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Smell the Virtual Coffee

And now for something completely delicious… wait, what was that? Uh… no, sorry, it’s not candy. Gilda swears there will be candy very soon, though. At which point all her friends who’ve been waiting for a box in the mail since Christmas will have a collective stroke.

Gentle Reader, if you happen to be one of those friends, she says to tell you it will be worth the wait.

What we have today is eye candy. Which we’ll be serving with some great virtual coffee. Maybe not so delicious as actual caramel (nothing is that good), but at least it can be enjoyed without any need to jump on the nearest treadmill. Have a look:

Red Orange Tree Background

Red Orange Woods

Gilda has spent the better part of a week in a state of complete obsessive distraction. This is typical of Artie–he’s so fascinated with everything, he forgets to eat. But Gilda… she’s all about staying on task. What happened?

It all started after she made this drawing on her iPad:

Abstract drawing of stream

Frozen Stream

… and she had this photograph:

Collapsing abandoned house with mountain of discarded tires

Post-Modern Pastoral

… and she wondered what would happen if she combined them.

Image Blender is a fine little app that does exactly one thing: it combines “Image A” with “Image B.” You choose the images, adjust their relative transparency, and apply one of 18 Photoshop-like blending modes. That’s it. Two photos. No layers. No filters. No resizing. Easy peasy. Only… it can be a bit of a sledgehammer.

It’s a good sledgehammer, don’t get me wrong. But even the best sledgehammer is still just a sledgehammer. As you can see. Here’s the final result, using Image Blender’s “Exclusion” blend mode:

Blending Experiment

Blending Experiment

Gilda is not a fan of random collisions masquerading as art. Much less when the accident does nothing to improve either of the colliding elements. This wreckage failed to meet her standards. And just like that, she was off to the App Store to find a more capable tool. Artie went along to help compare options. Gilda thought it would take about five minutes.

Four hours later (!?!)….

They were back. With some awesome new toys. The main one being Photoshop Touch, Adobe’s extremely well implemented version of Photoshop for the iPad. Also Flowpaper, an interesting “procedural brush” drawing tool. And Percolator, a photo mosaic generator on serious steroids.

That virtual coffee I mentioned? Stand by. It’s about to be percolated.

Gilda turned on some really lovely music (warning: autoplayer). Then she looked through her photos for some images to play around with, starting with this one:

Crabapple Blossoms

Crabapple Blossoms

Let’s see what happens when we run it through Percolator:

Crabapple, Percolated I

Grind: Extra Fine (Average Circles & Effect: Auto Adjust), Brew: Treble (No Pic & 3/4 Blended Circles), Serve: Black (Clear Tone & Paper Cup Texture)

Whoa. Never mind the picture… Check out that caption!

Unexpectedly Impressive App Feature: When a “percolated” image is saved, Percolator thoughtfully embeds the settings into the file as metadata. When the image is shared (on a WordPress blog, say), all that info automagically appears in the caption. Cool, no?

As for the image…

We like it. More than we expected to. Gilda says it’s better than the photograph. We have to agree. In fact, every one of us (including the Skipper) would love to see a huge version of it hanging on the wall. We even agree on which wall.

Which leaves Artie puzzling over the same philosophical issue that we started with. Is this just another “random collision masquerading as art?” Or is it something else? An interesting question. No doubt there will be an equally interesting answer.

Gilda isn’t one to fret over philosophy. She either likes a thing or she doesn’t. If she finds something appealing that makes people happy, she thinks it’s absurd not to make use of it.

So how about a new version of Gilda’s earlier drawing? It took a while to get the Percolator settings tweaked just the way she wanted. Once that was done, she brought it into PS Touch, layered it over the original, adjusted the colors, fiddled around with the blending options, and was finally happy with this:

Frozen Stream II

Frozen Stream II

That red orange image with the tree trunks at the beginning of this story? It started out with this drawing Gilda did in Omnisketch (awesome app, by the way – we’ll definitely be reviewing it):

Red Orange Distress

Red Orange Distress

After bubbling about in the Percolator:

Red Orange, Brewed

Red Orange Brewed
Grind: Fine (Average Circles & Effect: Auto Adjust), Brew: Treble (Full Pic & Evaporate Blended Circles), Serve: Black (Clear Tone & Paper Cup Texture)

Then into PS Touch, to be layered with this photo we shot at Wickiup Hill last fall:

Oak Savannah

Oak Savannah

More blending and layering, and it’s done:

Red Orange Tree Background

Red Orange Woods

Gilda likes this composited image just as it is. However, she has other plans for it. She’s using it right now as a background (one of several) in a new layered drawing. But that’s a story for tomorrow.

  1. Whoa… this was a treat to wake up to this morning on bloglovin’. Can’t wait until I have time to devote to this. Maybe a snowy Sunday since it appears it will snow the rest of the whole year. Can’t wait to play. THANKS to Artie and Gilda for this intriguing and comprehensive post.

  2. Beautiful! No doubt time flies while doing something this creative. Love it!