Artifacts

5star's picture

Artifacts ... that's what in graphic design is know as those wondering almost rebel pixels of information that somehow manage to stray from the norm in a raster (a.k.a. bitmap) format.

But make no mistake, Artifacts, no matter how much 'freedom' they think they represent/enjoy are still a product of being mathematically generated and are fostered via synthetic means. Still though, they are not quite as, or allow me to say 'obediently consistent', as are all the other family raster members that go on in a more orderly fashion to create a harmonious bitmap composition.

Artifacts.

According to my savvy interwebs searches through various dictionary sites - there are other definitions.

But...

It is my understanding that the freest of free individuals, not only in America but around the world, are those Artifacts that live a daily grind normally associated with the common life cycle of birth-school-work-die ... somehow find brief moments of unattachment from the 'normal' drudgery whilst maintaining a relationship and true association to the whole!! Truth being, if not for the 'whole' there would not a be a single Artifact pixel itself!

Again, please make no mistake, Artifacts are still part of an artificial existence.

As an interesting footnote, the more you squeeze raster / bitmap pixels of information in various formats (a.k.a. file compression), and reduce quality - there seems to be more and more Artifacts.

n.

Theunis de Jong's picture

As footnote to your footnote

the more you squeeze raster / bitmap pixels of information in various formats (a.k.a. file compression), and reduce quality - there seems to be more and more Artifacts

that's not true in general for "file compression". JPEG is the only graphics file format I know that (a) allows you to "reduce quality" (which is a telling sign it's not a normal compression, where you'd get the same image after decompressing), and (b) compresses more than your average format just because it may decide to average large patches of different color into one solid block. And when decompressing that, you are bound to get "artifacts".

So you seem to have a problem with a certain bitmap image. You "compressed" it using JPEG, and now you are disappointed that you do not get the "exact same image" back when you view it. Yeah -- that's how it works. If you don't like that, use a different file compression, and make sure to pick a lossless one.

hrant's picture

Same with MP3 being a lossy compression format for music (although lossless formats for music are quite rare - most of those are simply uncompressed to begin with). But it's centrally important to remember that we couldn't enjoy all this digital media (certainly not video!) without lossy compression - the files would be too big to store and especially to stream.

Trying to bring this around to type...
We already have compression, but could there be a lossy font format?

hhp

oldnick's picture

Digital Artifacts are simply the latest products of the Imaginary Universe which humans inhabit. Artifacts are testaments to the world as Man makes it, not as he finds it; where, more and more, Virtual Reality replaces Actual Reality; where instant access to information replaces knowledge, so that every dolt may think himself a genius.

Eventually, if devices such as the Orgasmatron in Wood Allen's Sleeper become available, humans of sufficient means may be able to forgo living an actual existence altogether. Some people call this Progress.

hrant's picture

> instant access to information replaces knowledge

Interestingly, this was exactly Thamus's protestation against Thoth's invention of writing. But now we love that technology.

Also, it is not the perceived faithfulness of a photograph (or musical recording) that makes it worthwhile. Everything is an illusion anyway. Gorgias had it right.

hhp

hrant's picture

Might a lossy font format nicely address issues of piracy/pricing, and/or print-versus-screen rendering?

hhp

oldnick's picture

The relative veracity of a simulacrum may or may not be an issue; however, the mere fact that it is a simulacrum may.

Several years ago, I stumbled onto a string quartet performing in one of the many Smithsonian Museums in Washington, DC. Their performance of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik was rapturous: an undeserved moment of grace, a too-brief experience of pure bliss. No electromechanical reproduction has since inspired the same inspired state.

Theunis de Jong's picture

Hand cast type produced artifacts. Every time it got used, bits fell off and got dented, etc. So every single character was unique, if only when viewed at a large magnification.
Can that be produced by a computer font -- eroding type?

... and when all letters are gone, you have to buy the font a-new ...

oldnick's picture

@Theunis de Jong

Hmmm: planned obsolescence. Quite a radical concept...

