30 April 2008

F10 Gears: Colouring the Gears - Gears on Old Paper

After last week I took the initial gears and made them from solid gold, not is time to talk about the completely different approach, old writing on old paper, where we will work on the strokes.

So, back to the black and white gears:

[paper gears]

If we set the stroke color and unset the fill color will get something like this, with overlapping contours, he will have to get rid of:
[paper gears]

So select the gear (gears if we have more) suffering due to this unwanted overlap and convert the stroke to path:
[paper gears]

The go to another gear which covers it, duplicate, select the duplicate and the former stroke and do a difference operation:
[paper gears] [paper gears]

Repeat with all the gearc covering it until we get to something like this:
[paper gears]

Then convert all the remaining strokes to paths.

Now we want the drawing to look rough. But it has a large number of nodes, it will take quite a while to edit them manually for the desired rough look, so, as usual, I will cheat and use an automatic simplify operation (shown at an increased zoom level):
[paper gears] [paper gears] [paper gears]

Repeat for all your gears and get something like:
[paper gears]

Now define a multistop gradient for the paper - light grown/yellow for old paper or dark blues if we want to go with blueprint (I have not decided yet about the way to go).
[paper gears] [paper gears]

A multistop gradient is needed for ink too (not shown), and it has to have fitting colors but good contrast with the paper (like browns for old paper and light blue for blueprints). Apply the gradients:
[paper gears]

Then add some texture to the paper: draw a random blob with the freehand tool, will it in a color similar with the background (but slightly darker or lighter), unset the stroke, simplify if needed and blur a lot:
[paper gears] [paper gears] [paper gears]

Add some more until you are happy with the texture:
[paper gears]

The images is still too sharp for an old drawing on old paper, so we will have to soften the focus. Select all the gears, duplicate, make the duplicate darker (black), apply some blur and decrease the opacity:
[paper gears] [paper gears]

And this is all for now:
[paper gears]

I still want to tweak this design further, I am researching for an additional effect which I am not sure how to achieve (yet): I want to make the paper look like it was folded (probably a combination of random shapes and blur).

29 April 2008


After the latest issue of my webcomic, where I touched the Ubuntu release subject, I received a healthy amount of feed-back (I said you then, a bit of controversy is good) and the piece I thins stands out the best is this blog reply from Cypress:

[fedora 9]

Well, Cypress, I give you a 7 (seven) for the effort and for finding a good looking stock photo.

At a second thought, the "rpm hell" joke is so ooooold and the "old tractor" metaphor is wrong (a much better metaphor/joke on Fedora would be as a to new, unproven technology) that it make me think I was too generous with a 7, but I already said "seven" and "seven" is.

25 April 2008

Fedora stickers kit

As for the Werewolf Romanian release party we produced locally a bunch of stickers I toyed with the idea to produce something similar but still different for Sulphur (most likely we will hold an event on 18 May).

My solution was to come with a "kit", an A6 adhesive paper with as many as possible Fedora graphics crammed on it (stickers suited for various things from USB sticks to laptops or buttons):


The big advantage, as I see it, is that an ambassador (or any other Fedora enthusiast) can print them cheaply on A4 adhesive paper, cut it in 4 quarters and give them away in a "do yourself" style, where the receiver is supposed to cut itself the individual pieces:

We have not printed anything yet, used the slippage of the release date as the perfect excuse to delay the work :p - so tings may change until 13/18 May.

24 April 2008

Weekly Fedora Webcomics: 8.04

I was labelled as having a grudge, probably I will be called flamebaiter or troll, but I think a little controversy is healthy from time to time, so I won't censor myself and leave this cartoon online.
If my intention was to do cheap trolling, I would have used the word hardon somewhere in the dialogs, but I assumed the IQ of my readers is high enough so I don't have to go for obvious jokes.

[hardon versus rawhide]

PS: considering the feedback about unreadable text received after the previous issues, I kept the handfont font (for freedom) but I moved to ALL CAPS, hope it is readable enough (and updated the old webcomics too).

PPS: source is available in SVG, as always (open source webcomics).


I tried KDE 4 back at the Fedora 9 Beta, I tried it again at the F9 preview release and will try it again at the final release (I plan to have it on a bootable USB pen drive, along with a GNOME one at the event we will hold locally for the release). But every time I end my test run quickly, after a few minutes.

[Fedora 9 KDE 4 screenshot]

I understand that KDE fans and users should be happy with it, the KDE SIG guys did a wonderful job, it looks polished and close to the default KDE look and feel (long gone are the controversial, good or bad, days of Bluecurve, RHL 8 and unified look and feel).

