This week I’ve been trying to teach myself Flash. Here’s a test snippet of something I’m working on…
This is a small, poor-quality .jpg of a drawing I did of Lynda Barry last year. When my Powerbook crashed, I lost the original artwork forever. When I heard about Stanford’s VectorMagic online vectorization tool, I thought the Barry piece might be a good way to test it out. A bit of background for folks who aren’t familiar with the whole vector art thing:
Vectorization (aka tracing) is the process of converting a raster image to a vector image. Raster images are pixel-based, whereas vector images are represented by geometric shapes such as lines, circles and curves…This site converts bitmap images to vector art – it’s an online auto-tracer. Just upload your image and we will vectorize it for you. Vector art is useful because it allows you to scale an image without making it blurry or pixelated.
With about two minutes max of fiddling, this is what the program spit out:
Pretty decent results — you can tell a bit of detail on the lettering has been lost, but it’s pretty amazing what kind of detail it will retain based on just that “cruddy” jpeg:
You’ll notice that the vectorization simplifies all the curves and shapes, which almost makes the woodcut look even more convincing — definitely slicker. With a little cleanup on the lettering in Illustrator, I think it’s as good, if not better, than the original.
Cleaning up some files on my computer today, and came across these 3 aborted “infinite canvas” experiments in Flash with the tarquin engine. They’re a few years old, not all that exciting…gosh, I’m not really even sure why I’m posting them?
The first try was called “To The Ocean“:
The second was called “Mowing“:
The third was called “Birdseed,” and I actually still like it:
None of these reached for or achieved anything like what the Tarquin engine was designed to do. For that, check out this comic.
The work continues. I’m sitting here listening to my 30+ episodes of Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio. Life is good. Last night I dreamt about a Civil War veteran with a pet tiger. Meg dreamt we had hinges behind our ears, and after we got married, we went back to the hotel, pulled off our faces, and there were two little aliens sitting behind controls in our heads. I said, “That’s a terrible dream.” Meg said, “No, because we were both relieved that we could tell each other the truth!” An anxiety dream, sure, but a sweet one, I thought.
While working on an online portfolio, I decided to put a flash edition of “Birdseed” online.
So what else? I’m reading Eddie Campbell’s Alec: How To Be An Artist (good review here), after reading his Fate Of The Artist. Both of them are really good. The man behind the From Hell visuals, Campbell’s one of the greats. Here’s a good short interview with him.
Ok, boy. Quit stalling. Get drawing.
my first attempt at a webcomic…enjoy.
I’ve been drawing with my tablet pen in Flash recently, and I’m absolutely hooked on vector-based drawing. Drawing with vectors in Flash, you are free from the restrictions of resolution, so you can lay out panels on an 8 x 11 page meant for print, but then you can mega zoom inside each panel and draw in whatever level detail you want. This has worked great for traditional layouts, but I’ve been looking into other possibilites of using Flash for comics…
In REINVENTING COMICS, Scott McCloud coined the concept of the “infinite canvas.” (Check out this page where McCloud “continues his thinking” about the book.) Because of technology like Flash animation, the size of a digital comics page is theoretically infinite, so comics presented online shouldn’t be limited by conventional page sizes. An artist could conceivably display a complete comics story of indefinite length on a single page…
…enter the Tarquin Engine, a Flash-based template created by Daniel Merlin Goodbrey. With Tarquin, you can make huge, labyrinth-like comics with dead ends and web-like paths, that automatically zoom when you click the panels. A prime example of what the Tarquin Engine can do, here. Some other hypercomics, here. I’m tempted by hypercomics, and some online literary magazines like Born Magazine even encourage Flash-based literary endeavors, but on the other hand, I wonder if we shouldn’t just head back to the copy machine.