5star's picture

Thrilling comments, truly inspiring.

I'm not suggesting that Vector has any sort of authority over Raster. It would be absurd to even suggest a lessening of one at the expense of the other. Quality differential seems measurable, but only if there's a reduction in the two being as not disparate communities, which is of course impossible.

Having said that there's a certain conceit in Vector stability.

The suggestion of a pixel information erosion is simply terrific. A formula to disappear, a cloaking if you will. An organic synthetic erosion seems to me quite desirable from a naturalism point of view. And of course the offer of a regenerative action, a.k.a. a cure? Perhaps that will be our last, and greatest, advancement in silicon techno;logy ... death itself.

Didn't Dupont come up with that concept back in the 1930's? Something to do with nylon garments I believe.

n.

oldnick's picture

Once again: it's called Planned Obsolescence...

http://www.economist.com/node/13354332

Pre-programmed digital death is simply another iteration.

Nick Shinn's picture

My favorite Artefact

5star's picture

Nick Shinn some of that work is pulled real tight nice - awesome stuff that you could work in self-promotion. Or is the act of self-promotion more to point of being an Artifact, lol :)

Old Nicks, I'm more interested in the dichotomy of authoritarianism and free will with an undercurrent of nature's organic DNA. So, planned failure is far more interesting than crude planned obsolescence because you can come back from planned failure. There's an organic quality to it that planned obsolescence doesn't seem to me to have.

An Artifact is an organic extension.

hrant's picture

Or an artifact is when an algorithm comes out to play.

Planned failure? There was a US car like that in the 70s... and now everybody does it.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

Neil, that was a self-promotion!

My Artefact represents the kind of deconstruction that went on in the 1990s.
Caustic Biomorph most looked the part of artifact as incidental consequence, Beowolf played it best.
But really, the trace of process has a long history in type, coming to the fore as each generation of technology is capable of more acuracy than the previous and, with McLuhan’s Laws kicking in, previously obsolesced ground is retrieved, becoming a key component of the new form.

oldnick's picture

Neil,

Your organic analogy is precisely that: an analogy, not an equivalence. Except in unusual circumstances, digital replication is lossless. A digital artifact does not evolve nor devolve. A digital artifact does not explore new niches. It is an inorganic, lifeless, thoughtless, soulless simulacrum. The creator of a digital artifact is the artifact's God.

You may amuse yourself with hypothetical what-if, but the end product still ends up as planned obsolescence. Art merely imitates life: it doesn't replace it.

hrant's picture

> digital replication is lossless

?!

hhp

oldnick's picture

digital replication is lossless

Replication—duplicating a digital file—is lossless; digital simulacrums—such as audio recordings—are not.

John Hudson's picture

Theunis: Hand cast type produced artifacts. Every time it got used, bits fell off and got dented, etc.

And pre-mechanical inking was inevitably uneven, resulting in significant variation even with new type.

So every single character was unique, if only when viewed at a large magnification.

By way of illustration, here is a collection of lowercase a sorts from a single page of Baskerville’s 1760 edition of Paradise Regained. The type in this instance is quite large, so these differences are easily visible to the naked eye and do not require magnification.

Theunis de Jong's picture

Nice one, John.

Even if you can find software that supports Opentype's rand feature, you can only have it choose among a set of pre-drawn glyphs. (But see Adam T's practical considerations against it -- from 2005.)

To get a totally random appearance -- not two a's alike -- you'd need to find a Postscript interpreter that actually can use the Type 1 rand operator. ... Is there any that does? I could build a font that uses this operator, but how would I test it?

5star's picture

Nick, gottcha! Thanks for mentioning Marshall's work, I had forgotten all about him.

Old Nick, by 'organic' I mean to say - inherent relationship to each other and not like a carrot you'd pull from the ground. Hopefully this rather simplistic image will help demonstrate my point...