But longer I try KDE, the more displeased I get and more committed to GNOME. It looks alien to me, it feels alien to me. Yes, the desktop looks shiny, but all my shortcuts, reflexes and habits are useless here. I could train myself (probably in at least a few weeks of pain) and heavily customize to get something familiar but is much easier to stay with my current choices. Which does not means KDE 4 is a bad desktop, it just isn't the best desktop for me.

23 April 2008

F10 Gears: Colouring the Gears - Golden Gears

Last week I talked about drawing gears with Inkscape (for a Fedora 10 theme proposal, but not only), now it's the time for a promised follow-up: let' put some color on the gears.

I want to make the gears golden (or bronze, there is not much difference in the process) to express the value and at the same time match the intended steampunk style. The start is exactly where I left the image, black outlines on a transparent background:

[golden gears]

The first step is to define the color, and metallic is not a color, the metallic look of a surface is given by light reflection, so we will use a multistop gradient (a gradient with more than two colors). For gold it should contain a succession of lighter and darker shades of yellow, maybe also a bit of orange, for bronze also yellows with a shade of green (copper oxidation is green), for steel it should contains greys, the chrome is also greys but more reflective (more contrast, from almost black to almost white), silver is less reflective grey and so on.
Here is my gold:
[golden gears]

Then take one wheel and apply the gradient to it:
[golden gears]

For a 3D look add a drop shadow (duplicate, make it black, move a few pixels down and right, move it under the wheel, add a bit of blur and maybe decrease the opacity):
[golden gears]

The gear does not say on air, we'll put on a background, and I used the same golden gradient for the sake of simplicity, you can use a different one, maybe darker:
[golden gears]

Add some more gears (all your golden gears). Note the usefulness of the drop shadow, without it it would be hard to set apart the gear from the background, now they are distinct objects:
[golden gears]

To make the image more vivid (and because so looks the pocket watch I'm using as a reference, I add some steel gears. Start this by defining the gradient (multistop, greys, with a shade of blue):
[golden gears]

And apply the gradient to some wheels:
[golden gears]

Here is one trick to get some of the wheels richer, not that plain and boring: add a groove - two smaller circles, aligned to the center of the gear, filled with the same grey gradient, the larger in an opposite direction, the smaller in the same direction as the rest of the wheel:
[golden gears]

Put the steel gears in the device (just take care to not couple steel gears with gold gears: steel with steel and gold with gold):
[golden gears]

Now for some axles: small circles, made from gold, steel, ruby or sapphire (if you remember my attempt to cheat and put more blue). Do not forget the drop shadow and consider a white highlight:
[golden gears]

Place the axles in the center of the gears and we are set:
[golden gears]

But I often have a tendency to go overboard and will do now the same: add some screws holding the device. They are easy to do: create a steel circle, substract a rectangle to create the groove, add a darker steel rectangle, the bottom of the groove, rotate the screw to a random angle (we don't want all the screws to have parallel grooves, that would be repeating and boring), fix the gradient and add a drop shadow. Maybe a hole: a larger circle colored with the same gradient as the background but with an opposed orientation. (I increased the zoom level in this step for a clearer illustration)
[golden gears] [golden gears]

Distribute the screws evenly (or randomly it you feel like too) and it's done:
[golden gears]

Now wait for another follow-up, probably next week, when I will try to color is an old drawing on old paper or blueprint style.

22 April 2008

Was she there, or wasn't she? Removing objects from photos with GIMP and Resynthesizer

Resynthesizer is a very cool GIMP plugin I have been playing with for a few days. It can be used for some "magic" effects: create seamless backgrounds, transfer textures from one image to another and remove objects from images.

The plugin is not installed by default, but is available on the website, with binaries for various OSes. In Fedora we have it already packaged, only a yum away: yum install gimp-resynthesizer.

I like its "remove objects" feature, which of course is far from perfect and works best on selected images, but is the kind of effect you see on movies: a few clicks and poof! instant coolness (in the same league with SIOX).

So open your photo with GIMP and draw a free selection (with the Lasso tool) around it:


Then apply the plugin: Script-Fu -> Enhance -> Smart remove selection...

If the case change the radius (just try some values) and leave it to work for a few seconds:

And admire the "magic":

Then you have only one thing left to do, wonder: Was she there, or wasn't she?:

If you want to get close to perfection, use the clone tool or the healing tool and remove the remaining artefacts, just don't try to use the photo as an evidence in a court of law or pass it as true photojournalism.

