Graphic Design and Illustration.

Archive for ‘December, 2011’

I can finally blog about this…

Now that Christmas is over, I can finally get going on this.

I’ve been exploring the world of 3D printing. Basically, it’s taking a 3D generated image developed on the computer, whether that be a 3D figure not unlike the characters seen in 3D animated movies or complex pieces of machinery or even household gadgets, and getting them made in a device not unlike the inkjet printer you have sitting on your desk. In fact, many DIY 3D printer projects start off by ripping apart an inkjet printer. More detailed info on 3D printing can be found here.

Now I’m not always the handiest guy with tools, and some of the pre-made kits floating around are still pretty pricey (and the quality of the printed goods are not always the best) and the professional equipment used for rapid prototyping in manufacturing is even more expensive, but there is some hope. There are a few companied running around the interwebs that will have you upload your files to them and they will take care of the necessary steps involved in making your object a reality. I’ll give a list of places I’ve found at the end of this post, but I’ll be mainly focused on Shapeways, as that’s the place I dealt with.

Shapeways, is a Dutch company, so anyone reading this and is interested in checking them out, please keep that in mind. I had no problems dealing with them and was quite happy with the end results, but your mileage may vary. The company is set up that you upload a file to them (usually in STL format – lots of programs are supporting that format these days) and then you indicate what material you want it printed out in, pay then using Paypal, and then patiently wait for you object to arrive. The company will keep you up to date with how things are going with your file.

I started off with a torus knot I made in Blender. I understand the program fairly well now and it could output the file in STL format. A little word of warning, different materials that your object can be made from have different restrictions. An object made from plastic can have finer detail than an object made in stainless steel for instance. This is all indicated quite clearly once you start exploring Shapeways site. I encourage anyone wanting to give this a try to do the same before starting any project with them. That pretty much goes the same for any of the other companies I have looked at online. Keeping these things in mind, I think I slightly over-engineered the object I made, but dammit Jim, I’m a graphic designer, not an engineer! And since this was to be a Christmas gift to my wife, I wanted to make certain that this piece was going to work.

Once I made my file and was satisfied I had everything the way I needed it to be, I uploaded the file to Shapeways servers, where they automatically check things over to see if there is anything obviously wrong with your file. Then I was off to the races.

A few weeks later, my file arrived via courier. I was quite pleased with the results, but it still needed a few details. I chose the stainless steel material for my torus knot. The Shapeways team makes certain your stainless steel object is as polished as can be, but the 3D printing process on stainless steaal can still leave a bit of a stair-stepping effect on the material, especially on hard to reach details. My torus knot had many of these problems. Had I been thinking, the stainless steel option has some different finishes that can be applied to an object and their antique finish would have had any left over printing artifacts as enhancements rather than detractions, IMHO. So I needed to sand those way as much as possible. And I also needed a chain to complete the jewellery piece that I just made for my wife. Happily I have some stuff laying around from some previous projects to help with that.

So with a little sanding and some fancy knot tying work (the knot I used can be seen the photo and was taught to me by my grandfather to tie the boat up to the dock – the strangest things become more useful later on in life) the piece was complete.

I have many other ideas I want to try out. I’ll keep you posted.

Some other 3D printers:

Ponoko – They mainly specialize in laser cutting, but have a small selction of 3D printed materials. They also have a nice blog to keep you up to date on all things in computer aided manufacturing. They have facilities all over the place, including North America.

i.Materialize – They are from France 🙂 A french company with a few interesting and unique materials to choose from

Sculpteo – Another French company. Limited materials to choose from. Seem expensive.

Offload Studios – Canadian company. Specialize in high-end sculptures. They do not offer any way of figuring out costs ahead of time – they won’t give you a price until someone actually sees you model, all the other places calculate automatically based on volume of material used. I’d imagine this means they are very expensive. This would be the place to go if you were a pro 3D modeller looking to make a proper statue of your work. Their portfolio is impressive.

Image of the Month – December

Just in time for the end of the month! This image was first started as an experiment back in November. The Winnipeg Art Gallery drop in life drawing program decided to do a costumed extended pose. It was the first time such a thing was done. It was a Toulouse Lautrec inspired theme. The costume was supposedly the model’s own. Anyways, the turnout was quite good. Maybe a little too good. I was one of the later ones to arrive and had to make do with the view I had. With everyone setting up paints, it gets pretty crowded pretty quickly!

I started off with a charcoal line drawing and then started to work on a watercolour painting on 120-lb cold presed watercolour paper. Once back home I fleshed out everything a bit more in acrylics. Not my usual bag, but it turned out pretty good.

Anyone reading this and is in the Winnipeg area, there are plans for more costumed poses (the life drawing program at the WAG focuses on nudes) with one happening maybe in February. I’ll probably make a mention of any exact dates and times on this blog once I get better details.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Well, it’s just about that time of year, so I’ve decided to post a quickie image I put together in Photoshop. It was an experiment to see if I could get the type to look like it was cut in ice. Click on the image to see a larger version. It was actually pretty easy to do. I might just put a whole alphabet up online in JPEG format for anyone wanting such a thing for their own projects. I may even manage to persuade myself to create a Photoshop action (or maybe even a script) to create the effect automagically.

Impatient people can march over here to PSDtuts+ to see the tutorial that I modified slightly to fit my purposes. The main difference between that tutorial and my work, is mine uses defualt Photoshop brushes and relies more on commands that could be automated by the computer and less on brushwork done by the designer.