...on the left is a simple rectangle and the one on the right is the exact same one re-saved for the web with a Quality of 50%, originally done in red - put into gray scale for definition. So, where did these Artifacts come from? I surely did not put them there!!

Of course in more complex bitmap images such as line work freshly scanned there are tons more instances of Artifacts! But even from my above simplistic rather crude example Artifacts have taken form! They are an organic extension from the original to be sure. File compression has a way of doing this as I mentioned before. So ya, Artifacts can evolve. Can they devolve, yes of course they can. I'd have to do up some examples but off the top of head I'd say that a single Artifact can evolve or devolve in bit depth (bpp). Can it explore new niches, as in 'is it mobile'? It's not appropriate to equate human mobility with pixel information mobility, but ya I'd say that Artifacts can move within their digital realm. And that's a sad sad thing if an Artifact can realize a realm outside of it's realm - so to speak. Kinda like Romeo & Juliet sort of, in way. And might I just say now that that is to the very essence of this thread (more on that later as we go).

Are they soulless? No, of course not. Everything has a spirit.

John, per-mechanical inking seems almost gestural!
So awesome!

n.

brianskywalker's picture

Hand cast type produced artifacts. Every time it got used, bits fell off and got dented, etc. So every single character was unique, if only when viewed at a large magnification.
Can that be produced by a computer font -- eroding type?

In a way that's exactly what I was getting at in my "multiple cuts" thread. Riccardo posted the link.

Té Rowan's picture

@5star – The JPEG compressor put them there. All lossy compression schemes bear such artifacts with them. You may not have clued to it yet, but you have just discovered for yourself why JPEG compression is most emph not recommended for line art.

dezcom's picture

In the steel mills, they called it slag, the left-over stuff that remained from making the metal. I knew a sculptor named John Lilly who used to get slag from where J&L steel used to dump it. He then made sculpture from it. At that point, he called it an Artifact.

oldnick's picture

Neil,

No matter how many irrelevant examples you produce to support your thesis, the thesis itself is essentially flawed. Creating a simulacrum of anything does not alter the original, thereby affecting its DNA; the process creates a new “original,” whose flaws are the result of the process of creating the simulacrum itself. And a simulacrum of a simulacrum will create more artifacts, none of which are hereditary.

Nick Shinn's picture

All images are artifactual, not just rasterizations that “stray from the norm”.

This is the situation encountered in “reviving” a typeface from a printed specimen.
No single instance of a character may be considered the norm, neither may an average.
An interpretation is always required.

An exception might be the pixel-for pixel reproduction of an image on the exact same kind of screen on which it was created.

**

As an aside, I was looking to create a random animated effect by repeatedly applying a Photoshop filter to an image, but discovered that all the filters repeat themselves eventually—except Noise. (Well, I suppose Noise might, given a Shakespearian-monkey amount of time.)

hrant's picture

Nick, that's because of what Johnny Von Neumann once said - second one here:
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/John_von_Neumann

On the other hand, one could leverage something like this:
http://www.random.org/
Except if you're religious, then nothing can be random.

hhp

oldnick's picture

Random? Perhaps not. Capricious? You bet.

5star's picture

Té, yup that's my point. But not just the file format can produce the Artifact, so too can the very substance being formatted. Pure 255-0-0 Red notorious (pure Yellow is another interesting source) most notably in the RGB gamut of life - yes life - pixel life. Silicon technology's life - life within silicon technology, is just as valid an other 'living' organism's.

Dez, thanks for mentioning slag - it's a great term!! I hope your buddy made it big - so to speak.

Old Nick, I think your confusion lies within your misinterpretation. Just as we are all descendents 'of' Adam, so too are Artifacts. The original source remains as is, but it's progeny can exhibit unique characteristics. So to that, it is my hope that my above image's relevancy is of great service to you.

hrant, ah yes ... organized religion. I imagine that many an Artifact has been a source of contention for organized religion :)

n.

oldnick's picture

Neil,

I do not believe I am misinterpreting your thesis; rather, I am simply not buying it. Artifacts do not evolve: they degenerate. Perhaps a real-life example will serve to illustrate my point.

