Editing photographs in CinePaint

After having been tired of the comparably low quality the Gimp 2.6.7 offers, about one week ago I stumbled upon a .deb file1 of CinePaint 0.25, and much to my surprise, it worked! (In the past, making CinePaint work under Ubuntu was sort of a challenge: often, there were no appropriate .deb packages available, and when compiling CinePaint from source I often ran into problems with the color management.) Now I’m in the process of applying the bitmap editing techniques I used to use with the Gimp to CinePaint. About the main issue are masks. While mask handling using the Gimp is a bit difficult, it is even more so in CinePaint. But: the reward is the really impressve quality one experiences when working with CinePaint. (I usually work in 8-bit mode, although CinePaint offers up to 32-bit color depth/channel.)

Since CinePaint is an application for retouching film, the requirements are somewhat different from those of say, Photoshop. One thing, though, I would really love to see in CinePaint is the possibility to tweak an existing mask. (And, maybe, a quickmask mode. 😉

When starting CinePaint, it becomes immediately apparent that it is targeted at pros. The interface, somewhat resembling the one of Gimp (CinePaint evolved out of Gimp 1.0), is stripped of anything unnecessary; the filters available are stripped down to the absolute essentials: blur, gaussian blur, motion blur, sharpen, unsharp mask, two noise filters, and a few others. But–unlike the Gimp–CinePaint offers, as I said, up to 32-bit color depth/channel (including HDR), proper CMYK, and a well-designed color management system, afaik based on LittleCMS.

CinePaint is currently available for Linux, MacOS X, and BSD. Additionally, a tarball is available, in order to compile CinePaint from source. (There used to be a version for Windows available as well, and, according to the information on the CinePaint web site, will be availabe again sometime in the future.) In addition to the current version (the ‘Film Gimp’ version, which is based on GTK 2) , a new version named ‘Glasgow’ is under development. Unlike the ‘Film Gimp’ version, ‘Glasgow’ is based on FLTK and will consist of a number of different applications (see the overview on the CinePaint site).

To sum it up, due to the really professional approach and the clear interface, CinePaint is one of my favorite graphics apps. I’m especially curious how the new ‘Glasgow’ version will evolve.

Related: CinePaint.

1 You can find it at http://www.megaupload.com/?d=EY4W6NAX.

Image of the Week

Editing: Gimp 2.6.7, Inkscape 0.46. You can find more of those photographs on my Flickr page.

BÄ“hance Network

Among the many graphics & design web sites, BÄ“hance Network is one of the sites which I can instantly recommend for anyone looking for high-quality work. BÄ“hance Network is basically a site hosting online portfolios, and what makes it special is, that the work displayed is often of unusual quality, even if one encounters the inevitable clichés en vogue in today’s digital art, as well as the sometimes disturbing sujets. Besides that, if the visitor takes the time to browse the various portfolios, one can definitely stumble upon some remarkable stuff.

The portfolios at BÄ“hance Network are divided into different categories, what makes it easier to find what one is looking for, be it photography, photo-manipulation, vector art, 3D renderings, and much more. In addition to the portfolios, BÄ“hance Network features ways for people to interconnect, such as various Circles; a Tip Exchange; and a Job List.

Featured Artist: Stephan Martinière

White Room

"White Room" by Stephan Martinière. © Copyright by Cyan, Ubisoft. Reprinted with permission.

Among the web sites I discovered in the course of the last few days is the site of French artist Stephan Martinière , only to learn—much to my surprise—that he is responsible for two of my absolute favorite digital paintings: “Hostile Takeover” and “Red”. I encountered those images now and again on the Internet and was absolutely amazed both by the masterful technical execution and the powerful artistic vision, but I didn’t know who had actually done them.

Now that I finally found Stephan Martinière’s web site and looked at his body of work, I realized how good he actually is, and when comparing his own work with the work of other artists in the genre, it becomes quite apparent to me that he is clearly among the best digital artists we currently have.

In the course of his career, Stephan Martinière has worked as a character and environment artist on “Inspector Gadget”, for theme parks, and as a concept artist for movies such as “I, Robot” or “Star Wars, Episode II” and “Star Wars, Episode III”. In addition, he has done award-winning book covers (“Hostile Takeover” being one of them) and worked for several game companies, among those a three year stay at Cyan, working on “Uru: Ages Beyong Myst, “Uru: The Path of the Shell”, and “Myst 5”. He also issued several volumes consisting of his own art work, such as “Quantum Dreams” and “Quantumscapes”.

What particularly amazes me about his work are the astonishing amount of detail and the power of his artistic vision, and when taking a closer look, it becomes quite obvious that among the artists who influenced him are people like Syd Mead, Chris Foss, and Moebius.

Having done graphics myself now for more than thirteen years, besides Stephan Martinière’s artistic vision, one thing I absolutely admire is his masterful use of Adobe Photoshop. But, I think, his art goes far beyond the merely technical; imho, this is what sets a truly great artist apart from the mass. Having been tired of the tons of CGI cars, monstes, and the like, it is a great relief to know that there are people out there who handle the comparably new digital tools with such mastery, hopefully encouraging aspiring artists to do likewise.

Further reading: A number of articles on Stephan Martinière’s web site.