Gallery WIP

It’s a rainy saturday morning so I made this and decorated a cake I made yesterday.

Things to do:

  • Populate the shelves with neat things.
  • Render with more samples
  • Fix the bump map on that wooden box
  • Maybe add some pendant lights or something; continue adding interest.

But, it’s a start.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Concept Art

As I continue learning speed painting I continue to be humbled by the masters.

Painting in colour, as I’ve now found out, is much more difficult than originally thought. So even more respect for works like those above.

via

Works In Progress

Some things that I’ve been playing around with. May or may not ever finish them, but the ideas are there and people keep telling me to share the intermediate things.

I feel like the loft is off to a good start, but that back wall needs some love. Not sure yet. The external scene is, well, I’m terrible at them. I mean, that’s the point of practice, but still. I started a speed paint of almost that exact idea but realized half way through that doing the shading for each of those chimney stones is an ugly process.

The MK2 Stealth Chairs are the design we were originally going to make after we did the cardboard versions, but we got distracted and it never fully materialized. Someday, perhaps.

Funnily enough, not counting the render times themselves, making these takes about the same amount of time as my “speed” painting does. I’m both a pretty fast modeler and a pretty slow drawer, it seems. It is getting faster though. I was painting this morning and went to take a break only to realize it wasn’t as late as I thought it should have been. So that’s good. Improvement!

Patterned by Nature

So. Cool.

I do think it’d almost be better without the bird chirp soundtrack though, because the visual metaphor is so strong by itself. The absence of sound would allow you to add your own but also contemplate that what you’re seeing isn’t a mere illusion trying to fool you; it’s that your brain is so easily manipulated.

What would be awesome is this sort of thing in like, 2cm square glass pieces that drizzle down like rain falling against the glass. I would totally use that for all the exterior windows in my house. Perpetual sunny rain, with perpetual shadows falling across the walls opposite.

Via Vimeo’s frontpage

IKEA UPPLEVA

My favorite part starts at 1:50 – modular shelving options!

It’s a tricky balance; on one hand you have people who know very little and are happy for an all-in-one system that this provides, but on the other you have the fact that these messes exist entirely because people have a lot of options, from Apple TVs to game consoles and want and use that modular freedom.

On the third hand is a big picture question: is the TV dying? I probably won’t ever have one in my lifetime. I mean, maybe, but it’ll be a purchase that will be made if I happen to have a stack of cash laying around – not that I’m waiting with excitement as I raise the money to get one. I have a handful of large monitors and an iPad for watching Netflix in bed. I’m entirely content and satisfied with this arrangement, so there isn’t any real obvious reason for me to get a TV.

I’m probably the exception, not the rule, but I do wonder how many out there are like me right now and how many of our kids in the next generation will be more (or less) like that.

Via

More Speedpainting

I feel embarrassed to post these because I don’t feel like I have any skill in the medium yet but also because by definition I have to leave them unfinished. I look at them and think about all the further revisions I could make and the details to be added, but that would defeat the purpose of speedpainting which is to say getting an idea across quickly, not perfectly.

So, psychologically that’s something I’m still learning.

There was the question of references and while there are definitely things from other examples that inspire me, they aren’t direct traces of anything in particular. It’s like a collage in my head, things clipped out of inspirations everywhere and pasted together into a scene, then drawn out. The dumpster one is probably the most direct, being an interior from a level in Mirror’s Edge but since I’m doing it from memory I don’t even consider that cheating. The Lovecraft one borrows from the lore, but people would argue my Polyp is all wrong anyway. Imagination.

My goal, other than simply getting better, is to do a timelapse screen cast video like all the fantastic examples found out there. Then you can laugh at my utter inefficiency and I’ll say “see? it’s a valiant struggle” because I really am that terrible right now. It’ll be fun!

Use of Materials

I came across the above photo and it dawned on me, something that’s been basking under the heat lamp that is my brain for too long now: my confusion when it comes to material usage. Let me explain.

