Drawing Journey Continued

So I’ve made my commitment to improve my drawing ability. I’ve been drawing daily since the 22nd of December actually and have seen some progress already. It really is true practice makes perfect. I’m definitely not moving as fast as I would like but that is because I’m very impatient. Either way I feel I’ve made some steps in the right direction.

I’ve created a page for all of my drawings to be displayed. Below is just one of the drawings I’ve done so far. I’m continuing to work on it as well so it will evolve. I will probably bounce around between it and other work to keep things fresh though. I have a hit list of technical skills I want to learn which include using silhouettes for character development to learning better coloring techniques.

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If you are interested in following my work check back from time to time and look at my drawings page.

A Drawing Journey

This is a good time of year to reflect on what you have and haven’t done. As I look back I’ve always dabbled in drawing or what I would rather call doodling. I’ve never really spent a lot of time practicing anything. I’ve made a decision that I need to focus time on this as I would love to be able to draw some of the crazy things in my head. My goal will simply be to improve.

I’m planning on spending time each day drawing. In preparation for this I’ve been looking through YouTube channels and trying to determine a path. In my search I ran across a channel called “Draw with Jazza”. This is Josiah (Jazza) Brooks channel where he has accumulated a ton of content around character creation and just general drawing skills and techniques. On another note the guy is also entertaining as well. Over the last couple weeks I believe I’ve watched 24+ hours of content that he has up for free. I’ve now bought his brush set, his book, and even some other peoples Photoshop brushes he mentioned. Good Job Jazza on your marketing skills!!!!

The Tools

I’ll be sticking to digital because well I’m a geek in the technology industry. I’ll be using a variety of equipment from my Surface Book, to my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, as well as a Wacom Intuos Tablet I have on my desktop. Man I wish I still had my Cintiq. Why do I have all these tools? Well I also have done photography and videography in the past so I used them for editing things.

I also subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Cloud so I will be leveraging a lot of Photoshop and other products in the suite as I deem necessary. Jazza happens to be an animator as well so who knows maybe I’ll jump into animation as well.

Stretch Goal

My stretch goal is to take some creation over the next six months to a year from sketch, to concept art, to 3D!!!! Those that follow me know I do software engineering and also work in 3D from time to time. I personally own a Microsoft HoloLens, Oculus Rift with Oculus Touch, and Google Daydream. I’d love to build a game this year as well so putting this all together would be amazing. We shall see though as this is ambitious.

Where do I start?

Well I’m going to start in a vulnerable spot. I’m going to share what I’ve drawn each day in raw form. Hopefully we will see a progression along the way. I’m going to figure out the best way to share here on my blog so to not blast to many people. I may make a separate section for it. I’ll do a post when I figure that all out.

I also want to do some streaming raw of my attempts at things. I’ll be posting those to YouTube when I get over the nerves of sharing things hehe. Maybe I’ll even do a live stream at some point.

To start this is my first attempts at using construction lines to create a head. I’m struggling with changing the perspective but I’ll keep practicing.

FirstTakeAtHeads

Microsoft and Apple Events

My thoughts on the Microsoft and Apple Events this week.

So this week has been full of tech product releases from Microsoft’s Creative Update and Surface Studio to Apple’s MacBook Pro release. I’ve let a few days go by so that I wouldn’t be caught up in the moment toward one product or another.

Microsoft Creative Update

Majority of Microsoft’s event was talking about the creative update. This update comes in the form of some updated apps with the premier one being Paint 3D. Paint 3D is an application which allows users to create art in 3D. I covered this in a previous post. I still believe the play here is to simplify the creation of 3D assets for the holographic platform.

Virtual reality

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Microsoft also announced some virtual reality headsets from their OEM providers. The prices of these start at $299. There also was a demo of what it may look like in the holographic platform using these headsets. Although I was hoping for a tethered version of the HoloLens at a lower cost this might be a good option still. We still don’t know the minimum specs for the computers needed for the platform but my guess is it is lower than the Oculus and HTC Vive.

These headsets do tracking differently than the other headsets on the market. The headset the proposed are doing inside-out tracking vs. outside-in. The Headsets on the market today with room scale utilize cameras placed around the room in stationary locations to track IR markers on the googles or other devices. With inside-out tracking the camera system is typically on the goggles and IR markers are placed in stationary locations. I believe the difference though in Microsoft’s approach is more similar to the HoloLens where it utilizes IR and depth sensors to map the room.

I like this approach much better than any VR solution today. Setup would literally be just scan the room with the headset. This has a lot of potential for the future of both VR and AR.

