An experiment using NodeBox, jQuery and CSS

Mother Teresa generated with css Marilyn Monroe generated with css

Playing around with the fabulous Nodebox the other day and found the core_image library. This library easily allows for pixel sampling from an image, I was messing around with saving out the colour data if files when i realised you could easily save out the RGB values to a css file then use jQuery to render out the image again in a Chuck Close style.

Anyway thought I'd put some of these together so others could maybe take this and play a bit further? If you haven't tried out Nodebox and are interested in visualization and programming I can't recommend it enough. It's a great way to learn Python and to play! I'd love any feedback or thoughts on how this could be used or taken further. Next steps would be to do the image sampling server side.

I've created these samples with fixed pixel widths/heights I can imagine though if the math was figured out with ems you could create a responsive version, also if you play around with the start count var in the js file you can start to get nice interesting effects. Would love to do more work on that and will post more versions as I mess about a bit more.

Check out the samples and code

comments | 2012-01-18

Drawing with the Cosmonaut stylus on the Apple iPad with Sketchbook Pro

Drawing of author Richard Matheson
Richard Matheson
Cosmonaut stylus with SketchBook Pro on Apple iPad
Large version here

The Cosmonaut stylus

So Studio Neat’s Cosmonaut arrived in the post over the Christmas, an early present to myself. Wanted to write a short piece on my feelings after using this new stylus with SketchBook Pro on the iPad.
Studio Neat have made a stylus that is the answer to all I have been looking for in a stylus for drawing on the iPad. It is simply product design done right, figuring out what the problems are for users first, then designing the product to address the needs.

The width of the stylus and its weight are perfect, it feels right and the rubber material helps stability in use. The tip is a small as you can probably get away with to create the connection with the screen but not too large to impede what you are doing when drawing.
It glides on the surface and you feel confident you will not scratch the surface, the tip material its clear had a lot of research put into it and feels very good on the surface.

The Cosmonaut stylus is the best stylus I've used and at $25 its excellent value, you can order one here on the studioneat site. I wanted to touch on the other 2 stylus' I've used over the last year or so. The Pogo Sketch is the stylus that was easily available in Apple stores early on and the Dagi was the next stylus I bought to try to overcome the issues I found with drawing on the iPad after using the Pogo Sketch for a while.

Drawing of author John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck
Pogo Sketch stylus with SketchBook Pro on Apple iPad
Large version here

The Pogo Sketch stylus

I’ve posted on the Pogo Sketch previously, I’ve seen a lot of bad press on this stylus some of it justified, but to be fair its pretty good for drawing with, however an important point; its good to draw with once you have used it for a while. It needs to be broken in and moulded to you. The nib of the Pogo Sketch when you start using it is rather hard. After use though this will start to soften up and will change shape and begin sloping into a nice shape. This dramatically helps the drawing process when rather like putty it starts to keep a shape. The downside to this is that it can cause the edge of where the nib connects to the stylus body become exposed to the surface of the iPad screen. This is fine if you are aware and only you are using it, if you have children using it beware.

The other downside to the Pogo Sketch is it’s weight, it’s way too light and thin. Holding it it does sometimes feel like a very small hollow piece of a knitting needle. Lastly it can be difficult to see what you are doing in terms of where the tip is on the screen compared to the smaller tip on the Cosmonaut. Note that there are newer versions of the Pogo which I haven't tried. You can check out the Pogo range here.

The Dagi stylus

The Dagi takes this issue head on, having a transparent flat cylindrical nib. When you place this on the screen you have a centre dot where you know exactly where you will be placing your marks on the screen.

I like this stylus but found I kept going back to the Pogo Sketch. Well the Dagi is nice to use and its great to be able to see what you are doing, however, it is a little like drawing with a miniature metal detector. The flat head needs to be flat against the glass, this is a big problem as it forces the angle of the stylus to the screen, not comfortable for drawing and a bit frustrating.

