Posts Tagged ‘Gimp’

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A Gloomy Bear’s Life

Yesterday was Shirley‘s birthday. We went out for dinner with a bunch of people and drank. It was fun. I also decided to play with my tablet, yesterday. So a birthday ecard was a natural gift!! I sent this to her a day late.


Similar to my A Bug’s Life post, I’ll give a little overview of the process that went into this picture… I do this because I tend to enjoy reading these types of posts, myself… and… I can’t be the only one! 🙂

First, the idea: I know Shirley likes Gloomy Bear… but I know almost nothing about it! After a little searching to get the idea of Gloomy Bear’s looks. I gave it a first attempt:


I watched an informative and entertaining 3-minute video.Usually with Gloomy is the boy, Pity. Pity loves Gloomy, even though Gloomy’s a bear and attacks Pity, sometimes. I wanted the boy giving Gloomy a cake… then Gloomy reacting. Let’s try for more action….


Well, I was content with the idea… but that still didn’t look like Gloomy, at all! Did a couple sketches of Gloomy and Pity for a little practice:



Alright, these were looking a bit better. The perspective I wanted was a little awkward, but I’d give it a shot. The following resulted from drawing a lot and erasing a lot on the same sketch. That’s why it looks “smudgy.”


Awesome. It was starting to look acceptable. Now I had to make a nice outline. Using the Pen tool in Gimp, I added a new layer above the blue sketches. On this layer, I created paths and then applied strokes to the paths. (This kind of art should really be done with a vector program, like Inkscape, but I was tinkering in Gimp.) When I was done, I had a clean outline sitting on a layer above the blue sketch:


Next step was adding colour. This was really easy because the style for Gloomy Bear doesn’t have any shading – a single solid colour is applied to everything. Alright, then! Just had to hide the messy blue layer and add colours to a couple layers beneath the outline layer (we want the outline to be on top).


Add some text, a few touch-ups here and there, and that’s basically it! 🙂 Yay!

Originally, I did have a more elaborate idea of doing a stylish multi-panel comic:

  1. Pity gives Gloomy a cupcake.
  2. Close-up of cupcake.
  3. Close-up of Gloomy’s face, colours inverted.
  4. Gloomy reacts violently.
  5. Back to original scene, with after-effects.

This was my sketch for the reacting violently panel: 😉

Would have been fun. But I decided to keep things simple. 🙂

All images are under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License. And I would appreciate being told if you use anything. 🙂

Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) and Tablets

I just had to mention this: The latest version of Ubuntu finally supports input hotplugging. What this means is that you can plug in your tablet at any point and start taking advantage of its pressure sensitivity, etc. Previously, it would only work correctly if Ubuntu (the X server part of it) started with the tablet plugged in. Let me just say: OMG, I’ve been waiting for this for years! Seriously. I hadn’t been keeping up with every detail on the release (and I’m surprised I hadn’t seen mention of this yet), but I always plug in my USB tablet and run a quick test with new releases. This time, it actually worked! My test turned into a quick (and random) doodle:

How to Test

Plug in your tablet.

Run GIMP (included with Ubuntu by default).
Applications > Graphics > GIMP Image Editor

Enable Extended Input devices in GIMP.
Edit > Preferences > Input Devices > Configure Extended Input Devices

Find your tablet under the Device dropdown (mine is a Wacom Graphire) and select Screen or Window for the Mode. (It defaults to disabled.)

Create a new image, select the paintbrush tool and start drawing. To play with the features of your tablet, expand the Brush Dynamics section in the paintbrush options window (should be below the toolbox, where you selected the paintbrush). Here you can adjust things that pressure of your pen will control, like size and opacity. Fun stuff!

It’s not perfect (only works with the stylus – eraser doesn’t work without configuring), but it’s a HUGE step!! 😀 And the fact that this also includes the latest version of GIMP (2.6) makes this upgrade an absolute no-brainer for linux graphic-philes. 🙂

I found the new UI in GIMP a little strange at first, because I became so accustomed to the old one, but it is much better.

Upgrade Problems

Related to the upgrade, I lost wireless connectivity with my laptop upon doing it because the hostap_cs driver is used. I forgot about this issue that I had with previous releases and my super-cheap 1000yen wireless card. Blacklisting the hostap_cs driver and forcing the orinoco_cs driver fixed my problem again. The lesson: the upgrade wasn’t perfect and it should never be assumed that they will be – please backup your stuff! But do do the upgrade! 😉

Creating a DVD Slideshow in Linux

For my brother’s wedding, about a week ago, my sister wanted to do a slideshow for them. She’s done this before and she’s known for spending lots of time making very nice, emotional slideshows with carefully chosen pictures and music. Previously, she would count in her head while manually switch the slides with a traditional projector. (We have a lot of great family photos that are only on slides.) Anyway, she figured she’d use computers this time around and my assistance was “enlisted.” I kept thinking, “If only I had a Mac, I’m sure this would be easy….” But it turns out there’s a reasonable command-line program available on Linux that is just a little cumbersome (mostly because it’s command-line tool for something that really needs to be visual) – but works quite well: dvd-slideshow. I’m going to go over what I did, mention some quirks and how to work around them.

