Prisma - Comic Art From Photographs

Prisma the new post-processing application on the iPhone uses a combination of neural networks and artificial intelligence to create realistic brush strokes turning your photographs into amazingly life-like paintings or sketches. We've been messing around with it here in the office and we managed to come up with a very convincing comic book page in about 20 minutes using the Heisenberg filter.

Download Prisma for iPhone here


Simple and easy to use

Using ordinary photographs shot in our office kitchen with an iPhone 6 we were able to achieve some amazing results. The app takes a few seconds to process each image and the final output is limited to 1080 x 1080 square.

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Lots of filters

Although the  Heisenberg filter is definitely one of the best for storyboarding / comic book art there are about 35 other filters ranging from electric effects to vibrant Matisse style paintings. Here are a few examples.


Photos and comic layout Andy Turner 





BioWares Mass Effect Andromeda promises to be a completely new Mass Effect game with larger open world environments fun 3rd person shooting and a whole new universe to explore.

[button link="" icon="Select a Icon" side="left" target="blank" color="1f1f1f" textcolor="ffffff"]Official Website [/button]
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Developer(s) BioWare
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Director(s) Mac Walters[1]
Producer(s) Fabrice Condominas
Mike Gamble
Designer(s) Ian Frazier
Artist(s) Joel MacMillan
Series Mass Effect
Engine Frostbite 3
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Action role-playing,third-person shooter
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Yes, VR is a thing and it's here to stay: Part 1

“Everything you can imagine is real.” Pablo Picasso

My first time in VR changed the course of my life. Win or bust, I knew I wanted to be involved in the creation of VR experiences. I wanted to build characters and scenarios that would make other people feel the same way I felt after I tried Half Life 2 in the Oculus Rift.

This is a game I'd seen plenty of times before but when I put on the Rift, I was actually in the game. Being able to look around the train carriage in real-time as it pulled into the station, sensing a depth to the environment, marvelling at how much presence the armed guards seemed to have.

I knew that this would change so much about how we consume our entertainment, whether it be games or movies.

Back then, I wasn't sure how I was going to begin developing experiences like this or where I was going to start but what I was sure of was that I was very interested in how we accept computer generated virtual characters and worlds in our movies and games. I wanted to see what it was about these characters that helped us to suspend our disbelief and accept any interaction as “real”; was it in the design of the character? The quality of animation? How well the character is placed into the scene? The story being told? I knew that the advancement of the technology would allow us to have more meaningful experiences with virtual characters. The resurrection of VR has come at the right time to evolve this interaction. The articles, books and blogs that I've read, the people I've met, the studios and organisations I've discovered, the technology demonstrations that I've seen have all indicated that VR is not only here to stay but will change our lives.

That's great, but what does all of this actually mean?

Is VR just for a small number of technically minded individuals? Is VR only for those who have game consoles or high-end computers? Is it possible to have some kind of sustainable career in VR?

Why the time is right

VR already had its shot. As far back as 1957 Morton Heilig and his invention, the Sensorama promised to change the way we watch movies. Dubbed by the inventor himself as “Experience Theater” - a quaint precursor to the now famous term of virtual reality, itself a term developed by computer philosophy writer Jaron Lanier - the machine featured stereoscopic imagery, stereo sound and even tilted with the user's body.

The Sensorama

Then, during the late 1980's to mid 1990's, VR appeared again. With the market for personal computers being so huge at the time, VR was set to ignite the imaginations of those curious computer owners. Unfortunately the crude worlds which were constructed didn't match those imaginations and VR retreated to the shadows once more. However, in 2012 VR emerged into the sunlight again, thanks to the Oculus Rift headset.

The prototype demonstrated that the time was finally right to align the visions that forefathers held of VR with actual reality. The technology and the means to produce meaningful VR experiences were from that point, finally in place. Right now, the Oculus Rift is not the only device which serves as a VR headset but its creation symbolised the renewed enthusiasm to make VR happen, properly. I think that this says a lot about us as people on a deeper level and this is why I believe that this incarnation of VR will succeed. Sometimes, people want to escape their lives. “Gamers also love games because they are exquisitely responsive to the player. You have as many choices as energetic, numerous, and creative game designers can possibly imagine. Real life just can't compare.” (Beck and Wade, 2004, p.64-65).

