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The Dogwaffler of the Moment - Newsletter 106 - mid July 2015

Letters from Pluto - New Horizons



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Hello again, here is another update from the "Dogwaffler of the Moment" newsletter.

See more and learn more in recent online editions with HTML formatting, with images and links to related videos. Start here to see all past newsletters:

In this issue we have lots of info about Pluto and related space art. We also have some very early news about the next major development, Howler 10.

  1. Pluto_Ascending_-_NASAs_New_Horizons_reaches_Pluto
  2. Another_filter_plugin_for_Particle_9:_Starfield
  3. More_Space_Art
  4. More_Space_Tutorials
  5. Forward_Unto_10
  6. New 3D stickers - batch 8 is here!

Pluto Ascending - NASA's New Horizons reaches Pluto

On July 14, the space probe that was launched by NASA over 9 years ago will reach Pluto! Be sure to watch it and find inspiration for your new space art.

The following is a brief recollection based on a show seen on PBS/Nova:

I saw a piece about Pluto from Nova on PBS the other day. Did you know? Do you realize that the fly-by at Pluto almost didn't happen? I mean, almost didn't get recorded? Just a few days before the closest approach, on July 4 of all days, Independence day, we lost contact with the New Horizons probe. A few months earlier, the discovery of a few new moons in addition to Charon, orbiting Pluto, added to the fear that there might be some debris in the vicinity, parts of past moon collisions, because there were some with oddly elongated shapes, like peanuts, like broken pieces that may have likely resulted from past collisions in the Kuiper belt, or so it was thought. NASA quickly laid out a plan for up to 4 alternate orbits for the fly-by. Some closer to Pluto, some farter waya, and with only short timespans or windows of opportunity to send commands to the probe's booster controls in order to change course to the new chosen path.

Then, as the probe came closer and closer to Pluto, they kept wondering if they'd be safe to enter the orbital zone near Pluto as originally planned, or would they hit dust or rocks? Was there a ring? Was there a cloud of debris? Was there a high risk of something small, even the size of a grain of salt, hitting the probe, at the incredible speed that the probe was flying, and piercing through the outside thermal shield, the inner structure shield, and potentially destroying an elecronic component?  What if after all these years of flying to Pluto, they would suddenly be unable to see the flyby? What if the probe went dead before it even got there? Or shortly thereafter, and still unable to transmit all the recorded data?

On July 4, the dreaded event happened: NASA lost contact with the probe. We, humanity, lost contact with the probe. Oh No! Did the dreaded event happen? Did New Horizons get hit by something so small and yet so fast that it was still big enough to cause damage?

Then they remembered, there was an alternate computer, a backup system, a plan B.... and it would broadcast on another frequency. So they went to the deep space network antennas, and listened. And hoorray!, there it was, it was still there and alive. Hello again, Pluto here we come!

But then, a next challenge: they had to reprogram it to work all recording and transmitting through the newly booted backup system, so that it could be the one recording and transmitting it all. With only 7-8 days left before the close encounter, they went to work once more, rantically preparing for using the new system. After 9+ years, there were only a few days left to reprogram and upload it all and test it and make it so, to witness the fly-by, to record it.

And they managed to complete the work about 7-8 hours before the closest point of passage by Pluto. Ready to record it all.

Now I understand why they were so jubilant. This was beyond amazing.

The amount of material that was recorded with take months (!) to be transmitted in all. We only saw a few pictures so far. There is much more to come. As long as we don't hit a rock, after all.

For more about this amazing story, visit Nova: 

'Chasing Pluto': PBS Documentary on Epic New Horizons Flyby

Suddenly, I also realized, and have accepted, why Pluto is not a planet: it's one of many others like it that came from the Kuiper belt. We already knew that we have a bunch of planetoids between Mars and Jupiter, the asteroid belt, and some of them are big. Ok, we accept that those are not planets. As for Pluto? same story: there's a bunch of them like it, a few dozens discovered so far. Pluto was the first one of them to be discovered, and it may be one of the bigger ones known so far, but it's not alone, far from it, and it hasn't cleared its neighborhood of other debris orbiting nearby.

Either way, there's a  lot of magic out there to discover, and to document. If you're a game developer, an illustrator, or simply an artist in awe, this is a great new world to explore, and we want to hope you explore it with Howler and Project Dogwaffle too.