There is an old group-sitting-around-a-campfire game that goes like this. One person whispers a phrase or a sentence to another person; that person—and each person in turn—whispers what he or she thinks they heard to the next person, and so on around the circle. The typical result is that the end product bears little, if any, resemblance to the original. The end product is not an evolutionary descendant of the initial phrase: it's the result of noise introduced into the process at each successive stage.

When—or if—microchips actually beget other microchips, silicon life will be demonstrated. Until such time, all you're really doing is mixing your metaphors. Art imitates life: it doesn't procreate it.

riccard0's picture

Art imitates life: it doesn't procreate it.

That’s true in a strictly biological sense. But, also biologically, degeneration and contamination are essential parts and fundamental mechanisms of life itself.

5star's picture

Old Nick, on the contrary. I see from your example the source of your disbelief.

The people that were retelling retelling the story were - only - doing just that. Take that same group of people and impose varying stimulants upon each person. I'm pretty sure that I can bet the farm that one of the people - with just the right amount of stimulant(s) - will jolt and exhibit altogether fresh characteristics other than the person before (or the person after for that matter), and express far beyond any verbal communication. For all I know, with the appropriate injection they could grow another digit (so to speak, ahem), :)
As my example - as crude rude as it seems - clearly shows that the 'stimulant imposed' on the original 255-0-0 pure red rectangle was, a) the method of compressing the raster / bitmap information (in that example .jpg), and b) the Quality of such a compression. Therein lies your misinterpretation I'm sure, or why else would you supply such an off-track comparison?

Does art generate life? Sure it does!! Yes indeed art generates life, it just generates artistic life. I don't mean to sound sarcastic, I'm just saying that there is indeed an artistic - linage - just as valid as your own family tree.

So please, now that we have cleared that up, allow me to move on...

It is my belief, and understanding, that Artifacts speak to the very essence of whence they come!!

Artifacts, those funky groovy rebel pixels of graphic information, are indeed - OF - the very Nature of Silicon itself.

Yes, Silicon!! The very substance which constitutes our era of modern computer / life.

Furthermore, Artifacts are the visible rebellious expressions for/of Silicon, (symbol Si as noted in the Periodic Table), and for/of the visible rebellious expressions of ALL the digital elements in general - which shall/allow me to say - constantly keep in touch with their molecular cousins ... Graphite.

n.

oldnick's picture

Sorry, Neal…

You haven't “cleared things up”: no matter how many different outfits you put on it, that dog won’t hunt. Yes, it’s an elegant theory into which you have obviously put a great deal of effort, but ultimately it’s based on the logical fallacy of equivocation: just because—from a certain vantage point—it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it does not necessarily follow that it is a duck.

What you have is a credible premise for a science fiction novel, which is perfectly fine.

5star's picture

Old Nick, it's actually the basis of my first short (probably really short) indie film.

I believe that Ideas push / drive people. Not the other way around, that people drive / push ideas. I understand that the - Idea - is to the very core of who we are. How much less so for the type designer?

And in the times pre-digital the Idea(s) primarily were noted / stated / sketched out with the simplest of methods - the pencil. And at the heart/core of the pencil is Graphite. I'm broadly talking across many many disciplines, Architecture, Engineering, Poetry, Music, etcetera etcetera! Ideas all scribbled down via Graphite and Lead.

It is - or at the very least - rebellious to express an Idea. Even true to this very day within some of the most infernal lands. But, none-the-less, Ideas still push people, they still will trouble people to the point of movement!

It is the Idea that drives / pushes people.

Graphite is everywhere and used everywhere, the pencil you wield today is the of the very same as the pencil being used by a muslim cleric. Furthermore, to some people even to pick up a pencil is to have been given the sense of self-empowerment!!! It is to have the ability to express - free from the norm - an act of an Individual!!

