Mini GIF

MINI-Cooper

(Click on the photo to see the animation – not sure why it doesn’t play in line)

I had a bit of time to kill while driving around, so I took some photos and assembled them.

That’s my baby: a Mini Cooper R53, with new Sparco Pistas wrapped in Kumho Ecsta 4X put on just the other week.

80’s Halloween

I know I’m a week early on the Hallow’s Eve thing, but I was playing around with some old skull models for a different reason and had the idea.

My favorite part is the glossy shine running down the orange sunglasses:

Not sure if I’ve posted this before, but I did do some quick Freestyle tests with the same model (which comes to us from the repository) a few months back when that was first revealed:

Victor Enrich Surreal Architecture

This is one of those things that makes it’s rounds on the blogs and is neat but doesn’t really say anything until you think about it much later. Last night I was driving down the big hill and had a perfect view over downtown during the sunset and got to thinking about how the skyline might be different in a surrealist world like Victor’s. It was a funny thought – I hadn’t thought of them in a long time – but such is the curator’s memory, I suppose.

So I went back and found them. There’s a fuller gallery here, among lots of other places. If you haven’t seen them before, well, just keep them in the back of your head for the next time you see your own skyline.

Interview with Max Steenbergen

When I started Twitter a little over a year ago Max was one of the first people to interact with me and it’s been really cool to exchange opinions and comments on each other’s work since then.

So, Max, tell us a bit about yourself
Well, first of all my name’s Max Steenbergen. I’m a 27 year old Dutch guy, working as an in-house UI & graphic designer for a company developing dashboard software for yachts. I’ve studied English for a bit, but quickly dropped out and went on to study photography instead. I’ve got a full-time job but next to that I’ve gone back to school to finally get a proper bachelor’s degree. Two evenings a week I’m back in the school benches following a course called Communication & Multimedia Design. Most stuff of what is taught there I already knew or is horribly outdated, but every now and then I actually pick up something new. When I’m not at work or at college, I’m most likely sweating my ass off and falling to the ground in the most unelegant ways possible playing volleyball.

How did you first get into icon design?
About 10 to 12 years ago I wanted to produce my own wallpapers so I started fiddling with Terragen, a piece of software to render landscapes. I quickly installed Photoshop thereafter to enhance the results Terragen delivered. I was quite happy with what I did back then, but after a few years of browsing the web and seeing all kinds of awesome designs I grew tired of my own limited skill set. I was especially intrigued by icons, like the ones by Louie Mantia and Sebastiaan de With. In the meantime I was hired by a local company (where I still work to this day) as the in-house designer thanks to some web design skills I picked up along the way.
Once there I started making tiny icons for the software we produce, and little by little those icons grew more and more elaborate & detailed. At the same time I got intrigued by UI design and started learning that field at the office. I bought lots of books on the subject, and found some great & inspiring people. What I learned then greatly helped in my job, as I often have to think of different ways to visualize data. It was then that I went from sloppy work to pixel-precise fiddling.

Could you describe your approach and philosophy to design?
Practically everything is done in Photoshop. Every now and then I mock up a very rudimentary mesh in Cinema4D to get the perspective of the icon right, but after that I recreate those shapes with Photoshop. I try to use as much vector shapes as possible, but once I get into the itty bitty details I quickly grab my Wacom and brush it in.
For app icons I try to keep things as realistic as possible. That’s just a personal preference and my way of working towards my other goal of being able to digitally paint and not have it look like crap. For smaller icons though I have no real philosophy. I first figure out what the icon should symbolize before I get to what it should resemble (big difference there). Minding every pixel here is key.

What’s the hardest thing about what you do?
Getting the lighting and shadows right is crucial when trying to achieve realism. Unfortunately enough, those two things are what I find hardest to do. You can’t just randomly add highlights or shadows wherever you like, you really have to stop and think just how that shadow or highlight would be shaped in real life (if there would be one at all). I recently made a jacuzzi illustration and had to add a shadow from the pool’s edge in the water. After adding it, it just didn’t look right but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. Two days later I finally saw why: the shadow I added was convex when it should’ve been concave.

What’s the part that you love the most?
That’s right at the moment I reach for my Wacom pen to start adding in all the little details (though not every detail is brushed). I’ve learned not to be easily satisfied with my own work after seeing some of the icons I made when I first started doing it “professionally”. With my Guinness illustration I spent ages adding every little drop of condensation on the glass individually. It was a painstakingly tedious process, but the result was worth it.

Do you ever freelance?
I’m not a real freelancer – I’ve got a full-time job – however, every now and then I offer my services (or they are requested) to a client. Working on those projects is done on the evenings and weekends, and are —at the moment— merely for the fun of it. Whatever I earn with it are neat little extra’s that I save up to treat myself (like buying an iPad 3).

I hear rumours of a Dribbble app, care to share?
As I mentioned, I’ve gone back to school. For the semester I’m currently in, we have to design and develop a mobile app using web technologies (meaning HTML5, CSS3 and JS). The premise of the app was free to choose. I’ve always figured Dribbble clients lack 1 specific feature, so I figured I’d write it myself this semester. The app is called Longshot, and is a iPhone 4(s) specific web-app (I might target other devices later, but for now I’m focusing on my own phone). It’s actually nearing completion as far as functionality is concerned, but I still have to spend quite some time to the design. It’s up and running over here and requires to be installed to the homescreen as it needs the space Safari’s toolbars occupy. Still some work to be done, but quite useable already as it is.

What attracts you most to Dribbble in the first place, anyway?
Two things, really. Primarily to look at other people’s work, be in awe of and inspired by it, followed by being bummed at not being at that level. Secondly to post my own work looking for feedback.
Dribbble is a great community with a lot of talented members, and personally I’m always looking for their feedback. As every community it has its share of “elitism” and groupie behavior, but I’m not too sure if that can ever be eradicated. Longshot though is my attempt of giving everyone a fair chance of exposure.