Another filter plugin for Particle 9: Starfield

In the prior newsletter we described how to add the Spherize filter to your collection of filters for PD Particle 9.

Important reminder: if you have PD Artist or PD Howler, you don't need to do so, since you already have the Spherize filter, and probably a better version.

Now let's add another filter that will also be handy for quickly creating some background star fields for space art: Starfield_pf.exe

Download this file:      Starfield_pf.exe             (size:  35.5 KB (36,352 bytes exactly))

As usual, save it to your local drive and run it through your antivirus program first, before using it. And once more, no need to do this if you already have the filter - this is mostly intended as an add-on for users of the new Particle9.

Use 'k' as described in the prior newsletter, to open the 'killer plugins' panel, and view your list of Filters. Here's what you might see before adding Starfield, after already having added Spherize.

Put a copy of the above-mentioned Starfield_pf.exe file into the folder where you have Particle 9 installed.

Then look for the "Options" button in the upper right corner of the Plugins panel. Use "Refresh" to get it to refresh the list with the new content.

After the refresh, you will now also see the newly added filter.

You are now ready to use this filter. Simply double-click it, and voilą!

You can adjust the size of the stars, their distribution too (how many stars), and their colors. The stars are not all of that same color, i.e. Red, Green and Blue does not represent the one and only color. The color is random, within a range that is set by these values for Red, Green and Blue. The higher the values, the brighter some of the stars may appear. But some will still have more of a red tint, others more blue, or green.

In the end, you could run one of the filters to change the appearance for example to reduce saturation, or re-tint it (change Hue).

Here's one example. Notice that it doesn't just generate stars, it also adds a nebulous cloud, with something like the plasma noise filter.

Here's another, with extra post work: We used the Warp tool to push away from the central star location, and did this several times and then combined each stage to create a set of overlapping images. The result is that it may look a bit like a plasma force is blowing away in concentric spheres.

Here are a few extra items here, painted stars and flares.

More Space Art


Planet in a coffee cup:

Planet craters made of coffee


More Space Tutorials

Here are some recetly added tutorials for making interstellar clouds, planets and other artwork inspired by Pluto.

How to create Starry Backgrounds in Particle 9

Pluto imagined

Planets under the influence of caffeine

It's a cloud! ....oh no, it's just the universe

Forward Unto 10 

We have started the development of the next major release, Howler 10. The main goal with it is to give the brush system a facelift. There are a bunch of things that need updating. We're hoping to share with you on occasion some development news. Hopefully this will wet your appetite for more howling and waffling, and convince you that now's the time to upgrade to v9.6, in preparation for great savings when upgrading to v10.

It's still a few months away.

Here's a first screenshot, with a look at the layers.

Well, admittedly, it still has ways to go. Suffice it to say that v10 will focus on brushes, not on layers. In other words: The stuff  that some of you have been asking for, asking for, begging for.... , 32-bit layers, opaque layers,... that will have to wait for v11.

You'll be surprised though, there's plenty off goodness to come in v10. It's definitely worth the journey, and we hope you'll be part of it.

The layers panel is getting a refresh to be simpler and more like other apps, meaning the buttons have been moved around, and a few have been removed, such as swapping to the swap image.  Those functions can be found elsewhere.

The next image is with the Harmony color picker.

If you don't know what that is, you need to buy Howler 9.6 now. If you already know what the Harmony mixer does, and how to use it, consider yourself blessed.

And more blessings are yet come with it.

This is the final teaser for now:

The color picker, looking a bit different from what you may be used to from v9.6 of the Howler or Artist editions. Indeed, this look is what we introduced a few weeks ago when releasing PD Particles 9, from outer space.

You can create a set of favorite colors, and save them as your theme. And then, paint away!....

Pigment profiles have been integrated with the color picker, which seems much more logical, and makes them more visible to users.

Other notes:

Icons are now vector rendered instead of hand drawn.  It's the style of the times.

3D Stickers, Batch 8

This is batch number 8 of Michel Agullo's 3D toon characters, rendered to image stamps with transparent background.

Learn more here:

And that's it for now.

Thanks for waffling and howling!



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Very Cool!
3D Stickers' are images included with PD Pro 9 - new image stamps as animated custom brushes

                      stickers are coming to Dogwaffle!

Batch #1
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Batch #5
Batch #6
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Batch #8

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