Dangerous stuff indeed - leads to all kinds of messy stuff such as democracy.

So ya, it all starts with the Idea and the means to express the Idea - usually via Graphite.

***

The digital realm has come about from the non-digital ... safe to say? The digital tries and tries and tries to - usurp (seems to be about the right word, perhaps a little too forceful) the aforementioned freedoms normally - and without much thought - of Graphite, Lead, and Ink (just to mention a few major players).
But, the realm of Silicon technology is at it's very core still a very natural realm. The digital realm is built from/of natural elements including all polymers. They all come from somewhere - and that somewhere is Nature itself!!!

And so too does Graphite.

I don't believe that the digital realm is as neat and tidy - sterile and controlled - as it is made out to be. Even the best mathematical equations can't totally control - an Artifact. And for the processes that try to go on the Vector existence yearns for the textural / seemingly natural characteristics of the Raster community!! And at the very end of the day - it all degrades - it all falls apart and goes back to ... Nature. So communities such as Vector don't rule all that much ... and as I said before Vector society is conceited.

I think Artifacts are pixels of information that have been created (progeny if you will), to be pushed / driven to find some sort of Natural freedom. And that freedom of expression goes right straight back to everyone and anyone who has been driven / pushed by an Idea. Anyone who has taken the chance to be free ... expressed via Graphite and Lead.

And ya, Artifacts are the product of Individuality from within the digital realm. They are Silicon's expression of freedom from within a man made confine! Which is, by-the-way, driven / pushed by the Idea.

***

The film's working title is ... Lords Of Graphite.

Here is an out of set model shot from early development showing a Graphite Underlord flanked with two Graphite Minions...

n.

dezcom's picture

Pencil me in for that :-)

Té Rowan's picture

Nah... the title doesn't sound that SILly.

Isaac's picture

5star, I like what you're saying, but I have to agree with oldnick. The artifacts you speak of may be due to the nature of the silicon world they live in, but that world was created by some outside force—the manufacturing process, the environment it exists in, the fact that silicon is used instead of some other material, etc. As long as someone else sets the parameters, whether it be the programmer, the algorithm creator, or God, artefactual rebellion can only take place within predetermined limits. Digital artifacts can't rebel to the point of baking me cookies.

Alternately, I may have missed both arguments entirely, which I can take no blame for because it is very late, I ate too much sugar today, and I'm not that smart to begin with. Interesting discussion though.

hrant's picture

Artifacts come from the algorithm, the method.

hhp

5star's picture

Thanks Dez :)

Isaac, correct me if I'm wrong but isn't everything created by some outside force?

As just one example, in christian belief, is it a - to far extension - to even consider the Artifact as coming from the hand of god? In that context, I don't think it is all that distant. In fact, it's a lot closer than one might think.

Also interesting to note that there are some really groovy metals used in the construction of the computer's by-ways and high-ways upon which the Artifactual (to use your awesome word) algorithmic expressions flow / travel. Silver and gold to name but two. And it is to the very purity of those two metals which have a great kinship with some the of world's greatest artist / thinkers of all times! Ideas of fantastic conception from geniuses such as Raphael and Leonardo flowed / traveled through metalpoints of gold and silver and lead - onto the surfaces which are on display to this very day!

Artifacts, those funky rebel pixels of information, 'staying power' is quite as durable? I think so. Perhaps not the actual display screen you're looking at now, but the disk upon which the information can archived can be reproduced over and over as needed to maintain the information.

I don't think there is a disconnect from the digital to the non-digital. The world of the Artifact is by extension the same world as that of Raphael and Leonardo et al.

But ya, as I mentioned in some of my above posts/ramblings, as it should be the world of the Artifact is limited and constricted (when viewed from the outside-in!!) - but that world is most definitely is NOT out of contact with other 'worlds'.