The above scene is somewhat disturbing to me in that it goes against my conviction for utility – the trees are structurally useless. “But Brennan, they’re aesthetically useful.” and to that I will kindly ask you to get off my lawn. In this case, I’ll gladly play the crotchety old man and here specifically my role will probably be cast in film by a silver haired German. Like Gran Torino as directed by Wes Anderson. There’s this amorphous blob that is the venn diagram middle between “useless” and “useful” when it comes to which spectrum you’re referring, but architecturally I have to give my points hands down to functional things being the most gorgeous of all. Like bridges. Gorgeous.

But! – and this is the part where I’ve been struggling to find myself – but, that doesn’t mean I’m against trees in the house. Admittedly the birka birch is sort of ‘meh’ but really, I’m not against trees as beams, and this is always something I (wrongly) assumed had to be associated. They’re different variables in reality. It’s not the usage of trees, it’s how they’re used in context.

And I’m sure lots of people read that and laugh at my ‘discovery’ because it’s so obvious. “Duh,” you roll your eyes, “Of course that’s how it is.” as you ride away on your fixie bicycle. And I’ll gladly accept that – it looks silly to me reading it over again now, too. But that’s fine. It’s learning and I’ll gladly open that to everyone.

TL;DR I thought not liking useless trees meant I didn’t like trees in that environment at all – a charmingly noob mistake.

Brink Concept Art Inspiration

In preparation for my graduation and moving I’m trimming the fat from my life and trading old useless things for either more valuable or less voluminous things such as video games. I still don’t have any time to play, but someday if and when I ever get sick I’ll be set.

Today I got Brink. It’s a game that didn’t review very well and sort of fell off the radar for most gamers. I’ve only played the first few levels and already I agree, but more importantly the art style is fantastic. It’s vaguely Mirror’s Edge in it’s sharp architecture and clean, smooth lines but with the chaotic ruin of Portal 2‘s beginning chambers (Brink’s environments have either been abandoned for some time or are active slums).

I remember being really excited when the first teaser trailers came out but when the debut price hovered at $50 I didn’t bother. So, it’s a bit late, sure, but we can still draw inspiration from it.

The parkour in the trailers, by the way, is grossly over played. The in game version is pretty meh. Still, just ignore him and watch the environment:

It’s a cool style and I’ve been in Blender making a few airports and malls. I’m reminded of the Wipeout Uber Mall and perhaps that’s another perfect game to visit for inspiration.

Redesigning the Toaster

I like making toast because for those two or so minutes you’re allowed to just stand there and think about things. Much like showering, it’s these pockets of vacant staring that lead to some of the best ideas. A more mediocre idea occurred: my toaster is rubbish.

It’s been dutifully making my toast for a year and a half now and while it hasn’t failed or jammed or lit anything on fire, the design itself really isn’t much to write home about. It’s a Betty Crocker but I couldn’t find any further information on it. Measuring roughly: 17cm x 23cm x 20cm makes for a pretty hefty countertop footprint and looking at the mechanism I haven’t a clue why the bulbous plastic shell needs to be so obese. I can only assume the original design reason was so it doesn’t get too warm, but if they had done a bit of problem solving that shouldn’t have been a problem.

There’s three buttons and a knob and then the big toaster-down lever part on the corner. The buttons read “Bagel” “Defrost” and “Reheat” – none of which I’ve ever used. I’d be curious to see statistics as to who does. Frankly, I can’t even see what they would effect. Bagel might only use one side of the heating? Defrost / Reheat might go at lower power for longer? I’m not sure. Again; never used them. Why would I be reheating my toast, anyway?

My design removes them altogether. It’s sort of egocentric, I realize, to assume that everyone uses the same functions I do but if I’m redesigning it for myself, I’m allowed to satisfy my only customer the best way possible. Likewise the heat knob is gone. Since we’ve already got this handy linear lever we might as well integrate them: it moves the toast action still, but it’s height will vary the toasting power. There’d be internal ticks to denote power level intervals. Alternatively, and I’m assuming this only works for people who either live alone or with other people who like their toast the same brownness, put the knob somewhere like the back or the bottom and let them set it and forget it. I spent the first week figuring out the optimum toasting number and it’s been left there ever since. Unless you’ve got like, a picky family or something, you really don’t need to have it on the front to be constantly adjusted. Again. Maybe it’s just me,

So that eliminates almost everything. We’re left with one sliding knob. Neat.

