DS106 on the couch

Tag: photoshop (page 1 of 4)

Yet another Daily Create…actually this one was not for DS106 but as it has taken me days and days to pull together,  I thought that I could offer the .PSD file for #artdropday. So far, no takers. I guess it is a bit boring to count as art! It was made for a blog post elsewhere on the subject of our relationship to social media. You can find funnier gifs at @gifadog ‘s Tumblr, I guess.

It all started with a Tweet

Viv said ‘Spike will start miaowing next’ to illustrate the idea we were in a parallel world where the impossible was now possible. I said I would make it digitally true as soon as I got a Spike Gif. 

I knew I had John Johnston’s plug in installed in my sandbox domain. I knew Viv had made some Vines of Spike eating a bone. 

How hard could it be? The rest of the post outlines the process; not because it is elegant but because sometimes you go around the houses to do something and it takes you right back to doing it the hard way!

I got an email that gifs.com now allows you to do frame by frame editing and tweening with their editor. I have tried their editor before but the result is not the quality I have come to expect from my gifs. Still, I thought I would give it a go because it said it take a Vine Video and turns it into a downloadable gif. Easy.


I thought I would add a dancing sticker as above with the new features download it and boom upload my my sandbox domain add cat sound and done. 

It kind of worked. The new features are….shall we say glitchy? I started 1 day ago and could not get the gif with the frame by frame editing to save ( yes, I have written to them to let them know). In the end I thought, how about just the gif from the Vine movie and then I can add the sound without the sticker. Yes, that worked. Download gif. 

Forgive me, but who on earth finds joy in watching a 250×250 shaky gif? With a logo that takes up some of what little space is there, it was a waste of time for me. I would no post **that** even on my sandbox domain. 

So, I went to my usual workflow with the crappy gif. I cut the logo out as I really did not think they deserved it. Photoshop aligned the frame, I selected 20 frames out of the 48 frames in the original, I cropped, I changed the resolution and the image size, I dithered on 128 colours using the soon to de dead ‘save for web’ in Photoshop. Bingo. I had a decent gif. I am still not happy with it as the edges are too close to Spike and…but it was good enough for the wee gif(t) I wanted to make for Viv and David. 

How hard could it then be to find a cat making the right noises? Harder than you think. If it is not the right sound at the right pace it does not synch well with the movement. I tried 3 different cat sounds from Freesound.org. Of course, the one that worked was a .wav not an MP3 so pop into Audacity and export as MP3. 

Once I had the image and sound right, it was a breeze to use John’s plug in and publish a post with Spike miaowing! Head over to my sandbox to see the first dog miaowing ever!

The moral of the story: Don’t try to shortcut art, it will not be rushed. 

Useful websites

John’s plug in for WordPress rocks!

Freesoung.org great for finding strange sounds.

Gifs.com (they may get the new features working and it is great that you can just add ‘gif’ to a YT URL and it takes you straight to their editor to make the gif. I have never been able to use output as quality is not good enough for me)

I also wanted to try gifgrabber and I thought I had it on the Apple store to install as I had used it before. No. It turns out it is now giphy capture (they must have bought it) and let us say that the reviews did not inspire me to download. It does not allow you to grab high def quality gifs as the previous app did. I did get miffed by the fact that Giphy decided to alter my potential old version download to the new ’version’ which is really not a new version at all, but a new app. Bad Giphy.

I usually grab with Screenflow but it is not free and I think it is only Mac. It is awesome as you can edit, add captions, it have actions that means you can do typography; you can scale and crop….I don’t even know half of all it can do. 

The garden of death Hugo Simberg (1896) 

Just playing with old images today. I loved this one and tried to ‘see it better’. Death is gardening, I love that. Thanks @jimgroom for pointing me to the post. 

The new daily create site is making me lazy. It is so easy to just post on Twitter and forget to write posts narrating process and reflecting on learning. I keep telling myself it is ephemera and it does not matter, picking up on Michael Branson Smith’s  distinction between ephemeral art and more long term projects. 

All this is true. What is also true is that each little creation teaches me something and helps me keep up to date with what the web offers to help us make digital art. 

The rest of this post is my attempt to put this right in terms of a few dailies Creates I made the last few weeks. I want to explore the tools I used and write some reflections on what I have learnt.

