommodationist-Vs-atheist in science debate. Almost done. Involves science-chess pieces.
-Three new t-shirt ideas. Camouflage flying trilobite insignia, albino squirrel doing tai-chi, and a butterfly-winged trilobite. These'll probably have to wait until I'm settled into a new computer.
-A mysterious planned image for The Beagle Project. Got the wood panel ready, and prelim drawings done.
-A number of Lord of the Rings drawings, Marvel comic characters and a new image of my Trilobot Transformer to complete for the next few art Mondays.

You know when you have that feeling? Like, where will I be in one year's time? Everything feels in flux right now, and in a good way. Even with the toasted-'puter.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Flying Trilobite Gallery *** Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ***