Casanova – Floex

Another recommendation from our ever secretive and anonymous Nicky P. Excellent track, though.

Today is my official last day as a professional web designer, next week is back to industrial design school and I’m excited. I’ve learned lots, and I’ll always thank those who taught me these things, but ID is my passion and I intend to bring everything I’ve learned together into an awesome, cohesive end result: Brennan Letkeman, creative polymath.

Be good.


I think this is how the average person sees minimalism.

I think it’s wrong.

Minimalism Myth: Minimalists like cold, concrete boxes for homes.

Minimalism is not living with nothing, it is more accurately living without excess. It does not have to be this cold concrete box (although I am a fan of them, it’s entirely personal taste) and I think it’s a shame that people see it this way, because I feel like we as a culture would be better off with more minimalism in our lifestyle. Speaking on averages, it seems like we buy more than we need or even want, and then we end up with massive houses filled with things that hold very little value to us as people. This is excess and isn’t really necessary.

So, it could be said that furniture is “unnecessary” if it lives in rooms that aren’t being used (since if it’s not being used, why is it there?) but I think there are lots of places where furniture is perfectly acceptable in the minimalist lifestyle. I love curling up in a nice chair and reading or browsing the internet. I wouldn’t sit on the concrete floor. That’s interior design spartanism – living with less than you need. Minimalism is about living with the perfect amount of what you need.

Minimalism Myth: I have to give up art on my walls.

Heh. Who told you that? Art is seen as this useless thing, usually, but I would argue it is very functional. Not functional like a knife or a can opener, but psychologically, art can have a profound effect on one’s mood and this is an important part of human life. Since it’s important then it is not excess and if it isn’t excess than it seems perfectly allowable in minimalist life.

I would point out, however, why do you have the art? Is it some generic thing you picked up at Winners because it was cheap and big or is it something personal to you, something you genuinely appreciate and like?

As with anything, is it truly important? That’s the hardest part; deciding and sorting what is and isn’t.

Minimalism Myth: I have to be an angsty loner.

This, however, is completely true.

Ideally, you’d be an architect and when in public have an aura that you’re the most important person in the room, but refuse to acknowledge anyone else.

Minimalism Myth: It has to be cold all the time.

Again, I personally like it, but it’s not a rule in the lifestyle by any means. That would fall under the spartanism thing – living with less than you need. Humans need a comfortable temperature, whatever that may be for them.

Minimalism Myth: I need to have a fluffy white cat.

This is true, and you should love it because as an angsty loner, it might be the only friend you’ll have.


So, live better, happier lives by removing some excess. Minimalism isn’t as scary as you might think; heaven forbid you might actually enjoy it.


Blender Futuristic Ornate Material

Screenshots of the game itself, copyright to whomever owns it. It’s one of the first scenes in the game, so I doubt it’s spoiling anything for anyone.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a cyberpunk game set in the future and I was really intrigued by the industrial design which is actually very reminiscent of the exile house in Tron, which I keep bringing up. There are lots of ornate things like big Victorian arm chairs with the buttons and the wallpaper has a shimmering that isn’t obvious, but is very celtic knot in the light. I wanted to make something like that. I prefer the floral victorian wallpaper, personally. Also, I’m going to add a bump map to mine to give it some depth. If you notice, their version isn’t raised or lowered, so ignore the ‘normal’ settings for the subtle shine approach.

I also wanted it to be fast which I more or less accomplished. The material itself renders quickly, but I tacked on DoF and glares and such that brought that right back. So, as it stands, for full 1080p HD each frame renders in 33 seconds. Most of that, again, is the post-pro. I’m using Blender 2.57 here, but it’ll be very similar /identical anywhere in the 2.5x series.

I picked up the free texture here and set it up like this:

The check marks are important. The Normal defines how drastic the bump map is (note it’s “best quality” at the bottom) and the two speculars define how shiny it is (making sure there is 0% specular in the actual material panel). The cube projection just makes it wrap better around objects that aren’t flat (such as our Suzanne head).The RGB to intensity and Stencil define the shape of texture 2.

The second texture is a HDRi map that I made, but it could be from anywhere. It goes under the victorian texture and is set in the coordinates to “reflection” to make is behave like the object is reflecting it. This is how to make things shiny without using actual ray traced reflections which are slow. If it’s good enough for video games, it’s good enough for us. Not accurate, sure, but much, much quicker. Also note that in the HDRi texture you can turn on and off the specular intensity and hardness (default 1 works) for an extra shine. It creates a sharper specular, so might be useful for wet things.

And then some glare nodes for that futuristic blurry shine, lots of pentagon DoF and a slight RGB curve to crush the blacks and pop the whites a bit. You might consider mixing it with my Tron or Star Trek node setups.

Also, add lots of different coloured lights. Remember, this is the future! And as we know, the future likes coloured lights.

Cyberpunk is defined by having a predominant colour. The Matrix was green, Final Fantasy 7 was blue and Deus Ex: HR is predominantly orange. But! Use contrasts to those to break it up, it’s not monochromatic, just favours a certain way tone.

