Ponies, begone!

Since my last post about how to block users in DeviantArt search results, I’ve since switched to the Opera browser and can thus use the excellent DeviantArt Filter.

Really nice filter, and mature in version 5.0. It just adds a cross on the top left of visual search results. Really easy to block and unblock wanted DA posters of ponies, mega-boobs and Five Nights At Freddy’s stuff.


“SketchBook is now FREE”

Autodesk has announced that… “starting today, the fully featured version of SketchBook is now FREE for everyone!” ‘Free’ applies to all versions, from 64-bit desktop to Android app. You’ll need to make a free Autodesk account to use it, though that’s fairly simple. https://sketchbook.com/

Krita 3.3.1

The free Krita 3.3.1 digital inking/painting suite is out now. Not that I want to dissuade people from Sketchbook Pro, but not everyone in the world can afford a Sketchbook subscription + Photoshop and Krita does have some fascinating capabilities not (yet) found in other software. It’s wholly and genuinely free, being ‘open source’ like Blender.

I had very briefly tried Krita a while back, but it was quickly uninstalled after it repeatedly crashed when the window was passed over to my new Ugee tablet monitor. Today I decided to test it again, on hearing of Krita’s 3.3.1 release. I installed the new version via the 64-bit dedicated Windows installer (not the portable verion), and it now works fine on my Ugee. Krita has a nice old school Photoshop-y feel to it, everything seems logically placed, and I think I’ll try it out more when I get the time.

I see that Krita now ships with the more-stable-than-before G’MIC plugin as standard (access it via: Top menu bar | “Filter” | “Start G’MIC” | then press “update” to get the latest G’MIC). This appears to offer a huge amount of tweakable image processing abilities. However, the first time I ran G’MIC on simple line art, Krita crashed — which wasn’t encouraging. But G’MIC does enable some interesting-looking auto-colouring functions on line-art, so I’ll be trying again.

The blog of David Revoy is obviously a good one to follow for Krita tips and mini-tutorials. There’s also a handy Krita comic-book page frame-maker though you may fare better on Windows with Comic Life 3.

How to make a simple pen leash for the Ugee P50S tablet pen

How to make a ‘pen leash’ for the Ugee P50S tablet pen:

After my recent problems with damaged pens for the Ugee 1910b tablet monitor, I purchased a new pen. It solved all the problems I’d had with the old pens, and so I wanted to ensure the new pen could not fall on the floor and be damaged. To do this I made a simple but effective “pen leash” or “pen necklace”. Here’s how to do the same.

1. Take the long cap from the top of the popular Crayola Mini-Marker. These are widely and very cheaply available for kids in budget stationary shops and large supermarkets, and you can probably also get them via eBay. Its cap has a perfect snug grip on the top of a Ugee P50S. Snug and firm, but easy to remove.

2. No need to drill holes in the cap for a chain. Find an old long bootlace, of the Doctor Martens or hiking boot type, with the usual crimped tubular plastic-covered lace-ends. These small lace-ends can be jammed very snugly and firmly into the ventilation slots in the top of the Crayola pen cap.

3. The cap fits and grips firmly onto the end of the Ugee P50S. But not so firmly you’ll never get it off again to charge the pen (the USB cable’s charging hole connector is at the top of the pen).

IMPORTANT: To detach the cap once it’s on firmly, hold the top bit of the pen marked “Ugee”, then gently pull the cap off. Do not hold the main pen body while doing this, because the detachable top part of the pen can itself be pulled off in this way.

4. You now have a simple ‘pen leash’ which you can hang around your neck, and which will prevent your pen from being dropped. Dropped either through fumbling, or being put down and then rolling or being brushed off the desk.

The balance of the pen in the hand is only minimally affected, due to the lightness of the cap and lace. The softness of the lace means that it won’t cause wear-damage on your tablet or cause an annoying rattling noise like a metal chain would. If, after a while, the lace becomes grubby then it can be easily replaced.

Since the pens come in a pack of multiple colours, as do boot laces, you can have various colour combinations to suit your taste.

10 Photoshop panels for Photoshop CC 2017

Since SketchBook Pro can read-write Photoshop .PSD files, the software makes a natural first-step before you finish up the sketch in Photoshop. Here are ten Photoshop panel add-ons which can help get the job done in everyone’s favorite uber-software, once you’ve finished up in Sketchbook.

