Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Once again this year I prepared an image to share, and to wish all my friends and readers a joyful holiday season. You have already seen it in the post Image Trickery, but click it again here for a larger view in Gallery Ludwig.


One card just is not enough, so here is another version that I used in a Senior Academy workshop article.


Happy holidays and all the best to you!



© 2011 Ludwig Keck

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Image Trickery

Pictures don’t lie, but they sure can tell tales! They can also serve as the basis for interesting, personal art. “Artistic effects” – tools offered in Microsoft Office 20110 applications – can transform otherwise uninspiring photographs into amazing images.
imageIn other posts I described a number of these tools, in this article I want to take up some of the more unusual effects that are available and further show how you can combine effects for even more effects.
To start here is a mosaic, or “tiled”, picture of a robin. The pixelation effect is called “Light Screen” in “Picture Tools”. It is very dependent on the size of the original image, to get just the right tile spacing may require scaling the photo before inserting it into a Word, Excel, imageor PowerPoint document. This effect was not very impressive when applied to the original photo, so I first used another effect, “Plastic Wrap”. I saved that effect (right-click > “Save as picture…”). “Plastic Wrap” is a rather neat effect, but doing this to a robin might get me in trouble with the animal protection folks. Really, no creature war harmed!
Let’s turn to a less controversial photo subject, a bunch of leaves. Here I applied “Mosaic Bubbles”.image The illustration here is a small portion to show the bubbles better. Now, how about a plastic wrap on this one?
Again a cutout is used to show the effect better in this small blog.
This makes for a totally different look, the bubbles are still there but now they look collapsed and the whole surface is shiny.
imageHow can you use this effect, or effect combination? Well, that all depends on you, the artist. If you like it, it is good.
Now, let’s continue with the trickery. I will stick to my leaves and add a twist.
First some posterizing using the “Cutout” effect. Then, to make it more like a drawing, I add edges with the “Photo Copy” tool. In an earlier article I demonstrated the “Photo Copy” effect – like a very old-fashion copy machine from decades ago. With a good bit of transparency this gives a nice print, or wall paper, effect.
The three images here show the progression so far. Remember, after each effect is applied, the image is saved. The image is then replaced in Word with the saved one. This is the way to add effect upon effect.
Now I will roll out the canvas and use the “Texturizer” effect. To continue the trickery I load another image, this one of a small snake, and remove everything but the snake with the “Remove Background” tool. Setting both images to “Text Wrap – Tight” allows one image to be freely dragged over the other one. Here is the result:
snake on leaves-2
One final trick. In Word not only can you superimpose one image on another, you can do the same with text. A picture of an old cabin serves as the base, I won’t tell you all of the effects applied because I lost count, trying one, then another until I was happy with the result. However, the last and predominant effect is “Glow Edges”. Text uses a “Text Effect” to put the glow around the letters.
My best wishes to all for a joyous and happy Holiday Season!
Hope you can spare some time to take some great photos, and maybe use these tools to have fun with your pictures.
“Artistic Effects” in the Microsoft Office 2010 applications were demonstrated in these other articles:
  • Painting with Word – the “Paint Brush”, “Marker”, and “ Watercolor Sponge” effects.
  • Doodling in Officepencil and drawing effects.
  • Excel in Art – the effects called “Cement”, “Glass”, “Glow Edges”, and “Cutout”.
© 2011 Ludwig Keck

