May 2008

:: A Trip Down The Rabbit Hole…

After a couple of weeks playing with my digitizing graphics tablet I’ve spent many an hour learning new techniques and concepts in Photoshop. Following on my previous blog… I can’t believe I’ve gone this long without using one of these babies! The precision and control is amazing and has definitely opened up many a door for improving my skills and speed of workflow.

Here are a couple of before and after shots of some work I just completed in Photoshop using my Intuos3 Tablet… prepare yourself for a ride down Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole:

Orange Peel Frog:



Chocolate Dipped Frog:



Both ideas were inspired and created after watching a tutorial on the Photoshop Top Secret DVD series. I highly recommend going out and buying a copy as I did… *cough* *cough* It’s a great series that helps you understand and learn various techniques that you can use in Photoshop to achieve some pretty amazing results. Overall I think they were executed quite well, but there’s definitely room for improvement…

Let me know what you think!

:: Wacom Intuos3 Tablet

Just recently I bought a Wacom Intuos3 digitizing graphics tablet. It is a computer input device that allows one to hand-draw images and graphics, similar to the way one draws images with a pencil and paper. A graphics tablet consists of a flat surface like a mouse pad upon which the user may “draw” an image using a stylus.

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From all the research I did on the internet about what to look for in a tablet, many of the responses kept coming back about Wacom being the industry leader for this particular product. So after browsing their range, I figured that the 4×6 inch tablet was best suited for my needs since I use a 11″ laptop and move around so much.

Since I use Photoshop so much there are many limitations that you have when using a mouse to control the software. Having a tablet allows you to have much greater control and dexterity. Since you’re using a pen, stroke motions are more fluid and natural so it improves workflow rate and allows much greater accuracy and detailed control.

Here’s a bit of info about the Wacom Intuous3:

Intuos3 Grip Pen & Pressure sensitivity: With 1,024 levels of tip and eraser pressure sensitivity, the Intuos3 Grip Pen fits comfortably in your hand with a cushioned and contoured grip for a natural feel. The pen has a programmable DuoSwith™ and tilt sensitivity. It also comes with multiple nibs for a variety of “feels.” The pen comes with a multi-position pen stand. With 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, you can control your software tools by changing how hard you press the pen tip on the tablet. Using pressure sensitivity, you can dynamically control things like exposure, brush size, opacity, and more.

Intuos3 Pen Tablet: The sloping, contoured palm rest provides comfort while you work. It allows you to adjust your cord position vertically or horizontally for greater workspace flexibility and comes with an 8′ cord so you have plenty of room to extend the reach.

ExpressKeys™: The tablet has strategically placed programmable ExpressKeys  which are “chordable” and can be used for mouse clicks, modifier keys, open/run applications, pop-up menus, and keyboard shortcuts.

Touch Strips: Finger-sensitive Touch Strips allow you to quickly scroll, zoom, change brush size, and more in almost any software.

Intuos3 five-button mouse: The Intuos3 five-button mouse is ball-free and optics-free for smooth, accurate tracking. It has an ambidextrous low-profile designwith five programmable buttons and a finger wheel give you added flexibility and control. I personally don’t use it becase I have a bluetooth mouse that i find is much better. The other limitation to using the Wacom mouse is that you have to use it on the tablet surface since it is powered by the tablet, which in turn reduces your workspace and limits the functionality of the mouse.

Wacom Mouse

Technology: Patented cordless, battery-free technology for a natural feel and superior performance. This would have to be the icing on the cake. You have the freedom of a cordless mouse and pen, and the fact that it is battery free saves you money and time. No need for recharging or purchasing new batteries.

I was a bit apprehensive about the need for a tablet, but after getting the Wacom Intuos3 I can’t believe how I’ve managed to get by without it for so long! For anyone considering buying a tablet, I would say don’t hesitate at all in getting one. The main thing to look out for is whether the size of it is compatible with the resolutions your monitor is running. You don’t want to buy a small one only to find that your monitor resolution is so high that the workspace on the tablet doesn’t accommodate it and vice versa. Also the ability to customize the operation of quick keys, and the pen itself is definitely something to consider. The learning curve of getting to know how to operate it was very quick for me. Within an hour I was able to perform each task with ease and after a week of using it I find myself using it more often as a substitute to my mouse.

