Category Archives: Android Apps

New Artwork : Surreal Fantasy

I had a sudden surge of creativity last week, after stumbling upon some hitherto neglected filters and clipart in an App on my mobile phone. I got so inspired by the possibilities of combining several disparate elements together to create a new series of digital artwork with a Surreal Fantasy theme, that I stayed up late over several nights to finish them.

These have been submitted to my Licensing company for production, fingers crossed they pass the quality standards set by the company. Hopefully then they will be made available on various housewares, such as bedlinen, shower curtains, wall art, placemats etc.

Here are 5 examples, out of the 20 I created. I hope you like them!

image“A Sudden Grand Deluge”

image“Musical Tendrils”

image“Rain Deer”

image“Blue Ballet”

image“As Above, So Below”

These were a lot of fun to create. And I decided to give them all whimsical titles, to add to the surreal fantasy feel. Believe it or not, only 3 Apps were used to create these: PicsArt, Impressionist Fingerpaint and Photo Editor.

Fish!

I was sorting through my thousands of photos in my mobile phone’s camera roll the other day, and came across some poor abandoned, orphaned half-processed images of my Japanese Koi fish. I remembered that at the time of editing those photos, I’d been playing with an App called Trimaginator. And then some other project of mine superceded it, and it got buried under an avalanche of new photos.

My favourite App for blending images on my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is “Photo Blender“. It offers more blend modes than you can think of, and is super-easy to use.

Another favourite App of mine for creating colourfield backgrounds is “Impressionist Fingerpaint“. I have a folder in my phone that is just for backgrounds I’ve created using that App.

I decided to have a play with my Fish images, Photo Blender and Impressionist Fingerpaint. The only other App used here is Photo Editor, for tweaking various parameters of the resulting blended images.

Such fun! And I really like the results too. Here are some of them. Please refrain from copying these images, full copyright remains with me, although I have submitted them to my Licensor for licensing on homewares.

These images hold bittersweet memories for me, personally. The fish you see are my own Koi, and since the photos were taken, the number has fallen from 12 down to 4. I’m not very good at keeping fish, and I’m determined to NOT replenish stocks anymore. When the last 4 go, that’s it.

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Swinger

Don’t let the title fool you. This post isn’t about what you think it is. I’m just teasing you 😄.

Swinger is just the name of a fairground ride I saw in Baldivis last month. It’s one of those aerial merry-go-round swing things that fly around using centrifugal forces, jolly good old-fashioned fun, if you ask me. I used to love going on those rides, I think the last time I was on one was in Disneyland Paris, back in 2008.

I was only able to take a few photos of the Swinger, but I now present to you 2 sides of carnival life: the Light, and the Dark.

Apps used: Pic Blender, Photo Editor, Snapseed. Snapseed updated its App recently, but I’ve been away from photo editing for a good while, and so I have had to learn how to navigate its new user interface. It’s a great improvement on the old model, I must say. Bravo, Nik Software/Google! A great thumbs up from me.

For the Light: think happy circus and carnival colours – bright, vivid, cheerful.

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Now, for the Dark: think American Horror Story “Freak Show” (currently my favourite AMS series, after the previous one, “Coven”. If you like your stories morbid, twisted, cynical and ironic, I recommend American Horror Story, where a stable of well-known actors star in each story, playing different characters each time). Now, the skies are stormy and roiling with thunder and lightning, and the faces of the people on the ride are frozen in a rictus of fear, not joy. Mouths open to scream with terror, not exhilaration. Even the colours have been bleached out, the textures grunged up. Sinister dexterity was needed here, to capture the terror of flying through space out of control.

Excuse my morbid sense of humour. Snapseed’s Textures always bring that out in me…the last time I devoted my time on a project featuring graveyard angel statues, I found myself skulking around Fremantle’s cemetery in the pouring rain. And enjoying every minute of it.

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Some more Mashups

Just some digital mash-ups of my Gelli plate monoprints, that I created using just 3 Apps, namely Photo Blender, PicsArt and Photo Editor. I love the riot of bright colours.

