09 January 2013

Tool of the Trade: Rescue Time

So you're a freelancer, you're either full time or part time, but either way you are dedicated to your craft.

And yet how much time do you spend playing that Facebook game, checking that Twitter feed or obsessing over those Google Analytics?

Confession time: Everyone does it. So do I. Several studies suggest taking downtime during the day can even increase productivity.

But when you freelance, time can be a serious commodity. When you don't get much done in a day, you only have yourself to blame. You're the boss.

Enter Rescue Time: Your new boss.

This little app measures what you do on the computer- from checking email, editing in Photoshop, productive social networking, as well as the less productive time sinks that can catch you off guard.

Rescue Time can help you:
  • Spot inefficiencies in your day.
  • Become better at self-managing.
  • Make measurable changes that impact your time in a positive way. 


Sometimes just realising how much time you're spending unproductively is a real motivator to keeping yourself on track. Perhaps even knowing something is tracking you and what you're doing helps you to stay focused.

The app can be controlled from it's interface online. You can tell it when to turn on and off, what to monitor or not to monitor, it's fully customisable.
Competition may be the best way to stay productive!

It may not be for everyone if privacy is a major concern for you, but for me, it just keeps me on my toes and reminds me to keep working!


02 January 2013

Happy 2013!

Some rights reserved 
by bayasaa
Hi everyone, Char here. Back with Colourisma and more Tips, Tricks and Tools of the Art Trade!

I apologise for the lengthy delay in posts. My plan is to post every Wednesday and to be several weeks caught up. As all bloggers tell you, the most important things about keeping a blog are consistency and planning!

Part of the delay was finally finding my career path last year. It's been a long meandering road, about 10 years actually. Ironically, I ended up where I began...

I started off working at a pet store while doing my art on the side. It seemed to take 10 years to come full circle and smoosh "pet" and "art" together to come up with my current passion: PetPicsArt.com!

If you guys are interested, I'll post more about my journey so you can use it to inspire your own!

I want to help my fellow artists, those starting off and those continuing on alike (if I can reduce your path to be shorter than mine, all the better, right?). I hope to have a year planned with interesting apps, helpful tips and tricks from fellow pros in the field to help you on your path to artistic greatness!

16 May 2011

Trick: The benefit of Picnik

If you're not familiar with Picnik, then now might be a good time to start!

If you use Firefox, there is a great little Addon called Picnik (v2.3), which allows you to right click on any image and edit it all online.

In Chrome, you can use the Picnik Extension for Chrome.
Both versions allow you to edit images without having to login or sign up for an account as well.


If you're used to using the internet for reference, but have been frustrated by having to move the image from the internet to Photoshop, this little addon will greatly reduce the time fiddling with images online. Need to flip an image horizontally? Adjust contrast? You can do a lot all within Picnic without having to leave your browser!

13 May 2011

Tool of the Trade: Photoshop CS5.1 Subscription Edition

I was so excited when I heard that Adobe was allowing a subscription of Photoshop that I went ahead and pre-ordered it almost a whole month in advance.

Benefits
While a great deal at $35 USD/mo for a year's subscription, you do need to know that you are still only renting the software, not buying it through a payment plan. This works out well if you have your own business and can write it off as a business expense. And at $35, even those on a modest budget can manage.

A perk, from what I understand, is that you get updates as they arrive and unlike those who buy the software outright, you don't have to pay extra for it.

Disadvantages
However, for the affordable price and updates, there are some downsides to the subscription edition.

The biggest one I've found so far is that you can only run the software while online. I realise this is an anti-pirating precaution, but it does become frustrating in situations where I will not have a wifi connection or I will have to pay to get one (ie: airports). I'd still have to count it as a major downside to the software.

While Photoshop ran absolutely fine before, it hasn't been the same since I tried to run it while offline. I'll save someone the hassle of a 90 minute phone call with tech support and give you the full blown version of the answer to the problem that I was actually able to cram into a single tweet.

If you accidentally (or purposefully) start Photoshop Subscription Edition up without being online first, you'll find the Adobe Application Manager pop up and presents you with this message: "We are unable to activate Adobe Photoshop CS5.1 subscription edition," informing you that you're not allowed to run the software offline. On my MacBook OS 10.6.7, when I tried to press "Try again", it went to the next screen to Activate the software, but stalled and never gave an error message.

To temporarily fix this issue on a Mac:

  • Go to Macintosh HD -> Library -> Application Support -> Adobe -> Adobe PCD
  • In Adobe PCD you might find a pcd.db file, delete it.
  • Go to Adobe PCD -> cache
  • In the cache, you will find a cache.db file, delete it.
  • Open Photoshop and re-enter your serial number and Adobe login information.
To temporarily fix this issue on Windows:
  • In C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\Adobe PCD
  • Move pcd.db out of the folder or delete it. 
  • Then in the Cache folder, delete cache.db.

The next major issue is that I have to do this every time I close then reopen Photoshop, extremely aggravating- especially since about 50% of the time, it also forgets my shortcuts that I've set up (I have a Norwegian laptop keyboard setup, so I can't use normal shortcuts). If anyone knows how to permanently solve the problem, I'd be forever grateful for the information!

For now, I have a quick fix, but I'm hoping on the next update (any time soon would be nice), this issue will get resolved.

Conclusion
Photoshop CS5.1 Subscription Edition is a great value if you go with the $35/mo yearly plan ($49 on a month to month basis), but with some of the early bugs to still work out and the inability to work offline, it might be a deal breaker for some. In that case, just keep saving for the full version!

Do you have any advantages or disadvantages to share about Photoshop Subscription Edition? Please share in the comments!

25 April 2011

Tip: References and Lighting

I have deliberated over updates for Colourisma. I decided I should go back to the roots of why I started this blog and move back to providing "tips, tricks and tools of the trade," providing information that's helpful in your artistic journey. I frequently think of little tricks that make my art process a little bit easier and I thought this blog would be the perfect vehicle to get this information out to fellow artists.

Today, I thought about lighting and how to work with reference that may be different that what you need. For instance, what if you needed a hand reference picture, but the lighting doesn't match your illustration?

Step 1: Collect Reference

Hands
By Aurelijus Valeiša

Step 2: Desaturate the photo. In Photoshop, go to Image-> Adjustments-> Hue/Saturation


Step 3: Move the Saturation slider to -100


Step 4: Go to Image-> Adjustments-> Invert


Final: Now you have an idea as to how the lighting works in reverse. So if you have a great photo reference, but you are frustrated by the lighting in the piece, then this can really help you reference lighting that works with your illustration.

Disqus for Colourisma