If you had any advice for young designers, what would it be?
My twitter buddy Michiel de Graaf —himself an awesome designer— recently tweeted something that I feel nails it: “As a designer you should be proud of your final result but never satisfied.”

If you could instantly change anything about our society, what would you change?
Ads. Begone with them. I understand why they exist, and don’t mind if there are some ads but literally everything has become infested with ads. Please let me pay for your service if it means I can use it without ads. Also quite related to ads these days is online privacy. I’ve grown quite skeptical when it comes to companies —especially social networks— treating personal data, especially after reading up on some of Facebook’s practices.

Describe your favorite colour using only nouns.
Spring. Sci-fi. Cold. Minimalism. Calm. Peace. Sky. Space. Dabadee Dabada.

Thank you very much,

The pleasure is mine.

Vaudevillain :: WIP

I’ve resolved to post the things I’m working on even if they lack final polish since I often give up that last step and then they never get published at all.

As posted on my Google+

“It’s a comic about a wannabe supervillain who gets lonely in his mountaintop lair and decides he should get a cat to attract all the ladies. But, when he gets a cat he likes it so much that he forgets all about his lady troubles and instead has awesome adventures.

First time working in this sort of style, so you’ll forgive me if it changes drastically throughout the course of the story. But! Feel honoured that I’m letting you see work as it happens. I’m resolved to be less guarding because in the end my perfectionism means I never release anything.

I feel like the third frame is out of place. I really like the first one, but then I get worse. I’m really only good at architecture, it seems.”

So definitely comment on it over there (if you can? I’m not sure if it’s open. Let me know.)

BST :: Making HDRi Maps from Scratch

“In order to make an HDRi map from scratch, you must first create the universe.” – Dr. Carl Sagan

Or something like that.

No, but seriously, it’s not even that hard. No deity powers necessary. Just Photoshop, or any image editor with 32-bit / pixel capability. Speaking of which, if you’d like any pure Photoshop tutorials, I can start running through a few of those too.

And remember, you CAN use regular everyday .jpgs as reflection maps, this is for proper .hdr lighting when necessary (so for Keyshot or Yafaray IBL lighting etc.)

MM :: Boards of Canada – Vibrasphere – Wisp

Original art by yours truly. From scratch, 100% PS.

It snowed the other day, marking the end of an unusually long spring for us. I don’t mind it; the snow itself is lovely. The cold will come, though, and that’s deeply disappointing.

Boards of Canada isn’t actually from Canada, but they know how to soundtrack our country pretty well. It’s a nice tune to let drift around the back of your mind as you sit and read by the window, warm drink in hand, as the snow flies. Speaking of which, I’m running through The Fountainhead right now and I have to say so far I am pretty much Roark (for better or worse) – so that’s interesting.

Vibrasphere walks that line between ambient and psy-trance which makes for some good ‘get to work’ music – providing enough beat to keep you driven but subtle enough to not be immediately annoying. They have a pretty diverse soundscape and often nail that heavy, cold, isolated sound that reminds me of Norway or Iceland or somewhere for no other reason than it sounds like what I imagine exploring those countries would feel like.

This song has been one of my favorites for a long, long time. If my personality could be summed up in just one sound, Wisp would be it. IDM in general, perhaps. It’s a chaotic structure. It’s the soundtrack to driving through mountains at night; with a lazy flurry of snow falling, coating the trees, and low clouds a gentle orange glow under a bright moon. It’s lackadaisical but excited, like there’s a lot behind it just waiting to burst out. It has comfortable patterns but it’s always building, changing, evolving. Growing, yet comfortably familiar.

Anyway. It’s just one guy behind it all and most of the work is free, so definitely check it out and add it to your playlists.

Guy Fawkes Poster

I tread posting this very lightly, as the figure has come to mean a great number of things to various people and I don’t want to establish myself as a supporter of anything since, well, I’m not really a supporter of anything.

In the meantime, if you don’t know the story of Guy Fawkes, you should probably read it as it’s some really interesting history and moreso since we’re sort of experiencing a repeat of it lately, though in slightly different flavours.

So, today is November 5th and a day of significance for Europe (but increasingly global as of late) and since I wanted to do a poster for warmup anyway, I figured I’d do something fitting.

MM 17.10.11 :: Zorya by Floex

This has been on loop for the past few days and I’ve been patiently waiting for today to post it.

Truly, listen to the entire thing front to back if you can. Then do it again. And again. So good.

The image above was made using the method outlined in one of my earliest tutorials.

Architectural Photography – MP Kelley

I’ve never been a fan of the rustic country house interior because it’s typically so busy and I’m not really a fan of cast iron roosters being used as “decoration” – the minimalist inside me screams. I do love the heavy log / stone combination, it just has to be done tastefully and minimally. Personally, I’d also like to see a lot more glass in the classic MCM style. If there were some way to incorporate board-formed concrete with the rock and not look stupid? I’d be all over that.

But most of all, I like the setting. Some of these are resorts and some personal homes (the latter of which I think are way too big) but I like the idea of living in the middle of a forest, surrounded by trees that slowly sway in the wind.

It’s inspiring as an aspiring architectural CG person to look at these sorts of photos and learn from them. It’s interesting to look at the how-he-photo’d-that comparison gallery and video:

The photos you see really are quite fake. It’s ironic, but both in photography and in CG you need to cheat a surprising amount to create “reality” and that’s something I still have to learn. I’m concerned too much with how it physically should be when I should be learning how to fake it and add more whimsy.


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