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Friday, November 30, 2007

A Bit of Public Service

I’m having some doubts right now if the information that I’m about to share here will be of any use to anyone, now that almost every single person I know knows how to use Photoshop to some extent. But since this is my very first attempt at something like this, and because I still remember the time when I was ignorant about this, I've decided to start with something very basic.

But before I go on, I would like to make it very clear to all of you that I am no expert. I never had any formal training with regards to using any of the software that I use and I was never formally schooled in any IT course. The things that I know are either self taught or are acquired through research. So, to those who know better, please feel free to correct me whenever needed.
With that out of the way, welcome to my Introduction to Image Resolution lesson.

What is Image Resolution?

Basically, resolution pertains to the number of pixels that make up an image. The higher an image’s resolution is, the finer the image will appear on the monitor and in print.

Resolution is usually measured in terms of pixels-per-inch. That means we are talking about the number of pixels that fit in a given length of image (in this case, an inch). I’ll expound on this later as I think there’s something else I need to define before I proceed.

As I am writing this with the layperson in mind, I think I need to explain what a pixel is. The word “pixel”, by the way, is a result of the contraction of the words “picture element” (PICture Element = pixel). Simply put, a pixel is a “dot” of color. Pixels are usually square-shaped, but there are numerous applications which utilize non-square pixels such as those that deal with digital videos as well as some digital cameras. Personally, I have not yet encountered or seen a pixel shape other than a square. To avoid any confusion, beside the fact that I don’t know much about non-square pixels, we will just be talking about square pixels in this one.

Anyway, a digital image is formed in very much the same way as an image is formed in cross-stitching and in mosaic art forms. Actually, a digital image is just that, a mosaic of many different colored pixels. It’s just that in digital imagery you don’t need or have to paint the pixels in one by one (unless you want to), that task is done for you by the computer or, in the case of digital photography, the digital camera.

Let’s go back to the “pixels-per-inch” part. Since we are talking about square pixels, an inch of one-pixel-thick horizontal line should have the same number of pixels in it as an inch of one-pixel-thick vertical line considering that they have the same resolution. So, it doesn’t really matter whether your perceived direction of measurement is vertical or horizontal, so long as it’s not diagonal (like what we do when measuring a television or monitor’s screen size). I probably have already lost some of you there. Cue, visual aids.

The above illustration (not to scale) shows a 9 pixel-per-inch horizontal line (a) and a 9 pixel-per-inch vertical line (b). Go ahead, count the squares that you see. It also clarifies what I meant by a “one-pixel-thick line”.

So, why “pixels-per-inch”? Why not say the image is this much pixels tall and that much pixels wide? Well, if you do the latter, you’re actually stating the dimensions of an image and not the resolution. Always remember that resolution and dimension is not in any way the same. They are not even similar to say the least. Take a look at the following examples:

In group (a) the numbers of pixels are used as a unit of measurement for the images’ sizes (all of them have a 72 pixels-per-inch resolution).

On the other hand, all the images in group (b) are of the same size (1 inch) but have varying resolutions. From this, you can also see proof of what I mentioned earlier. The higher an image’s resolution is, the finer the image appears.

So, how big is a pixel? Well, from the above illustrations, it is probably safe to say that pixel size varies depending on an image’s resolution. If you have an image that has a resolution of 1 pixel-per-inch, your pixels will be 1 inch tall and wide. On the other hand, if you have an image with a resolution of 100 pixels-per-inch, your pixels will be 1/100 inches or 0.01 inch tall and wide.

But then again, computers operate on a default setting (if you can call it that) in displaying digital images which prioritizes pixels over any other forms of measurement. What I meant by that is computers display pixels at a predefined size which is dictated by the size of the monitor and/or the display resolution setting (therefore, the graphics card also has a hand in this).

Allow me to clarify further. If you have two monitors, let’s say one is 15” and the other 18”, and both are operating at the 800 x 600 display resolution setting, the pixels displayed in the 18” monitor will be slightly bigger than the pixels displayed on the 15” one. On the other hand, a monitor will display larger pixels in the 800 x 600 display resolution setting and smaller pixels in the 1024 x 768 display resolution setting.

