IONclad Blog

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I have a new home...

I'm now living and working in Calgary.  The move was to start working as a designer and photographer at Blackfoot Printing. 

NOX Renderer

An excellent free rendering engine for 3DS Max... and also Blender!

NOX renderer for Studio Max

Sample NOX Render
visit the website for more info:  Evermotion

Thursday, July 26, 2012

IONclad Master Gallery up and running

I have found that it's far easier and less labour intensive to simply share images from directly to the IONclad blog.  I will lose the nifty thumbnail gallery, but uploading images to so many different site isn't very cost effective, and I'd rather post more and experiment more, over spending time on mechanics.   So for now, the Master gallery will be more blog style and less gallery style.  Once I have a body of work on there, I'll create a direct access gallery menu structure.   For now, just use the category cloud in the main left menu panel.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

IONclad main gallery is almost done.

I am almost finished with a central gallery of all artwork, feel free to check it out and email me with any comments.  To visit simply click here.

Saturday, November 5, 2011 back online

I mean... Duh.  I spent the last few months focusing elsewhere and didn't even notice that my flickr account had expired.  Well, it's back up and restored to it's former glory...errr interestingness (at least).  

Friday, June 17, 2011 is down

I'm not able to spend the time to maintain/finish the flash website, so I have decided to let it stay offline for a bit.  All traffic will be dumped here to this blog.  I will be using and my other galleries to post work.  :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

BLOG is the word that you heard... it's got words, it's got meaning.... BLOG!

Just like intelligent people still exclaim "but a mac is too expensive".  A hold-over from the dark days of computing. When Apple did indeed soak it's customers with $14,000 workstations that could barely tie their own shoes.  Yea, things have come a long way.  Now Apple's position of innovation and as a technology leader is well recognized by most.  Things change.

When I first entered the interactive world, the word 'multimedia' and the term 'new media' were the newest and the most exciting topics of conversation.  Now most don't remember when the idea of mixing motion and sound with images on a computer was new and exciting.  Doing this in the early 90s was considered by most to be almost digital alchemy.  One needed to use obtuse and non-cooperating products like Macromedia Director, Adobe AE, etc.  Things change.  Now we have free suites of tools that can outperform anything I used in the entire 90s.

Which leads me to the point.  Blogs. One of the most misunderstood products out there.  Though it has changed a lot in the past couple years, most people who could really benefit from a blog end up hiring a web designer and instead getting a fixed (though often prettier) website that costs them a lot of money every single time they want to add/change anything.

Why not start your own website.  Modern blogs have full navigation, static pages, video, images, style sheets, custom backgrounds and elements, gadgets and more. Unless you need a slick Flash animated advertisment, or a heavy duty database back end, a blog would likely fit the bill.

blogs are cool because:
  1. FREE.
  2. you can register a domain at Godaddy and point it at any blog. For example, in my own website I have one of my blogs piped into a frame on the home page, then another different blog for the 'about me' section.  This allows me to modify sections of my website without doing any sort of actual 'website development'.
  3. From any browser you can post video, audio, photographs, or text.
  4. It's easy.  With a web based interface most functions are super-easy to set up and non-destructive.  
  5. Themes and control.  With the custom theme and style choices allowed, one can easily customize their blog to such an extent to avoid that dreaded.  "oh god, we both are wearing the same blog!"  Thus avoiding the need for someone to go home and change.
  6. Fantastic 'first website'.  For teens looking to ooze discontent AT the world, without having to cost their parents a single dime, they can do all the social stuff that facebook allows, but now with added control and more websitey goodness.
  7. Connecting all of your other streams and identities to your blog has never been easier. With existing tools to integrate facebook, twitter, flickr, photobucket, picasaweb and more, it's a simple matter to add a component or link to other places on the web.
  8. Blogs can be used in combination or as subcomponents of existing websites.  Wish to add online user accessable input areas on your site?  Pipe in a blog to a frame, or have a completely blog page. 
We are the blog.  Your technological and social distinctiveness will be added to our own.