Monday, November 7, 2011

Excel in Art

Of course, you can! But this is not about helping you to the pinnacle as an artist, this article is really about “Art in Excel”, Microsoft Office 2010 Excel to be a little more specific. ExcelArt-01Like Word and PowerPoint, Excel provides the same “Picture Tools” with, among many other options, “Artistic Effects”.
Painting and drawing transformations were discussed in earlier posts (see bottom of article). Here I wish to take up a few of the more unusual and interesting effects.
Before I dive in, there are some technical details I must cover. When applying the artistic effects in Office application only one can be used. So you select the one you want and that’s it. There is also the question of how you get your masterwork out of the program. ExcelArt-02There is a bit of bad news, but first the good news. In Word 2010 just right-click the modified image. The new menu has an option “Save as Picture…” with permits you to save the image in its original size – full resolution.
This option is not available in either Excel 2010 or PowerPoint 2010. In those applications you can use only “Copy”. This command is like doing a screen capture of just the picture, the copied image is just the displayed size. So you must make sure that you have displayed the image in a sufficient size on your monitor to get adequate resolution.
Many of the effects are sensitive to the size of the inserted picture. The effects typically are less effective on large photos and show up much more noticeably on smaller images.
The illustration above uses the “Glass” effect on the photo of the flower. The effect is adjustable in “Scaling” which was set to 100 for both the larger image (inserted from the original size) and the smaller image which was reduced in size prior to being inserted. You can see the marked difference. This does provide you with wider options for creating your art.
Lets look at a different effect on this same set of photos: “Glow Edges”.
Once again you can see the different “effectiveness'’. Both images use the default setting of “Smoothness” of 3 (scale ranges to 10) with 15% transparency.
LJK_2977-Art-C-C3-2An effect that I find particularly appealing and useful is “Cutout” which is more commonly known as “posterizing”. This effect translates a photo into graphic areas as they might be used in a poster painting. Here is a picture that shows that effect well. You can select “Number of shades” from 0 to 6. This image uses 3 “shades”.
A little higher up, I slipped in one other effect, “Cement”. That effect makes a photo look like it was printed on a rough cement surface. There is also a canvas type “Texturizer” surface offered.
Now with all these art tools in Excel is there any reason to think that you cannot excel in art?
Some of the other “artistic effects” available in the Office programs are discussed in other posts in this small series:
  • Painting with Word – the “Paint Brush”, “Marker”, and “ Watercolor Sponge” effects.
  • Doodling in Officepencil and drawing effects
  • Image Trickery – effects “light Screen”, “Mosaic Bubbles”, “Plastic Wrap”, “Texturizer”, and combining of effects.
© 2011 Ludwig Keck

Monday, October 24, 2011

Doodling in Office

Like many others I have spent way too much time in boring meetings and my pencil – instead of taking notes –  “pursued artistic license”. imageMaybe that is the reason for the neat “artistic effects” provided in Microsoft Office 2010 products like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Several of these effects transform a photo or other inserted picture, into renderings that look as if they were done in pencil, pastel, or chalk. These media and one other effect, “Photo copy”, are the topic of this article.

Let me use one of my hawk pictures to illustrate some of the effects.
Here, in order from left to right, is a “Pastels Smooth”, “Pencil Grayscale”, “Line Drawing”, and “Pencil Sketch”. The effects can be adjusted, for example in pencil size in the “Pencil Grayscale” effect can be set from “0” to “100”. The four examples in the composite here were made with settings of 1, 11, 20, and 100 from left to right.
Other effects are similarly adjustable. As you would expect, some settings are more appealing than others depending on the original picture.
All of the effects offer “transparency”.  The transparency setting allows more or less of the original picture to show through. The illustrations above were all made with the setting at zero.Letting some of the original show works better for some effects than others.
I particularly like the “Photo copy” effect with some transparency. This effect emulates photo copies of days gone by when copies of photos showed just strong outlines in black or white. Here is the original photo, a couple of “photo copies” with no transparency and “detail” of 2 and 6, and the last one at detail set to 10 (the maximum setting) and transparency at 60 (percent).
Red-tailed HawkLJK_3288-v-Phcopy-2-00LJK_3288-v-Phcopy-6-00LJK_3288-v-Phcopy-10-60
Another effect is “Chalk Sketch”. I am showing here the effect with the Pressure” set at 3 (the range is 0 to 4) and transparencies of  0, 30, 50, and 70.
You can see how this wide range of possibilities can help you get an illustration just right for what you would like to do.
Some of the other “artistic effects” available in the Office programs are discussed in other posts in this small series:
  • Painting with Word – the “Paint Brush”, “Marker”, and “ Watercolor Sponge” effects.
  • Excel in Art – the effects called “Cement”, “Glass”, “Glow Edges”, and “Cutout”.
  • Image Trickery – effects “Light Screen”, “Mosaic Bubbles”, “Plastic Wrap”, “Texturizer”, and combining of effects.
© 2011 Ludwig Keck

