Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sketch Sunday 13

A couple of weeks ago, Engadget posted a design contest. The winners would get their design laser-etched on the back of a Kindle. The contest closed on Friday, and I decided on Wednesday night to give it a shot...

Thursday morning rolled around and I went to work with a vague idea of what I wanted to do. I printed out an image of the kindle back and drew these layouts.

The first sketch.

The second sketch.

When I got home Thursday night, I traced the first sketch in order to scan the lineart. Since it was drawn on top of a very dark print-out, it would have been very difficult to manipulate.

Trace of first sketch.

The face of the trace superimposed on the tree from the second sketch.

By the end of the evening on Thursday, I had the image scanned onto my computer, and I had began inking it using Flash CS4. One of the rules for the submissions was that the final image must be in vector format. I had the choice between using Adobe Illustrator or Flash, and chose Flash because it's pretty hard to sketch in Illustrator and someone suggested that I try it out.

The image manipulated in Flash.

During the course of the day on Friday, I realized that the image was due at 11:59PM ET, not PST where I'm at. I got home at 6 and saw that I had a little over 2 hours to work on the image, not the full 5 I was banking on. Our resident programmer helped out by writing a small piece of code to generate the random texts in the tree. The image below is the final design and what it would look like on the back of a Kindle 2, should it be selected as one of the winning pieces!

Click to enlargenize!

The tree was inspired by the designs on the back of the original Kindle. I think the flow came out really well, but I wish I had those extra 3 hours to smooth out some details.

The winners of the contest will be chosen by voters, so please check back in the near future for a link to the voting page. I hope my design is selected! I would really love to see this picture laser-etched onto a Kindle.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Watercolor Wednesday 12

Over the past couple of weeks I've been slooooooowly working towards getting some more paintings done. One attempt was derailed by a trek out to my boyfriend's old hometown for a wedding (and subsequently having to babysit his parents' unruly puppy), and another was vanquished by sheer laziness.

Then, miraculously, I found myself bored enough to get some work done earlier this week! This particular painting is of some characters I've been doodling for a little while now: a rotund dopey-looking fairy, a perpetually alarmed goblin and... whatever the heck the vaguely owly thing is. I did a rough layout in photoshop and traced it onto paper using a light blue pencil, where I proceeded to fix up the drawing and add the details I had missed.

These are developmental sketches for the goblin guy and his creepy friend. The little girl with the squid hat is my interpretation of one of these cat doodles.

And here's the finished product. My goal for this painting was to get more contrast and vibrancy out of the colors, which is something I've been struggling with for a while. Subtle color gradations and shading are, surprisingly, the easiest thing to get with watercolors—all you need is a bit of tissue paper to take away unwanted pigment.

Here's another painting I finished shortly after the first one. I used the same method as before, sketching out a rough guide and then tracing it off onto the paper. This time I didn't fuss with the lineart as much before I started painting, and I think I like it a little more because of that.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sketch Sunday 12

Wine label design.

My dad bought and planted about one hundred wine grape vines on our property a couple of years ago, and we picked them last year for the first time. We didn't get a lot, but there was enough to make a few bottles of wine. I was the designated label designer.

On a previous Sketch Sunday, I posted my brainstorming sketches:

Brainstorming sketches.

After a few pages of doodling, I developed some ideas about how to proceed, but it wasn't until after the corking process that we decided upon the name of the wine. I opened up Illustrator and began making vector shapes on a 4" x 4.5" canvas.

I started by just putting the necessary text—the logo, name, year, etc. After moving the words around, I felt comfortable enough with the overall balance of the text to start embellishing the label by adding some background elements.

The first iteration on Adobe Illustrator.

The second iteration.

Since I am relatively new to Illustrator, I went for a simple, clean, and modern look, using basic shapes, colors, and blending techniques. I tried to get a good balance of light and dark, text and white space, and different colors, and used repeated motifs to tie the whole label together.

The final design!

When the design was finalized, I printed the labels out, trimmed them, and glued them on the bottles! Check out these beauties. :)

The final product!

The wine is very good for a first attempt. Since the vines are only 2-3 years old, the flavors are not as strong and the taste has "young vines" written all over it (according to one of my connoisseur colleagues). The color is a brilliant dark red with purple hints, and the wine tastes moderately sweet and acidic. In case you can't tell, the text at the bottom of the label reads: Brix 21.2 - TA 0.85 - pH 3.96 - Alc. 12.2%.

Here are some photos from the whole process:

Wine grape-picking, Aug 2008.

Cabernet grapes on the vine.

The tiny first year harvest with grape crusher & barrel in the back.

Wine bottling session, May 2009.

Transfer from carboy to bottle.

Can you see the nice dark red? It couldn't be captured well on photo.

The corking process... guess how the wine name came about! ;)

Our eclectic mix of only 22 bottles.

It was my dad's dream to have his own vineyard, and he made it possible with a lot of research and hard work. I want to congratulate him on a job well-done and thank him for the fun experience. Cheers, and to next year!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Curious and Cleverly Crafted Chronographs

13 Interesting Clocks, Watches, and Other Timekeeps

Understanding and measuring time is uniquely a human practice. Even though watches and clocks are ubiquitous in the modern day, quality design and craftsmanship are still widely appreciated.