Ubuntu: Finding a replacement for Painter XI

MyPaint for Linux. website

I have tried many digital painting Apps in my day.  Over the years I have been on a continuous quest for the App that does it best.    As close to the real tools as possible.  With my beloved Wacom 12x9 I have become quite used to the digital painting phenomenon.

MyPaint, short on name, tall on ability.  Though I did notice a marked difference in features between the Linux and the Windows version.

I would strongly recommend trying out this amazing painting tool.

Success, I have found a replacement for PainterXI.  In every critical way, MyPaint does a better job.  In fact, I've tested Painter8, Deep Paint, Photoshop7/CS1/CS2/CS3, Krita (linux),, ArtRage, and a few others...

Clearly to me, MyPaint scores the highest in the coveted 'realism' department.  Not so much it's ability to convincingly simulate goo, or watercolour, no it's the ultra-responsive smoothness that I want.  Using a blending stump, or a pencil, it's the closest digital package has come to the real feel and performance of these real world tools, IMO.

Note: upgrading to 10.10 will ensure better tablet compatibility.  If not for MyPaint, than for Gimp.  10.10 brings pressure sensitivity to Gimp.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ubuntu: Gimp, for Typography, is pretty gimpy.

The proposed replacement for Photoshop is Gimp.  Aside from the name I'm told, and have read that Gimp is every bit as powerful as Photoshop.  Today I tackled my first actual task in Gimp.  The past few times I've explored the App I was more than a little impressed, it seemed to live up to the hype, with a plethora of powerful image editing tools that - according to reports - easily rivals Adobe Photoshop.

My simple efforts to product the Christmas banner for this blog ran into a serious roadblock almost immediately.  I was shocked and disappointed to learn that within Gimp there is absolutely no way to modify kerning.  None.  So, as you can see by the result, there is massive spacing issues with the text, and absolutely no way to fix it.  Well, no reasonable way that is.  It was suggested by a forum goer that one should put each letter on it's own layer and kerning would be easy at this point.  This technique seems like a rather nasty work-around clearly illustrating that this ain't no photoshop.

So, I do agree, that if retouching and balancing is you really need, Gimp more than fits the bill.  However, for any sort of print design, posters, advertising or any work where actual professional typography is required... Gimp is NOT the tool.

I will be putting Karbon14 through it's paces, to discover if typographical kanoodling can be accomplished here and piped to Gimp without a lot of hassle.  If I can't use it for text within Gimp, can Karbon14, KDM suite's vector drawing app handle the average jobs I normally allocated to Adobe Illlustrator?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ubuntu: No mac, and a bunch of HFS+ sad drives just moping around.

My dormant mac carries within her the platters crammed with all of my precious creations. Unfortunately for me, I had yet to make any sort of provision for exactly what ended up happening... a major 'something' that took my mac out of circulation.

Without another mac handy, how do I read the data I need to continue working?

After some research I found that Ubuntu will manage HFS+ discs without issue.  Well, that's partly true.

Apparently, if you formatted the disc using HFS+ Journaled, and experienced a crash where the drive was not unmounted properly, their journal will not be empty and Ubuntu will not then be able to write to it.   However, in practical experience, I found that no amount of unmounting on my friend's mac - I know, that sounds strange - would produce a situation where the drives could be written to normally with Ubuntu.
The solution which seems to work like a charm, is to simply log in as root.  Cleverly hidden in the mac, the root phenomenon is catchy and already has taken the Ubuntu world by storm.  The 'root' user is considered the 'god' of the computer.  Not logged in as god in day to day operations, it was a surprise to me to learn that with Ubuntu I could log in as a user with even more power! <insert spongebob laugh>
First, you will need to log in as Root user.  It's very easy.
Ubuntu apparently creates a random password for root, but you will need to create your own. 
INFO: Root

At the login screen, click other and type in 'root' in the user field, then the root password that you set using terminal, logged in as your user account.

