Yandex & DeviantArt

Yandex & DeviantArt

Interesting. Among search engines, only Yandex properly indexes the text on DeviantArt. DuckDuckGo can too, but only because part of the Duck is stuffed with Yandex (the Duck is basically Bing + Yandex).

Here’s my test search. Does the user Themefinland have any other story concerning Rammi the undertaker, which might explain what the fellow’s name means… “rammi”

Google Search knows nothing, and an eTools test shows that the page is only indexed by Yandex.

This has implications for finding Creative Commons pictures, and suggests why DuckDuckGo is far better at doing so than Google. Google can’t find the “Creative Commons” text label on the page, because it doesn’t properly index DeviantArt’s text.

Release: Corel Painter Essentials

Release: Corel Painter Essentials

The new edition of the $50 Corel Painter Essentials has shipped. What’s new?

* Faster big brushes. Its processor-intensive ‘Sargeant’ brushes are “up to 4x faster” on both Windows and Mac. This is true even on the new Apple M1 processors, which suggests to me that simply revising and tightening creaky old Windows code can enable M1 parity for most Windows users. I think I read elsewhere, in PC Pro magazine or the like, that this was likely, that the current M1 would rapidly lose its speed advantage.

No mention of speed-up on other types of brushes, though.

* Adds 10 new auto-paint styles, and the AI is now more colour faithful in terms of results. Apparently the previous results tended to be garish and “completely” colour-shifted. Ouch. Now they are “more faithful”, but we’re not told by how much. These are the previous 10…

Corel seemingly has no details in its PR on the eight new additions (its video link shows the old 10). Presumably you have to try the trial to find out what they are. Having seen the video of the first ten, I’d suggest you’d do better with a copy of DAP.

* From one dominant colour-pick, generate a “readymade set of matching greyscale tones, human flesh colours, and pastel colours”. Could be a time-saver, if the auto-picks are useful and you can turn off bad suggestions by perma-blocking certain colour-ranges from appearing in the pallette.

* 23 new brushes, inc. new pens and pencils.

* Better image layer management.

All in all, interesting. It keeps Corel in the game at that end of the desktop market, alongside Krita (free), Realistic Paint Studio ($25) etc., and nudges it a little further into DAP/ArtBreeder/semi-automation territory.

“View my stuff… er… whatever it is…”

“View my stuff… er… whatever it is…”

A black screen is not ideal. You spent a year making whatever it is. A little more effort is needed at the final release-point, such as:

* Indication of duration, if the browser chooses to watch.
* Screenshot of the most enticing and representative frame.
* Actual URL link to YouTube etc.
* Keywords or a short sentence, e.g. “I use XYZ to animate ABC in a DEF style”.
* No generic clipart icons in the post.
* Learning how to press the Caps key also shows some mad leet skillz, and helps to reassure potential employers that you might be literate.

This goes for all social media, not just this particular platform.

What now for SWF converters?

What now for SWF converters?

Adobe finally forcibly killed Flash. How does that affect the .SWF reader software needed to read and convert old creative Flash assets?

* JPEXS Free Flash Decompiler – works fine to PNG, there’s a new version from a few weeks ago. It’s a shape decompiler. Freeware and no batch.

* Kurst’s SWF Renderer – works fine to PNG, no update needed. It’s a whole image renderer, not a shape decompiler. Batch, for $15. Excellent, but… only 10x scaling.

* SoThink SWF Decompiler – sort of, now shows no previews at all, but the saved SVG image loads in Inkscape. Exports SVG only.

* reaConverter 7.6.x – dead for both preview and render. Still the best option if you have an old still-got-Flash Windows workstation to run it on, and if you need batch + big scale to 5000% or more. Though Kurst handles artistic gradients much better.

The ideal basic PNG conversion workflow for 1000s of assets is then:

1. Kurst’s SWF Renderer at 10x scale, to get a good look what you’ve got, more or less as it should be seen. Batch at around 120 at a time max., or risk crashes.

