A couple of questions from Bob following my ‘Diversifying…’ post require that I provide a couple of answers.

Firstly ArtRage is a reasonably priced program allowing many styles of painting and drawing to be imitated on the pc. Now, I have had a brief dabble with real watercolour and oil paints a long time ago. I was not particularly good at it but would certainly have got better with practice. The issue was space – where do you keep all those canvasses and papers? Oh! and have you ever tried getting Prussian Blue out of your clothes… Hair… etc? So, the idea of being able to do some art on the pc did strike me as fun.

The next issue is painting with a mouse… Not very intuitive, although some people have obviously mastered it. The solution is to get a pen pad which allows you to draw and paint using your instinctive and learned behaviours. Having read some reviews I opted for the Wacom Bamboo CTH-470K. This is actually a pen and touch pad, so it makes my pc behave like a Tablet/iPad. Only been using it for a day but it’s rapidly becoming a very good alternative to a mouse, providing greater flexibility. A bit more practice and I’ll probably use it all the time except for gaming, where I suspect the mouse will remain more intuitive.   One word of warning – this item is about the size of a large mouse-pad so you need room on your computing workstation for it and the keyboard.   A positive is that you can use a mouse as well without them conflicting – no need to keep unplugging one to use the other.

Using the two together is definitely better than a mouse. ArtRage provides the ability to trace your photos and even to pull the colors from them for your paints. I prefer to do the choice of color in a more traditional way, so I have decided against using the latter. Changing the pressure of the pen on the surface of the pad affects how much paint / pencil is deposited just as in real life though you will still need to interact with the program menus to have complete control and sometimes the words suggest a different effect than the one you get – that’s a learning issue rather than a fault with the program I suspect. Anyway, here is a preliminary drawing for a painting completed in ArtRage using the Bamboo Pen & Touch. Hopefully in a couple of weeks I’ll be in a position to complete and display the painting for you 🙂

St Andrews Kingsbury - Preliminary Sketch
St Andrew's, Kingsbury - Preliminary Sketch

Note to Bob – I did see one review that criticised the need to change settings in the Bamboo for use with Photoshop, but I can’t currently confirm whether that was a Wacom issue or a user that expects everything to be done for them (including the painting perhaps?)… You know what I mean 😉 Hope I’ve gone a short distance towards answering your questions 🙂

From My Archive I Choose…

O is for Oxford

Famed worldwide as the City of Dreaming Spires and possibly also as the home of Morse (the detective not the code), Oxford is a university city with some stunning architecture and a museum whose fame greatly exceeds its size. I could write a lot more but I think Kate Shrewsday’s City of Aquatint gives a wonderful description of a visit to the city and includes a nice selection of photos too 🙂

For those arriving by train, part of the walk into the city involves crossing over the Castle Mill Stream which in turn gives access to the towpath of The Oxford Canal. The Stream is not navigable and barges have to enter and leave the canal from the River Thames by way of Isis Lock. By the way, in Oxford the Thames is known as the Isis – you can read all about that on wikipedia if you really want to be confused 😉

Oxford Canal
Takara Leaving Isis lock on the Oxford Canal

The city centre is a bustling place and, in keeping with the numerous cash strapped students, has thousands of bicycles all over the place. In the view below we see lots of them parked up on the corner opposite The Martyrs’ Memorial. This ‘cross’ is a memorial to the Oxford Martyrs – Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley and Thomas Cranmer, who were tried for Heresy in 1555 and subsequently burned at the stake. The memorial was designed by George Gilbert Scott in 1838 and was completed in 1843. The statues of the three martyrs are by Henry Weekes.

The Martyrs Memorial
The Martyrs' Memorial with Bicycles

The Ashmolean Museum in the centre of the city is small by comparison with the likes of the Natural History, Science and Victoria & Albert in London. However it houses a fascinating collection of artifacts from all over the world and displays them in an engaging manner. My son particularly enjoyed the display of early musical instruments. The Bicycles are not part of the display although some of them look old enough to be museum pieces 😉

Ashmolean Museum
Ashmolean Museum

One of those buildings that is instantly recognisable is The Sheldonian Theatre on Broad Street. Designed by Christopher Wren, you won’t be able to watch Hamlet here – it only stages concerts, lectures and ceremonies! On the left is one of those sight-seeing tour buses that seem to crop up in most cities around the world these days. Apologies if it all looks a little weird – wide angle lens and  I couldn’t resist giving it a bit of HDR treatment

Sheldonian Theatre
The Sheldonian Theatre

An O within an O – Oriel Street, with its houses painted in pastel shades, leads down to Oriel Square and Oriel College from the High Street.

Oriel Street
Oriel Street

And, finally, if you thought you’d got away without a close-up of a bus… Another O within an O – A Setra of Ova Reisen. Many students visit Oxford on tours from Europe – This however is the ‘team bus’ of the St. Michael-Chorknaben from Schwäbisch Gmünd and presumably they were here to sing (Schwäbisch Gmünd is close to Aalen, Ova Reisen’s HQ). I loved the paint scheme on this coach and again decided that HDR might work well for the shot.

Ova Reisen
Ova Reisen Setra

Why not have a go at the A-Z Archive Challenge yourself!