Wednesday, 6 March 2013

8 bit drawing

I grew up playing the NES with great games like Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, and Blades of Steel and 8 bit art holds a special place in my heart.
Here are some great examples:

Seeing the amazing things people can do with pixels never fails to get my creative juices flowing. I wanted to make a Mario Bros. themed video featuring my brother and I, in honour of some of our travels, so I scoured the web for a way to create 8 bit avatars. I found, a promo-site for Linkin Park's 8 bit rebellion. It was pretty good. I made versions of my brother and myself and then tweaked them in paint since there were only preset skins to mix and match on the website. I found some screen shots of old NES games and added us in. Check it out.
I have now officially caught the 8 bit bug. I modified my avatar further and made an 8 bit blog header and blog button for ICTyler. I was playing around last night and thought that maybe a dedicated 8 bit drawing program existed somewhere on the internet. I searched a bit today. There was a program called PXLPNT, but its domain is for sale now, so I think it's gone belly up. However, I did find, a site made by @jennschiffer.
Fittingly, it provides 8 preset colours and lets you save your work, already in a fancy frame. You can also add custom colours if you know their hexadecimal codes. After making a few calculations, I estimate the pixel size in the final product is 25 by 25 actual pixels. It's a good size, especially if you consider how small the picture would be if you were actually drawing with a 1 by 1 pixel brush. This is a great site to play with 8 bit drawing; however, I wanted a larger canvas for some of the projects I was working on.
So, I figured out another way: Microsoft Paint! The best part of that is everyone, well everyone with windows, already has it. The new version of Paint does not include a square brush, but it does have a square eraser. The eraser is technically not an eraser at all. It just paints your secondary colour whenever you click. It just so happens, that we often leave our secondary colour the same as our base canvas colour. By modifying the secondary colour I have an easy 8 bit painting tool. Unfortunately, the eraser does not snap to predetermined squares, like make8bitart does with its brush, so you have to be careful when drawing. I use the largest eraser setting to make a large square, but it's up to your preferences. Paint lets you chose canvas size so you can make your 8 bit drawing as large or as small as your heart desires.
Here's how it looks speeded up 12 times as I make my 50th picture for my Picture a Day project:

If you're inspired to make 8 bit art by this, using one of these tools or something else, send me the link in a comment or tweet me @Tyler_JL. I'd love to see what you come up with :)

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

I4Ed Summative Project

It's not exactly a pecha kucha, but I've got 20 points and used 5 minutes.

It's been a great journey and, while it seems like the end with everyone going their separate ways student teaching and starting our careers, this is only the 1st chapter of our experience as connected educators.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Tracing: Evolved

Scarborough - 9
A new generation of tracing has arrived. No longer do we need bright lights, thick lines and translucent paper. Now all you have to do is:
  • Find the picture you want to trace.
  • Open it in an image editor or drawing program that uses layers (like GIMP or what I use to draw, MyPaint).
  • Create a new layer and make sure it is on top of the picture.
  • Pull out your digital pen and trace away!
  • When done, delete the layer that contains the original photo.
  • Click 'Save As' (so you don't over-write the original photo if it's saved on your computer) and save your tracing under a new name.
  • You've now created your own line drawing!
Super Tyler
I added a flowing cape and removed the background from the original in an attempt to make myself more heroic. I placed a line wherever there was a major colour or shade change.
I could now print this out, photocopy it and have the best colouring page of all time. Why spend hours scouring the google-net for suitable clip art? We can make our own!

DISCLAIMER: Make sure to use creative commons or public domain images to stay within the law. 
I used my own picture for this tracing example, so I don't need to credit myself.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Smarter or Dumberer

To the ancients these would represent the four elements: Earth, Water, Wind and Fire.
To me they also represent the four states of matter: Solid, Liquid, Gas and Plasma.
The ancients classified all things by their elements and we can do likewise with the states of matter. Often there is the thought that we are more advanced and more intelligent than those in antiquity. We scoff at the things they believed, their theories of the world, because we know so much better.
I don't think that's the case. Our brains aren't much different than they've ever been, so our potential for creativity and intelligence aren't any greater than the ancients'. I think the difference is our access to shared knowledge. We've never relied on just our own brains to retain all the information necessary to our lives.
We started sharing knowledge with other people: elders, physicians, butchers, etc. We didn't have to know how to set bones or dismember a cow to survive any more. We didn't get dumber. We just turned our minds to new pursuits. Then came text: scrolls, books, the printing press. Our new knowledge could be collected, stored and referenced when needed. And we didn't get dumber. Now technology and the internet has increased the amount of, and our access to, shared knowledge exponentially. We won't get dumber. Our brains are adaptable and creative. Intelligence may look different after the internet revolution, but it will not decrease.
Our ancestors were smart - We are smart - Our descendants will be smart

Movie Book Cover

045 - Inception Cover

Here is a book cover I drew for Inception. I incorporated the top, maze and layer themes. I drew it by hand and think that the hand-drawn mazes fit well, since Cobb evaluated Ariadne's skill with her ability to quickly draw mazes by hand.
I wish movie posters were like this. I'd much rather have the themes be advertised over the actors who are in the film.

The Future

Some people think the future will look like this:

or like this:

I'm a little bit more conservative on my outlook. Our imagined future always out paces what actually comes. We should have had flying cars ten years ago, but we're still struggling to break away from fossil fuels.
I browsed through last year's NMC Horizon K12 Report, a project that looks at emerging technologies and predicts when they will be used in education. It predicted cloud computing, collaborative environments, mobiles and apps, and tablet computing would be in use within the year. From what I've seen in schools, and in this class, they were right.
Click here to see what topics are being discussed for this year's report.

It's a neat exercise, so I'm going to try my hand at it.
  • 3D printing is going to become wildly popular. First in design classes like shops and drafting, then in science courses where design is part of the curriculum. I feel it just may even the playing field for sciences fairs too. Students just have to book time on the school's 3D printer and can make anything they dream up to test their question, instead of relying on materials they have access to at home.
  • I want apps to evolve. They're good and all, but I feel like they are compartmentalizing our digital experience. There's an app for this thing and an app for that thing, but you have to download each individually and they run in isolation. As we use the internet to collaborate with each other more and more, I'd like apps to multi-task and collaborate.
  • I want virtual science labs to stop. Virtual disections, CGI chemical reactions and gravity simulators are great ways to supplement labs and demonstrations, but should not replace hands on science. The scientific attitude is about questioning and testing for yourself. I realize that some schools just don't have the budget for labs, but I want to see skype, or programs like adobe connect or blackboard collaborate, step in here. Universities could partner with high schools and conduct labs over skype. Audio, video, and even data could be streamed. This way students get to see science in action instead of programming in action.