First, install dvd-slideshow (a set of command-line tools).

sudo aptitude install dvd-slideshow

You may want to get the latest version from the webpage and manually install that.

Update: While writing this, I have since discovered “slcreator” which looks like it would fill in the glaringly absent graphical component of dvd-slideshow. Though it hasn’t been updated for quite a long time…. it’s definitely worth investigating before going through the manual process yourself.

Step 1: Organize your digitized photos within a directory

Since my sister was the creative force behind this, she needed to see the photos as she was deciding on the order. Nautilus thumbnails were good enough, so I simply showed her how to rename files and made suggestions for organizing them by name (like naming a photo “12a.jpg” if you want the photo to be in between “12.jpg” and “13.jpg”). This worked in Nautilus, but in the next step, the ordering would be changed to 12a.jpg, 12.jpg, 13.jpg – which is probably a bug in dir2slideshow. (You could work around this by always using a single letter after the number.)

Step 2: Generate input file from images directory and customize

dir2slideshow -o output_directory -t seconds_per_picture -c crossfade_seconds images_directory

This will output a text file in the output_directory that contains all the images in the images_directory with specified transition and duration times. The order of the pictures should be how it is listed by name in your file browser, minus the bug I mentioned earlier. You can manually edit this file and then pass it to dvd-slideshow.

Multiple Directories:
My sister had arranged photos in multiple directories, each consisting of a theme (childhood, Halloween, travel, etc) and a specific song to go with it. So I just generated multiple input files with appropriate names, worked on individual sections, and eventually copied them all into a master input file keeping the desired order.

Adding Music and Silence:
Another bug I encountered was getting music to fade out at the correct time. In the input file, the format for adding music is this: audiofile:track:effect1:effect1_params:effect2:effect2_params . So I had my_sad_song.mp3:1:fadein:0:fadeout:5 saying I wanted it to spend 5 seconds fading out. Additionally, I wanted about 10 seconds of silence at the very end. Your are supposedly able to specify silence:duration_in_seconds but at the end of the slideshow, it wasn’t forcing the song to fade out in time to include that amount of silence – it seemed to be ignoring it at the end if there was no more photos. I got around this by creating a small file of silence, silence.wav, and using that instead of the built-in silence option.

Nice looking fonts
Another quirk I encountered was terrible looking fonts with the built-in title:duration:thought_provoking_title. I didn’t want to spend too long looking at the cause of this, so I just created some title images in the Gimp.

Step 3: Generate the Slideshow

dvd-slideshow -mp2 -nomenu -o tmp/working -f tmp/ALL.txt

The mp2 option is required to avoid an error message and has worked on all DVD players I’ve heard of, so far. The nomenu option is for creating a DVD with no menu – I just wanted it to start playing the slideshow when the disc is inserted into the player. The o option specifies the output directory and the f option specifies the input file created earlier. Once this finishes (it might take a while) you should have a DVD .vob (MPEG2) file and an xml file in the output directory.

I like to see how the final product will look, so I chose not to use the L (low quality) option for debugging. Instead, I created a smaller input file with specifically what I wanted to test. When I was happy with the test, I copied the changes into my master input file.

Step 4: Create the DVD Filesystem

dvd-menu -f tmp/working/ALL.xml -nomenu -mp2 -o tmp/working-dvd

This will output a folder dvd_fs in the output folder (tmp/working-dvd) containing VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS directories with the required files for a proper DVD.

Adding Content:
This is where you optionally add more files to the DVD. For me, I added two folders, Music containing the music used in the slideshow and Photos containing the photos used in the slideshow. A good idea would also be to add the source file and commands used to create the DVD and then you are distributing the source. 😉

Step 5: Make an ISO to burn

mkisofs -dvd-video -udf -o ~/Desktop/slideshow.iso tmp/working-dvd/dvd_fs

This creates an ISO called slideshow.iso on the desktop.

Step 6: Burn the ISO

There’s many ways to burn an ISO, but just use Nautilus: right click on the icon on your desktop and select Write to Disc…. That’s it! Test it out in your DVD player.


Lots more info about specific commands and useful examples can be found at the dvd-slideshow’s documentation page.


(Had this sitting in my drafts for about a week… time to finish it up and push it out!)

After setting up my Wacom Graphire tablet on my laptop (copy-pasting some xorg.conf stuff) I decided to leave it on my bed. If I leave it on, with the Gimp (graphic application) open and the tablet plugged in, I will often do a little doodle before going to sleep. So these have been done while lying down, usually in (much) less than 5 minutes.

One thing I really like about comics is the expression (often exaggerated) portrayed through the characters’ faces.

This is something I don’t really have much practice with, so I started looking at some online comics that are good at it (and that I read): Penny Arcade, Octopus Pie, Butternutsquash, C&H… (Note: xkcd is excellent but obviously doesn’t even use facial expressions.)

PA Gabe, clearly very happy and excited

And this will be a good test of wordpress’ new gallery functionality combined with my hacky theme: I present, doodle gallery!!

An online comic is something I would love to do, but I would need to develop characters and story and be committed. 😮 Trying to illustrate different expressions is fun. Now accepting ideas. 🙂