A while back we made a logo with a logo generator. My immediate reaction to it was negative. I often find that with prompts that send me in directions I would not choose to go! What is the point of just using a programmer’s knowledge of design in order to create an output that I have nothing to do with? Where is the creativity in that? I have learnt to ignore the critic when it comes to this type of thing. So I started to play with Emblematic

My immediate reaction was: meh. But here is the kicker; as I played I saw that it was possible to adapt parameters in the designs I liked. Some of these parameters were not familiar to me and changing them taught me new elements of design. In making a choice about what I like, I am choosing what I like for a purpose. This taught me something about aesthetics for fulfilling a brief. It is not the same to design a logo for this blog and for, say, a fake hipster new ‘hood as in my ‘WickGre’  logo above. Again, quoting Michael and @ryanseslow: In making a choice about ‘like’ I am learning something about art even if I am not creating it myself; I am learning about refining my taste for a purpose. A design skill. 

I first used Emblematic to make the new logo for this blog. When it came to creating acronames I remembered that tool and decided to use it. The brief: a hipster fake name for an area in my locality. I do not want to put too much location information online, because I am paranoid. So, I chose a local area that has gone through huge development recently but is not too close to me. The development has been controversial. I remembered the idea of Honest Slogans (another daily create from a long time ago, I think). What would it be like if my fake name for the new development had an honest slogan? 

So I looked for an image that would be an accurate reflection of what people are buying when they buy houses there. The place basically overlooks a huge roundabout with a huge superstore. I have nothing against this, but it does feel rather dishonest when commercials advertise the new homes as ‘luxury countryside living’. It is dangerous to cross the roads to get out of the development and I fail to see how living by a roundabout (large road intersection, for those not in the UK) can be said to be ‘countryside’. So, I made my poster for WickGre – creating places where people aspire to live, with a background of the large roundabout that defines it. It really is not that different from “DoWiSeTrePla”  – Downwind of the Sewage Treatment Plant mentioned on the podcast that explores ‘the SoHo effect’. Perhaps I should have called it: CleViBiRo – Clear View of Big Roundabout. 

On other news, we had a another create that made us use a nifty tool that allows us to print out video. Again, I could not see the point initially. I knew that @johnjohnston had made these storyboards many times and his were awesome. What was the point of something that gave you no control? You just gave it a URL and then it gave you a series of frames on a pdf. Meh. But, not meh! Read on.

John’s scrolls are wonderful but beyond those of us who do not command the Command line on a Mac. This tool made this accessible to the rest of us, but I genuinely did not see this when I first tried the tool. So I made a comic.


I could see how awesome the programming was, I could not see practical applications. I chose to do my background with and abstract video. I got a beautiful wallpaper, and assumed that this would be the only use. Then others started to use it. I realised how wrong I was. Jim Groom explored the potential use for scene analysis and understanding of a film. Doh! Of course, I never thought of that. I left a comment to that effect. He further suggested in his response,

Yeah, John Johnston has been doing amazing experiments along these lines for a few years now, we need to make some of that available. I like the idea of a daily tool..

Yes! Imagine watching a film and being able to create a storyboard of different scenes to analyse later not being dependent on You Tube. I started to learn how this could be useful practically as well as aesthetically. 

We then had a daily create that asked us to give clues for people to guess a movie. I immediately thought about the print a video tool. Get a scene and use as background to give clues on top of that background. The film was easy to guess, but I thought the poster looked lovely with the watercolour version of Blade Runner as background. 


And we are up to yesterday’s daily create. A 3 word map story. For this to work with the image of a map, I had to post location information. How to do it without that? I searched for my 3 words for the same location of my previous honest poster: Bricks, Flames and Active. This made me laugh. I immediately thought of the slogan: Actively flaming the countryside one brick at a time. I did a little bit of research. Turns out that 1500 houses have been built, without any changes to the local infrastructure. Who knows what the people buying the houses will have to go through as the houses sell – no more school places, no more parking, no more access roads…

I decided to do a protest poster. I wanted to do flames around the logo. I have tried and failed to learn how to do this in Photoshop before; mainly because I did not get the how to select a path before rendering the flames. I used a tutorial and managed to create what I had in mind. 


I replaced the background with a wallpaper of some public domain footage of a black and white house build, using the print video tool. And Bob is your uncle. 

So, yes it is true that the creations are ephemeral and are not something I will add to my best work folder. Yet, as a daily practice it cannot get much better than this: my expectations challenged so I can learn something new, finding practical uses for tools I was unfamiliar with, learning one more trick in a tool that will take many lifetimes to learn well and finding out about my local area’s development plans. 

