Say hello to Affinity

The cute sketch of Jasper I posted yesterday turned out to be the last project I will (probably) ever do in Photoshop. It’s a long story but the short version is that when I updated my Mac operating system a couple of weeks ago, my first update in six years, I lost the ability to use my Adobe software (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign). I had read somewhere that my software wouldn’t work properly if I didn’t uninstall and reinstall it and so that’s what I did. Silly me. Down the rabbit hole I went. Reinstalling them didn’t work. Backups didn’t work. My software was no longer recognised and all was lost. It was really quite upsetting but not entirely unexpected.

Now I’m not telling you this because I’m looking for sympathy. I’m also not looking for solutions or workarounds. I’m not even going to contact Adobe to try and sort it out. Really? Yep. It’s a done deal — I’ve been on borrowed time with my CS5 software for years. I knew this day was coming and, now that it’s here, I’ve decided to embrace change.

The short-term pain of losing CS5 has given way to the discovery of Affinity’s award-winning graphic design and photo editing software. Check out their product videos — they’re really impressive. I have now jumped ship and am learning how to navigate Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo. Thankfully, it’s fairly intuitive, the GUI looks and feels familiar, and there are lots of online video tutorials. I don’t have a replacement for InDesign yet but I am eagerly awaiting Affinity’s release of Publisher later this year. The Affinity software is also very reasonably priced (no subscription, which helped to seal the deal for me) and they are offering free updates.

If you’re a Mac user (sorry, it is Mac only*), I recommend having a look at Affinity. I think it’s awesome. I love that I can import my old psd, ai, and pdf files. I also love that I’m now using creative software that is current and not six years old (that’s the equivalent of about half a century in software years).

So I’m saying goodbye, Adobe. There will be no more tears. I have no regrets. It was fun while it lasted.

* Affinity have announced that they plan to launch Designer and Photo on Windows later in the year.

Your own path

Wild & Free blue sky colours 2016

“You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path. Where there is a way or a path, it is someone else’s path. You are not on your own path. If you follow someone else’s way, you are not going to realise your potential.” Joseph Campbell

I’ve been busy making digital art prints for my Etsy shop… the first ones make use of a leafy ink doodle that I drew a few years ago — and even though I enjoy working on the computer, it’s been weeks since I held a paint brush and now I can’t wait to get back to my easel…

Bird on a wire

Bird on a wire — digital painting, 2016
Bird on a Wire — digital painting, 2016

I’ve had a bit of fun using Photoshop’s ‘smudge’ and ‘brush’ tools to transform a slightly blurry photograph of a little kingfisher (see below) into a digital painting. It’s an interesting way of working because the photograph provides the colour palette and basic composition, but you still have to know what you’re doing to turn it into a painting (if you have you ever tried using those artistic filters, you will know they’re very frustrating and no substitute for being able to draw). And the best thing about painting in the digital world: no mess and no need to clean up afterwards.

Faux firs

Bryce Island – digital, 2002
Bryce Island – digital, 2002

Imaginary landscape #1– ink and watercolour, 2014
Imaginary landscape #1– ink and watercolour, 2014

We all know that the very best thing about having rules is breaking them (we do know that, don’t we?)… so today’s Shoot it, Sketch it is based on a digital landscape rather than a photograph. ‘Bryce Island’ is an image I made with 3D modelling software way back in 2002. Click here to see my original post about Bryce.

Shoot it, Sketch it: Purple

Purple coneflowers, digitally edited photographs – Christchurch, 2003
Purple coneflowers, digitally edited photographs – Christchurch, 2003

I have no idea where my original photographs are but these are the arty versions (created quite a few years ago using Corel Photo-Paint) that inspired the diptych below. How I wish our garden still looked this good!

Purple coneflower diptych  – acrylic on textured card, 205 x 305 mm each, 2014
Purple coneflower diptych – acrylic on textured card, 205 x 305 mm each, 2014

A loose, sketchy style seemed the thing for these two studies. I also used less intense, more natural colours and resisted the urge to define all the edges. In some ways they feel a little unfinished, like a work still in progress, and yet I can’t bring myself to add any more paint.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Starplane, 2002
Starplane, 2002

No, not really… although I did make these images more than a decade ago! I’d completely forgotten about them. I rediscovered them when I was backing up some of my old computer files. Hands up if you’ve heard of Bryce, the 3D modelling software. Hands up if you knew about it in 2002. Back then, the program was owned by Corel (it’s now owned by DAZ) and I was teaching myself CorelDraw and PhotoPaint. Corel users were offered a free trial and it sounded like fun…

Landscapes, 2002
Landscapes, 2002

I created seascapes, landscapes, snow-covered mountains and shiny spheres floating in impossible skies. And it was a lot of fun. But rendering the scenes was painfully slow and I seem to remember crashing my computer frequently and often during the process. A month’s trial was quite long enough. Seeing these images again now though, I’ve been wondering about checking out the latest version… but it’s just not possible to do everything — there simply aren’t enough hours in the day!

Dear diary, part three

‘Trash your ash – play the game and everybody wins’ – sketches and final illustration  Visual diary, two-page spread (student project, 2011)
‘Trash your ash – play the game and everybody wins’ – sketches and final illustration
Visual diary, two-page spread (student project, 2011)

‘Trash your ash’ mock-ups (billboard and installation) – ink, photography and digital Visual diary, two-page spread (student project, 2011)
‘Trash your ash’ mock-ups (billboard and installation) – ink, photography and digital
Student project, 2011

The brief for this project was to design an anti-cigarette-litter billboard and public installation for the city council’s ‘Future Vision of a Clean City’ campaign. The focus had to be on anti-not-thinking rather than anti-smoking. For the installation, I turned my drawing of Christchurch’s Anglican Cathedral and Chalice sculpture into a pop-up board game that could be played in public spaces around the city. It was a lot of fun putting my illustration into the photo ― I wonder why I don’t do that more often?

The diary pages are from a journal I designed for my Design & Arts College exhibition in 2012. Two years of research, ideas, word maps and sketches had to be reduced to a mere 72 pages. It was no easy task but it’s something I’ll always treasure.