I might put these up on Kess InHouse Design’s website. I’ve been rather neglectful about updating my artist portal on Kess InHouse Designs. It’s high time I posted up more designs to be licensed, and why not these? I think they would translate very well to duvet covers, cushions, wall art, rugs etc.

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Why “One More Line” is like Real Life

The Kid and I came across the computer game “One More Line” at Comic Con in Perth last month. It was rigged up like an arcade game, with just a simple monitor and a rotating ball button control. The premise is deceptively simple: get the highest score you can. You pilot a half-circle object which trails 3 coloured lines, up, around and past coloured obstacles of different sizes. Each obstacle is a similar, circular shape, and they all spin around with varying speeds, the bigger ones tend to spin more sluggishly than the little ones, and the closer you swing to them, the faster. There is only one control function – tap and hold to grab and spin around an obstacle i.e grapple, or let go to move on with a straight trajectory. Two lines, on on either side of your “runway” serve as barriers or walls – if you’re grappling an obstacle i.e holding on and swinging around it, your Pilot may pass through the walls safely. But if you’re in freefall mode i.e not tapping and holding the screen, you will crash and smash into smithereens if you hit the wall on either side, or if you crash into one of the obstacles.

“One More Line” is by the developers SMG and is available on both iOS and Android. They also have other games available, so if you like “One More Line”, you might like the others just as much.

Watch this video on how to play “One More Line”. It will give you a good idea just how addictive this game is. Oh, and if you don’t want a musical earwig (where you can’t sleep because the theme tune from some movie or App is playing on a loop through your brain), I’d play this game with the volume off.

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Sounds easy peasy, right? Wrong. The more I play “One More Line”, the more I’m thinking that it has a lot of similarities to Real Life. Here’s why:

1. In Life, the path is never straightforward, but goes round and about and is often full of obstacles.

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2. Some obstacles are tiny, others are huge. The Path you take and the decisions you make determine whether you come across the big ones or the little ones.

3. Some obstacles may be circumvented or bypassed by making clever or wise decisions. Others are too big to slide past or ignore, and must be tackled head on. Be careful that your decisions don’t lead you straight into another obstacle. Or worse, into a brick wall.

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4. You mustn’t get too cocky with your success, because pride always goes before a fall. The higher up you go, the more humble you must become. Control those impulses too! Don’t get too carried away because accidents happen when you’re taking too many risks.

5. You only have 1 Life. Crash, and it’s over. So, be careful with your actions and decisions, and always look where you’re heading. Be prepared to take last minute evasive action or change your direction. Sometimes, even an about turn may be called for.

6. If you tried and failed, try again. Try harder, fail better, and then succeed. Learn from your mistakes, and try not to repeat them.

7. In Life, we are all monkeys swinging from one branch to another. So keep practising those monkey swings, and let’s see how far you can go!

Digital + Mixed Media Mashups

I’m really enjoying myself playing with my Gelli plates, both the rectangular one that’s intact and the other which I dissected into 3 round plates of different diameters, 2 small rectangular ones, and a few small triangular and square ones.

My main medium however, is digital photography. What makes me a happy bunny these days is being able to marry the two successfully. Digital + Mixed Media.

I love the possibilities this opens up. Lately I’ve been tearing up my Gelli plate monoprints (yes, really) and turning them into little handmade Art Journals. I wrote about that earlier here (insert link).

Having accumulated quite a lot of Gelli plate prints now, I decided to take photos of them and blend them with other photos on my Samsung Galaxy Note 4. I use mainly just 2 Apps – Photo Blender and Photo Editor. I love those 2 Apps.

Anyway, here are some of my latest Digital + Mixed Media Mashups, as I call them. Hope you like them!

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DISCOVER (4 templates, 12 ways)

I’ve been spending much of my time lately experimenting with Gelli Plate monoprinting. It’s a lot of fun, and some techniques I’ve tried have come out with pretty amazing results. Others, not so. Some I really love and could keep doing again and again, others I am not so enamoured with and won’t try again. As with all Art, you just have to keep experimenting until you hit on something that appeals to you.

One monoprinting technique I learnt and liked on YouTube is this one, by Clarity Stamp.