What does this all mean? Well, if you have an image that’s 1 inch wide and has a resolution of 10 pixels-per-inch, it will very likely appear on your computer’s monitor significantly smaller than an inch wide. On the other hand, if you have an image that’s 1 inch wide and has a resolution of 300 pixels-per-inch, it will appear on your monitor significantly larger than an inch wide (unless, of course, if the software you use to view your image does not have the ability to automatically change viewing sizes).

Just so that you know, most computer graphics cards and monitors operate at a resolution of 72 pixels-per-inch (I’ve seen some operating at 90+ pixels-per-inch). So, unless your image has a resolution of 72 pixels-per-inch, your image will most certainly appear either smaller or larger than its actual dimensions. In addition to that, as what I’ve mentioned regarding pixel sizes varying between different-sized monitors and different display resolution settings, an image with 72 pixels-per-inch displayed at 100% magnification will almost definitely not get displayed in its actual dimensions.


So, what’s the best resolution to use? It all depends on where you intend to use your digital image. If you are going to use your digital images on your website, 72 pixels-per-inch is right on the spot. But if you intend to print your digital image (through any method), I suggest you don’t go below 300 pixels-per-inch.

I use 600 pixels-per-inch for all my book cover designs, but for other things, 300 pixels-per-inch is usually enough for me. I’ve never used anything below 72 pixels-per-inch and I don’t see any point in doing so.

By the way, there’s something very important I need to mention regarding this. Working with high-resolution graphics will eat up a lot of your computer’s resources. So, first make sure that your computer can handle it.

Just to give you an idea, a computer running on Windows XP with a three-year old processor and a 512 MB RAM with tons of free hard disk space may just barely be able to handle a 8” x 10” image at 600 pixels-per-inch without crashing, though a slow down is most definitely expected.

Before I end this, I would just like to say one more thing, if you want to learn some tricks in Photoshop, the web is flooded with tutorials. Just Google something like “Photoshop text effects”, “Photoshop tutorials”, or “Photoshop tips and tricks”. BUT, bear in mind, most of the tutorials on the web, particularly those that involve layer styles and filters, only work in 72-pixels-per-inch. Though, with some Mathematics and tweaking, some of them can be made to work in higher resolutions.

That’s it for now. Class dismissed.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Giving The Secret A Try

The SecretI got to watch “The Secret” a couple of months ago. Honestly, I think it’s full of bull crap. But then again, living in this time and age where you cannot believe in just anything (not even those that you can perceive with any of your senses), it’s probably just normal for me to think of it that way. Another thing, I was never a fan of self-help stuff.

I’ve been thinking though, it probably wouldn’t hurt me if I give it a try, as long as I don’t make my life depend on it. Right?

In the video, there’s this person who said that he used to cut out pictures (from magazines, etc.) of things that he wanted to have and stuck them onto a corkboard or something which hung on a wall in his office. Everyday, he said, he would look at those pictures and wish… no, I think “BELIEVE” was the word he used… so, everyday, he would spend a few minutes looking at those pictures, BELIEVING that he will have them someday. Several years later, when he was unpacking boxes at his newly bought home, his son saw the corkboard with the pictures on it. When his son asked him what it was, he started to cry because he suddenly realized that the house they had just moved into is exactly the one pictured in one of the cut-outs he had stuck on the board! Amazing! (I’m writing this from what I can best remember so far from what I saw on the video, so this may not be accurate. But I think it’s pretty close.)

Then there’s this thing about a cousin of mine who have seen the video also. Jokingly, she and her friend wished… no, BELIEVED that they would get a free trip to Manila. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but they did! They got two free round trip tickets and free accommodations! Can you believe that?!

So, as I was saying, I won’t lose anything if I try it out. It’s not like I’m going to wish for something which my life direly depends on.

So, here goes… I’ll try the route of the person with the corkboard. But instead of a corkboard, I’m going to use blogspot. And instead of cutting out pictures from magazines, I’ll just grab some photos from the web and post them here.