Now, any formatted as HFS+ will be read/write accessible by Ubuntu as root, now I can get the data off, move things around and generally organize after losing the mac.  The partitioned 2TB drive mounts perfectly as the two volumes, even though it's original home was inside a mac.  So far I have only tested HFS+ via external USB cases, though I imagine SATA connections would work just as well. 

The two drive RAID inside the mac is still there.  A problem I don't yet know how to solve short of fixing the mac.

Now that I have my data, or at least a good portion of it, I can continue.

Next, Finding a replacement for Lightroom.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ubuntu three four.

the challenge:
Get work done using Ubuntu as the primary OS.
Mac OS 10.6
MacPro Tower - 8core - Adobe and other commercial Apps including Lightwave, Maxwellrender, Photoshop, and the usual things found on a media designers toolbelt. 

The replacement:
Ubuntu 10.10
Intel Q6600 Quad core - 4GB RAM.  Benchmarked at about 45% the processing power of the above mac. 

About a week ago, in the afternoon, I remember it clearly.  My Mac was acting strange; it was feeling very slow and plodding.  I rebooted several times over the course of an hour or so.  Then...upon reboot #4, I got the spinning 'thing'.  Eventually it became clear, this was all I was getting.   I'm no neophyte, so I didn't completely panic, or initially assume there was anything seriously wrong.  I have been cursed with multiple hard drive failures over the past few months so my trust of computer gear was at an all time low.

When I put in the OS disc and it eventually - after much considering - spit it out and flashed a I told you I was sick folder with a question mark on it.   
See!?  I can't find my brain now!  I hope you are happy.
I was far from happy, as I was only hours away from the completion of an animation project.   I had a RAID on there... I had everything on there.

Why am I writing this?  Perhaps I have learned a few things that might be useful to other people in a similar situation.

Over the years I have found that in order to be truly versatile and to take full advantage of all the tools available to us as artists, one should really become well versed in all major Operating Systems.   I have used almost every flavour of both Windows and the Mac OS, and now Ubuntu.  I would honestly say that all three major food groups have their 'charm'.

Must have flavour - XP pro. 
Powerful, stable and clean, it's the least baffling and most unencumbered by frivolous features and glitz of all the flavours of the Window's rainbow of flavours.. such as they are.
Windows7 is getting up there, for sure, catching up to the Mac OS if only a little.  Though, it still seems to be plagued by Vista's tendency to develop performance cancer.  Once diagnosed, the result is almost always fatal.  Laptops are the worst sufferers, leading to extreme fever, delusion, and eventual drive failure.  Ok, perhaps not that bad... but honestly.. the laptop I use was GIVEN to me because they mistook it's poor performance - glacial really - and continuous crashing and incessant updating to be a measure of it's physical prowess.  I installed Ubuntu and dispelled that cobwebby nonsense straight away.
No... XP is the only form of Windows I would want to be stranded in an underground bunker and forced to save the world in less than a month... OS.  Assuming of course there were no other choice.

Mac OS. 
The breakfast of stylish champions.
There isn't to much I can say about the Mac OS these days.  In the bad old days I used to respond when asked about my choice of platform with, " 'scusie? ingris no talkie."  To most of the computing world happily spent $4000 on a machine without a mouse, without even an operating system really... A mac was a strange beast indeed.  A little box with a little screen that was controlled by an upside-down trackball, had strange symbols that you could drag around.  Things have changed a lot, but mostly, Microsoft is still playing catch up.
The Mac OS is really a very sophisticated skinning of an all time freedom fighter's classic.  Linux.    I think the Mac is the ideal choice for the everyman.  The kid, the grandma, the creative person that just wants their computer to work like their iPhone... It just works.  Extremely simple and by comparison way more stable and powerful than Windows.
I realize such statements can result in mutilation and death in some states, but it's the truth as I see it.  I have seen it in others also.  Several of my friends have witnessed the MacOS first hand and have later purchased their first Macs.  Every one of them thank me for it.  One even used a term similar to something from one of the first iMac commercials.  "It's like I have been released from computing jail".