I made 4 prints using this technique and some stamps. I really liked the torn paper effect and how it reminded me of ancient, crumbly walls newly discovered by some archaeologists.

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I could’ve just gone on and printed more examples using this torn paper technique. But the mobile digital artist in me piped up and said, “Why don’t you try blending photos of those with other photos from your Samsung Galaxy Note 4? You can use the 4 monoprints as templates and generate an entire series of different artworks, with a common theme”.

This was in keeping with one of my main reasons for venturing down the path of real (vs virtual/digital) mixed media – the idea that I could then accumulate enough source material to use as backgrounds for my digital artwork.

And so, using just 2 Apps – Photo Blender and Photo Editor Editor, I followed the suggestion of my inner voice and created these 12 new images, using just the 4 prints that I’d done.

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Project Palimpsest/Butterick: Some Art I Just Created

Following on from yesterday’s Freebies, and in line with my recent obsession for mixed media art, here are some examples of Art that I’ve created using close-ups of my Project Palimpsest/Butterick canvasses.

The images on the left are of the close-ups, and on the right are the results after blending. There is some discrepancy with the size of the originals and the results – this is because I have resized the final image.

The App I use most for blending images these days is called Photo Blender. Not the most imaginative by name, but it offers the highest number of blend modes than any other App I know of. I really enjoy playing with the different blend modes until I come across one that I like. All effects are tweakable by simply swiping your finger across the screen.

Here is the link to Photo Blender: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.primary0.photoblender

You can click on any image to see a full-page version of it. Enjoy!

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P/S: I think I just might put these up for sale on my Society 6, RedBubble, Zazzle and FineArtAmerica stores. Hmmm…:-)

Interview by Kess InHouse – AlyZen Moonshadow

I was honoured recently to be interviewed by Sara Gupta (now Sara O’Neill), co-founder of Kess InHouse designs. Kess were kind enough to take a chance on me and offer me an Art Licensing contract for my mobile photography art. I have a number of pieces with them, and continue to submit more. Kess’s products include duvet covers, pillow cases, shower curtains, fleece blankets, place mats, desk mats, cutting boards, rugs and pet products, including dog beds, pet bandannas, feeding mats and bowls.

Answering Sara’s questions was an interesting exercise in retrospection. I never realised how far I’d evolved from the starry-eyed ingenue behind my first iPhone in 2010.  It was a walk down Memory Lane for me, and reminded me of my various experiments and love affairs with different Apps, filters and effects. Has it really been 4 years since I started my mobile photography adventures?

Here’s the link to the interview,
http://www.kessinhouseblog.com/artist-spotlight-alyzen-moonshadow/

And here’s the transcript:

KIH:  Your artwork has a fun blend of mobile phone photography and graphic design flair.  When did you discover your passion for photo manipulation?

AlyZen Moonshadow: I bought my first iPhone 3 in 2010, shortly before I emigrated from Ireland to Australia. Whilst job-hunting in Australia, I decided to experiment with photo editing on my iPhone. I started out with some Apps for Lomographic effects, then got into textures and grunge, and the whole thing snowballed from there. I practised a lot in the early days, averaging between 5-10 manipulated images a day.  The more I practised, the better I got, and also the more selective about effects and filters. In 2012 I discovered some graphic design-type Apps, and for a while I was really into Swiss-style graphics. I even designed some mock CD album covers using these, and some t-shirts. In the same year, I switched from the iPhone to a Samsung Galaxy S3, and discovered Android Apps. These days I use my Samsung Galaxy S4 and my iPad 2 for my photo manipulations, so I really have the best of both worlds.  

KIH:  Your pieces are very colorful and use unique color pallettes.  How do you find color effects your art pieces and how do you develop color choices while making a new composition?