And the biggest gift? I realise that I now have a tool to select frames for gifs easily. I can print it out, take time to view as stills and select my moments when making video gifs. Anything that help us gif better is a god send, says @gifadog 

Thank you, daily create.

Well, this was supposed to be a quick one. I wanted to gif part of my Addicted movie trailer  for today’s daily create. I decided to go with one of those easy peasy generators. This is the sucky gif it made and I could not leave it at that. I cannot leave a sucky gif out there… So, I had to go back to my own work flow: ScreenFlow, edit movie, export movie, import movie into photoshop, make the gif. The result: 27 frames, 628×590, just over 1MB and the manic timing I wanted to show how addictive DS106 can be; enacting what the gif describes by taking most of the afternoon to make something that is meant to take no more than 30 minutes! Bye for now. Heading to my DS106 anonymous meeting. 

and now following @bionicteaching teachings I made it even older! Get an old photo, pick up bits and add to photo you are ageing. Mess around to blend. 

Just playing with layers and filters in Photoshop. How to turn a new photo into an old tutorial followed is here

An open education conference I am attending in April asked us to create ‘a promo poster’ for it using our #ds106 digital skills. I am still uncertain as to what the brief is. I wonder if they want us to keep to their current theme of just make some fun posters. I went for fun posters! Others kept to the current theme – I hate that blue! 

I wanted an image that spoke of ‘open culture’ as this is the theme of the conference – I spent a long time searching in Wikimedia and other spaces for public domain images that were free to use. Found one. 

Poster 1

I also was not comfortable with highlighting keynote speakers as the ‘main event’ – for me the main event is about the whole community coming together to search their ideas and research. I wanted the poster to be about the perspective of a potential participant thinking about attending. The one way ticket idea, spoke to me in terms of how once you become an open online educator ‘there is not going back, it is a one way ticket’ – in one’s heart, at least. The tag line kept ringing in my head, it is probably lyrics to a song I heard long ago.  The Delicate font I found recently and love the open and minimal nature of it, it seemed the obvious choice. As the poster was a non-english movie poster the credits are in a language other than English, I chose to leave that as it was as it highlighted the idea that conferences are not (or should not be?) about personalities but about egoless dialogue. The poster highlights the theme and the participant – that is all. The image give the sense of endless ocean, marking the potential of ‘open culture’ in education. I love the simplicity of this one. 

Poster 2

I did the traditional thing and followed a template. The ‘movie’ has stars and they will pull the punters in. The stars at the top, the potential participant and his thoughts lower down in the image, with a smaller and fuzzier font. White highlight shows up the ‘stars’ that much more. I liked the PG rating – may not be suitable for children! This spoke to me about how we need to reflect on what it really means for our students to give informed consent to using open online education tools to learn. I really like how the OER16 logo hides behind the credits at the bottom. 

I guess what really makes both posters is the wonderful public domain image. The language is Azerbaijani and the image is for a movie poster in Azerbaijan

It has been a fun assignment, helped me reflect on how the narrative we chose to highlight in publicising conferences speaks to many of the norms that may need changing in the creation of an open culture in education. 

So this is a lovely Daily Create  for DS106!

I remembered my first stop motion gif ever and how it was jumpy and so large I could not load to Tumblr properly. I decided to revisit that one (with my extra year of experience in gif making) and make it better. Used Align layers, cropped here and there, chose new colours to restrict a couple of variations and make it look more ‘arty’ …and am ‘happy as Larry’ with the result

I have had so much fun with these!

I promised my mate Kevin (@mr45144) to create a series of (non) motivational posters with his wonderful new neighbours. He has been taking amazing photos of these creatures and I cannot but smile and relax when I see them. These images are not about drive, try hard and success. They are about lives dedicated to idleness and relaxation. It is like each images says ‘Relax! Chill! Life is good just as it is without you interfering.’ It was that sense of ease that gave me the idea of #llamainspirations ‘the motivational posters for those who want to be just lazy’. 

So I set out today to search for fonts. I found some perfect ones that cost a fortune. Not that. I kept googling got all my bits to make the posters in Photoshop. I then spent time with the photos to find the right words to go with the image. I have the psd file and the photos, I can take requests for (non)motivational quotes if you want your very own. Just leave me a comment.


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