Getting close to nature, VR style

Whether it's for a few minutes or a few hours, the notion of being transported to a fantastic realm is very attractive. With each of us having a newsfeed all to eagerly and easily bringing us a depressing parade of war, terror and injustice, the viral execution videos, the on-going economic hardship – there are plenty of things to desire an escape from. Credit to Ernie Cline, author of Ready Player One – a book where the virtual world is a better place than the real world and you can go “be” in it whenever you want as much as you like. Looking forward to seeing Spielberg's movie version of this by the way.

But I'd argue that VR is so important because it is more than just that. The idea of another reality has been with us for hundreds of years. From Plato's Allegory of the Cave to Descarte's Arguments for Universal Doubt, we have held close the idea that there exists the possibility of another reality. Science fiction writer, William Gibson identified and articulated this in his massively influential 1984 book Neuromancer where he described a "consensual hallucination" created by millions of connected computers. On a deeper level still Danesh stated:

“The human soul is on an ongoing journey of discovery and creativity and in the process uses all the available resources at its disposal to achieve its objective to acquire more knowledge, awareness, and insight...The human soul not only uses the body and its various organs in their natural state but also creates new tools that greatly enhance the capacities of the body... of all the tools our soul has created so far, the computer... has the most far reaching consequences.”
(Danesh 1997, p.37-38).

I believe this is why we should be investing time, energy and money into VR right now. It is coded into us as humans to explore and create; it's our destiny as humans to find new realms, even if it means using technology to do so.

PanoCapture HDRi Resource

HDRi map and backplate image resource site Panocapture have released Volume 2 of their Automotive Rendering HDRi & Backplate Pack. The pack contains 17 HDRi maps (very high resolution 16000x8000 spherical & up to 12 stop EV) and 330 backplate images (24 megapixel) which are specially selected for automotive rendering. 

This second volume of the highly popular Automotive Rendering Pack includes sets of matching backplate images for key images so cars can be quickly setup for incredibly realistic 3D renders. The backplate images were shot at the same time as the spherical high dynamic range environment maps to ensure matching environment reflections and lighting.

The Pack also includes the City Streets Night  background image pack which is a set of city based images taken from a car mounted full frame DSLR rig shot using long shutter speeds giving real motion blurred background images suitable for dynamic 3D car renders.

Panocapture Motion blurred background plate image pack

To view the full PDF contact sheet for all the HDRi maps and images on the product click HERE (Right click and "save as" to download)

You can buy the pack on a non-commercial licence for £49.99 from HERE

A speeded up video of the process of rendering a motion blurred image using one of the static images from the rendering pack:


A few renders produced using the HDRi and backplate images from the pack:

panocapture automotive rendering pack volume 2

Automotive Rendering Pack Vol 2

Automotive Rendering Pack Vol 2


Dan Roarty's Realistic 3D Portraits


Dan Roarty shows off his impressive photo realistic character modelling, texturing and rendering skills.

Dan's website

Designworks "Rhapsody in Who"

An incredibly interesting and in-depth video from the guys at Designworks showing off both the traditional and digital sculpting techniques they used to create the Dr Who action figures.

Designworks Website



Form1, Low cost professional 3D Printing

A breakthrough in low cost high resolution 3D printing is about to his the market place in the shape of the Form1. Unlike extrusion based machines such it uses a stereolithographic method where by a liquid is hardened by a strobing ultraviolet laser creating print layers as small as 25 microns. The Form 1 will cost around $2700 or about £1700 when its released but if you head over to the kickstarter page you can pre order your machine now and help out with the production costs.

Kickstarter page

Form Labs page

Source :: ScanSomething



SpecialEffect: the gamers charity

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A fantastic charity in the UK that that creates custom gaming controllers to allows severely disabled children to enjoy video games for the first time.

Follow specialeffect on facebook

The Last Of Us™ | Naughty Dog Studio Tour (HD)

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The guys at Naughty Dog showing off some of their excellent work on the "The last of us"

Escape Studios launches CG Whiz 2011

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In a search for future stars of the CG industry, Escape Studios has launched CG Whiz 2011. The competition is open to anyone interested in computer graphics, offering over £20,000 worth of prizes and a unique opportunity to work at The Mill.

This year, organisers have introduced a brand new ‘Young Professionals’ category, for young pros with up to three year’s experience working in the creative and entertainment industries. The usual ‘Amateurs’ category is open to students, graduates and hobbyists not currently working in the industry.

User Choice Awards have also been introduced this year, giving artists the chance to vote for their favourite entries online.

The competition closes on 12 November. Voting for the User Choice Awards will begin on November 14.

Visit the Escape Studios website for details on how to enter CG Whiz 2011