AlyZen Moonshadow: I usually start by uploading a photo to an image editing App on my Samsung Galaxy S4, then just playing around with various filters and effects. When I find one that appeals to me, or that I think merits further processing, I then move on to the next step, which is finding other elements to add to the image. Sometimes if I’m not satisfied with the colour scheme, I will edit it again to change the hue or saturation, until I’m happy with the result. I went through a brief phase early on in 2011 when I tried faded, vintage, old postcard styles, but found I’m more drawn towards bright, vibrant colours. This may come from my love of flowers in natural surroundings. If I have a favourite colour, it would be turquoise. Whenever I find a filter that gives me the colour turquoise, I try my best to keep it in the final edit. I like colours that are translucent rather than matte, so whenever possible I try to create my pieces with a sense of depth in them. I also like an element of randomness in my work. I have a folder of colourfield backgrounds that I created using photos and a very simple Android App called “Impressionist Fingerpaint”, which gives me the colours I need. It’s perfect for giving me 2 things – a sense of depth and translucency, and the element of randomness when blended with other images.

KIH:  Your latest collection of art pieces showcase stacked teacups as an homage to Alice in Wonderland.  Where did your interest in this subject spark?

AlyZen Moonshadow: I’ve always been fond of Alice in Wonderland since I was a little girl, and I got the idea of stacked teacups from surfing Pinterest online. I had a couple of teacups and saucers lying around, and some real and silk flowers, and I posed them together and edited a number of images. The flowers soon fell by the wayside, as I decided the teacups and saucers made very interesting subjects in themselves. I went through a phase buying vintage teacups and saucers on Etsy, then stacking them up higgledy piggledy for staged photoshoots. I had the idea of creating my own Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (I spell my series The Madhatter’s Teaparty), so an entire series of 100 images was born in 2012.

KIH:  What is your favorite piece (on KESS)? How did you develop the composition?

AlyZen Moonshadow: It would have to be images from my Madhatter’s Teaparty. For the photo manipulations, I used predominantly Photoshop Touch, especially the “Difference” filter to bring out the colours and to introduce an element of serendipity, as I was never sure what the results would be using that filter. Before Kess InHouse found me and my Madhatter’s Teaparty, I’d printed 35 of the images onto stretched A3 canvasses, varnished and all…in case I ever held an Art exhibition. I like to think that Alice herself would’ve been proud of my teacups!

KIH:  Your artistic process generally starts from your mobile phone.  What do you enjoy the most about utilizing cell phone cameras and applications when creating your artwork.

AlyZen Moonshadow: I think the best part is the portability of it all. I have my entire Studio in the palm of my hand, literally. No expensive paints or equipment to buy, no messy paintbrushes, no splatters on the carpet, no clearing or cleaning up to do. If I make a mistake, or if I don’t like an effect, there’s the handy Undo button, or even in extreme cases, the Delete button. I can transfer my work between my Samsung Galaxy S4 and my iPad2, or even to my desktop Mac for resizing. I can work almost anywhere, anytime – on the bus, on the train, while waiting for my coffee to percolate. Every now and then I download an App and test it out; if it adds anything to my creative process, I keep it and use it. If not, I uninstall it. Some of my fellow mobile photographers like the idea of having thousands of Apps to utilise, and bemoan the fact that the Android platform does not have half as many Apps as Apple iOS. However, my personal view is that in reality, you only need a dozen or so decent Apps to be able to create a wide variety of effects. The magic is in finding the right combination of effects. Sometimes less really is more.

KIH: Many of your pieces have abstract textures and psychedelic imagry to build up the subjects of the piece.  Where did you pick up this artistic style and what other artists made an impact on your work?

AlyZen Moonshadow: Colour is important to me, followed closely by depth and texture. I like to introduce an element of the surreal into some of my pieces. An early series that I created in 2011 is titled “Dalienutopia” and is based around photos of the Baigup Wetlands near where I used to live in Perth, Western Australia. The title is a combination of my homage to the artist Dali, and the words Alien and Utopia…and the images are surreal and weird. Another series titled “Surrealism” in 2012 came from when I was experimenting with strange objects and juxtapositions. I learnt about Dali and his contemporaries funnily enough in Music History when I was a student at college, and the ideas just stayed with me. Another artist that inspire me is Georgia O’Keeffe, you can see her influence in my photo manipulations of flowers. When I was creating my flower photographs, some friends told me my images reminded them of Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings.

