Archive for the 'gimp' Category


This morning I’ve been playing with ArahPaint, free software designed as “a drawing tool, which helps textile designers in editing pictures in repeat” (from the User Manual). It’s intended to support the first step in designing jacquard woven fabrics, but I was thinking of stamping and printing.

First some links: The AVL blog which alerted me to the software. It has direct links to the software download, user manual etc. Arahne website. Their main product is weaving software for jacquard and dobby looms, and there’s also a draping or texture mapping program which looks complicated but fun (there are demos for both, but I don’t think they’re open source). Gimp is my preferred image manipulation software (also free). I found myself swapping between gimp (to adjust my basic image) and arahpaint (to produce pattern repeats) and it worked pretty smoothly. The windows snipping tool came in handy too.

p4s4_02I used a design based on a shell, from A Creative Approach (sketchbook here and blog post 11-Feb-2012). A few of this morning’s new patterns are in the slideshow below.

I didn’t get into the details of ArahPaint, just tried the things that worked without too much trouble. A few times either the program or I got confused, which was generally solved by starting a new image, closing and reopening the software, or getting a cup of tea. With my gimp experience most things worked pretty much as I expected, and the User Manual helped out.

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Overall a very useful tool which I will explore further when a project suggests itself.

Back to work!

The last time I posted about actual OCA assignment work was in late December. I can be confident that not a day has gone past that I haven’t thought about it – the one thing I’ve been able to maintain is at least at little sketchbook work every day (started 14 Dec, so 39 days including Jan 21). This weekend I’ve finally been able to get some time together.

I had produced a design and really liked it – so much so that the next step, doing three more drawings based on the first one, was really difficult.

The distance in time helped. I also was very clear that I wanted to base the new drawings on the old, not reproduce it. I wanted to see if pushing further even when you’re happy with something helps to find new possibilities.

Stage 2 Exercise 3

Version 1 uses dry media – conté pencils on black watercolour paper.

The instructions were to keep one’s point of view clearly in mind while working. I wanted to focus on pattern and texture development within the very rigid geometrical grid.

The end result is still very close to the original, but I think successful in the texture and pattern focus. It now looks much more “stitcherly” in nature, while the first looks like a graphic print.

The columns are now much less distinct against the heavily patterned “background”. I considered putting some white onto the columns to give them more presence, but decided it would all get too busy and start fighting for attention in an unpleasant way.

Version 2 asked for wet media. This gave me lots of trouble, in large part because the original was in watercolour (? or gouache – can’t remember just now).

My first idea was to move away from the heavy geometry to a more organic, less controlled image. I wanted to use watercolours to form those hard drying lines to make the patterning of the background. This went very badly – way to much water around for a start. The end result was ditched as an assignment exercise, but recycled into sketchbook work. You can see it here, but it’s still unexciting.

Plan b was to continue the focus on patterning, this time using stamps to create the texture.

First I created a cardboard stencil, to protect areas of the image while stamping. Since I had it, I used the stencil to gently colour and texture the background with sprayed, diluted, sepia coloured ink. I have a motley collection of stamps gathered over the years. This image has some chinese stamps carved with my sons’ names, a couple of (maybe indian) wooden blocks, and a variety of business stamps that were being thrown away at a workplace. I used acrylic ink (black and burnt umber).

Ignoring the clumsiness of various things, I find this result interesting. I like the reduce colouring, which makes apparent how strongly coloured the previous versions were. The columns don’t work well, but I like the overlapping and incomplete stamping on the lightly coloured background. Some very nice marks there.

I like the result on the stencil too. I think the colour combination is one to use again.
The image on the left is another experiment. To create the stencil, I used my stored photo of the original design, and using gimp created a layer with all the major lines. This was printed onto a light card and I cut out along lines as required – you can see some of the construction lines I didn’t need on the stencil under the stamping.
Further work within gimp produced what might be an e-stencil (I just made that term up). It’s made up of layers, and I’ve put in a screen grab of my layers dialog hoping it makes some of the following clearer.

The bottom layer (ignoring an info layer where I’ve put some reminders to myself) is the background or wall. In the example shown I filled it with a stone pattern (extra detail – to get the slope of the pattern right, I created a separate image and filled it with pattern, then rotated that image by -64 degrees before selecting a square, copying and pasting into my background layer).
Next up is the column layer. It has two parts – the layer and a mask. The mask controls which parts of the layer are actually seen. Where the mask is black, the layer is blanked out – it doesn’t show in the end result. I have the column shapes in white on the mask, so that part of the layer will be seen. I used the same technique as for the background, this time using a purple lightening pattern and rotation 26 degrees. The purple lightening columns are seen on top of the background.

The spray decoration is another layer, again with a mask so only selected areas of the pattern are visible. This time I rotated the pattern by eye to get what I wanted (there’s nothing magic about the other rotation amounts, just what works for this particular design).

Finally I have a layer at the top which puts a little frame or border on the image. I now have a file which can be used to audition colour and patterning ideas for the design. I could even scan or photograph some fabric and use that in a simulation.

Back to the assignment. The third media was collage materials. I used some calendar and magazine images, plus some tissue paper from a shop. The black spray area is actually a calendar photo of lava (maybe?) by Frans Lanting. I think this is the least successful variation. Perhaps there isn’t enough contrast between background and columns, plus the different background images don’t meld well. It reminds me of patchwork, and if it really was it would need significant stitching to reinforce the directional lines and perhaps differentiate texture – say leave the columns relatively unstitched and slightly puffy.