The connectively challenged, committee-built amalgam of altruism.
At first Ubuntu can feel like a strange land.  Anyone entering the country from the bordering land of Mac will feel a strange familiarity.  If they have a belief in digital reincarnation, they may find themselves predicting which rooms they have been in before and... OH MY! this key combo does the same thing here!

Though Mac users will take to Ubuntu's interface like a duck to tartar sauce, I'm guessing based on my experiences with most mac users that the more obtuse developer oriented elements of Ubuntu would appear to these - the average mac users - roughly how early man would have looked at an ipod.  That causes a lot of fear and trepidation in mac users.  The dreaded CODE!   I admit, I had the fear of the CODE.  I even had the code dreams.  You know, the ones where you are being chased by giant hash marks, and curly brackets.  You keep tripping on dots, and after doing it thirty times you realize you are stuck in a subroutine!  You keep yelling STOP and BREAK but nothing works...   So.  Ubuntu is traumatic for a lot of people, even to LOOK at.
That's why fellow Ubuntu users must support those looking for the land of Ubuntu.  Where all are equal, and everything is free!  There is no sickness, and no want.   The days are filled with endless peaceful updates... and the nights, blissful productivity.
Surely, if such a utopia existed it would be common knowledge!  Well, alas, this is at least partially true.  Yes, a partial computing utopia is a reality.  People from all over the world give of themselves to bring these products to 'market'. 

So, At the moment, I am recovering from the death, or death-like coma that has befallen my beloved Mac.  Rather than depend on XP, though it is the familiar... I have decided to see if Ubuntu would allow me to work at a professional level and get professional results.

I don't want to get into the platform war territory.  I more so wanted to record the results of my exploration of the question, "Is it possible to use Ubuntu and compete with other designers in the land of paid software, the land of Adobe, Apple and Microsoft products." 

More to follow.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Mac Tower is Dead. Let the laugh riot begin.

I was so happy when I first got my new and modern Mac.  I had been out of the Mac world for about 8 years.  Using Lightwave had convinced me to flip.  At the time OS9 was the newest OS and Windows2000 was just catching on.  For whatever reason Newtek was not doing well with the Mac version of Lightwave.  So, when I could afford it, I built my first Windows box of my own.

Last year I decided I had been away long enough, and dropped almost $3500Can on a new 8core MacPro tower. 
Really Apple?   2GB of RAM?  Really? 
As per irony, something happened at the point where a simple repair could cost you as much as a car.   A few months into it's second year, there came the unexpected, sudden and completely typical failure.  Mysterious hardware failure never seems to happen during warranty period.

So, once I realized my normal tech efforts were not going to be able to repair a computer that is unable to read DVDs.   I was sad, and completely discouraged.

Ironically, I had just finished building a decent quad-core windows machine only months before I made the decision to leap into the Mac chasm and into 64bit la la land.  So, when there was a gala of failure, when I heard the delicious whine of a hard drive spinning down, when it was supposed to be booting.  I knew.  My windows box would save me.

Within 24 hours I had changed my mind.  Windows, although wonderful really didn't call to me.  Ubuntu on the other hand had just been installed.  Whatever the Mac OS was, Ubuntu was genetically it's brother... or sister if you prefer.  Yeah!  I would try to do my work... in Ubuntu!  I decided to put the open source mantra where it's mantra mouth is.

So the question became - rather quickly - is there software out there that could cut the mustard?  With windows, I would need to purchase some of the Mac software I used, but could I find software just as capable for free?
I would need to find replacements for the following.

Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, AE
Dreamweaver, Lightroom,
Newtek Lightwave - fPrime

...and many more I'm forgetting.