Samsung LN-T4665F LCD TV

Samsung LN-T4665F LCD TV
Canon F-Series Lenses

Canon F-Series Lenses
Canon-XL-H1 HD Camcorder
Canon-XL-H1 HD Camcorder

Canon-6x-zoom-XL for the canon-XL-H1 HD Camcorder
Canon-6x-zoom-XL for the canon-XL-H1 HD Camcorder
Canon Speedlite 580EX II Flash
Canon Speedlite 580EX II Flash
Wacom Cintiq 21UX

Wacom Cintiq 21UX

Optimus Prime (Leader Class)

Optimus Prime (Leader Class)

Ultimate Bumblebee

Ultimate Bumblebee
Xbox 360 with extras

Xbox 360 with extras

LG Super Blu player, model BH200

LG Super Blu player, model BH200

Ipod Video

Ipod Video
I’ll stop there for now. I’ll probably have a second part on this as I haven’t picked out which audio system components I want among so many other things.

I’ll definitely inform you right away once I get my hands on any of these. By the way, I believe... I believe... I believe...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Shell-Ferrari Toy Cars 2007

Here they are once again… the Shell-Ferrari toy cars! I’ve got already four of them (Enzo, Super America, F50, and F430), two more to go. The Spider, I think, will be rather easy to obtain. But the Formula 1 has proven to be very elusive that I’m already beginning to have a bad feeling that I will not be able to get that one until the promo ends on December 31st. I’ve been to three stations already and every time I ask if the toys were available, the first thing they mentioned that’s not available is the Formula 1.

These toys seem to be selling really fast. Last Friday night when I went to a Shell station to gas up, I asked the attendant which of the toys were available. She told me that they had everything but the F1. So, having only filled up with PhP500 worth, I opted for an Enzo (you’re only allowed to buy one toy for every PhP500 purchase).

I went back to the same station the morning of the following day to buy more. But before I even got close to the pump and before I can even say anything, an attendant approached me and told me “We don’t have any of the toys anymore, Sir.” So, what I did was I thanked the attendant and told him very politely and embarrassingly that I’d just go to another station. It was quite funny and I truly and genuinely appreciated his show of concern.

Anyway, the toys look great! Though, by how they look, I think they’re made of plastic. I’ve never opened any of them because I’m intending to keep them until my son is old enough to know the value of antiques. By which time he will not dare open them also and pass them on to his son/daughter when they’re old enough to know the value of antiques. And so on. Just imagine how much they could sell for by that time. Have you heard of the car-shaped Cookie Tin from the 1920s (with original contents, yes, the cookies are still inside) that was sold for US$32,000 just recently? I wonder how much a Fita biscuit tin (from the 80s with the biscuits still inside) would sell for after a hundred years.

The US$32,000 Cookie Tin from the 1920s

The US$32,000 Cookie Tin from the 1920s


Ferrari SuperAmerica

Ferrari F430

Ferrari F430

Enzo Ferrari

Enzo Ferrari

Ferrari F50

Ferrari F50

The Back Side of the Packaging

The Back Side of the Packaging of the Shell-Ferrari Toy Cars

They’re made under the Hot Wheels brand and they’re made in China which gives me another reason for not opening them. They might contain dangerous amounts of lead. Hahaha! The details are quite good and they’re made quite nicely. To add to the “wow” factor, there’s a holographic sticker stuck on the back of the packaging that says “Ferrari Official Product”. The only thing I’m clueless about is the “Two-speed” thing that’s printed on the packaging. If there’s anyone out there who has played with these, please don’t hesitate to tell me about it.

hologram sticker at the backside of the packaging of the Shell-Ferrari toy cars
It saddens me that I wasn’t able to get any of the cars from the Classico Collezione which Shell offered a few years ago. I believe those were die-cast metal. Though I was able to get two of the larger (1:16?) scaled F50s and one Formula 1, all of them still sitting sadly (happy for me) inside their boxes.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Fourth Indiana Jones Movie

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
I can’t wait for the fourth Indiana Jones movie to come out! I am keeping my hopes up that it will be better than the earlier three movies. So far they’re saying that it will be. It’s just amazing that nothing much about the movie has come out up to this moment unlike what happened with the Transformers.

It was months before the movie’s release when the Transformers movie script leaked out. There were also tons of production photos and concept art popping up everywhere on the net (which Paramount endlessly tried to censor).

Soon after, people connected to the movie were trying to dismiss the leaked script either as a fake or, as Michael Bay had put it, an outdated version of what he was actually using for the final movie. Well, it was not a fake. Outdated maybe, but only to a miniscule degree.