21 April 2008

In reply to "Fedora + Creative Arts"

Jon talk about encouraging "creative" people to use Fedora and his ideas about achieving this.

Well, the answer is really simple: creative people are just normal people, they work in the same way as the other and the others, the main motivation is to see their work (on which may have wasted several hours) get used by people.

Look at desktop wallpapers as a perfect example: every graphics guy love to create wallpapers and to share them, a lot of people get into graphics by creating wallpapers. At the same time, of course we can have only one default wallpaper in a certain Fedora release, so the motivational factor for creating wallpapers is low.

The answer here is to provide a place where people can submit their unofficial wallpapers and have them exposed to a large number of users and at the same time a place where users can get a lot of wallpapers (in various styles, colors, formats) and find something fitting their own taste.

This can work either as a gallery hosted by the Fedora Project or as an aggregation of resources posted elsewhere by various authors. Either way, the graphics have to be discoverable and easily searchable.

Here is a cherry we could add on top, to increase even more the motivation from contributors: have as part of Fedora Weekly News a "wallpaper of the week" category.

Note: we have content hosted elsewhere and tagged, some examples: Flickr, deviantART, Fedora Forum, but they are not known enough, not easily discoverable and not tied to a central point, from where the users can learn about them (and all use proprietary services/hosting).

And I have not finished yet, there is another answer: the tools, which are not available or just not emphasised enough.

Here is one example about the tools: Inkscape is currently the star of FOSS graphic applications (and definitely the tools we use and love the most at the Art Team). However, the application is not included by default in any Fedora spin (not in Core, not in Desktop).

The answer I get when I ask about promoting the application to a spin? Usually none. Sometime I may get "create your own Art spin". Which, IMO, is just not good enough. It does not work for promotion, it does not work for attracting new people, it does not work as a selling point for us, it differentiate us from other distros in a negative way.

18 April 2008

More webcomics

My plan was to try to produce webcomics on a weekly basis, but something happened and changed my plans: I was stuck almost all day long today without internet access (power failure, then hardware failure, ugly stuff) and as a consequence I got a lot of unplanned free time.

On top of that I received some news (which I somewhat expected) - over SMS, of course, as my net connection was down, from ajoian (we are planning an event) so I couldn't resist:

[fedora 9 release date slipps]

Now I promise, the next one will be next week (and I already have an idea for it).

PS: do you know all those comics come with sources? I leave to you the little quest of finding the sources, you may get even more goodies there :D

17 April 2008

A lame webcomic

Jef talks about Fedora branded webcomics... well, this is something which I can resonate with, as I was thinking about about the same thing for quite some time. But I lacked the much needed impulse.

So here is a lame webcomic, made very quickly in a naive style and with a dull idea, feel free to hate it, but look at the concept and the format:

[the fedora webcomic is born]

16 April 2008

F10 Gears: Drawing the Gears

While I am still thinking about putting back some blue on the Gears theme proposal for Fedora 10 (and, of course, while counting down the few days remaining until the upcoming Fedora 9 release) here is a short howto about drawing gears, so anyone can learn to make them.

In fact drawing gears is not hard at all, I cheat and use an effect included in the recently released Inkscape 0.46 (available both in F8 and F9) Effects > Render > Gears:

[fedora gears]

A few parameters to adjust (with Live Preview enabled to see their effect in real time) and we get a toothed wheel:
[fedora gears]

Now add a circle:
[fedora gears]

And use the Align and Distribute dialog to align it to the center (I used here "e;Relative to: Biggest Item"):
[fedora gears]

Then substract the circle from the wheel (you may need to upgroup once, as the Gear effect greated the wheel as a group):
[fedora gears]

Now to create spokes. Add a rectangle and align it to the center:
[fedora gears] [fedora gears]

Duplicate the rectangle and rotate it 90°:
[fedora gears] [fedora gears]

Select both rectangles and rotate them freely:
[fedora gears]

Select everything and do an union:
[fedora gears]

For the middle of the gear create a small circle, align it to the center and do another union:
[fedora gears] [fedora gears]

The hole for the axis is another circle aligned to the center and substracted from the wheel:
[fedora gears]

And the first gear is done!

Another gears coupled with it must have similar teeth, so use the Gear plugin and change only the number of teeth:
[fedora gears]

And do a complex mechanism:
[fedora gears]

You may want to increase the complexity further by adding some parallel gears, which may have their own parameters (as long as they are not coupled with the initial gears):
[fedora gears]

And that was all for today! Expect a follow-up (maybe next week) about coloring those gears.