Poll dancing

When I first started this blog experiment, I purposely decided no comments. Since I wasn’t too sure what was going to become of this whole blogging thing, I felt that having to deal with the inevitable trolls that come along with comments was not something I wanted to deal with right away. Not that I don’t have thick skin. I’ve been a designer for 16 years. I’d be a basket case by now if I took everything so seriously. But the blog has been going on for a while now, and I think I’m going to stick with it for the time being. And I am basically missing out on some of the whole “Web 2.0” thing by not having comments on subjects, thereby joining in on the world-wide conversation. So I thought this might be a good time to try the more interactive portion of our program (not to mention getting someone off my case for not having any comments sections). But before I do that, time for a quick poll…

Vegetarian Poutine… Whoda thunked it?

So another meeting of the minds at the Secret Handshake Meetup. This time around it was the Christmas party and we were celebrating along with New Media Manitoba and the GDC. Very big crowd of people. And ran into some old acquaintances. A former workmate from my days at GB Graphics and someone I went to high school with. Winnipeg can sometimes be a very small place.

And while there, we all got to sample some vegetarian poutine! Didn’t really think something like that was possible. And for those of you who have no idea what the heck poutine is, well… sucks to be you! It was quite good. And strangely free. I wasn’t the only one commenting on that. Nothing is ever free. I guess whenever the collection agency of Lefty, Louis, and Knuckles show up, I’ll just send them to the goofs across the street. Unless someone at Secret Handshake has deep pockets. If that’s the case, I can be open to adoption.

And speaking of old acquaintances with deep pockets (I have no idea what that means), the nice people over at New Media Manitoba are conducting a census. Sounds like an interesting idea, and Kevin Hnatiuk, the big goofy looking guy in the video on the link to the census, is a pretty good guy and a long time advocate for new media development here in the ‘Peg. I encourage anyone reading this who is connected to new media and from Manitoba to fill out the census. As I will do once I plunk myself down in front of a computer. Sorry, Kevin, it’ll take more than a census form to get me in front of a computer on a Friday night.

So think that’s all for now. I’ll just end off with a big shout out to the two little twerps who insisted on high-fiving me every time I went around the track for my run at the Pan-Am pool. And in totally unrelated news, anyone know how to clear up a case of the common couties? Oh, and thanks NMM for the cool new toque.

Virtual Cheerleader

While I sort of understand why they’ve included a virtual cheerleader after you’ve written a post, I think somebody could have put down the thesaurus when programming it…

This is your 30th published post. Cowabunga! This post has 209 words.

Really? Cowabunga? What am I, twelve? I left my Ninja Turtles back in the 90’s where they belong.

Something I’ve been working on

I’ve been working on this image on and off now for some time. I’ve been learning how to model a car in 3D. The car I’ve chosen is Honda’s 2010 Insight. The only reason I’ve chosen that particular car to model is that’s the car I own and sometimes even drive (it’s mostly driven by my wife as I live very close to work and either walk, bike or take the bus to work every day). I figure I’m about half-way there. It’s been quite the process and leaning experience. 3D drawing programs don’t really work like more traditional graphic design programs so there can be quite a steep learning curve.

I still have to put in some tires, do a little bit more work to the grill, add a few more details to the doors, colour, texture, and light the model. I don’t think I want to try the interior. I’d like this project to end at some point! 🙂

I’ll probably post a few more screencaps as I make more progress in the coming months. I’m in no hurry to end this project as it is a learning experience only. And I want to take my sweet time and get it done as well as I possibly can.

Scooby-Doo Where Are You?

Interesting dissection of the original series at the Comics Alliance. While I don’t quite by into the the author’s skepticism (contrary to popular belief, I have a fairly strong spiritual/mystical view on the world — possible pitfall on being an artist), but I have to admit I like where the author went with his analysis. And it’s maybe nice to know I didn’t waste all those summer afternoons watching old Scooby-Doo reruns!

Another good question would be, did the original authors and creators of the series have that in mind when they made the series, or is this a matter of a project, in this case a cartoon show, developing a life of it’s own?

November Image of the Month

Every once in a while I like to try my hand at landscape painting. Usually with mixed results. I’m more of a portrait or figure drawing guy, not a landscape guy. And I usually like to stick with graphite, conté, or pastels (either chalk or oil will do). But a guy can dream can’t he?

Anyways, this one turned out not too badly. I think my main influences would be the Group of Seven and Impressionism. And while this one is okay, I think I’m still a few paintings away from a personal style gelling. Over the years I’ve amassed quite a few small, cheapie canvases, so you’ll probably see a few other experiments gracing the posts of this blog from time to time.

This painting was done in acrylic. I try to stay away from oils because, when painting a house, a deck, or a canvas, I seem collect paint all over me. It’s just easier with water based paints. Trust me. Or just ask my wife, who is always amazed at how much paint winds up on me rather than the surface I’m painting.

I think next time, I’ll try for a simpler subject matter. I’ve always done better with a simple, iconic sort of image. And I think less planning and more spontaneity with the use of colour and form. And I may need to mute some of the background colours as well. I tend to hype up the colour in my portrait work, and while it has been very successful in that genre, it may not quite be the best for landscape work.

I’ve also included a few closeups for those who may be interested in the brush strokes.

The devil you know all too well…

Not too sure who turned me onto this one. But can pretty much sum up what it sometimes feels like being a designer. Though it seems like it’s more than just designers who submit stories. I imagine just about anyone who deals with the public at large can relate.

I, of course, could NEVER add any stories to the list, as I’ve NEVER had any clients like that, or any work places like that for that matter. And if I did, I’d surely prove that I’d be a great man and rise above all that pettiness… or maybe I’m just an okay guy, and gripe just a little bit 🙂

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