Augmented Reality

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Microsoft briefly demoed the HoloLens again showing a creation made in Paint 3D. Another demo showed how looking at a website in Edge could potentially feed you 3D models of real items you could test out in your home to see if you liked them or not. This does show a new way of shopping and that 3D will make its way into our browsers in the future more prolifically then it is today.

I was a little upset to not see more information regarding the HoloLens at the event but I see the direction Microsoft is going and it does look like an interesting future.

Microsoft Surface Studio

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The premier piece of hardware that was displayed during the event was the Surface Studio. This is a 28” all-in-one PC that utilizes the Microsoft Pen and touch to be a massive creative workstations. The hardware looks amazing but comes at a high price point as it is targeted at the creative space.

If you look at other devices on the market that give you this capability you quickly see a high price as well. It is a niche market. The king of drawing tablets Wacom sells monitors and some smaller tablet devices. Wacom’s 27” Cintiq costs $2,799.95. This is a display only no computer so you have to fork out another say $1,000.00 for a decent computer with GPU. You are already up into the price range of the Surface Studio which starts at $2,999.00. Even the high-end model is only $4,199.00. Seems like a deal now…

To me the design is a very premium product. This is one I would personally like to own in the future. I occasionally dabble in videography, photography, and 3D creation.

Microsoft Dial

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The smallest piece of hardware at the event was the Surface Dial. The surface dial shows that Microsoft is looking to innovate. This device allows you to augmented your computing with a physical device. At the end of the day it is a dial which can be setup for different uses in software such as volume control, rotation, and other manipulations. The tricks really come out when paired with the Surface Studio though. When the device is placed on the screen not only does the dial still have a use but you get a contextual menu surrounding the device.

I can see this creating a new experience. Imagine if you could have a couple different Surface Dials programmed for your creative suite to do different interactions. You would grab the one you need for a color palette and place it on the screen. You could grab one for manipulation of objects. This could be an interesting play if Microsoft works that into the product. Today though I believe you can only have one at a time.

Apple TV Update

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So on to Apple’s event. Apple started out their event talking to changes to Apple TV. The specific focus was around video content both on-demand as well as live. What Apple has done is created a new app called suspiciously TV. Wait I’m going to launch the TV App on my Apple TV, or is it I’m going to my Apple TV to launch TV… Confusing as this is the basic functionality is some of your content applications are curated into one UI. No more hunting for your next show that could be in Hulu, or HBO Go, or the Showtime App. Interestingly Netflix was no where in their demo and my guess is people have to sign up or develop specifically for it. More details to come on that front.

Apple also had Twitter as a guest showing off a new version of their Live video platform. Besides Twitters approach Apple also showed how you could jump to live events via voice.

All in all not that impressed with where Apple TV is at this moment but in general I’m not happy where any Smart TV or other TV based device is at.

MacBook Pro

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The large part of Apple’s announcement was around their flagship laptops the MacBook Pro line-up. I’ll talk about their new control surface later but overall on the hardware it was bump in the CPU, bump in the GPU, Lower profile keyboard, USB-C everywhere, and goodbye every other port except the headphone jack. We are about to live in a dongle apocalypse until the industry switches over to USB-C. The one nice thing is that any of the ports can be used for charging. I’m not certain I like the fact that MagSafe has been abandoned.

Looking at just the base stats it looks like a nice computer but it doesn’t scream innovation to me. Yay we made it thinner again… Yay it comes in space grey/gray… Yay it has 25% more color…

Touch Bar

So let’s talk about that Touch Bar shall we. Apple’s biggest innovation is putting a bit of iPad in your keyboard? Apple removed the function keys from the top of the keyboard and replaced it with a retina touch display. They showed off a few integrations with applications and the platform which shows how it morphs into different control surfaces based on context.

I think there is potential here but it will take time for developers to fully figure out the right interactions for it. I can see how it could be useful to expose some controls when you are in full screen mode with some applications but I’m lacking a good understanding of how it will improve my life. It actually forces me to look at my keyboard area which I haven’t looked at in years.

Final Thoughts

Before I bust out my final thoughts on either vendor my initial though is that it is good to see Microsoft and Apple going up against each other at some levels. We need healthy competition to push the envelope.

The fact that both of these vendors are pushing the price point up tells us something about the computer industry. It is officially niche. The people that use full functioning PCs is shrinking in the consumer space. Enterprise customers definitely will continue with PCs for some time still as the tablet and mobile market does not meet all the needs of productivity in their current incarnation. The consumer market  on the other hand can live on their Android and iOS devices. The folks that need desktop or even laptop style devices are creatives, engineers, and power users only.