So on to figure out a solution to all those trapped and alone HFS drives filling my Mac...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Letter to Global News


I don't know what I expect from writing this letter.  However, what has been happening lately in our beautiful country has been of great concerned to me.  As a visual artist, political agenda, ridings, and most of that world wasn't something I paid much heed.  However, of late, our government has been making some very questionable decisions 'on our behalf'.  As a television viewer and citizen of Edmonton, it disturbs me that the only news I ever see is either traffic related or personal stories which (apparently) seem to be positioned to fill the space between other stories which are basically retelling of what's on the news services already.   Because of this, your television news has been marginalized in my life.  Real news, about what's actually happening in our world, and sometimes even in our own city, I find on web-casts of various European news broadcasts.  I find that rather Orwellian and outrageous that so many things never make it into our public consciousness, that I have to go searching for news about my own back yard on the other side of the planet. On the other hand, we all certainly know about Suzie's cat having 6 toes... for weeks we hear about THAT.

International news, not mediated by American/Canadian big money interests is almost NEVER seen on local television - I can only assume that Canada and the U.S. are in fact not the same thing, since I've lost faith that what we see, is what is real.  It would impress me (and likely many others) if your news hour presented news that actually made people aware of important issues! 

What prompted me to write today was Health Canada's choice to remove this product from our shelves:

This doesn't appear to be motivated by anything.  Myself and other fans of additive-free high quality non-dairy, non-gluten products are aghast and outraged.  There was nothing in this product that isn't in 100+ other products.  In fact, Aspartame has volumes and volumes of evidence to suggest how toxic it can be, but.. hey, that's in the gum that we let our children chew... but coconut milk warrants our taxes being spent on all the nonsense involved in removing a national brand product from every store shelf in Canada.

After the closure and product seizure of one B.C. health food store I was concerned. Government thugs showed up and put this poor man out of business, for the crime of.... wait for it... having vitamins and supplements available on shelves all over the world.  Wow.  No warning to replace these $300k worth of products over a period of time.  No... our government just put him out of business.  Was there even one moment of air time for him?  This CRIME against this legitimate business man went unnoticed.  As far as I know, he is now homeless living on the street.  It seems just as likely a scenario as any other in a country where an upstanding citizen, doing everything right, can be ruined and his career ended for the reasons our government supplied... that is... "today this is bad, therefore... sorry... you are the weakest link.. bye bye."  Whew, one less person polluting the pool, now people can go get their natural foods products at Walmart.  As intended.  The bill that became law that allowed such a travesty of justice was forced through.  By my calculations by .0003% of Canadians. A law which dictates WHAT WECAN AND CAN NOT EAT!  I'm not sure, but I doubt that's the definition of democracy in any book.

As for my beloved coconut milk.  If I was given a reason... or had an alternate product.. I wouldn't be so angry.  However, our government has ensured that as a consumer I am completely without choice.  Now if I want healthy milk alternatives I would what... need to ship them from the U.S.?  Like that's going to happen.  Heaven forbid anyone find a tasty replacement for milk..  Thanks Health Canada for putting a gun to my head and MAKING me chose the products you want me to eat.  The problem is, the products Health Canada asserts are 'healthy' are loaded with toxic chemicals, carcinogens, sodium and sugar.   Do I have a choice to eat healthy food?  My own government is trying... no... ARE removing that choice, 100 products at a time... silently.. in the shadows... without hardly any notice... all the while while organizations that could rally the other 99.9997% of the population to say.  "No, this is about ME, not 200 sixty year old men in a city several provinces away".

Put this on the news. 
Restore faith that we still have some freedom of speech.  So many people I know are actually talking about moving to ANOTHER COUNTRY.  This is getting to be very distressing for a lot of people.  The only person I see telling the unvarnished truth is Rick Mercer.  Why can't he be Prime Minister?
Ian Davis
Digital Artist