April 25, 2015Comments are off for this post.

Lego Alien Xenomorph XX121 Instructions

I’ve been so completely obsessed with the "structural perfection" of the hand-made Lego Alien (completed kit shown above) from the Tinyminds Etsy Store that I ordered for Miles’ 11th birthday, that I downloaded Bricksmith Virtual Lego Editor , re-created the creature, and designed some cool instructions for for it this morning.

Unboxing the kit from the Tinyminds Etsy Store. (Yes, I ordered one for myself as well.) It really kind of blew my mind that there could be a huge category of custom Lego kits. There are actually other Alien designs available, but this tiny Alien is perfection. I also purchased an astounding Predator kit for Rachel. (Emily also makes Dr. Who, Adventure Time, Star Wars, The Hobbit and Kitty Cat Kits)

February 14, 2015Comments are off for this post.

Horny Cupid Photoshop Brushes

A set of eight free high-resolution photoshop brushes featuring the "Horny Cupid" from my Raunchy Designer Valentines Day Cards

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Original Cupid by Yasmin Alanis

January 3, 2015Comments are off for this post.

How to line up shots for stitched panoramic images

I like to carry a simple point-and-shoot Canon S900 pocket camera. It is convenient for capturing of-the-moment photos, but it produces a frustrating lack of detail when I am faced with large panoramic nature scenes.

Adobe Photoshop CC and other programs now have very advanced image stitching and photo merging capabilities. Here I will show you how to frame up your shots for the best possible stitched results. Of course, you can make much better quality images with good camera and a tripod, but this method is to make the most of hand-held pocket cameras.


Four techniques:

Standing at the side of the highway, with my camera zoomed all of the way out, this is what I see through the lens. The aspect ratio is 4:3, and the resolution is 4000x3000 px.

While this is very nice looking, I would like to create an image of much greater detail, that shows the grand, looming presence of the mountains that I experienced with my naked eye.

All four examples are taken from one spot on the side of the road.


Example 1: Zoomed-in landscape pan

PROS: My favorite. High resolution and low distortion. CONS: May need to zoom out for better composition and context.

1A. Holding your camera in landscape mode, zoom in to your subject, and choose a frame that includes all of the foreground and sky that you need for your final composition.

1B. Start panning across horizontally. Move your frame about one-third each time. You will need the overlap to make up for lens distortion and vignetting.

1C. Continue panning across until you have all the shots you need for your composition. Be careful to keep a point of reference, like the horizon, to make sure you shoot straight.

1D. Here are the actual photos. It took ten images to pan across the mountain range. Note the natural, in-lens vignetting. This should be removed in the stitching process. You are now ready to stitch photos in your graphics program.

1E. RESULTS: 10 images, zoomed-in, landscape orientation 17247x3166. You can see some residual vignetting in the sky. Sometimes the software will remove this. Other times you'll need to touch it up. Below, I've stretched the mountains ever so slightly.

Download the ZIP of ten images below to stitch your own panorama together.

01-Nelsdrums-Zoomed-In-Landscape-10.zip (31 mb)


Example 2: Zoomed-in portrait pan

PROS: Highest resolution, least distortion. CONS: Difficult to line up shots. Can be time consuming when stitching.

2A. Holding your camera in portrait mode, zoom in to your subject, and choose a frame that includes all of the foreground and sky that you need for a final composition.

2B. Start panning across horizontally. Move your frame about one-third each time. You will need the overlap to make up for lens distortion and vignetting.

2C. Continue panning across until you have all the shots you need for your composition. Be careful to keep a point of reference, like the horizon, to make sure you shoot straight.

2D. Here are the actual photos. It took fifteen images to pan across the mountain range. Note the natural, in-lens vignetting. This should be removed in the stitching process. You are now ready to stitch photos in your graphics program.

2E. RESULTS: 15 images, zoomed-in, portrait orientation (B) 24340x4819. You can see how my camera dropped from left to right. Below touched-up perimeter and more contrasty versions.

Download the ZIP of fifteen images below to stitch your own panorama together.
02-Nelsdrums-Zoomed-In-Portrait-15.zip (55 mb)


Example 3: Zoomed-out pan

PROS: Uses the least shots, very fast to shoot, shows more context. CONS: Most radically distorted pixels, hardest to stitch together in proper perspective, lowest resolution.

3A. Here I have zoomed all of the way out, and will shoot overlapping images from left to right.

3B. Move your camera about one-half of the frame at a time. Note how the perspective changes drastically with the addition of near-field foreground elements.

3C. The more images you shoot zoomed-out, the more distorted your final stitched image will be. Try not to go over 120 degrees wide. You are now ready to stitch photos in your graphics program.

3D. RESULTS: 3 images, zoomed-out, landscape orientation 9588x3050. Whoa! Look at that perspective.

Download the ZIP of three images below to stitch your own panorama together.

03-Nelsdrums-Zoomed-Out-Landscape-3.zip (9 mb)


Example 4: Multi-row zoomed-in pan

PROS: Possibility of making massive, detailed images. CONS: Most difficult to shoot properly, more chances for stitching errors.

If your graphics program supports it, you can actually stitch a whole grid of images together. To do this, you will need a good eye and points of reference in the viewfinder to line up the shots properly.

4A. Here we have the 3 stitched images. They are fairly low resolution. To recreate this in high resolution, you need to shoot additional rows of images.

4B. Find a good reference point, zoom-in and shoot across horizontally like I have described above. Give yourself plenty of overlap.

4C. Continue across until you have all you need for the composition, then move down for the second row.

4D. Create a second row from your previous reference point. Continue until you have an equal amount of second row images. Add additional rows as needed. You are now ready to stitch photos in your graphics program.

4E. RESULTS: 12 images, zoomed-in, landscape orientation 38352x12200

Using the methods described here, I was able to make all of the panoramic images on this site using only a small, handheld point-and-shoot camera. Let me know how it works out for you.

Baker City Hi Rez Eastern Oregon Scenic Winter Panoramas

Skiing at Anthony Lakes on New Years Eve

May 23, 2013Comments are off for this post.

Kids Yard Sale Poster Illustrator Template

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Click image above to see the full poster.

My kids were planning a yard sale to make a few dollars from their old toys. I thought that a LEGO themed poster would attract the attention of kids on their way to or from school.

Using free Lego Alphabet in vector blocks and this nice set of vintage toys, I configured the words BOYS TOYS and added the gradient fills to make it fun. Then I realized that we had a lot of really great books that might attract the attention of parents - so I added that. Finally, I colored the vintage car toy to match the color scheme and added the informational type and map (made of lego blocks).

Our target audience was kids at the nearby gradeschool. So my sons and I went on a wild posting at night, and - taking a lesson from big tobacco marketers - made sure to place our posters down at kid eye level. We also posted online versions of the flyer to neighborhood parental social networks.

The result? Our "Boys Toys" yard sale was a huge success. And it didn't hurt to provide free donuts!

Yard-Sale-Group-v4

Feel free to download the tabloid Adobe Illustrator CS6 file to change as needed for your yard sale.

[zilla_button url="http://nelsdrums.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Boys-Toys-Poster-11x17-NelsDrums.zip" style="blue" size="small" type="square" target="_blank"] Download 70mb File[/zilla_button]

September 25, 2012Comments are off for this post.

Mickey Finnegan Music Video Tips

Mickey Finnegan, who directed my LMFAO Halloween House video, as well as music videos for LMFAO, Cee Lo Green, Dev, Katy Perry, Lil Jon, Soulja Boy, R. Kelly, gives some thoughtful tips to our Kia Soul Music Video Challenge contestants.

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