If I was going to declare a winner of Innovation I would say Microsoft won the battle. I see more promise in their direction at this point of where the future may be. Between Holographic computing and creative solutions to fill the world with content the hardware they are bringing in the PC market seems top notch.

As for Apple I think they own the mobile space with Google on their heels now. Microsoft’s only strategy in mobile is to deploy their applications and cloud services which gives them a piece of that pie.

We are still in a very big transition in the technology space. Only time will tell which group will own the new future of compute in our homes and in hour hands.

Pixel versus iPhone 7 plus – photos

So I decided to take a couple photos today to compare the quality of the images from both the iPhone 7 plus and the Google Pixel XL. The first shot I took was in low light early morning with high contrast.

My opinion is that both cameras did a pretty decent job. These are straight off the phones. The Pixel image is a little bit more rich color wise as far as I’m concerned. If you look in the sky you see the difference.

Lowlight – iPhone

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Lowlight – Google Pixel

 

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The next test I decided to do was to use the “Portrait” mode on iOS 10.1 and the “Blur” effect on Google Pixel. The “Portrait” mode on the iPhone utilizes the two lenses on the iPhone and merges the photos with some magic to create bokeh or as some people are calling it fokeh. The Google Pixel on the other hand has you take a picture and then slowly move the phone upwards, and again uses software to create the effect. In my opinion the Pixel looks better for some reason. One is color. I can say though that it is easy to make a mistake with the Google Pixel version.

Shallow DoF – iPhone 7 Plus

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Shallow DoF – Google Pixel

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I think both phones do a great job I’ll do more test shots will update this post with more comparisons via a gallery over the next week.

My google Photo Album: https://goo.gl/photos/PQkXxDCQ9QQPeZ5Z9

 

OK Google Pixel

So today I received my Google pixel XL. My first impressions are that the phone has a decent build quality. Interesting it is much lighter than my iPhone 7 plus. I still have not got used to the fingerprint reader on the back. I’m so used to unlocking my iPhone with the home button. This is the first product I’ve ever recorded an unboxing off too. Although my lighting sucked.

I was able to take a few photos and compare them with my iPhones. I do have to say the camera is pretty Sharp. Here are a couple examples photos taken in from both phones.

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iPhone

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iPhone

I did no editing or adjustments. The iPhone seems a little Overexposed in each photo.
There also are a couple Easter eggs in the new OS nougat. One of which I took a video of which was in Google Assistant. If you say “Ok Google I’m feeling lucky” it will launch you into a quiz show.

Another interesting feature I found out about is that it saying “Ok Google” unlocks the device if it determines it is your voice. One problem here is that you can cause your self issues if you watch a video of yourself saying the key words…

So far so good. I’ll post another review in a day or so after I get more time with the device. I’m still waiting on my Daydream VR as well to play with that.

Want to know something about the Google Pixel. Send me a comment and I’ll try to answer them either in the comments or via another blog post.

Bash on Windows is Beta…

So last night I was setting up a machine and playing with a node project. I decided to jump into Bash on Windows to do node development and ran into a weird error. “ERROR in EINVAL: invalid argument, uv_interface_addresses.

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After doing a little Googling I found some others posting this issue. What the problem stems from is related to iterating over network interfaces. When these scripts do this in Bash it apparently doesn’t work. I was able to switch to my normal command line with node install and run the same application though.

Figured I would share in case anyone else is struggling. We all need to remember this is Beta software and report the issues so they eventually get fixed.

In this case the issue is with os.networkInterfaces() call in the code I’m using.

My nodejs app looks like this and runs on nodejs on windows but fails on bash.

const os = require(‘os’);

var interfaces = os.networkInterfaces();

console.log(interfaces);

Video of issue:

Microsoft Paint in 3D???

Double post day. I must be getting ambitious…

So some videos popped online today regarding a new version of Microsoft Paint.

Why would Microsoft add 3D? Well my thought on this is two fold. How else are normal users going to create 3D content for the HoloLens? Also if rumors are true regarding an all-in-one Surface to be announced on October 26th, 2016 then they need some apps to show off on it. I think both use cases are awesome. The more 3D content creation we can get the better our AR/VR experiences will be. Everyone has to remember that Microsoft has opened their Holographic platform to OEMs so more devices will be coming as well as existing ones that will support that platform over time.

I’m working on figuring out how to get early access to play with it on my Surface Book right now. I’d love to play with it.

NOTE: Microsoft if you are listening give me a preview build to play with and I’ll do some screencasts with it.