Hopefully in all of these my textural/pattern point of view is apparent. I’m still mulling over my texture questions from my earlier angsty post. I emailed my tutor, Pat, who gave some helpful advice and reassurance. The other day I came across a book in the library, “Capturing texture in your drawing and painting”, and have been reading through. It’s full of techniques in all sorts of drawing and painting media, some interesting stuff that I want to try out… but I’m beginning to get the idea that you get so involved in producing an image that a lot of the freedom and gestural mark-making gets lost. It all gets very controlled, which might be fine if I wanted the image as an end product, but perhaps not so much as an exploratory, resource building for other work exercise. A lot of the stilted problem is due to being a beginner and it all being new to me of course. Always more to learn and think about.

Warr, M. (2002) Capturing texture in your drawing and painting London: B T Batsford Ltd.

Another colour exercise

colourp_20090413It’s close to the end of the long weekend, the afternoon sky has darkened and it is pouring rain. I’m inching ahead on my next weaving project, busy winding 20/2 silk ready for dyeing. The dyeing itself is delayed, due to the previously mentioned bad light and flooding (literally, in my garage) rain.

colourg_20090413In the meantime, some brave flowers found yesterday in my neglected garden, and the colour grid based on it

The tutorials on continue to absorb me. I used a technique (episode 43??) to create colours_20090413this version of the flowers. It makes me want to cut some stamps and start embellishing fabric! This is a very rough and ready version – less than 5 minutes. It could be a really powerful tool with a little practice…

GIMP detour

I’ve continued my exploration of gimp this week, enjoying lots of back episodes of Meet the GIMP, a video tutorial podcast about the GNU Image Manipulation Program. Non-textile life continues to absorb pretty much all my time and creative energy, so a predominately passive activity that still builds useful skills and knowledge is just what I need.

colour_extract_3pI took this photo a while back at the Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens. I’ve done some “post processing” of the photo (practising GIMP) and am not sure how close the resulting colour is to life…

As well as the pixelize and smooth palette tools I used before here, I’ve tried converting the photo to indexed colour and then creating a colour map. (I’ve upgraded to Gimp 2.6.6: convert to indexed with menu Image/Mode/Indexed; create colour map using Windows/Dockable Dialogs/ColorMap or add it to your tool box; the Palette is now under Colors/Map/Palette Map).

colour_extract_3_colormapThis is the generated color map. In the end I used all the software generated extractions when creating my grid, but still referred back to the original (well, doctored) photo for specific colours such as the rust red specks (stamens??) on the flower.

20090404_gridThis is my final grid. As with my previous attempts, it looks very flat and lifeless. At some stage I am likely to change my grid format, probably to fewer colours. If I want to use these as a guide for dyeing yarn I would probably want fewer base colours, then mix them and play with dilution as I am painting the yarn.

fire_colourmapI went back to my fire photos and did the indexing/color map trick with those. This first example is from my own photo, shown in this post. It has a lot of the flickering flame combined with charcoal, smoke and ashes that I first wanted, although not the glowing red.

fire1_indexThe second is from a photo of a more brightly burning fire (from a photo I found on the web, so I won’t reproduce it).  I’m surprised by the pinks and purples that the software found – not at all my idea of “fire” colours.

There will be weaving soon, I promise! I actually have some Finished Objects from a few weeks ago, waiting for their moment in the limelight. In the meantime, Monday morning is approaching and my weekend list of chores still looks like Mount Everest.

Colour extract experimentation

Last week I tried my first “colour extract”  – click here to see the original photo and the grid of colours I came up with.

Over the past week, in little corners and oddments of time pilfered from my non-textile life, I’ve been experimenting with the software. I’ve been using gimp (GNU Image Manipulation Program – freely distributed software) on and off for over 10 years, but know only a few of its many features. Here are some new-to-me ones.

colour_extract_2pI used a cropped version of the same photo as last week. The one here is also reduced in size for the blog – I found it useful while playing to try things with both the high resolution version and a lower one. It was a balancing act between quality of information (colours not too blended and muddied) versus quantity (overwhelming). I also went into Tools/Color Tools/Levels and used the slider where the histogram was flat (based on this tutorial which explains  “making full use of our available dynamic range improves the overall contrast of the image” ) – to my eyes giving richer colour.

Filters/Colors/Smooth Palette gave me “bar codes” of colour. First 256 bars:
colour_extract_2_bar1 then 100 bars
colour_extract_2_bar2 then 100 bars with increased search depth
colour_extract_2_bar3They look like warp yarn wraps, all set to go…

colour_extract_2_mosaic1Next is Filters/Distorts/Mosaic. This has a lot of parameters to play with – the sample here is rectangular tiles, no splitting, high tile neatness, 0.0 light direction, 0.00 color variation, color averaging… The tile size was chosen with an eye for use on the blog and it gives a very dull and muddied result.colour_extract_2_mosaic2

This second mosiac, just the front flower, was created with all the same settings except for tile size.

These make me think of bead weaving – there’s an interesting article in the current (March/April 2009) Handwoven magazine “Add Beading to Fabrics for One-of-a-Kind Art Pieces “. Something for another day.

colour_extract_2_pixelize1Ucolour_extract_2_pixelize2sing Filters/Blur/Pixelize  gives these results, first focused on the front flower then the larger picture. I like the separate blocks of colour, not too muddied.

I feel this gives me the best result for my purpose. It gives me colours still in the pictorial context, unlike the barcode palette. The colours aren’t averaged into non-descript mud, but retain a range of value and hue. It does help me by reducing the choice, simplifying colour selection both in the sense of deciding which colour and in the physical picking up the colour with the mouse.

colour_extract_2So why am I hesitating to produce “my” palette, using the same grid as last week? Partly the layout of the grid itself – large flat blocks of colour. Mostly because I don’t have an end purpose in mind to guide the choice… except of course the practise. So here is today’s effort.

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April 2020

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