Steven Powers (SMP): 2011

Blender VSE Part-3: How To Add Fade In-Out Effect

Part 3 of the Blender Video Sequence Editor (VSE) show how to animate the opacity of the image added in Part-2 to create a Fade In-Out effect.

Hope this helps,



Bumble Bee


This is part of an earlier painting entitled "Black Eye Susans".  I had so much fun creating the bee in flight that I wanted to create a higher resolution painting of the bee.  Here I depict the bee in flight about to land on the flower.

Blender VSE Part-2: How To Overlay Images

This tutorial is Part-2 of the Blender VSE (Video Sequence Editor) series.  This video covers adding or overlaying and image. Overlaying images is useful for adding titles, watermarks or description to your video

Hope this helps,


Blender VSE Part-1: How To Edit Video

This tutorial is Part-1 of the Blender VSE (Video Sequence Editor) series.  This video covers manually setting up Blender's interface, cutting a video file and rendering out a portion of the source video.

Virtual Dub Mod: Overview

This is a quick overview of Virtual Dub Mod and how I use it. Virtual Dub Mod is free, based on Virtual Dub and has a lot of uses.  With the use of WINE I have been able to use it in Linux.

Video Editing

There are a few video editing tools that I use.  The one I choose is the one that is most suited for the task at hand.  The three main applications are Blender, Virtual Dub Mod, and Authoring Works 4.

GIMP 2.7.4 Wacom Support

GIMP 2.7.4 now has Wacom Support.  I have been working towards replacing Photoshop so I can run Linux full time.  But Photoshop is not easily replaced, but the the newest version of GIMP, which is 2.7.4 is getting better everyday and now the issue with no Wacom or tablet support has been fixed.

Linux Mint-12 Upgrade from Ubuntu

I have been quite happy with Ubuntu up untill 11.10 when they dropped Gnome for Unity leaving us without a choice.  But I tried to get use to it but found it somewhat glitchy.  Then I kept hearing talk about the Mint branch of Linux.

MyPaint 1.0 for Windows and Linux

MyPaint 1.0 is now available for Windows users.  This is still an experimental build but seems to be quite stable.  There have been a lot of changes including dockable menus.  For full features, changes and download go to MyPaint's home page HERE. You can thank tumagonx for the Windows build. For those on Linux that want to try the newest build with the latest features, a PPA as been created. Just copy and paste the commands listed below that were posted by David Revoy:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:achadwick/mypaint-testing
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install mypaint

I will have a short video on my workflow utilizing GIMP 2.7 and MyPaint 1.0 hopefully before the birth of my son. After that, all bets are off.

Thank you,

Tree Study


Here are a few drawings of trees I did for fun recently.  They are done with a mix of graphite and charcoal on smooth Bristol paper.

Quick Tip: Why Calibrate My Monitor

Calibrating your monitor.  What can I say?  We all try to get away with calibrating our monitor by eye, but that only works for so long and unfortunately our eyes change.  Not just over the years but throughout the day.  We get use to seeing a certain way and we adapt in different lighting situations.  In the end our paintings, photos or what have you suffer.  Our darks are too dark, the colors are to saturated or the hues just don't look right especially when we go to print.  So we are left to buying hardware to calibrate our monitors.

Synfig Studio: 2D Animation Suite

This one is for anyone interested in 2D Animation.  Synfig Studio is a open source, cross-platform animation package.

Quick Tip: Launchy + Dexpot

Just want to introduce some free applications that I was introduced to the other day.  These are great little utilities that can help speed up ones work flow. Launchy is cross-platform while Dexpot is for Windows users who like the virtual desktops that is found in Ubuntu.

COMING SOON! - Blender 2.5 Video Sequence Editor

This is a snapshot of a new tutorial that is on it's way.  In the past few months I have been working on moving from commercial applications to FLOSS (Free Libre Open Source Software) and Blender has been one I have been working with since 2.48. One feature is Blenders Video Sequence Editor (VSE), which is also refered to as the Sequence Editor.  I have done some extensive testing changing options and working through some issues.  I want to show how to set up Blender's interface, add video files, edited them within Blender, add image overlays for titles, watermarks etc, and how to animate some of the properties.  These tasks maybe broken down into multiple parts so you can pick and choose what you need and to minimize the duration of the tutorial.

I hope to have it out within the next week or so,
- Steve

Quick Tip: MyPaint and GIMP Template

I have been working with GIMP a lot lately and also playing with MyPaint. I have seen some very good paintings done with MyPaint and I love the feel of the brushes. But I have always been able to control my canvas size and resolution. But MyPaint doesn't allow you to set either from scratch. This is one method that gets around those issues.

GIMP: How To Add Themes UPDATED

This is an update to the original tutorial on theme. In this tutorial I show how to download, adjust the themes and install them in either version 2.6.11 or 2.7.3.  In the end I preview the new themes and show how to set it as your default so it loads automatically.   The custom themes can be downloaded from GNOME.

