Garstor's World, My realm of 3D art, LEGO and atheism

Now On YouTube

Posted on Sunday, November 29th, 2015 at 7:13 AM in Personal by Garstor

I have had a YouTube channel for a few years now. I was not making videos of my own – I simply wanted to Like others videos and subscribe to specific channels. You’ll find me liking science or religion/atheism videos most often.

Several months ago I bought TechSmith’s Camtasia screen recording software. I love their Snag-It tool as well! As a minimum everyone should buy Snag-It. There are many free tools – including the Snipping Tool in Windows – for creating a still image of your screen. I promise you that Snag-It makes this task much easier to perform and enhance. Check it out!

With my impending move back to Canada, I never installed Camtasia until recently. A rather minor issue in LightWave prompted me to make my first YouTube video. With some luck, perhaps this will help out a neophyte LightWave user.

Just like Snag-It makes screenshots super easy, Camtasia makes screen recording easy.

I hope to produce more videos in the future; they will probably focus on my 3D hobby. I’d like to tell the story of how I got into 3D and I would also like to fully explain why I now avoid DAZ Carrara like the plague.

Painting In Photoshop

Posted on Friday, November 20th, 2015 at 7:58 AM in Photoshop by Garstor

Essentially all of my Photoshop work – using that term rather loosely – has been around retouching or using Brad Gobel’s amazing Actions to generate cool effects. I realize that I need to start expanding my experiences and building new skills. I especially need to use my Wacom tablet more often and take advantage of its features inside Photoshop.

For just about my entire life I have said, “I am not an artist.”

That sort of thinking really does build up inside and impede your thinking. Not unlike clogged arteries with cardiovascular health; those negative thoughts about my own creativity have made this work harder. Fortunately, both conditions can be improved.

Larry ElmoreI am going to start getting into digital painting with Photoshop. I have a great set of images to help kick start things too. Years ago, I bought a package of line drawings from the legendary fantasy artist Larry Elmore.

These are fairly simple drawings in Larry’s unique style that cover the male-female-creature range including various character types (fighters, wizards, etc.). What really makes this package stand out is that it includes all the drawings in TIFF format with an Open Game License.

In short, I can use Larry’s excellent base images in a variety of ways within the stated bounds of the license. Primarily that means that the Elmore signature remains visible and that I am not selling the artwork.

So I will begin sharing work inside my Photoshop album on Flickr.

Maiden paintingThis is my first attempt at digital painting with Elmore’s illustrations.

I tried to use the opacity and flow pressure sensitivity features of the tablet to darken and lighten regions of the image appropriately. Each major part – hair, skin, blouse, etc. – is on its own layer in Photoshop.

My second attempt can be seen here. On this work I used Solid Fill layers and layer masks to reveal the colours appropriately.

Hopefully this is not a bad start to things. Clearly there is much for me to learn and I am looking forward to tackling that in future work.

Settling In – But Very Slowly

Posted on Monday, November 16th, 2015 at 1:25 PM in Personal by Garstor

I have now been back in Canada for a month and a half. As previously mentioned, I obtained a temporary apartment for the month of October in the building neighbouring my mother’s. I frequently had to stay at my mother’s place in order to have internet access – much to the chagrin of my sister.

Fortunately, the proceeds from selling my house in Irving were finally available to me and I was able to rent a condo at Chateau Royale (be aware that the web designer thinks it a good idea to automatically play a music file with every page load). I chose this location because it is immediately adjacent to the GO Transit station and will make for easier commuting to Toronto.

lroomThe difficulty that I have now is one of space. Moving from an 1,850 square-foot house with three bedrooms to a 1,000 square-foot condo with two bedrooms is proving to be a challenge in many ways. Sure, this is most definitely one of those first-world problems; I ended up donating half of my matching living room set to charity. I also tossed out the huge – and very heavy – desk that I wanted to run all my computers from.

I have unpacked my role-playing books and put them on two small bookcases in the second bedroom (behind me in the living room picture. The boxes in this picture are for all the LEGO sets. Eventually, that love seat will be against the far window.

kitchenThe rest of my books and board games remain in boxes. In order to finish unpacking, I will need to buy at least two large bookcases. Perhaps even three bookcases. Even then, the LEGO models will most certainly not be on display anywhere. I’ll need to find a storage location for them and for the all the boxes for the computer hardware (to deal with a future move that I hope is a long future away).

Since I am not yet working, Chateau Royale wanted me to pay an entire year of rent upfront. Ouch! That took a big chunk out of my finances; but it also means that I only need to pay for electricity, internet, cell phone and food. Still, a job would be nice and I’ll be looking hard once I finish settling here.

Back In Canada Again

Posted on Sunday, October 25th, 2015 at 12:47 PM in Personal by Garstor

Once again, I have let more than a month slip away without blogging. Life has been rather turbulent and stressful for me lately. It was probably obvious from most of my posts in September what was happening, even though I did not say-so out right.

I have now sold my house in Irving, Texas and on September 30th, flew back to Ontario with Debug. It was very stressful for her and she is currently living in my mother’s 1-bedroom apartment until I find a permanent place to stay. I have rented in the building next door for the month of October while all my furniture and belongings are in storage.

What a saga the final few days in Texas turned out to be! I don’t even want to write them down and relive it again. Most of that is behind me now.

The major goals are settling into a permanent place (hopefully very close to accomplishing that) and getting a new job. This week will reveal much on these issues.

It is good to be back. I was definitely missing Canada. I know I will end up missing my house and the many new friends I made, but it’s great to be close to my old friends again.