Friday, October 7, 2011

Painting with Word

Poets paint glorious pictures with words. Here, however, I am talking about painting with Microsoft Office Word 2010. Word, and other Office apps, Excel, PowerPoint, offer over twenty “Artistic Effects” for manipulating pictures. I have had a lot of fun recently transforming a number of my photos in a variety of ways, see my “Café Art collection”, and used these effect on many of the images.
Here I wish to share some of the way these tools work as seen from an engineering or teaching perspective rather than an artist’s view. Specifically in this article I will discuss just three of the effects: “Marker”, “Paint Brush”, and “Watercolor Sponge”. Other effects I will discuss in other posts.
All of the effects permit a range of options such as “brush size”, and the effect also varies with the resolution of the picture.

Paint Brush

As the name implies, “Paint Brush” simulates the effect of a brush painted picture. For some images this can be a very pleasant and effective treatment. Here I am using a photo of a hawk in flight. AE-PaintBrush-4-1145px
This first image, using a brush size of 4 on a medium resolution (1145 pixel wide) photo provides the “painted” feel that I like best. Larger brush sizes cause too much detail to be lost in this image, smaller ones do not provide enough of the painted look. Here are a couple of extremes:
The left image used brush size 2 on the 1145 pixel photo, the right one brush size 10 on a 400 pixel photo.


AE-Marker-97-1100pxMarker is an unusual effect tool. The size of the marker “dab” is not adjustable, but the density is. This is illustrated in the two images here. The first one uses a “size” of 97, the second of 20. You can see that the “20” image has just a few dabs, while the “97” looks more like a marker dabbed painting.
AE-Marker-20-1100pxWith this effect I did not notice much difference in the appearance when using low or high resolution images.
Clearly the lower size does not look like a painting. It looks like a photo with smudges.
Since the brush size is not adjustable this effect will work well with images that have large graphic forms, less so with photos that have a lot of detail.

Watercolor Sponge

For this last effect I will again use a flower picture. Here is a matrix of results. The top row image has a resolution of 600 pixels, middle row is 1200 pixels, and the bottom row 2400 pixels. The left images use a “Watercolor Sponge” of size 1, the middle use size 5, and the right images use a size 10.
The artistic effects provided by Word 2010 may not have as wide a flexibility as one might like, but they allow sufficient manipulation to achieve some interesting results. As you can see from the illustrations here, the resolution of the starting photo determines the how the effect will appear.

Technical Details

If you are not familiar with the Picture Tools in the Office 2010 applications here is a very quick overview of how to get to them.
Insert a photo from the Insert tab (IllustrationPicture). The inserted photo will be selected. Click on an image to select it. The Picture Tools tab is only shown when an image is selected. The Artistic Effects are in the Adjust group as shown in the illustration here. The adjustment options are brought up with the bottom item “Artistic Effects Options …”. As you can see here, the selection is made using thumbnails showing the effects on the selected image.
Some of the other effects are discussed in other posts on this topic:
  • Doodling in Office   – pencil and drawing effects.
  • Excel in Art – effects “Cement”, “Glass”, “Glow Edges”, and “Cutout”.
  • Image Trickery  – effects “Light Screen”, “Mosaic Bubbles”, “Plastic Wrap”, Texturizer”, and effect combinations.
© 2011 Ludwig Keck