I don't believe that there is a - separation - of worlds at all! In fact, I believe there is a flow - or better said... a continuum - between the non-digital and the digital!!!

Everything is connected ... especially in the spiritual essence themselves!!

n.

Té Rowan's picture

The artifacts will stay with us for as long as people use 'quality' settings to force transform algorithms to commit grievous bodily harm upon unsuspecting bitstreams.

oldnick's picture

I don't believe that there is a - separation - of worlds at all! In fact, I believe there is a flow - or better said... a continuum - between the non-digital and the digital!!!

One may see a great many things which simply aren't there, if one has a mind to…

5star's picture

Té, constraints only temporarily restrict / lessen the Individual to the point of a banal normality. Trying to dumby down raster / bitmap image files will eventually lead to justifying the Artifact anyways.

Futile stuff indeed.

Besides I didn't force anything, the Artifacts were already there, per-existing no? As I mentioned before Ideas push people to the point of their discovery - not the other way around. I'm not say that Ideas can't be expressed via - committee - but they will surly exist in want of the raw vitality that only the Individual could possibly provide.

Source of debates eternal between Vector & Raster communities I'm sure.

Old Nick, I don't think it is a matter of perception - illusory or not - that really matters. In fact more of both the better. But what really interests to me about Kanizsa's work is what lead him to the development of expressing illusory contours in the first place. And, to the point of this thread ... how he laid them down.

Ideas push.

n.

oldnick's picture

Perception is all that matters. The philosopher John Rogers Searle sagely noted that, where consciousness is concerned, the appearance is the reality. As Kanizsa’s example clearly proves, we can be easily seduced into “seeing” things which aren't there. Expectations condition response: the mere appearance of reality is sufficient to establish belief in the unreal.

It is obvious that Kanizsa understood these principles, and proved them rather conclusively with three Pac-men and three chevrons.

5star's picture

Awesome points Old Nick to be sure!!

But, first there must be something to be perceived, which as mentioned is what I'm really interested in.

It seems to me Kanizsa knew well this truth and leveraged just the right amount of actual physical substance to create his illusory example(s).
Organized religion knows the subject matter a little deeper tho. In order to present something that is not physically there and leave the perception / interpretation up to the participant must first require ... a) an idea, and secondly b) the physical elements of 'framing' the perception ... and in organized religion's practice, c) the fabric(s) of emotion.
Perhaps that's the beauty of Kanizsa's holy triangle ... to be completely devoid of emotion?

Also interesting to consider if Kanizsa's example of illusory contours would be published and openly discussed circa 15th century?

Kanizsa was an Artifact!

n.

oldnick's picture

In 1805, André-Marie Ampère re-defined the term cognition to describe the precise point at which percepts—the raw data—from the five physical senses met the Sense of Self: that is, cognition is the nexus between awareness and understanding. What is revelatory about Ampère’s definition is his choice of words, because it illustrates clearly that our understanding of phenomenal reality is profoundly influenced by an unseen, sixth sense: the Sense of Self.

Unlike the other five senses, the Sense of Self is both intensely personal and transpersonal. We may imagine that we can see something “through another’s eyes,” but we cannot, because what we see through our own eyes is colored by this Sense of Self, which is a product of mind. Furthermore, mind is a product of culture: the context within which the “I” exists and interacts, socially and intellectually. Thus, this Sixth Sense acts as a lens through which we view reality, whose workings are opaque—that is, obscured—because the lens itself is transparent.

Because cultural bias exists and because cognition always occurs at the nexus of experience and expectation, the lens through which we view reality is necessarily but imperceptibly distorted to a greater or lesser degree. Thus, the statement “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a persistent one” is proven in this regard: our conviction that we have a direct grasp of reality is illusory, because the external phenomena effecting empirical experience are inevitably altered by an occult—that is, hidden—Sixth Sense. “For now we see through a glass, darkly.” But because the “I”—the Sense of Self—is the glass through which we see, the darkness is not apparent.