2. Sort into folders for ‘just right’, ‘too large’ and ‘too small’.

3. Copy a list of filesnames from the ‘too small’ folder, then use a Windows batch file to robo-copy over the corresponding .SWF files.

4. Use reaConverter for the extracted ‘too small’ SWFs, run on an old Windows 7 workstation with Flash Player and oodles of fast RAM. That’s because (unlike the others) when it hits an animated .SFW it swamps the RAM by trying to render every damn frame. If you’re running at 4000% scale with PNG output, that’s a problem only a workstation will handle without killing the Java that reaConverter runs on.

5. Use something like the freeware FastStone Image Resizer on the ‘too large’ folder, to scale down the very long or very tall PNGs.

Reallusion Cartoon Animator 3 Pipeline still imports .SWF files fine, and appears to have its own internal Flash player for rendering.

Release: NiGulp Reborn (.8BF plugin-player)

Release: NiGulp Reborn (.8BF plugin-player)

Sinisa Petric’s new freeware NiGulp Reborn (August 2020)… “executes Photoshop 8BF plugin filters” as a standalone.

Pretty good, judging by a few quick tests. It comes in 64-bit and 32-bit and the latter can even run antiques like Xero Seasons (2000s), which even the AlphaPlugins 32-bit plugin host or IrfanView balk at. A copy of the freeware Seasons can still be had from

NiGulp Reborn seems useful as an absolute backstop, for running recalcitrant old .8BF Photoshop plugins on a modern OS. Also for curators of digital art history, who want to keep alive the codeworks of the 2000s.

Sadly, though it can’t be used to serialise VanDerLee’s Halftone plugin, even when run in Administrator more. Like all other software (apart from PhotoLine) it takes the serial but then reverts to Demo mode the next time the filter is run. This suggest that older plugins needing serials will still have problems, and would be best run in an antique copy of Photoshop.

More on colour replacement tools

More on colour replacement tools

I’m still not liking PhotoLine’s colour selection/replacement tools. I went looking for a better colour-selection and masking/replacement method in PhotoLine itself.

PhotoLine’s Colour | Selection Colour Correction can be quite useful, more so than Color | Relace Colors, when there are clearly distinguished main colours. Handy and quick, but not in all circumstances.

I read that the PhotoLine user can also right-click on a layer (in the layers palette only) and then there is an option for “Color Filter…”.

Interesting. This can apparently be used “to target colour ranges” using its HIS mode, one of three modes it can operate in. But it is utterly baffling, as to how it is meant to be used. I tried for an hour, and even found a brief description of it, but could just not make head-nor-tail of it. Completely and utterly baffling… and obviously not a three-click wonder anyway.

One is then forced back to Paint.NET and the Advanced Color Replacement plugin I found some months back, but I would ideally like a solution in PhotoLine itself. Hence my continued search.

Is there an old .8BF plugin that can do this? Well, there’s Selective Color Plugin, which is obviously sophisticated but part of the $65 ColorMancer suite.

The old free MV’s Plugins Color Replacer doesn’t work with PhotoLine natively, but can work via Alphaplugin’s 32-bit bridge plugin. Simple to operate, and does a fairly good job. When installed it’s found under MV’s Plugins.

In it you use an eyedropper to pick the colour you want to replace, then the standard Windows colour-picker to get the replacement. Then you play around with the three central sliders, aided by a realtime preview. Good and quick… but still not ideal when colours are similar. For instance, it handles the red blanket well enough, but struggles to replace the yellow eyes of the cat — becoming confused by the similar wall behind. PhotoLine becomes similarly confused.

Could Photoshop do better? Yes, after the lumbering behemoth had launched and stabilized. And it shows what I miss with PhotoLine. In Photoshop, without having to mask first, one can fairly quickly get down to replacing the eye colour even on an individual cat

… and with one simple Image | Adjustments | Replace Colour… panel.

The closest I could get to this in PhotoLine was via another .8BF freebie Jazzman’s Colour Magic, which needs to be run in a 32-bit wrapper and still works fine. It can also save and load custom presets. Note that initial colour selection is via right-click, not left-click as you might expect.