I’ve also rearranged the bread. Instead of having two x two grills (two toast with two cradles) I’ve made the cradles wider to accommodate two slices side by side. Having no science to back this up on I’m not sure how heating is affected this way (especially when having only one slice in) but it makes the form factor much thinner and longer, which means it can sit up against the wall better and allow more space on the counter for, say, breadboards and butter and things. For my cramped kitchen this would provide much needed space and allow the appliance to be pushed back out of the way better when not in use.

Aesthetically minimal, of course. Matte black and brushed grey for me, but it would work well with anything, really. We could go the Kitchenaid route and offer more colours than the paint store swatch board but as I’ve mentioned before, visually loud things demand attention and do you really want the attention in the room to be your toaster? Exactly. Matte black it is.

And that’s pretty much it. A basic, easy, intuitive toaster redesign that saves space and makes you a cooler person, just by owning it.

Samsung’s Dumb Window

If you follow any tech news site or CES itself, you’ll have seen this clip already.

I dismissed it when I first saw it, but over the week thoughts started creeping in about how truly disruptive this technology is. I mean that in both senses of the word.

First, the good: The technology is cool, straight up. It’s a clear LCD panel that can detect touch across a massive span. I’m curious as to how it works, and, if IR based, how well it works in front of an actual sun. Similarly, how opaque are those pixels? If it’s facing south on a sunny day, does it actually block all of that energy? But, it has some cool potential.

The bad: The first thing they do is put a calendar on it? A clock? Twitter? Hooo boy. And a skeuomorphic blinds system? You have all of this technology to put whatever you want on it and you choose to copy the relatively terrible interface and effects of a physical blinds system. Why not a fade in opacity instead of 100% on and 100% off bars of light and dark? This is supposed to be the future! It’s easily possible, but someone somewhere thought that this would be an easier analogue to understand, as if we haven’t been using touchscreens for the past five years of our lives. We might not understand all the technical details, but we’ve gotten used to touching sliders and seeing effects. Design to your audience, and there is no audience to which Venetian blinds applies. Even five year olds these days are more in touch with technology (pun intended) than that. Is there really an uproar with seniors that feel more comfortable with seeing blinds vs a much more practical variable fade? So truly, there is no reason to take such a step backwards. Unlike desktops with files and folders drawing a metaphor to deeply abstract ideas, the control and effect of a slider here would be obvious and intuitively understandable without drawing such unnecessary comparisons.

Back to the Vista style widgets. Why? We have them on our phones nicely arranged exactly how we want them. We have them on our computer desktop. We have them on our tablets. If you’re old school, you probably have your notes, calendar etc. printed on actual chopped up trees. How often do people actually check their calendars in real life? I lead a pretty schedule-centric life and I open the calendar app maybe once every couple of days – I certainly don’t need all four of them around me at all times. Of course this isn’t true for everyone, but the people who use it more are probably going to use their phone rather than walk over to their window. Same with Twitter. I love Twitter, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not something I want to stand around and scroll through on my window.

Maybe I’m over reacting. It’s a tech demo, after all, maybe the real life one will be stripped back. But, somehow I doubt it. Somehow I can just see it coming with Nortons Antivirus and I’ll have to stand next to my window for hours trying to get rid of all the crapware. At least on a laptop you can sit down.

On a macro point, I jest feel like we’re drowning in all of this. It’s literally coming between us and the outside world now. I think the variable opacity LCD blinds idea is awesome. Truly, I’m excited for that technology to become cheap and widely available. But I’m uneasy about have a dashboard on a window – the invention whose sole purpose is to see out of. I just imagine some executive somewhere thinking this is the coolest thing – and it is cool – but missing the real point of it’s usage. They like technology for technology’s sake, when really, technology should only exist to make our lives better. We’ve forgotten that, it seems.

Moral of the story: Exciting technology, but you have Twitter in your phone so you can travel anywhere in your house / city / the world with it. Why tether yourself to a permanent fixture?


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