Take, for example, the Mercator America:

Vacheron Constantin's Mercator America (only $47,500!)

This unique timepiece is designed by the world's oldest watch manufacturer, Vacheron Constantin. I was drawn to this interesting watch because of the highly unusual and unconventional hour and minute hands. The hour hand on the left and the minute hand on the right move along the arc to indicate the hour and minutes, and return to zero after reaching 12 hours and one hour, respectively. The hands are made to resemble the needles of a mariner's compass, paying tribute to visionary cartographer Gerardus Mercator. Although this watch is made with the utmost quality artistry and materials, I would rather buy a sports car.

Clocks help us keep time, which in the fast-paced world today, translates to keeping track of our daily appointments and events. The Dry Erase and White Board clocks are two that were designed with similar concepts, but the White Board clock cleverly utilizes the moving arm to erase events as they happen.

The Dry Erase Wall Clock (only $135 at the MoMa)

The White Board Clock

Some people prefer unconventional designs that don't involve numbers, or even look like clocks at all! The Word Clock and the About Time Clock both tell you the time using words. They are designed for those who think that they are too good for numbers, and wouldn't mind knowing that it's "about 3:00" instead of exactly 3:02.

The Word Clock ($229 at Generate Design)

Sander Mulder Studio's About Time Clock

Others prefer clocks that use neither numbers nor words, but rather equations and symbols from which numbers are derived. The Smart Clock reminds me of all the higher math I have never taken. Do the numbers on this clock make sense to you? If yes, then this might be the perfect gift for your home, office, or physics lab. If not, you can still buy one just to confuse all of your guests.

The Smart Clock (only $39 at Amazon)

Ah, now this is a clock I can use! The On-Time Clock is a brilliant method for getting those of us who are perpetually late (*ahem*) to head out a whole 3 minutes early!

The On-Time Clock by Fabrica and Diamantini&Domeniconi

And for those who enjoy meta-themed art, the Clock Clock is for you. The display for each number is formed by 6 clocks and each of their two arms.

The Clock Clock by Humans Since 1982

Watch it (hehe!) in action:

There are people who would rather own a piece of art that inconspicuously tells the time, than a blatant clock on their wall or watch on their wrist. The Faceless Watch cleverly conceals the numbers in the groves of the wristband and appears as a normal piece of jewelry when the back-light is off, the Book Clock camouflages in with the rest of your shelf or nightstand, and the Eye Clock indicates time by the position of the spots, which correspond to the positions of the hour and minute hands.

The Faceless Watch

The Present Time Book Clock

The Eye Clock by Mike Mak Design

For those who enjoy a bit of modern decor, the Perpetual Wall Calendar would be a great addition to any home. I love the bold color and simplistic design, but one wonders if it can handle leap years, maybe even leap days?

The Perpetual Wall Calendar

And lastly, we have the Ora ilLegale, which comes with a quirky modern feel and unusual shape. Can you guess the problem this clever design is compensating for? (scroll down...)

Ora ilLegale by Denis Guidone

Yep—Daylight Savings. Simply tip it over and you're set one hour forward or one hour back; there's no need to adjust the dial.

Looking back on these interesting designs reminds me of how humans are the only species that measures and partitions time the way we do. Some people prefer to know the hour down to the second, while others are comfortable enough with a rough approximation. Regardless of how we choose to do it, we all like to keep track of our time somehow.

Do you have a favorite method to keep track of time? What kind of watch/clock/calendar do you use or would like to have?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Graphic Shock [Creative Advertisements]

Putting the "graphic" back in graphic design.

One of the primary purposes of good design is to effectively get a message across. The world of commercial advertisement sets a vast stage for designers to showcase their talents, and today, with such an oversaturated market, artists are pushing the boundaries of creativity to grab your attention.

Here's a look at some ads that deliver what I'd like to call the "graphic punch." Shocking? Definitely. Effective? You tell me.

The Montana Meth Project is a large-scale prevention program aimed at reducing first-time meth use by presenting teens and young adults with highly graphic ads.

These print ads deliver the "shock factor" with quite a punch, and along with video and radio ads of a similar nature, the project has produced significant results since its inception in 2005: Meth use among teens in has declined by 45%, Meth-related crime has dropped 62%, and workers testing positive for Meth have declined by 72%.

"You remain anonymous, criminals don't." These Crime Stoppers ads deliver the clear message using the blur tool. Their realistic depiction of crime scenes (albeit with a bit of Photoshop manipulation) reminds us of the importance of witness-provided information in catching criminals.

The following ads by Czech group Freedom for Animals are a great contrast with the glamorous posters we typically see for cosmetics in magazines. They aptly remind you of the pain and suffering animals go through to bring you the products you use. As TYWKIWDBI writes, One doesn't have to be a supporter of the PETA fringe to be impressed by the immediacy of this ad.

Feed SA is a South African charity aimed at delivering food to poor, starving children. Their decal images posted at the bottoms of shopping carts show sad kids reaching up at you, reminding the shopper how easy it is to put food in their hands. These inexpensive decals resulted in increased donations and a significant boost in website traffic. (via)

Ads with gruesome and realistic photo manipulation shock us into paying attention to them. Although they may or may not realistically depict what they are advertising for, don't they still make you feel a bit differently toward their cause?