Definitely two thumbs up for this product!

:: Portland Japanese Gardens


During our trip to Portland we went and saw the Japanese Gardens located about 20 minutes from downtown. The gardens are situated at the top of the hills and you can get a view of the city from the top. I took the opportunity to do some photography while we were there and I decided to do some experimenting with HDR shots (High Dynamic Range). Without going into the technical details, you can see that with this particular photography process the photos exhibit greater detail compared to a regular shot. The textures and grain of wood are more evident, the cracks in stone walls are more detailed and the final product has a dramatic effect…

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The Japanese gardens were a perfect place to experiment with this technique because of the vast variety textures and colours of the scenery, statues, wooden objects, rocks, moss and stone.

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Check out the photos and let me know what you think…

:: Roadtrip To Portland

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Over the past long weekend Tash and I decided to do a roadtrip down to Portland Oregon. This was our second trip there and this time round we had a chance to see more of the sights and had a chance to enjoy our first real taste of SUMMER! The temperatures hit 35 degrees Celsius and after the 7 hour drive I actually noticed a tan line on my arm where my sleeve ended! Of course the great sunny weather comes with a price… Tash and I got hit with a huge case of hay fever and we suffered all day with runny noses and tearing eyes! Even little Jasmin was suffering from sneezing fits and puffy eyes. We decided to bring the dogs on this trip and they enjoyed every moment of it! Candy ran around the parks like a mad man (dog) as per usual, and Jasmin loved the attention from all the random strangers…

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We checked out a few of the local sights such as the Saturday Markets where Tash got a Henna Tattoo drawn on her. Not quite the traditional indian design, but it’s a lot less permanent than the real deal. It was fun walking around the markets checking out the local crafts. After that we went to the Washington Square Mall and Woodburn Factory Outlets and check out some of the sales.


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Portland is a very green and beautiful city. There are plenty of trees and the city is so clean and tidy compared to other Cities in the US. We checked out the Portland Japanese Gardens and I took the opportunity to do some photography. The garden is spread over 5 acres and had a variety of Japanese style gardens with water features, rock gardens, moss and statues.


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The trip was great and gave us a much needed break from the regular routine of work and day to day life… all we seemed to do when we weren’t sight seeing is eat! One of our favourite restaurants has to be The Cheesecake Factory. The food is great there and I’d have to say the cheesecake is to die for…  

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Check out the photo gallery with all the highlights of the trip… I can’t wait until the next holiday…!

:: Home Sweet Home V2.0

  So it’s been a month since we moved into our new place and that last box that remained unpacked for weeks on end has finally been emptied! I can’t believe how much stuff we have… during the move we had over 20 boxes and by the time it was all moved in here you couldn’t even see our hard wood floors! Jasmin was mortified and kept close to us because it was like a giant Labyrinth and I’m sure she thought she would be trapped for life if she lost sight of us…

So after much procrastination boxes and furniture got reassembled and now I present to you, Home Sweet Home Version 2.0:

This is the hallway from the front entrance with the study room to the right and bathroom and ensuite laundry to the left…


This is the bathroom with separate shower and bathtub…

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The master bedroom…


This is the lounge room with glass wall partitions so we can split up the rooms into 1, 2 or 3 spaces…


This is the balcony with our hanging flower pots… yes I’m trying my hand at being Mr Green Thumb… so far a 75% success rate… Oh and that dead hanging Ivy isn’t my fault… it was like that from the last owner and I haven’ had a change to throw it out! Cant wait for summer to really hit and then the barbeque is going to come out!

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This is the dining room…

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Finally, the kitchen complete with granite top counters, stainless steel appliances and an island bench…

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We’re loving the extra space and definitely wouldn’t consider moving away from Yaletown because it’s such a trendy place with nice restaurants, shops and cafes… I can’t wait for summertime to hit so that we can spend more time outdoors, take the dogs for a walk and sit outside a cafe with an iced mocha… who knows when that will be… we just had snow in late April! *blah*