My pet monster, by Steven Kraan

Steven Kraan (aka @drawing_daily) has been drawing monsters for people everyone who follows him, and he’s created probably thousands by this point. I followed him a couple of months ago and today I got my pet monster:

I think it looks great! If you want one he’s planning to stop after he reaches 4,444 followers (as I write this he’s at 4,404 followers).

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Zom-B-Girls: Back these zombie pin-up playing cards on Kickstarter

ZOM-B-GIRLS screenshot I’ve backed seven Kickstarter projects at this point, and have been really happy with the experience. I keep an eye on the campaigns running out of Cardiff, but until now I haven’t found anything that I wanted to back.

So, if you like poker, pin-up girls and zombies — and you want to support some local artists — then you should back Zom-B-Girls too!

We believe many will love a unique deck incorporating humour, playful sexiness and of course that current staple of pop culture, the ever lovin’ Zombie! Just because humanity has perished from this alternate post apocalyptic zombie world doesn’t mean they have to miss out on cute girls when they play cards! And neither should you.

There’s another 7 days to go, and at this time the creators have raised almost half of their £4,500 goal. They’ve added a bunch more tiers too, so now you can get multiple decks, a calendar and desktop wallpapers. You only need to pledge £5 to get a deck (if the campaign meets its goal) but if you pledge in the higher tiers you can actually appear in the deck as either a zombie or a survivor!

That link again: “ZOM-B-GIRLS” Zombies Pin-Up Playing Cards

ZOM-B-GIRLS pack design

UPDATE 2013.09.04: With 36 hours to go this project was stalled at <50% funded, and has just been cancelled. I just received a backer update from Timothy Thomas saying that he has lost contact with artist Robert Elsmore who has moved to Canada. He promises that there will be a second campaign in the future with new artists.

‘Extravagant’ Welsh Government pays £7,625 for NRW logo

Natural Resources Wales logo William Powell AM yesterday criticised the Welsh Government for spending £7,625 on a new logo. He unearthed this scandalous factoid by submitting a FOI request asking for “All available information relating to the design/development costs of any logo/symbol/emblems for the new Natural Resources Wales body.”

The Welsh Government responded, as they were obliged to:

The total costs for agreeing the brief for the logo creation, developing and refining creative routes and developing basic visual style were £7,625.

Mr. Powell describes the logo as “an unimpressive multicolored [sic] hexagon” and that he finds it “deeply disappointing and scandalous that the Welsh Government is willing to spend £7,625 of public money on designing a new logo for Natural Resources Wales.” He concludes:

The Welsh Government must learn to be responsible with the public money it spends. While Natural Resources Wales obviously needs a logo, it is simply unacceptable to be spending over seven and a half thousand pounds on it. Given the remit of Natural Resources Wales I regret that more work wasn’t done to engage schools across Wales in the logo’s design.

Back to school William →

Babylon 1999

Warning: I’ve cranked the geek up to 11 for this uber-nostalgic post.

Buried Shadow (1999)

Buried Shadow (1999)

Recently I was reunited with a computer-generated image I created back in 1999 of a crashed Shadow ship from Babylon 5. I had submitted it as a cover image for the second issue of on online fan publication called Beyond Babylon. It wasn’t used on the cover, but it did get featured in the gallery. At some point I lost my original, so it was nice to be contacted out of the blue by someone who had a copy.

I have fond memories from those days of hanging out at the (now defunct) Babylon 5 Modellers Guild [b5mg.com] and the LightWave Group [lwg3d.org] (which evolved into the still-active Foundation 3D forums). Scifi-Art.com was another great community — I remember really liking their site design.

All this nostalgia got me digging around my old hard drives for more retro LightWave renders of mine.

Babylon 5 images

You can click on the small images below for a closer look. Not that I didn’t create any of these models myself, but the compositions, lighting and backgrounds were all my own work. Also, if you zoom in on that shot of Starfuries engaged in combat, you’ll see some of my own wing art designs. (Yes, that is Daffy Duck!)

The name of the place is ‘Babylon 5′ →

Obscure and invented punctuation marks

Andorpersand

An andorpersand

There’s something fascinating to me about obscure punctuation marks. I think it’s that I have great sympathy for smart people who attempt to solve problems that regular people don’t really care about.

Flavorwire recently posted a roundup of interesting real punctuation marks (an article that seems to have been cribbed from an older mental_floss post actually). Most of these are the creations of Hervé Bazin who proposed new exclamation and question mark variations to signify acclamation, certainty, doubt, love and others.

Hervé Bazin's punctuation marks

Hervé Bazin’s proposed punctuation marks for acclamation, certainty, doubt and love

On the lighter side, College Humor has recently invented eight new punctuation marks (that it thinks) we desperately need.

Mockwotation marks

Mockwotation marks

The mockwotation marks are my absolute favourites. I would do away with the actual quotation mark elements and just keep the wavy hands.

Similarly, I wonder if there could be a fun use for an air quotes / scare quotes punctuation mark? I would use them to distance myself from some awful turn of phrase by indicating that it’s not something I would usually say.

Air quote punctuation marks

More punctuation fun →

Courier Prime: A free font for screenplays

Courier Prime is a free and open source monospaced typeface by Alan Dague-Greene. It’s an improved Courier, designed to be ‘less blobby’ with a bolder bold and real italics.

Courier Prime

Since the beginning, screenplays have been written in Courier. Its uniformity allows filmmakers to make handy comparisons and estimates, such as 1 page = 1 minute of screen time.