It’s not that hard to achieve, you see. It seems like everything in the game has a HDRi reflection map to it, so I do recommend stocking up or making your own. Perhaps that’d be a good topic for a further tutorial. Also, if you’re going for the more stylistic approach, try to use simple shapes in your reflection maps; most of the game’s are just random rectangles of light, which gives it that sort of screen glare they put on cell phone ads. It’s not really reflecting an environment, it’s just showing you that it’s shiny. Remember, rendering is not about making reality, it’s about faking reality. Games cheat a lot graphically, but the trick is convincing the player.

Head On – Lior Ben Horin

HEAD ON from lior ben horin on Vimeo.

Awesome trip. Brilliant animation. Lovely lack of story.

If you’re looking for more drug induced video animation also check out Mac and Cheese.

I’m getting my wisdom teeth out friday, so I’m stockpiling things to watch while on painkillers. I’m also keeping tons of paper handy – hopefully when I wake up the next day, groggy and confused I’ll have some sort of brilliant invention or earth shattering song idea or something. Y’know, like how it worked for the Beatles.



Now this is news!

Industrial design looks good: simple, practical, efficient solution to the problem. It solves a real problem, which in itself is fantastic. I was making fun of Snuggies today on Twitter because they don’t actually solve a problem that anyone has. This, however, is perfect for cinematographers of all types. Global appeal is awesome.

It’s actually perfect, and I made something sort of like it out of Lego a few years ago, but having the Gorillapod (which I own and love) legs ability makes it absolutely ideal for any surface.

He patented it. This, I’m sort of sad to hear since it means he spent money on patenting it and if we’ve learned nothing about patents it’s that they are easily bypassable and I doubt he’d have the money to throw at any sort of legal dispute once the clones start coming from China. Just like Gorillapod itself has many, many terrible clones (and a few good ones) it’s really hard to defend these things. Quality and execution are everything.

His Kickstarter is currently 8 times higher than the goal, which means people are loving on this, and that’s awesome. I’d definitely buy one too if I were doing anything like that anymore.

Great to such see such good work these days – it’s becoming less common it seems.

Yet Another Post about the Wacom Inkling

So, in case you don’t follow any designers on Twitter the big news going around is this:

Which, I guess, I dunno, might be helpful for some people. Personally, I so rarely vectorize my sketches I’m not sure it would be practical to have a system that spits out vectors of your drawings. I sketch to throw up ideas onto paper, and then move into 3D usually, so it’s less helpful for me.

Also? You have to hold your hand so high up the pen to allow the sensors clearance. I’m not even sure I could draw like that…

So, meh. Maybe it’s just me.

Windows 8, UI, and Design Philosophy

Although no one seems to like Tech Crunch, we still all read it and occasionally they’re even right about something.

That something is this:

The above image is directly from Microsoft’s findings, as posted on their development blog.

TC writes:

Microsoft concluded that the command bar is underused because it’s not robust enough, and upon further investigation found that few of the common actions were even to be found there. They are looking for what they need to add. The solution, obviously, is to pump up the command bar until it becomes equally usable.

Which as we know is the bane of good design.

Apple would have concluded that the command bar is underused because it’s not effective. They are looking for what they need to subtract. Whether the items necessary are in it or not, the user preference towards context menus and keyboard shortcuts seems clear. The solution is to eliminate the command bar altogether and find a way to make the more popular access methods even more accessible.

Which is often restricting.

But it does reflect the fundamental theories of design – both UI and otherwise.

I think a lot of industrial designers add and add and add until they’ve achieved this feature rich thing, but quite often that thing is hard to intuitively use and is usually a complete disaster in the end.

What we should be doing, as designers, is removing the extraneous, the things that the data shows aren’t useful, the things that we know aren’t useful. The outcome is not a design as much as it’s the ideal form for that function. This is the core philosophy behind most of Rams’ work, and can be found in most other great designers (Corbu, Eames, Rohe etc) including, of course, Ive’s own Apple products.

Because really, as a designer, do you ever want a product that looks like the menu system of that first Microsoft UI screenshot? Would you ever put your name on it and say “Yeah, this is the best I could come up with.” No. Of course not. Because it’s rubbish.

Be good.

Compressed 02 – Kim Pimmel

Compressed 02 from Kim Pimmel on Vimeo.


I love fluid interactions. Awesome work.

All Black Eames Lounge is Fit for Tron

Alright, alright, I know what you’re thinking: “But Brennan, everyone knows the Eames lounge in Tron is all white.” and to that I just glare in your general know-it-all direction and point out that it would still work.

Here’s the Exile house in question:

Actually, yeah, it looks better in white.

So maybe the limited edition black version should be better suited for those chimney sweeps who like modernist furniture but don’t want to shower before they sit down? Excellent.

Black chair photo via Hayabusa and Tron photo from ROOST.

Phillip Schumacher – Surreal Photography

I do really like surrealism. Unfortunately, the tendency for people with Photoshop trying to make it is that they take all these bizarre, random things from everywhere and shove them all together. The result, usually, is an incomprehensible mess.

So I appreciate the above because they understand restraint. They understand story (which I’ve always said is the true heart of photography) and they create it out of a few elements. It’s still surreal – still things that don’t happen in real life – but it’s not trying to be as random as possible (which I think most people think surrealism is).

There’s a pretty nice gallery via Fubiz.

(c) 2018 ACRYLO | powered by WordPress