Update: Installing GIMP 2.7.3 in Windows

UPDATE-: I add this update to an earlier post on "How To Install GIMP 2.7.3 in Ubuntu and Windows.
I had issues with saving to the OpenRaster extension (.ora) and had to go back and forth between 2.7.3 and 2.6.11 (stable version).  I went and backed up my .gimp 2.7.3 folder and uninstalled Gimp 2.7.3 with RevoUninstaller.  Then I reinstalled it with the version I downloaded from HERE.  I verified that it worked by exporting as an .ora file.  Then I copied my themes and brushes into the new folder.  Not sure what happened, but it is an experimental version.

Hope this helps,


How To Sketch: Sketching The 4 Step Method

Sketching is a vital skill that enables one to quickly capture a vision or idea. Sketching is normally the first place that artists start out and is also the basis for most projects. Even movies start out with storyboards that are a sequence of sketches. Most often, but not always very rudimentary ones at best. Sketching is very important for digital artists for that reason. It is utilized in all media. Sketching is art in it's simplest form but can be taken to a very high degree of detail. Their is a difference between sketching and drawing where drawing is more detailed. These terms are quite often used interchangeably.

Running Computers On Generator

Well we are back on commercial power again.  We were able to borrow a generator Thursday night.  One thing I must mention with running electronics on a generator is that you should use one that has an inverter or use a separate one or you may damage your equipment.  An inverter basically works like a filter and cleans up the noise on the electrical signal similar to background noise found on audio signals.  I was lucky that I didn't damage anything (haven't noticed anything yet) but I did have issue with frame rates with video editing.  Normally I run about 130fps with normal encoding tasks, but I had less than 50fps at times.  So even thought I had power, and ran it through an UPS, it still wasn't good power.  Something to keep in mind if you are in the market for a generator.

Hurricain Irene

Very hard to be a Digital Artist without power.  That is where pencil and paper comes in.  That brings me to my next article on sketching.  It would have been good to have it up before the storm but it is on the way once we get power back ...hopefully soon.

Quick Tip: Animation

This is just a quick thought for those who are aspiring animators and are just starting out. Look for the extras on DVD / Blu-ray discs.  They will often have "Behind the Scenes" footage showing the process that they went through in making the film.

New Tutorials on the Way

Just and update on two new tutorials. I have a quick tip in GIMP 2.7.3 on :How To Add Themes" in the works and an article on sketching where I have taken some popular characters, sketched them out and add more detail. I walk you through my sketching process in a 4 step approach covering silhouettes, line weight, values and shading techniques. I hope to have the first to you by tomorrow and the article next week. So check back or sign up and subscribe by email for updates.


GIMP: How To Add Themes

Adding Themes to GIMP (2.7 +2.6) is rather simple once one knows how. This tutorial covers the steps and allows one to change the working environment of GIMP quickly. All that is needed is the new version of GIMP 2.7.3 and custom themes downloaded from GNOME

With custom themes you can go from the default the to a custom theme.

GIMP: How to Install 2.7 in Ubuntu 11.04 + Windows

 Open Source programs can be somewhat hard to find with disconnects between the various communities. Finding links to GIMP 2.7 is no exception. Fortunately I have been able to find the commands to install it on Ubuntu 11.04, which should work for other versions, and links to various Windows versions including portables.  In windows I have been able to install Gimp-Painter 2.6.11 a long side 2.7.3.  In Ubuntu I had to choose between the two.  The main feature that I really like in 2.7 over 2.6 is Brush Editor. It is quite similar to Photoshop. So if you are like me and are migrating from Photoshop you'll like 2.7.

GIMP: How to Create Perspective Grids with the Path Tool


This tutorial shows how to use the Path Tool in GIMP to create perspective grids. I did an earlier version showing the workflow done in Photoshop and was asked how to do it in GIMP. The tool is the same but the methods differs from application to application. 

WIP: Creature Eyes

These three sketches below are for concept art project involving a close up of an intense stare that invokes an emotion.

Digital Arts and Video Editing on Ubuntu

I have been working with Ubuntu 11.04 lately in hopes to move to it full time.  I have made progress but still there are many issues to overcome before making the move.  The issues I have been having involve networking (adding Linux PC to a Windows network) and Video Editing.  There are other issues and I will go into them more in depth later when I present my options for alternative apps for the various tasks I need to be able to accomplish.  The one thing I have come to understand, which I tend to re-learn every so often, is that no matter what OS or program we use, there is always some kind of compromise.  People have issues with Macs, Windows, and Linux.  Same goes with commercial applications, which can glitch and cause crashes.  They usually cost more than the operating systems do.