KIH:  Where do you do most of your work?

AlyZen Moonshadow: My trusty workhorse, the Samsung Galaxy S4, is rarely out of my hands, and it is also my portable Studio. So basically, I can and do work almost anywhere. For printing purposes, I have my printers (an ink-guzzling Epson Artisan 1430 and a mellow Canon Pixma MX870) in the spareroom/storeroom, which during the summer months is shared with an ongoing succession of baby Japanese Quails, that I incubate, breed and sell. The room is too small for a proper worktable, so I simply spread butcher paper over the carpet on the floor, lay out my prints on that, and do any gluing, varnishing, etc right there. It’s easy enough to tidy away again afterwards. Someday I hope to have a traditional gypsy caravan installed in my front garden, where things can be more permanent.

Couple in Love(This is my “Couple in Love” image, available on Kess inHouse here)

Playing with Diana

Haha…bet that made you wonder who Diana is and what sort of play I meant. Wink, wink!

Since we are in polite company, I shall resist the temptation to make salacious remarks and put my double entendres away. (I’m sure there’s meant to be a comma in there somewhere, oh there you are 😄).

The “Diana” in question here is not a person but a camera. A cheap plastic camera made in Hong Kong in the 1960s, which caught the imagination of enthusiasts even after being discontinued, so much so that there has been a resurgence in its popularity and a renaissance in its production. To own an original Diana camera today is a sign of enthusiasm for photographic nostalgia (not to mention money). Luckily, because modern-day Dianas are easily available, you can get your dirty hands on a new one for less than $100.

Yes, it’s delightfully analogue! It even uses Film! It’s untouched by Apple or Android, it doesn’t know what an App is! Actually, that’s not quite true true…because, even though the Diana remains analogue, and relies on film rolls (what are those, I hear some of you ask), there are many websites and online forums devoted to Diana photography, and there are also Apps showcasing Diana cameras and other retro plastic cameras.

Personally, my introduction to mobile photography came about via Lomography, or lo-fi photography from the likes of the Diana and other plastic cameras. I remember playing with my iPhone 3 back in 2010, and discovering Apps with Lomographic filters and effects. And just like that, I was hooked. I didn’t go as far as to buy a modern Diana camera, though they were easily available online on eBay and at retro shops such as Pigeonhole in Australia. What put me off was the fact that the camera relied on actual film, which needed processing at a camera shop, and that meant trips to the shops, which meant money to be spent on processing and on film. Do you know how hard it is these days to even find analogue film? And don’t forget to factor in the cost of processing film. Also, with me being digital on the iPhone, I could see at a glance whether a photo would be retained or simply deleted from my camera roll, and I could choose which photos to develop. Not so with the Diana, where you don’t get to see what your shots look like, before they are developed.

Having said that, today’s Diana offers pinhole functionality, where you basically remove the lens and use a pinhole filter instead. The resulting image is captured onto the film. This makes for an array of interesting effects such as blurred images, colour bleeds, double exposures, haloes and strange blobs. Very retro chic indeed. Hmmm…maybe I should get a Diana after all, just for this function…or I’m sure there’s an App for that, right?

I downloaded an App the other day called aptly enough, “Diana Photo“, which is happily available both on Android and Apple iOS. The user interface is simple enough – you simply load up 2 photos from your smartphone, then choose what effects you want to use for blending them. Now, this is different from standard photo editing blend modes (screen, difference, multiply, overlay etc). You can’t tweak any of the parameters, so it really is pot luck whether a blend works or not. Here’s a screenshot of the user interface:

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Yes, it’s all in square format. Instagrammers will love this App.

Here are the different blends available on Diana Photo. There are 21 in total (sorry, they wouldn’t fit on just one screenshot):

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I was just playing with this App when it struck me that these “accidental” double exposures were beautiful in their own right, and it would be a waste not to to create a Lenormand divination card deck using this App.

And so I have. The “Diana Lenormand” by AlyZen Moonshadow is now in production as I write this. When I get the printed copy I will share the results with you all.

Meanwhile, here are some examples of the type of images the Diana Photo App produced:

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