26 April 2007

Tips: using brushes with Inkscape

In another follow-up to Máirín's tutorial about Grungy Brushes, I showed an alternate way to create those using Inkscape only. But is kind of weird to create brushes with Inkscape only to use them with GIMP so I wrote a few tricks about using brushes with Inkscape.

inkscape brushes

The article is a bit heavy in images, with a few large screenshots, so I will not post it directly in my blog to waste people's bandwidth, but instead in a static page. Go read it if you are interested.

[read more]

25 April 2007

More "Grungy Brushes"

If you have not already read Máirín's nice tutorial about Grungy Brushes, published recently on the Red Hat Magazine, go and read it now before continue reading this. I skip here a lot of steps and present only part of the workflow.

I will explore a more simplified (and probably not that good looking) way to do it, using only vector graphics for path generation.

  • Fire Inkscape, of course, this is the tool we will use

  • Draw a rectangle, al large as you want. I made it red only for visual feedback in the next step.


  • Switch to the calligraphic tool and draw randomly until you cover the rectangle but leave a lot of gaps, we will use only the gaps. Make sure you have one single path, otherwise select the paths and do a union (Path > Union).

    random random

  • Select the the chaotic path and the rectangle and perform a difference (Path > Difference). After that break it (Path > Break Apart).


  • Optionally, if the blobs are too big make them smaller using inset (Path > Inset) and if they are too complex simplify (Path > Simplify).


  • Now, just as Máirín did, use the Align and Distribute dialog to move them around.


  • And go wild with a lot of crazy shapes:


  • As shown in the tutorial, export as PNG, import into GIMP, flatten image, convert to grayscale and save as brush (.gbr).

I think at another possible approach which would not use a rectangle and difference, but the bucket fill from the Inkscape development branch, but for now I will limit to tips and tricks about the stable version.

If you didn't read the tutorial before, I hope I got you interested, so go read it now!

24 April 2007

Sinclair Spectrum Nostalgia

My celebration of the 25-th anniversary of the Sinclair Spectrum is to highlight some games or applications that influenced me in some way.

  • Rygar - because it was my first and you will have a soft spot for your first forever. Well, it was not the first computer game I ever played, but it was the first I really liked and the first I won. Later I grew bored by the genre and stopped playing this kind of games, I revisited it years after in a improved version (MAME), but it have not captured the old feeling.


  • Elite was in those years my backup game, something I played when I wanted to play something but didn't have something interesting to play (note: later, in the PC era the backup game became Heroes of Might and Magic II-IV). Sure, I tried later the PC version and some clones, but it was too little, too late.


  • The Dizzy series I liked so much that I tried to do my own clone, directly in Z80 assembly language. I started by drawing a complete set of tiles for graphics (with pen on graph paper, no less!), creating a game map of about 20 rooms composed from those tiles, an engine to display the game world and move the main character in this world (complete with keyboard input and sprite animation) and display of text messages using a custom font. Then I got to the hard part: implementing the game logic, so I put the game on hold to get some ideas and life took me away from it.


  • Art Studio was a graphics software, not a game, and it defined my way of drawing for many years. Later, in the Windows 95 era I kept using MS Paint and missing its version from Windows 3.x because it resembled better some "features" from Art Studio.
    art studio

Oh, and BTW, in that era my "computer monitor" was a black and white 14" TV.

23 April 2007

Fedora Visual Identity

 In the last few days I uploaded a number of screenshots to http://wiki.lug.ro/, mostly in the desktop area: graphics, office, multimedia, games. A lot of work is still to be done, but this process made me to have a clearer picture about the visual identity of Fedora.

I use a configuration pretty close to the default: for windows the Clearlooks theme and for icons Bluecurve/Echo/Mist, which in result is something very close to the upstream GNOME default. This in opposition to Ubuntu screenshots, which clearly stand apart by their look (which I don't like, but this is not the point). When a reader see a screenshot made with Ubuntu, he can recognize on the spot: Ubuntu, GNOME, Linux. In the case of a screenshot made with Fedora what else can be recognized except GNOME? Not much else.

 I guess this is part of the explanation why almost half (number pulled straight out of my ass) of the Linux screenshots found on the web are brown.

This is true at leas for me: having a more personal look of Fedora by default would motivate me more in publishing screenshots in such places as Wikipedia, is addition to my blog or my tutorials.

What a more personal look could be? It may be something little, like a specific shade of blue, a small change to the window decorations, a small tweak to the icon theme.

20 April 2007

The brown quadrilateral

Pro Basescu
Only a few months after acceptance in the EU, the communist restoration is flourishing here in Romania, it culminated yesterday with a coup d'état performed by the communist mafia.

The brown quadrilateral if formed by communists, political police from the communist era (securitate), mafia, and corruption.

The only sane thing one can do is to leave this shitty country for good, and never look back.

Me? In another life I would have cared about those things, but for now I just lack the energy...

11 April 2007

Spread Open Media


Spread Open Media (SOM) is a project in the same line as Spread Firefox, but combined with a powerful community like Mozillazine. SOM will promote Open Media formats like Xiph's (Vorbis, FLAC, Speex, Theora and XSPF) and others like SVG and ODF.

We, at the Open Clip Art Library, together with Xiph.org are hosting a contest for creating a logo and maybe a mascot for Spread Open Media. All submissions should be in SVG format and released as Public Domain, so they cam become part of the Open Clip Art Library. The contest started on 10 April 2007 and will end on 05 May 2007. Using those contributions as a base, a lot of materials like banners, buttons, badges, icons, fliers, t-shirts will be created.

[OCAL]Read more about the rules and start contributing your graphics!

03 April 2007

Communication channels


For this rant to be understood in its entire value, I should notice I do not work in a FOSS company and not even in a company where IT is the main focus.

Last week I was at work doing something at my desk when the phone ring: "Someone named XXXX from the city YYYY is asking for you". Unknown name, but I take the line, maybe is something business related and not spam. "Hi, I am XXXX from city YYYY and I have a question about OpenOffice". My first reaction was "from where do you have this number?". The answer: he got my name from the OpenOffice.org website, found my work email address, then my employer website and phone number.

Then he asked something about using regular expressions in Calc filters, but I was to shocked by his gesture to call me at work (is clear from the website we work in an unrelated area) so I could not answer at the moment (and I needed a look in the help anyway). My reply was along the "I can't tell you right now, but let's talk on the mailing list, even if I don't know the answer, maybe somebody else can and if not, you may ask on the English list". And he: "but I don't know enough English" (but he knew enough to find my employer website (which is entirely English), and my work phone number there.

Of course, he never came to the list to properly ask the question, which was not hard to answer.

The moral of this story is: use the proper communication channels, otherwise you may not get the desired answer (hehe, this may apply also to me sometimes...)

Articles page

On a related note, about the communication clarity, I did a cleanup of my articles page, it was a straight translation from my blog, with bad and bloated html and css. I now communicate clearer and my money are at the same place with my mouth.