There is nothing like this, so far, happening with the Indiana Jones movie. The film’s producers even sued Tyler Nelson, a ballet dancer who was cast as a “dancing Russian soldier” in the movie, for spilling the movie’s plot during an interview with an Oakland newspaper (Edmond Sun). This has led to a Superior Court order which found that Nelson have “knowingly” violated an agreement (which he signed) which barred him and everyone else involved in the film from discussing anything about the film to the public.

Although nothing much can be found about the film on the net or elsewhere, the title has officially been released. It’s called “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”.

Although I am not a very religious person, I was hoping that the fourth installment to the Indiana Jones franchise would be about another biblical artifact. I was quite disappointed that it’s not. Of the past three installments, I liked “Temple of Doom” the least. Maybe it’s because I don’t know anything about those glowing stones he was chasing after there. And until now I have not bothered finding out more about them. I hope I will not have the same feelings for the “Crystal Skull”. I still have time to find out about the real Crystal Skull before it comes out. For those of you who want to know more about the artifact, try googling for Mitchell-Hedges Skull.
So, what can we expect of the film? Well, I guess, just as for anything that every tomorrow brings, we can only hope for the best.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Live-Action Film Version of 80s Cartoons has posted something about a G.I. Joe live-action movie coming up. Well,’s source is actually, but since I’ve been a regular visitor of, that’s where I got the news from.

G.I. Joe I’ve also stumbled upon some news somewhere before about a live-action Robotech movie being in the works, as well as one for Astroboy.

Sounds exciting… though, maybe not as exciting for me as when I heard that a live-action Transformers movie was going to be made more than a year ago. That’s when I got hooked on

I’m not a fanboy, though I’m probably near the edge of being one. I still remember watching Transformers in the 80s as a kid and drooling over the toys that were being advertised every time it’s aired (the same goes with Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and G.I. Joe).

I’ve got only two Transformers toys which my parents bought me (which I still have, by the way)… an Insecticon (I already forgot its name) and the Corvette (Stingray, I believe, is what it’s called but I have the Japanese version which is red colored and not blue as it was in the American version of the cartoon). I got them not because of endless nagging but because of passing in the quarterly school exams. For my brother and I, that was the only way to get something we wanted. But getting passing marks in the major exams didn’t give us license to demand for what we wanted. We had to wait for an offer. If no offer came, well, life went on. That’s because we were made to understand early on about money matters. Get the connection?

Hmmm… that reminds me of the time when, as a grade school student, I gathered all the old (Manila Bulletin) Panorama Magazines I could find in our house and cut out all the application forms from the advertisements of insurance companies thinking that I could help my parents get more money if I filled out and mailed those forms. All I could understand from those advertisements that time were the numbers, and they had BIG numbers printed in BIG BOLD fonts. I thought those companies were giving money away! That was the time when I was still clueless about what bouncing checks were. By what they’re called in the local language, I thought they really explode.

Anyway, going back to my original topic… I think I have one up there somewhere…

The excitement I felt for the live-action Transformers movie actually came not from being a Transformers fan, but rather out of my curiosity about how they were going to make it realistic and believable. Like how Optimus Prime would transform in the “real world” without having a gaping hole on his back (as he did in the G1 toy which I was able to play with only once at my brother’s rich friend’s house).

optimus prime
I was a bit disappointed when I found out that the movie was not going to be faithful to the original cartoons as far as the robots and cars were concerned. But all the changes that were done were, I think, understandable and acceptable (at least after I saw the making of the movie).

I almost got influenced by the nay-sayers into bad mouthing Michael Bay when I was following the movie’s progress. But when I finally saw the movie on the big screen, I can’t find anything about it that is worth thrashing (being honest to myself). The opening narration (by Peter Cullen) was particularly powerful for me, not for what was said but for how it sounded. For me it felt like hearing something, or someone, from my past.

There are still a lot of haters out there, but as far as I’m concerned, I like the movie quite a lot. So much so that I asked my sister-in-law, who’s living in the States, to buy me a copy of the two-disc special edition DVD release. And after watching the movie for the second and third time on DVD, I only have praises for it, more so for the technical side of it (behind-the-scenes). I have yet to watch the movie with the commentaries track.

