Thursday, May 31, 2007

Electronic art, natural-media

This is in response to one of the threads in a forum I belong to that have become very active, soliciting various responses. The discussion started with an inquiry upon a piece of equipment and has branched out to other posts related to it: end-products, availability, user-experience.

I am writing about this as researching on the history of MetaCreations and Fractal Design - two companies that were active in the design and graphics industries in the internet-boom and pre-9/11 eras - gave me a some thrill. I had since left Corel untouched at ver5.0 when print standards were applying Adobe standards for imagesetting and color applications. I have also been a Wacom user since 2000. Wacom used to bundle its products with Elements LE. Now, it comes with Corel Painter.

Electronic art (i.e. Digital)
There is a reason Corel Painter is bundled with Wacom pens: Wacom (a Japanese company) has been constantly developing technology that will try to match the experience of using real life media on virtual canvases and papers.

Corel Painter© has its origins under a nice and dynamic Canadian company named Fractal Design, Inc. (the name is a give-away of its era), but was later absorbed by another company, MetaCreations Corp. when MetaTools Inc. and Fractal Design Inc. merged. In 1999, MetaCreations divested itself of its graphics products and sold Painter to Corel Corp.

Natural-media
The common question is: what is difference between Photoshop and Painter?
Photoshop, as the name suggests, was developed to be the virtual equivalent of a photographer's darkroom, hence the tools dodge and burn, resize, color correction, etc. Painter, on the other hand, was developed, and continues to be developed, as a natural-media painting application; this means that its functions and options will try to approximate the look and feel of real-world tools and effects such as paints, pencils, brushes and so forth, as they are applied to paper or canvas, etc.

No amount of Photoshop filters can compensate for the built-in choices and functions that Painter has, as its intended audience is different from that of Photoshop. This does not mean to say, however, that Photoshop can not achieve the same effects done in Painter; it is achievable but very, very tediously, especially if natural-looking effects as charcoal smudging or oil paint mixing are the desired outcome, among others. Both powerful applications are for creation, with standard file formats that allow for cross-platform editing.

The Alt.life

One of the nice things the internet has to offer is the creation of, and participation to communities outside of our real world. In particular, forums (yes, more commonly used than the formal fora) that cater to special interests.

In one of the forums I belong to, a dynamic exchange of ideas and opinions related to design and technology that is also specific to my location (e.g. the Philippines) continues to expand my knowledge of these issues, and deepens my appreciation of and trust on other people's opinions.

The internet, according to its creator, Tim Berners-Lee, believes "In fact, [that] it is a really positive time for the web. Startups are launching, and being sold [Disclaimer: people I know] again, academics are excited about new systems and ideas, conferences and camps and wikis and chat channels and are hopping with energy, and every morning demands an excruciating choice of which exciting link to follow first."

So, a big part of my alt.life is participating in forum discussions according to what catches my fancy at the moment. I have dropped out of some forums (meaning, my participation in them have become intermitent or inactive), as I register to ones which I find both exciting and insightful. Real-world applications culled from these virtual communities have proven to be valuable. Hopefully, real-world connections made from them can be also be as fulfilling.

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