5star's picture

Old Nick, that's about epistemology no? I'm not all that versed in the various schools of philosophy tho. And if I had to pick one I'd choose metaphysics.

And I don't even know much about it.

So ya, self awareness. I don't really think there is such a thing. I believe in the moment of here and now - and that's about it really. And even then it all seems out of control.

Lords of Graphite tries to put forward that argument ... in an AWESOME sort of way.

Crudely summarized, it is the raw - very raw - elements (as in the Periodic Table) of Nature which 'induce' a person, beguile a person, seduce years and years of inspiration (hopefully of an Individual such as Beethoven) to pick up a pencil (or whatever) and manipulate that person to express an Idea. It could be any Idea. Doesn't really matter. Beethoven and the creator of any font are all of equal value. The 'Idea' is only a means to an end. And the person through whom the Idea flows - is merely a vessel. At the end of the day it is the Graphite, Lead, Ink, Silicon, etc., which are in control. And it is those Natural forces which self-promote for the celebration and the continuation of their very existence.

People come and people go. Ideas too. But the Lords of Graphite are the alpha and the omega of all 'reality'!

From ashes to ashes - from dust to dust.

Brutal? Ya, for sure!!!

n.

hrant's picture

It seems to me that you need to combine your enviable motivation and good instincts with some oldschool study and introspection, to arrive at a good place.

hhp

oldnick's picture

Neil,

The moment that I encounter a typeface that stirs me as deeply as Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, I might buy your all-things-being-equal argument...

JamesM's picture

> Hopefully this rather simplistic image will help demonstrate my point...

Neil, what graphic program did you use to create that example? I tried duplicating the test in Photoshop and the result was totally different. Followed your specs as close as I could — a red box, "save for web", quality set to 50%,— and I had zero detectable artifacts.

I'm not saying that artifacts aren't a problem in some situations, but I'm just curious what app you're using as my results were so different.

5star's picture

hrant, thanks, will do, as soon as possible!

Old Nick, I hear ya, lol. But, I think all ideas are awesome. And then doubly awesome is having the ability, the time, and the means to express them. The content of the Idea is (imho) irrelevant. We would all be just a little bit poorer without even just one.

Didn't Ayn Rand write about that kind of stuff?

JamesM, sorry about that. I roll with Photoshop for my bitmap / raster goodness. Open up a new doc, let's say something standard from the Preset drop down menu such as the 800px x 600px with a white background. Use whatever you tool you fancy to create a 250px wide x 350px rectangle and fill it with 255-0-0 red, and then Save-for-Web .jpg file with Quality of 100% name it Red.

Close out the 'live' doc, and open up Red.jpg. Re-save the Red doc as a .jpg with a Quality of 50% , name it Red_Artifacts.

Close out the 'live' doc, and open Red_Artifacts. jpg. Grab your zoom tool, and zoom in 400% or so on one of the corners ... and there they are :) The more the process is repeated (especially with lower and lower Quality % settings), the more prevalent the Artifacts. I think it has something to do with a combo of factors including the color frequency of 255-0-0 red in the rgb gamut.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamut

Hope those instructions will yield the similar results. Of course there are several methods in which Artifacts will appear, (simply scaling down a 255-0-0 red .jpg file is another simple method), but I don't see Artifacts as something unwanted ... they come with the territory :). If you prefer not to have any Artifacts present it is best to save pure red (and simple raster images in general) as gif files.

And speaking of which that gif color table is f'n amazing. Someone should create tile patterns for the kitchen (or whatever) with 'em :) Simply load some image - or even better create one of your own - no matter how complex, and then view it's contents via the gif color table, take a screen shot of it, open the screeny and use the Eyedropper tool to identify the tile colours need to re-create the gif color panel - :)!!

Nerdy wall patterns! Use the free prog rasterbator to create it XXL...

n.

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