Sunday, January 26, 2014

Artist Tip #24 - iPad and ValueViewer app for reference image management

We're going to take a little break from design, and talk about using an iPad (or other tablet) to manage reference photos.

Shortly after I got my iPad (a first generation one, so I'm currently badly out of date), I abandoned printing out references on paper and began using my iPad to store and display my painting references.  I use iPhoto on my iMac to manage all of my photos, and I have them organized into a large number of albums... for example: barns, city scenes, Paris, Cornwall, people, animals, etc.  I just sync my iPad to the appropriate albums, and all of those references appear on my iPad.  Here is a screen shot of my iPad showing some of the reference photo albums I always have available:



Here is a look "inside" one of my albums, showing thumbnails of the reference photos:



When one of these thumbnails is touched, it expands into the original reference photo:



So when I get ready to paint (in my studio, for a demo, at a class or workshop, or while working at Artists Workshop Gallery), I just take out my iPad, decide then and there what I'll paint, do the drawing, set up the iPad with the reference on it where I can see it, and start painting.  In addition, the reference can be "adjusted" by pinching and dragging to adjust the design.  It is a great system - I can't believe how I used to print everything out in the "bad old" days!

About a year ago, fellow artist Charles Harrington recommended to me an iPad app called ValueViewer, which makes this approach to reference photos even better:



This app lets you load one of your photos into the app (or you can take a photo with your iPad if you have a newer model with a camera and are painting plain air) and then manipulate it to improve the composition and simplify the drawing.  The image can be rotated by 90 or 180 degrees, and then straightened by a few degrees by simply rotating the image with two fingers.  It can be expanded and reduced in size by pinching, and moved around the viewing area by dragging with one finger.  The size and shape of the viewing area can be adjusted to fit exactly the dimensions of one's paper or canvas.  Various grid lines can be superimposed on the image to aid in drawing, as in this example:




In addition to the original color image, one can choose a gray-scale image, a  two-value black and white image, and a 3-level gray-scale image, to help one to choose proper values.  The "final" reference image can be locked from any changes, and the menus can be removed from the top and bottom of the screen by double-tapping the screen.

So... if you do a lot of painting from photographic references, I strongly suggest that you equip yourself with an iPad with the ValueViewer app to simplify your artistic life.  Of course, you can also carry on it images of your own completed paintings, and images of others' paintings that you admire.  A used first generation iPad can be picked up now for less than $150, but I suggest you splurge and get a later model, with a built-in camera.  It's useful for for much more than your reference photos!  And you'll save a lot of money on ink.

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2 comments:

louie studer said...

Thanks - this is the 3rd time I have tired leaving a long comment. Louie
lcstuder@sbcglobal.net

Jim Oberst said...

Louie, glad you found it interesting.