Note: the new version of the Dagi now comes with a flexible head so my comment above is only relevant for older versions, I'd be interested to try the new versions, you can watch a video here which shows this new flexible head

I'm going to continue on with my Author Series project, you can see the full set I've been working on here on Flickr


comments | 2012-01-09

Drawing on Apple iPad with SketchBook Pro and Pogo stylus

When I got an Apple iPad the first thing I was eager to try was drawing on it. As a painter I have long tried to create art digitally and have found it frustrating. The Wacom table is a fabulous piece of technology, its pressure sensitivity and accurate response to your movements is amazing. However I could never get past the disconnect between the tablet and screen, just too hard to overcome a lifetime spent seeing marks being made where the implement touched the material. And yes I know there are amazing tablets that artists use to draw directly on but these were always beyond my reach.

So when I got my hands on an iPad I was really excited by the possibilities and it hasn't disappointed. Adobe Ideas and SketchBook Pro were the first I tried; having used SketchBook Pro before I immediately gravitated to that app. It is an amazing app for drawing no two ways about it. One of the initial obvious drawbacks when drawing on the iPad is the lack of any pressure recognition but having said that it really only takes twenty minutes of messing to get over that. Sketchbook Pro comes with a great range of brushes that when set to a mid opacity are similar to a light touch with a brush. It comes with a lot of silly ones too, but using two to three plus the radius and opacity you can achieve whatever you need.

The other big issue with drawing is the stylus. Using your finger is not really an option for me, tried it but not enough control for me. There are a number of stylus' on the market and a lot of very good 'make your own stylus' videos on youtube. I bought a Pogo Sketch in the Apple store in San Francisco on a trip there, really just for convenience. I read a few poor reviews of the Pogo but gave it a shot as I was impatient to get drawing with a stylus. The Pogo can feel a bit unresponsive, you do feel like you need to press a little too much, having said that its improving over time. The snub top begins to shape the more you use it and it is feeling more responsive the more I use it. I then found the DAGi Capacitive Stylus online and watched this video review on youtube. This stylus fixes the main issue I find with the pogo i.e. you can't see the tip while you draw due to the snubbed top. The DAGi Capacitive Stylus has a circular top which is transparent so allows you to see what you are doing at the point of a line, very important. Mine is on the way so I will post what its like in comparison to the pogo when I get it.

I am excited by this new medium, am working hard on a series that I wanted to do as a series of paintings am now doing on the iPad. The author series is a project to draw authors based on the image that appears of them on the inside or rear covers of books I own. I've made a start and will continue to post as I go.

You can follow the author series here as it grows, all images are drawn on the iPad using SketchBook pro.

Kurt Vonnegut - Author series Don Charlwood - Author Series

comments | 2011-01-18

New site launched. New Exhibition from Caroline Keî

At last I can post this small update on the site. I have been working away for the last few months on this rebuild and redesign of It has been a large undertaking for as well as re designing the site I moved to Python and Django. The site was previously on coldfusion but I've been wanting to move to Python and Django for a while now. I also decided to move it to html 5 at the same time. So a lot to learn and investigate as well as the standard re design headaches that go hand in hand with doing a large site update. This now give me a great base to move this site on a bit and start scaling it up.

This is the 5th redesign and the largest change to the back-end as its been rebuilt from scratch. As is the tradition I've always likes to re open a new version with a show. The latest Exhibition that just went live is from Caroline Keî a photographer that creates beautiful dreamscape imagery.

comments | 2011-01-16

Natural History Museum reopens in Dublin

The Natural History Museum in Dublin has finally reopened it's doors after a three year closure following an accident with a stairs. One of my favourite spots in the city it's an amazing place. I spent a long time here while an art student drawing and have a real love of the place. Went in at the weekend, first weekend after the reopening and there was a massive crowd in the place.

A new experience that, as its usually a quiet oasis in town where you can wander in peace for an hour or two. The top two floors, the balcony floors, are still closed as there's no fire escapes (I believe that's the reason) so hopefully these two floors will reopen soon.

If you've never been, what can I say, go, wander, enjoy and pay particular attention to the handwritten notes on the exhibits. These are a fantastic glimpse into the past and well worth examining. Of course nowadays it seems wrong to think of all these animals that were shot and stuffed, but as a history of that time this collection is invaluable and a real treasure.