Packing Up The LEGO Models

Posted on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015 at 7:49 PM in Lego, Personal by Garstor

LEGO boxes ready for packing

Nothing has quite driven home the fact that I am leaving Texas and my lovely home like packing up my LEGO models.

I had dedicated my entire second bedroom to LEGO and role-playing games. It was almost a shrine to being a geek. As you can see in this photo, I kept all the original boxes for the LEGO.

The Architecture models broke down surprisingly well. Even the largest ones, Robie House and Fallingwater did not require much dis-assembly. The Sydney Opera House didn’t need any taking apart at all! The same could not be for most of the Star Wars models.

The Super Star Destroyer, Imperial Shuttle and the Tantive IV all made me cry a little as I took them apart and put them back into their boxes for packing. Rebuilding them in my new place – wherever that will be – is going to be fun all over again at least!

The Ahmed Mohamed Incident & Texas Stupidity

Posted on Sunday, September 20th, 2015 at 10:23 AM in News, Religion by Garstor

Texas - Days without being a national embarassmentOh boy was I pissed off when I read about what the Irving school district did to Ahmed Mohamed. I live in Irving (my property taxes go to the Coppell school district though) and even though I have a general distaste for Texas, this felt like it hit close to home in more than a geographic sense.

I have no doubt in my mind that this is nothing more than anti-Muslim bigotry stirred-up by hateful, small-minded idiots.

Such are the types of people that Texans – though many are intelligent and caring people – seem to prefer electing to represent them. The current Irving mayor, Beth Van Duyne, campaigned around not “allowing Sharia law into Irving.”

I was disappointed that Bill Maher (whom I frequently agree with) supported the school district. Maher does clearly draw a distinction between the 14-year old geek who happens to be Muslim and the radical Islamists that routinely – and correctly – draw his ire. However he is completely misguided when he says, “…and the people at the school thought it might be a bomb. Perhaps cuz it looks exactly like a fucking bomb.”

Obviously the school did not think Ahmed’s clock was a bomb. Multiple teachers saw the clock and did not react. The school was not evacuated and the bomb squad was not called. I cannot accept that line of weak sauce reasoning. I have seen enough of the South’s ill-concealed racism to believe that the school was reacting to Ahmed’s name and his religion. Sure, the authorities deny this.

The clarifications that Mark Cuban adds are very interesting. Chris Matthews’ outburst was unexpected and funny but also spot-on.

It was heartening to see so many support Ahmed. That was a nice counter-balance to the spectacular stupidity from the school and from moronic bigots like Bristol Palin. George Takei, Satya Naedalla, Mark Zuckerberg and even President Obama.

Many have called out the support of technical companies like Microsoft and Google as crass marketing gimmicks. That might be true to an extent. However, I think that these companies are also sending a message to the rest of America’s youth – and America’s political leaders. “Hey! Listen up! This is the creativity, curiosity and technical knowledge that we want to encourage and eventually hire.”

This is about more than fear, racism and religious bigotry. This about the United States miserable and worsening performance in the STEM fields of studies.

Foundation Repair

Posted on Tuesday, September 15th, 2015 at 9:00 PM in Personal by Garstor

My fears have been justified! A house inspection prior to selling this place revealed foundation issues. This is very common in the Valley Ranch area. So yesterday, I had the repairs done.

It was a fascinating process. I wish I could have taken video rather than just still images. It was rather disconcerting to watch my house lift upward relative to the ground. The noises were mildly disturbing as well.

corner_pierThe workers first had to clear the shrubbery in front of the house. One of the piers had to be placed under my front door patio; so they had to drill through the concrete there.

This pier is the corner where the foundation had sunk the furthest. Ultimately, they needed to push down 28 feet before the piers reached stable ground that could support the house.


front_door_pier This is the pier under the front door patio.

The pneumatic drill played havoc with the glass break sensors in the alarm system.

Once the work was finished, the workers reset the shrubs and patched the holes in the patio concrete. Really great work, I am impressed!

The expansion joint on the side of the house was nearly 3/4” wide. After the work was done it sealed up nicely.

I have a few more pictures of this work in the My Life In Texas Flickr album.

The Kim Davis Furor

Posted on Sunday, September 6th, 2015 at 5:36 AM in News, Politics, Religion by Garstor

I cannot write a post about the hypocrite bigot Josh Duggar and not mention the other recent religious maelstrom around Kim Davis. What a saga this turned out to be.

Some criticism against Davis turned needlessly personal and ultimately off-topic. I got tired of that pretty quickly. I agree with Libby Anne’s thesis here, but I do disagree with the example that she used.

I do not see the use of the Southern drawl as being “classist.” I do not see this as mocking the way that Davis talks and I certainly do not see it as a barb against her intelligence. This simply sells the point of who is being represented here.

I definitely disagreed with the memes that attacked Davis as a whore or a bitch or questioned why any of her husbands would marry her in the first place. Such things are completely irrelevant and just mean-spirited. Questioning the obvious hypocrisy of her supposedly Bible-based position is absolutely correct and valid.

My biggest wish is that Kim Davis had been incarcerated and fined. Judge Bunning noted that a fine alone would not incentivize her to do her job. He was correct at the time – many people worried that fundie believers would simply setup a GoFundMe account to cover her expenses – however, GoFundMe has changed their rules to preclude such a thing.

Both Dan Savage and The Friendly Atheist summed everything up rather nicely.

Now, we’ll just see how long she’ll stay in jail. The main thing is that marriage equality continues to gain ground and acceptance despite the efforts of bigots.