Hello, list! I was pleased to be able to attend this month's MerriLUG meeting, held at Martha's Exchange in Nashua, NH. Taking place on Thr 20 Nov 2008, about 20 people attended. The speaker was Máirín Duffy, who gave us all some tips and tricks for manipulating photographs and other imagery in GIMP and InkScape.
== What I saw == Unfortunately, it's very difficult to describe an inherently visual process using only words. Doubly-so for me, since I have little talent for graphics. I have no hope of describing how anything was done, and even describing *what* will be difficult. I will try, though. One thing was a feature of GIMP called "Liquid Rescale". I take it this is a relatively new feature. If I understand it correctly, this lets one mark arbitrary areas of an image with a mask, and then apply a rescale. The algorithm will attempt to preserve the masked area unchanged, while stretching/distorting the rest. This enables some pretty neat tricks. We saw how it could be used to remove objects (like a statue) from an image, and then stretch the background to "fill in the hole". We also saw it used to stretch the background bigger while preserved the person in the foreground without distortion. Another technique Máirín demonstrated was using layers and transparency masks. Layers let you overlay one image on top of another. You can then add a mask which controls transparency/opaqueness between layers. This was shown to be handy when one is trying to erase parts of a picture. Rather than trying to carefully wield the limited "Erase" tool, paint a mask however you like: Brushes, lines, selection fills. If you make a mistake, simply paint with a non-mask color to restore. Transparency masks went beyond erasing, though. They can also be used to overlay two or more base images together. Inspired use of this technique yielded some very artistic results. Máirín started with a picture of someone's face, and then added some pictures of ice as "textures" in additional layers. She used this to do "face painting" on the person. By playing around with the algorithms and their settings, a variety of effects were achieved, some surreal, some subtle. Finally, the focus switched over to InkScape. By using the "Trace bitmap" feature, we saw how a photograph can be turned into source material for vector-based graphics. This included "screen printing" in stylized color -- think Andy Warhol's prints of Marilyn Monroe. By turning up the detail of the trace, breaking it apart into components, and selectively deleting, more abstract designs were possible. == Video record == By now, I'm sure anyone reading this is thinking the above is useless without being able to *see* what I'm talking about. It would also be nice to know *how* to do all these tricks. That's the biggest reason why I wanted to attempt to make a video record of this meeting -- and the one I forgot to mention in my list of reasons last week. A copy of the slides and a narrative description may be perfectly appropriate for firewalls rules, MySQL commands, or HTTP protocols, but a graphics art demonstration really demands motion video. A number of people answered my call for help, and volunteered their time and equipment. Bruce Dawson brought a very decent Hi-8 camcorder, and Kevin Clark brought a tripod to mount it on. Alas, the wireless mic I brought worked fine during setup but refused to yield any actual audio once the room was full of people. Fortunately, the camera's built-in mic seemed able to pick-up Máirín's voice without too much trouble. It also picked up every bit of noise the camera operator (me) made, and all the ambient sounds, but things were mostly quiet. My hope is that the noise will not overwhelm the signal. My next challenge is to figure out a way to get the recording off this analog magnetic tape cassette and on to the web. Anyone have a Hi-8 deck and a video capture card? == Next month == On the regular schedule, next month's meeting will take place on Thur 18 Dec -- precisely one week before Christmas. The plan is to have a social, informal meeting, with no defined topic or formal presentation. All involved agreed that it would not be fair to ask a speaker to present on what is usually a low-turn-out night, and often distrupted by the celebrations of others. -- Ben _______________________________________________ gnhlug-discuss mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://mail.gnhlug.org/mailman/listinfo/gnhlug-discuss/