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.

Photo editing (2)

My latest edit of a photograph from Stockvault. Software used: Gimp 2.6.7.

Bitmap editing in Inkscape

bitmap, edited using Inkscape

This is an attempt of mine to use Inkscape 0.46 for bitmap editing. I got the idea for this sometime last year, and I already posted a few attempts of mine on Flickr. The reason for all of this is, that the handling of the bézier curves in Inkscape is so amazingly intuitive that the idea for using this for bitmap editing came kind of automatically, after I had imported a few bitmaps into Inkscape and tried out different things. (I actually cannot exactly recall when it occured to me that Inkscape has possibilities for bitmap editing, but I guess it was when I trie d to to edit a few of my own photographs and had to realize that the possibilities of the Gimp where somewhat limited for the things I wanted to do.

Here’s just one example of a task that is a bit challenging when trying to use the Gimp:

The problem is that the clone brush doesn’t work so well because the transition between the different brush strokes is not as smooth as it should be. In Inkscape, though, I found a feasible solution for this by using gradients. By superimposing several circular gradients over one another & then fine-tuning the result in Gimp (read: adding some noise and using the clone brush a bit here and there) I was able to get satisfactory results. (At first—before I decided to use Inkscape—I even gave CinePaint a try, but although the brushes in CinePaint are of far better quality than in Gimp, the look of the edited areas was not as smooth as I wanted it to be.)

After trying some basic bitmap editing, I went one step further & used Inkscape for things like additional eyelashes, eye shadow, and lip gloss.

Then, still one step futher, I painted some floral vector pattern on top of the respective bitmap & exported the result as a PNG.

Yesterday I made a new discovery: that it is possible (and comparably easy) to use Inkscape as a vector paint app, similar to the—as to my knowledge discontinued—paint* by discreet; only that the strokes in Inkscape cannot be animated that easily. (Basically it is feasible, though, to animate SVGs by using a language such as JavaScript.)

Upcoming: FMX 2010


From May 04 until May 07, 2010, FMX 2010, the 15th Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Interactive Media will take place in Stuttgart, Germany.

Having been accredited to as a journalist to FMX from 2007 onwards, one thing about this conference I really enjoy is the very relaxed & friendly atmosphere— last, but not least due to the sympathetic venue, the Haus der Wirtschaft, situated in the center of Stuttgart.

Here are some impressions from last year’s FMX:

The lobby:

The staircase:

The “König-Karl-Saal” on the second floor:

The “Telekom-Lounge”:

Credits: Photographs © Copyright 2009 by Reiner Pfisterer.

FMX is the largest conference of this kind in Europe. There will be a total of 230 events throughout the four days, including screenings, a multitude of talks, “Focus UK”, “Focus Hamburg”, “Focus Scandinavia”, “Focus China”, the “Virtual Humans Forum”, and much more. For the complete timetable, see here.


Right now, I’m absolutely excited about Picasa, Google‘s software for managing digital photos. This actually came about merely by accident, when I noticed today that, all of a sudden, F-Spot, my default app for importing digital photos, crashed each time I tried to import photos from my camera. (Until a few days ago, I had no problems.) After I had tried a few things, I read a post on those crashes where someone mentioned that he wanted to use F-Spot instead of Picasa, so I decided to give Picasa a try.

To cut it short, everything went as smooth as can be. Not only was I automatically redirected to the appropriate download page (for the Linux version), there was even a .deb binary for Ubuntu available. After having downloaded the .deb file ( I decided to go for the stable version 2.7 instead of the new 3.0 beta), the installation went smooth and without any errors, although Picasa runs using Wine, the Windows emulator for Linux.

When I started Picasa from a shell (the location being /usr/bin/picasa), it started flawlessly and—much to my amazement—instantly started to scan the folders where I have stored all of my photographs. (I only had to tell Picasa the location of the main folder.) Wow! After having plugged in my camera, I realized that F-Spot was still starting up (before it crashed again), so I had to uninstall it first ('sudo apt-get remove f-spot'). Having done this, though, all I had to do was, to press “Import” in Picasa and select “USB Camera”, and after a few moments—bingo!—the last photograph I had taken showed up.

I haven’t yet explored all of the features of Picasa, but I found the interface and the handing instantly sympathetic, and I’m glad that I am able to import my photos again.