Having all that said, I doubt the upcoming G.I. Joe and Robotech movies will have the same effect on me as the Transformers had. For one thing, although I have watched the G.I. Joe cartoon regularly as a kid, I can’t seem to remember anything about G.I. Joe that’s as memorable as Cullen’s voice in Transformers (except for the plain white Storm Shadow who was my favorite toy for a very long time). Also, IMO, the G.I. Joe movie might just come out like any other war movie(?). Well, maybe if they use the same opening theme and sequence, I’d probably change my mind somewhat. As for Robotech, well, I wasn’t a regular follower of that, I only watched it whenever nothing else was on. I’m sure a lot of people out there are saying that I’ve missed a lot, and I agree. So, as far as these two movies are concerned, I’d probably just take them for what they are now (or will become when and if the movies do come out) and not relate them to their past incarnation.

Cobra Stormshadow
For Astroboy, well, I just hope they’ll stick to his original appearance.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Some Make it, Some Don't

Book cover design... done lots of it, though mostly for textbooks since I work for a textbook publishing company.

Most people would probably feel very proud to have their work published, probably just like how I felt when my work first got published many years ago. But somehow, I don't get to feel much of that anymore.

No, it's not that I've already gotten used to it. I feel that, more often than not, the only reason that my works get published is because I am working in a company that pays me a monthly salary to produce the cover designs for its publications. So, technically, good or bad, most of my works get printed (though, not really, because I have many critics in and out of the office and they are the ones who have the final say on whether a cover design gets published or not).

Nowadays, I actually get a whole lot more kick out of receiving compliments from fellow artists/officemates rather than from seeing my work get printed. It's those compliments that really tell me that I did something good and that my work truly deserves to be seen by the public.

Aside from the compliments that I get from them sometimes, only artists truly know and appreciate the amount of work that went in to a design. I've had a bunch of cover designs rejected by people who hold high positions (in the office hierarchy or just in their minds) just because of the following reasons:

  1. one person didn't like it
  2. someone liked his/her idea more
  3. someone did not like a predominantly blue colored design
  4. someone did not understand the concept of the design (even after I've explained it to him/her which I thought was very obvious)
  5. someone liked his/her idea more
  6. someone did not like a predominantly green colored design
  7. someone else other that the person in #1 did not like it
  8. someone did not like a predominantly red colored design
  9. have I mentioned someone liked his/her idea more?

Dismissed, just like that... two days worth of hard thought and work down the drain. Well, frustrating as it may be, or depressing even, I try not to get affected by rejections because I'd still get my salary anyway. Though, if I would let the artist in me come out and express his sentiments...

Anyway, here are some of those that did not make it to the press... By the way, these are all done in Photoshop.

Cover Design for a Book on Reinforced Concrete

Cover Design for a Book on Reinforced ConcreteThis one was not rejected... this was intended for a local reprint version of a foreign book on reinforced concrete. Somehow, the project did not push through, so, this never got published. (Title and author/s names removed)

Cover Design for a Book on Probability and Statistics

Cover Design for a Book on Probability and Statistics
This got rejected in one of those "I like my idea better" scenario. Though admitedly, this design is quite inadequate in symbolizing the subject matter. (Title and author/s names removed)

Cover Design for a Book on General Chemistry

Cover Design for a Book on General Chemistry

The authors did not like this design... nuff said. (Title and author/s names removed)

Cover Design for a Book on Physics

Cover Design for a Book on Physics

This got rejected in one of the "Why that?! I don't like that!" scenario. Note the "I". (Title and author/s names removed)

Cover Design for a Hotel & Restaurant Management Book

Cover Design for a Hotel & Restaurant Management Book

The authors did not like it. Nuff said. (Title and author/s names removed)

Friday, November 23, 2007

What I Do provides the following definitions for "artist":

  1. a person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria.
  2. a person who practices one of the fine arts, esp. a painter or sculptor.
  3. a person whose trade or profession requires a knowledge of design, drawing, painting, etc.: a commercial artist.
  4. a person who works in one of the performing arts, as an actor, musician, or singer; a public performer: a mime artist; an artist of the dance.
  5. a person whose work exhibits exceptional skill.
  6. a person who is expert at trickery or deceit: He's an artist with cards.
  7. Obsolete. an artisan.

Basing on those definitions, I am #3. As such, I'm also #1. I am definitely not #4 and I'm bad at being #6. I try to be #5 in everything I do. I have interests in being #7 of some sort. Being #2, though, is one of my many frustrations.


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