I primarily have also been working with various video apps on Ubuntu and have had good success.  I still believe that video editing on Linux is a weak point, but I was able to locate substitutes for my apps on Windows (the ones that won't work in WINE) and a few work flows for creating Video Tutorials using only apps from Linux repositories.

I will have a more in depth article on applications and work flows and some quick how-to videos.


How To Install Gimp-Painter in Ubuntu 11.04

I have been working on moving from Windows to Linux for some time. I have been able to substitute most of my commercial apps with Open Source of Free ones. But since I go back and forth between Windows and Ubuntu I try to use the same apps on both systems. Recently David Revoy has posted a lot of info on his site in regards to Gimp-Painter and GPS (Gimp Paint Studio) that patched Gimp to emulate Corel Painter.

Needless to say I am a Windows user and know it pretty well, but I am in the process of learning Linux.  Lucky enough there are people like David that will share the command lines that you can usually paste in Linux terminal windows which is similar to Windows cmd function.

Photoshop: How To Create Perspective Grids with Paths

Grids are essential to the digital artist to help design in perspective. In this video I use the Pen tool in Photoshop CS5 to create paths, adjust them, and stroke them to create a one point perspective grid.


IrfanView: A Free Alternative To Adobe Bridge

This is a quick tutorial showing the use of IrfanView as a free alternative to Adobe Bridge. IrfanView Thumbnails can display PSD files as thumbnails, help organize your images, display thumbnails of text files and allow for full preview of PSD files without opening Photoshop. It is a great tool for digital artists or anyone with a large library of photos.


The Post

This sketch was done with graphite and charcoal on smooth Bristol paper. I haven't done any real sketches in charcoal though I have always liked the smooth gradients and rich dark tones that I have seen others achieve. 

How To Combine Video Clips with Authoring Works 4

In this tutorial I use Authoring Works 4 to convert and combine two video clips at the same time. I have found AW4 to be very useful over the years and indispensable at times where no other application will work.


How To Convert and Combine Video Clips

This is a video tutorial I did recently and I wanted to add it to my site archive.  If you have seen it just ignore it, but if not, check it out and let me know what you think.  It covers the use of freeware to convert various video types and then combine them into a single file.


Site Update

I just up dated the site to load faster and reorganized some things to remove clutter. I also redesigned the portfolio page and fixed the links to open in separate tabs.

WIP "Alien In a Hostile Land"

"Alien in a Hostile Land"
At least that is the working title so I can easily find it at a later date.  This WIP (Work In Progress)  is a personal project that didn't really start with a brief.  I normally try to make a point to create a brief for all projects in a simple text format .  Then I add progress notes of what to work on next.  This way I have a to do list of items to proceed with when I work on it again.  Instead of using Bridge with Photoshop to track or browse files, I use IrfanView Thumbnail Viewer (that installs with IrfanView) because it is a very light weight app.  It will allow me to also open the files in any external editor.

In this case, the parts just started to come together. It started with me doodling in Photoshop with a simple soft brush, opacity controlled by pressure, working on a value sketch (gray scale only) to see what I could find within the scribble.  The technique is similar to looking at a cloud and finding a shape within it. In a short time I had created a little alien in perspective.  I cleaned up the silhouette a bit, added texture, rim lighting and a very simple "throw-away" background shown below.

"Alien Invader"

Aspect Ratio ...Simplified

Aspect Ratio (AR) is just that, a ratio between the width and the height of an image.  There is an in-depth wiki on the matter HERE.  But most artists really just want or need the simple version and how it relates to us.

Tutorial Page

I updated my tutorial page.  It isn't the design I was going for, but it will do for now.  If you haven't already checked them out, please feel free to do so.

If there is anything that you have questions on or would like me to cover, let me know.  If it isn't something I can cover, the chances are that I can point you in the right direction.


Finished! (Somewhat)

After fighting with Blogger to design my page (I bought my domain this time) The page is suitable, for now.  I am currently looking for a web host so I can have full control over the site design.  This way I can include all of my projects in one location; or at least linked from one location.

8 or 16 Bit Color Depth For Digital Painting

The question to use 8 or 16 color continuously comes up. I have tried to get a definitive answer to this question, but found nothing concrete. I have been using 16 bit for some time now. Mostly due to the advice of a friend who happens to be a professional photographer. I have to say I don't really notice a difference in my paintings, but I kept at it since it might help with better print results. This question wouldn't be coming up again if it weren't for the fact that I am looking to move to a Linux environment. Unfortunately I use Photoshop and Adobe only supports Windows and Mac OS's. But the alternatives,such as GIMP among others, only support 8 bit color. So do I really need 16 bit color?

Still Working

I am still try to design both the look and navigation of my portfolio / gallery in the world of Blogger. Then I will migrate my previous tutorials to here or link to YouTube.

Coming Soon.

I am currently working on designing this site.  Please be patient, I should have things up and running soon.