But there’s no reason Courier has to look terrible. We set out to make the best damn Courier ever.

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The infographics of xkcd

Log scale Most infographics on the web consist of generic graphics backed up with (lots of) poorly researched text.

When done well these informational graphics use charts, diagrams and illustrations to make complex ideas easier to comprehend. At their best the results can be quite illuminating.

Randall Munroe has produced more than a few great infographics for xkcd. His infographics can be broken down into three rough categories:

  1. Pure gag charts,
  2. Jokey graphics with a serious point, and…
  3. Well-researched highly informative graphics with some jokes sprinkled throughout.

For this post I’ve compiled the more informative types. There’s a list of some (but not all) of xkcd’s novelty graphs and charts at the end of this post.

For science! →

The Up-Goer Five Text Editor (and how to use it for SEO)

Up Goer Five is one of Randall Munroe’s more famous recent xkcd infographics in which he attempts to describe the workings of a Saturn V rocket using only most commonly used 1,000 words in the English language. Here’s just a part of it:

Up Goer Five, cropped

Inspired by this, The Up-Goer Five Text Editor is a fun tool (created by Theo Sanderson) that restricts the user to just the same 1,000 words. Anything not in that tiny dictionary will be given familiar squiggly red underlines.

The Up-Goer Five Text Editor

The Up-Goer Five Text Editor

Scientists have been trying to explain the work they do using only this reduced language. Here’s the work of a paleontologist summarised:

I study tracks, trails, places where animals make homes, and shit, both new and old, and figure out how animals do these things.
Tony Martin, paleontologist

Some of these passages come across as quite patronising (“We burn dead black stuff so that we can build things, power our houses and make our cars go.”), but some of the better ones are quite poetic. io9 has a beautiful description of Saturn:

There is a world that goes around the sun, ten times farther away from the sun than the world we live on. This world is really big – about ten times as wide as our world – and most of it is thick air pulled tight together. It has big beautiful rings around it, made of many pieces of ice.
A loving upgoerfive intro to Saturn and some of its moons, by Rachel Klippenstein

It’s worth reading the full thing.

What does this have to do with SEO? →

Halfblog: 2012 in review

WordPress fireworks WordPress.com has produced some cool-looking reports for users, summing up blog activity for 2012. It’s really just a pretty stats page, but it’s very well done with CSS animated fireworks, parallax effects and colourful graphics. You can see the complete report for halfblog.net here.

Here’s the summary it provided:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 130,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

In 2012, there were 133 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 657 posts. There were 306 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 91 MB. That’s about 6 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was September 24th with 754 views. The most popular post that day was Minimalistic iPhone 5 wallpapers.

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Magazine in a Day – Cycling

Aside

Update: Bicycle by Simon Child, from The Noun Project As I mentioned previously on this blog, I’ve signed up a photographer for a fun project called Content: A Magazine in a Day, which is going to be taking place at the School of Journalism this Saturday as a part of the Cardiff Design Festival.

Since then a loose theme has been announced: Cycling – a theme that is running through many of the Design Festival events.

I’ve no idea who I’ll be working with or what direction the magazine will take, and I assume that’s the idea. Personally, I just hope the rain takes a break as I’ll be making use of my bike.

Bendito Machine

This gorgeous and surreal animation is the fourth in the Bendito Machine series.

Bendito Machine IV – Fuel the Machines, by Jossie Malis

Now Jossie is running a Kickstarter campaign to continue the series and make a computer game.

This story begins six years ago when I, tired from all the global cretinism, decided to create a universal fable about human conflicts and enigmatic mystifying eyes that watch everything. After some months devoted to materializing this idea, the short film Bendito Machine premiered at festivals all over the world, receiving support that exceeded all my expectations. What I originally envisioned as a therapy to channel all that accumulated displeasure, turned out to be (thanks to the friendly welcome of the Internet world) the seed of an uncommon animation series which has occupied quite a sizeable part of my last six years.

Handy links

Zombie Apocalypse Now In A Minute

Keith Zombie Apocalypse Now In A Minute is a Cardiff-set webcomic documenting the rise of the undead in Wales. Inspired by Shaun of the Dead and the feel of a post-match Cardiff, the story follows the adventures of Keith, an overweight, sarcastic bartender who attempts to hide out in the castle.

The webcomic is the work of Jamie McGowan who himself runs a bar in Cardiff, which has no doubt provided him with plenty of inspiration. The artwork is stylish and imaginative, and captures Cardiff perfectly.

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11 reasons your infographic isn’t an infographic

Ian Lurie demolishes crap infographics:

OK everyone. Take a deep, freaking breath. I can’t sneeze right now without spraying germs on someone’s attempt at a data-driven work of art.

Here’s why the poster you paid someone $400 to make isn’t an infographic:

  1. Lack of clarity. Infographics should ease and speed the consumption of information. If you take something you can express in 25 words and turn it into 1000 x 3000 pixels of eye-watering garbage, it’s not an infographic. It’s a waste of paper.
  2. Lack of data. Infographics used to communicate data. Like this. Now, apparently, I can turn a fax machine manual into a poster and get it posted to 55 different infographics directories. Retch.
  3. Low information density. An infographic is more effective than words describing the same subject. Otherwise it’s art. Which is cool and all. But it’s not an infographic.
  4. Lack of flow. An infographic should lead me from introduction to conclusion, somehow. It should help me solve or understand a problem. If it doesn’t, it’s a graphic, minus the info. This Visually piece is a great example of infographic flow.

[Etc…]