The building itself is also beautiful, built in the mid nineteenth century, it feels like it can't have changed that much since 1857. Anyway enough rambling, if you haven't been, take a bit of time, pick a weekday (early if you can) and really enjoy it.

Duckling from the Barrington Collection in the Dublin Natural History Museum
comments | 2010-05-06

Taxi - An exhibition of Japanese works by Alexander James

Alexander James previous exhibitor on newchemicalhistory has an exhibition of his work running at the moment in the Coningsby gallery in London. The Taxi shots look amazing, if you are in London would be well worth checking out.

"Photographer Alexander James has traveled the globe in search of his subjects. He first traveled to Japan in 1996 to first work on the ‘Taxi’ series, this ongoing body of work has brought him back to Tokyo on many an occasion.

This series illustrates his fascination with the energy of urban taxi's at night: ‘they glow with a sense of urgency in the business of someone's journey playing out. The way the landscape interacts with the reflective surfaces of the taxi is often overlooked – I want to capture that light play with the energy and bustle of city life and the stillness of individual with it’. Which is why Alexander wanders the streets of Tokyo capturing the raw energy of Tokyo and the many untold stories unfolding in the night."

comments | 2010-04-28

Bokeh Masters Kit

My Bokeh Masters Kit just arrived in the post. Last year I did a few of these shots using homemade cardboard jobs but when I saw this online I couldn't resist buying.

This is the perfect time of year to try them out too so I'll be sure to post the results after the holidays. From what I tried last night I'm not going to be disappointed. The masters kit comes with 15 very cool discs all ready to pop onto your lens and they come at an extremely reasonable price. If you are wondering what Bokeh is you can read all about it here and make your own.

My only issue is this year my beloved 50mm is broken. Stuck at a fixed focus length forever or until I get it fixed so that makes things difficult to say the least, got broken at flash on the beach this year and was the only lens I had with me...

comments | 2009-12-23

Totally Wired - Documentary about Schneiders Buero

Totally Wired is now available on Amazon, a must see for any electronic music fans out there. Really interesting documentary about the 'Schneiders Buero' store in Berlin.


Film description
Inside a crumbling socialist office block in former East Berlin, synthesiser store owner Andreas Schneider preaches the way of analogue to a loyal following of infamous electronic musicians, who flock to his store, 'Schneiders Buero', for unique boutique instruments. His business has prospered against the odds throughout the digital revolution in music, and in parallel, through a period of huge change in East Berlin. His is a haven for maverick instrument builders and passionate collectors alike. But as the twin forces of capitalism and digital technology seep through the last bricks of the Wall, how much longer can this analogue asylum survive?

This film about the 'Schneiders Buero' music store in Berlin, Germany, is a must-see for fans of analogue instruments and electronic music. Featuring exclusive material with Daniel Miller, Ricardo Villalobos, Dieter Doepfer, Junior Boys, Magda, Marc Houle, John Tejada, Anthony Rother, Ken Macbeth, Wowa Cwejman, Jessica Rylan and many more.

comments | 2009-07-28

Blurb now has PDF to Book capability!

Those great people at Blurb just announced PDF to Book! This is a fantastic development. You can now use inDesign with custom templates from Blurb to create your book offline in inDesign then simply export as PDF and upload.

This opens up some great possibilities, you really could now create just about any book you desired and you get the great benefit of working in inDesign. Can't wait to try this. You can read more about this cool development here. Templates are all avaliable for download already along with detailed resources for getting started.

comments | 2009-06-25

Flash on the Beach 2009 on the way

Flash On The Beach 09 fotb09 is happening in 20th-23rd September this year. If you've never been I can only recommend it in the highest terms. A perfect blend of dev, design and most importantly inspiration. It's a perfect mix and an amazing conference. I've been twice and have both times left completely invigorated to do new stuff. If you are around in September and can make a few days out in Brighton you wont regret it. Check out the speaker list, Colin Moock, Andre Michelle (genius), Lee Brimelow, Grant Skinner, Joshua Davis, Craig Swann to name but a few.

I just realised that I never posted my images from fotb08, so below is the set on Flickr to give a flavour of last years conference.

comments | 2009-06-19