Friday, 16 October 2015

The materials of digital technology

This blog is a notebook of work and ideas in no particular order.

Truth to Materials


‘Each material has its own individual qualities…Stone, for example, is hard and concentrated and should not be falsified to look like soft flesh…It should keep its hard tense stoniness.’
Henry Moore, Unit One (1934)

What are the materials of digital technology and how can they be used to develop artworks?


This presentation will look at digital images and examine the differences between bitmaps and vector graphics.

an enlarged section of a bitmap



A bitmap is an image constructed from different coloured pixels whereas a vector graphic is an image defined by mathematical expressions. When you enlarge a bitmap you can see the different pixels whereas a vector is scaleable.

Photoshop is the main application for creating bitmaps and Illustrator for developing vector graphics although both applications have processes for dealing with different image types.

Photoshop as an animation tool

In this workshop will use Photoshop  as a tool for testing and creating animations.

The layers of a photoshop file can be converted into frames and played at different frame rates to test an animation. The Photoshop file can then be exported as an animated gif or as series of frames that can be used in motion software.

In this workshop we will turn a set of drawings into this animation.

This 'wobbly' style of animation was pioneered by Bob Godfrey famous for animating the 1970s cartoon Roobarb and Custard.


Bob Godfrey set up a separate department of animation at the Royal College in 1985 and if you look at their show reel now you can still see his influence.



This style of animation is influenced by the nature or the materials of film. In a film of a still life or a landscape the image flickers and creates a dynamic image even though the subject matter remains still. Godfrey's style reflects the nature of film and its materials.

You need to download these files animation.zip go to the downloads folder and unzip the file.

  • OPEN Photoshop
  • File > new
    This creates a new photoshop file
  • File > scripts > load files into stack
    Choose the files in the unzipped folder and this will place each image onto a new layer
  • Window >timeline
    This brings up the animation timeline
  • Choose the hamburger in the top right hand corner of the Timeline window
    Select Make frames from layers
  • SHIFT select all lframes
    click caret to change speed of animation
  • File > save for web
    Optimise the animation for a website
The advantage of bring the drawings into photoshop rather than a movie software like Premier is that you can continue to  edit the animation and draw onto the work. Play around with the drawing by colouring and working into the image to create your own animation.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Animating on Raspberry Pi 3.5 inch screen

My research is investigating how animations can be embedded into physical spaces. I have been experimenting with the Raspberry Pi as a small and inexpensive way of running animations.

 The Pi can deliver smooth animations through an HDMI cable. The problem with HDMI is the size of the connection which adds another 40mm onto the width of the 55mm Pi board and the rest of the cable is bulky. I would like to contain the contents within the footprint of the screen.





I bought a generic 3.5 inch screen off ebay which connects through th Pi'se GPIO pins. It doesn't plug and play and you have to load drivers to make the screen work with the Pi. I bought the screen from a China because of the costs, £10 compared to an adafruit screen which is about £39.

The instructions for using connecting the screen has a link to a raspberry pi image with all the drivers loaded.
rpi_35_B_B+_PI2.img

Unfortunately the screen scans very slowly making it unusable for animation.

The screen connects to the pi via the GPIO and it could be that the GPIO slows down the signal.

There is an excellent tutorial on updating the Raspberry Pi drivers but  you need to put in the name of the screen and as the screen is generic which brand should I write in?

I installed the latest version of Raspbian 2015-09-24-raspbian-jessie.img and used SSHed into the pi using putty. SSH require knowing the IP address of your pi so I started the Pi connected via HDMI to a monitor, connected to the wifi through a small usb received

I think the device is tinylcd35