It also runs under IrfanView 64-bit, if placed in the 32-bit 8BF folder.

Right-click, open folder with… IrfanView? No, with… FastStone.

Right-click, open folder with… IrfanView? No, with… FastStone.

I spent some time tracking down an annoying long-time bug with IrfanView, and have sort-of fixed it.

I use a Windows explorer equivalent that has everything I want… except it’s old and has slow processing of big thumbnailed folders of images. There is no replacing this Windows explorer equivalent, as no-one has ever made anything as good as it.

This means I occasionally need to right-click on a big folder of images, and “View with Irfanview”. Yet IrfanView displays an error message every time, and the view then defaults to the next highest folder. This error (bug?) has been consistent across different versions of IrfanView and different PCs, and for many different folders.

The problem at first appears to be an incorrectly written Windows Registry entry. Here’s how some have fixed it in the past. In the Windows Registry find…

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\Directory\shell\Browse with &IrfanView\command

BAD ENTRY: “C:\Program Files\IrfanView\i_view64.exe” “%1 /thumbs”

CHANGE ENTRY TO: “C:\Program Files\IrfanView\i_view64.exe” “%1” /thumbs

Note the “‘s. This at least fixed the error message for me… but then meant that no thumbnails displayed in either the target or higher folder. The command to show the view in Thumbnail view was accepted and that mode was active in the opened IrfanView window.

Then the other possible solution was tried, in which one simply turns off and then on the IrfanView toggle for this feature. This needs to be done in Administrator Mode. That did not work either…

The solution, in the end was… to just turn off IrfanView’s “View with Irfanview” option for folders, and instead to use its direct competitor the free FastStone Image Viewer for the same purpose…

Works perfectly. I now right-click on a folder in my regular Windows explorer utility, “Browse with FastStone” and it opens a big folder as a thumbnailed and correctly date-sorted folder view. Once the thumbnails are cached, FastStone is as quick to open and close as Irfanview (even though it’s 32-bit). It also offers bookmarking of Favourites, unlike IrfanView. It can also natively preview and open .JP2’s from, though it does not support .8BF plugins as IrfanView does.

Ok, so that’s my solution.

Lastly, you may want to change the “staring eye” icon that FastStone uses. It gets old very quickly, when it’s sitting in the Taskbar. For this reason alone I can’t imagine FastStone becoming a replacement for IrfanView in any other way than to occasionally open a huge folder of images with lots of image-laden sub-folders under it.

I tried the freeware icon-replacer Resource Hacker, but had no success with forcing the FastStone .EXE to change its main Taskbar icon.

Filter Forge 10.0

Filter Forge 10.0

The venerable Filter Forge has shipped in version 10.0. I don’t have it, and don’t recommend it. But some may be interested in a substantial price cut. The limited Basic edition is now $59; the full Professional edition $139; and there’s a new $259 Studio edition. This last allows you to package and share a Project file that can be edited by others. The other big change is that, in all versions, you can now speed up previews by reducing the preview size and turning off anti-aliasing.

My guess is that the price-change is a response to the excellent free G’MIC filter suite becoming available as an .8BF Photoshop filter.

How to get larger images from Google Arts & Culture

How to get larger images from Google Arts & Culture

1. Let the Google Arts & Culture page load, then have your Web browser save it to a standard PDF.

2. Extract all the images from the saved PDF, by using the simple 2007 Windows freeware PDF Image Extractor 1.0.

3. In the extraction folder you will see the image you want, one version in a tiny complete form and another large version that has been split into a number of picture tiles.

4. Load the “Pages” module of the Windows freeware PhotoScape. Pick the wholly square grid pattern. Set this to 1600 and to “no gaps” between tiles, as you see set here. Drag a recognisable ‘central’ tile into roughly the centre of the grid, and then play “jigsaw puzzle” for a minute to assemble the picture.

Save when you’re done. That’s it.

Of course, you should ensure that what you are extracting is ‘public domain’, or elsewhere under Creative Commons.