1. Free. The very first thing the new user of Photoshop panels need is ZXPInstaller. It quickly and automatically installs all your Extension Panels direct from their .zpx installation file. Installing manually is not advisable. You used to be able to do this with something similar from Adobe, but they squished it with CC 2015. However ZPXInstaller is an open source continuation, and it uses the same Adobe engine to make it work.

ZPXInstaller doesn’t uninstall, a process which is a total nightmare (because it needs to be done manually, and often the Panel has scattered its files into several obscure bits of Windows) — but if you need to make a start on uninstalling then you’re likely to find your installed panels and bits-of-panels in folders at:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Adobe\CEP\extensions\..
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\CEP\extensions\..

The intrepid Photoshop panel-hunter on the Web probably also needs to know that in 2017 it’s wise to avoid older Panels that require Adobe Flash to work, especially if they auto-update. Newer ones are made in the much-safer combination of JavaScript and HTML.

2. $. Coolorus Colour Wheel 2.5 gives you a Photoshop colour picker modelled after the best, namely the one which is found in Corel Painter.

3. $. Brusherator 1.3. A beautiful little panel on which you can store a custom arrangement of Brushes. 1.2 also added the ability to have Actions on your panel as tiny buttons, which makes it even more useful.

After install, it’s not the easiest of tools to figure out. In fact, let’s be frank: it’s a bastard. It uses odd metaphors like ‘shelves’ and suchlike, has no tool-tips on its control buttons, and has a manual that needs a clearer re-write. Swop brush sets in Photoshop Brushes, and suddenly it “can’t find” the brush you placed on its Panel. The other main problem, common to all Panels it seems, is that its dialog windows don’t respect dual monitor use (they show up on the other monitor, for instance). But Brusherator is however unique and vital, once you discover how to fully use it and get it set up. Which may take a day of your time, frankly. The first step to Brusherator sanity seems to be to make sure that you always have all your Photoshop Brush sets loaded at once, in the Photoshop brushes library — or Brusherator will “loose” brushes as you swop out brush sets. The second is for those on a pen monitor to understand how vital it is to use your main monitor + mouse (with the vital right-click) to set this up on the main monitor first, because trying to set it up with a pen + second monitor is very frustrating,

4. $. Lazy Nezumi Pro provides a real-time brush-smoothing engine for Photoshop, like you have in Sketchbook Pro and Manga Studio and other software. It’s robust and quite simple, though the developer over-explains it on the landing page and makes it look scary due to all the settings and sliders. It’s actually mostly controlled by a handful of drop-down presets.

It’s very light on your PC system resources, too. Not all brushes play nicely with it. If you beloved inking brush (Kyle’s ‘Mister Natural’ springs to mind, though it’s nearly impossible to find after install — turns out it isn’t under Brushes at all, but over on the Tool Presets panel) isn’t doing the business, just remember that you probably need to turn off Lazy Nezumi for a moment.

5. $. AD Brutus Symmetry. Yes, you already have excellent Symmetry tools in SketchBook Pro. But how cool and useful would it be to also have them in Photoshop? Simple and robust, Brutus does the job well and with a neat-o retro comic-book style.

6. $ Font Hero, a font previewer and organiser inside Photoshop. Oh yes…

Of course, font bookmarking was officially introduced by Adobe in CC 2015, but this is arguably more useful.

7. $$! Corel ParticleShop for Photoshop. This is a full-blown Photoshop plugin from the same Corel Corp. which makes Painter. If you have SketchBook Pro you may not consider that you need it. But, when used with some of the expensive add-on Painter-like brush packs, this is very impressive. Not all the brushes make me go “wow!”, and nor does the price. But the Fur brush set is especially nice, and the brushes are fast even with Lazy Nezumi enabled.

More Brushes? I’ve tried a lot, and Pixelstains 6 Charcoal Brushes are very wonderful — especially when used in combination with Lazy Nezumi Pro.

8. Donation-ware. RadialMenu, a standalone Windows version of the Wacom radial menu. You can store anything you want on it, shortcuts, even macros!

9. $. SVG Layers for Photoshop. Import a layered SVG vector file (from Corel Draw, Inkscape, Adobe Illustrator etc), and keep the editable vector layers. Export, too.

10. $. And lastly, the fun 3D Map Generator GEO. Everything you need, including graphic tiles and elements, to quickly assemble an isometric bird’s-eye view of a place and a route through it. The maker also has a free Isometric Icon Plugin to assist with making your own tiles, for instance for a RPG game. Not something you’d use every day, but nice to have installed for the moment when you need it.