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.

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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′ →

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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Galaxy class

I’ve just finished watching season 1 of The Next Generation, and I’ve been inspired to get back into LightWave 3D to produce a quick homage (or two).

Enterprise D

View full size (1200 × 675) or in glorious HD (1920 × 1080) on Flickr.

This is a faithful reproduction of one of the most widely-used promo shots of the Enterprise D (see below for the originals).

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Flighty birds: My free Creative Commons designs that keep getting stolen anyway

I’ve been having some problems with flighty birds recently. Actually one is a penguin and the other is a dragon. Here they are, together for the first time:

Cartoon penguin meets Twitter dragon.

Two variations of Tux

Original Tux on the left

I created the penguin in early 2009, working on a tiny EeePC, running Linux. I was actually taking a stab at improving the look of Tux, but he went in a different direction.

The dragon was created in early 2010, to look like the familiar Twitter bird, but with a unique Welsh dragon spin.

Both images have gone on to be pretty popular on the web, used for avatars in forums, on Twitter and so on. I deliberately licensed both as Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. This means that people are welcome to use the images, for free, on condition that they provide a proper credit, and do not seek to profit directly or indirectly from use of my work. Also, they must make any derivative work available under the same terms.

The continuing misadventures of ‘Boggle’

These conditions seem more than reasonable to me, but I’ve spotted examples of people either not knowing or not caring that they are violating this very liberal licence, especially with the cartoon penguin design. There was a guy selling penguin t-shirt prints, and then only last month I found an iPhone game and a Mac software house using him. I ended up giving permission to the latter – they seemed nice enough.

The original Cartoon penguin post had actually become one of my most popular pages, bringing in 100+ hits per day via Google image search… until a few days ago I noticed this had stopped! Compare the following images:

'cartoon penguin' in Google image search - September 2009

This is how the image search for 'cartoon penguin' looked last month (September 2011).

Compare that with the result today:

'cartoon penguin' in Google image search - October 2011

...and this is the same search today (October 2011)

Yup, now Google has removed the link to my original page, and instead sends searchers to this charming Tumblr page:

bowlofcarrots, some random dude on Tumblr

SEO surgery

Clearly the guy is no designer or SEO expert, but he has managed to outrank me for my own image! I’m assuming he’s winning because the image is near the top of the page in the title area (that appears on every page), and he’s renamed the image ‘cartoon-penguin.jpg‘, whereas my original is the less useful ‘penguin_finished_012.png‘.

Last night I optimised my site a little in an attempt to win back favour. I also contacted Mr. Bowlofcarrots via his site and Tumblr support, though I don’t really expect any joy from either of them.

It’s surprised me how annoyed I am by this minor injustice. After all, this is an image I was happy enough to give away for free. It occurred to me that even though this Tumblr user isn’t attempting to ‘steal’ my work in the same way as some previous people have, he has nonetheless taken it from me in a more real sense. Quite innocently, he has robbed me of my sense of ownership of the image itself. It’s very frustrating.

The @thisiswales saga

My other ‘bird’, the Twitter dragon, has been on other adventures. In this saga, I found him being used as part of the branding for an official-looking Twitter account calling itself ‘this is Wales‘.

Twitter page for @thisiswales, 5 July 2011

How @thisiswales looked in July, 2011

Official-looking it may be, but that’s simply because it imitates the look and feel of a BBC design, while appropriating the ‘This is X’ brand owned by Northcliffe Media (see This is South Wales / @thisisswales for examples). Not to mention, my Welsh dragon design.

Twitter repliesI asked people on Twitter if I should be upset about this – after all, this is another of my ‘free’ designs, and @thisiswales didn’t actually seem to be for any kind of profit.

It turned out that most were more outraged on my behalf than I was! (Thanks everyone!)

In the process of complaining, I may have upset the account’s owner, but he did remove my design later that day as he promised he would. Well, kind of. As I write this I notice that the background image still contains my work, but I think I’ll declare victory anyway.

The owner denied any wrongdoing, claiming that he “recently took on @thisiswales with logo already in place.” This may be true, but I have actually been aware of the account since July, and at that time it linked to the same Mr. @uselessdesires. Depends how you define recent I suppose.

So what?

I do realise both of these cases are pretty trivial. It’s not like Paperchase or Urban Outfitters have stolen my work to be used to fuel their profit machine. In the worst case, a blogger has been denied 100 hits a day that weren’t really contributing anything of real value anyway.

Cartoon penguin in life preserver and goldfish bowl helmet. But it’s frustrating to offer something for free, yet still have it taken without permission asked or credit given, especially when the casual theft can have a negative impact on me. It makes me want to use a more traditional full-copyright licence, and go after people who take the piss.

I wonder where they’ll turn up next?

UPDATE 2011.10.18: Tumblr got back to me; they have suspended the blog that was using my penguin image. A bit harsh perhaps, but I’m not going to complain. It will be interesting to see if I regain my ranking (or if Mr. Clipart manages to get his Tumblr blog reinstated).

The Adventures of Boggle, the Creative Commons penguin

If you do a Google search for cartoon penguin, one of the top results will be an old Inkscape design of mine:

He’s pretty popular too, bringing a steady stream of traffic to the site. I licensed him as Creative Commons BY-NC-SA, meaning that it’s fine to use the image for forum avatars and stuff, but not for anything commercial.

Of course, people do. Last year someone pointed out some guy selling t-shirts with a slightly modified version of the penguin.

Today, out of curiosity, I did a reverse image search and found two other clipart criminals…

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Google’s Jules Verne doodle: The whole picture

The novelty value of the Google Doodles is starting to wear thin. What used to be an amusing quirk of the company has now become a regular occurrence. It’s interesting to look at the kind of topics they choose to give the doodle treatment too: Nothing overtly religious (not even Christmas) and nothing likely to be at all controversial, but it’s fine to promote Scooby Doo or run a weeks worth of Sesame Street doodles.

Still, they do some good stuff, and today’s interactive 20,000 Leagues themed Jules Verne doodle is particularly nice. It’s also fantastic that they use web native technologies, and don’t just slap up some Flash movie. The geekier doodles are brilliant too, especially the Pac-Man one, if only because of the chaos it caused.

The above picture is not entirely accurate because I didn’t edit too much to account for the parallax effect. And here is the image sprite that makes up the frame:

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Link

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A while ago I asked if there were any good fractal generator apps for the Mac.

I’ve found Oxidizer so far, but it looks a little limited (although I haven’t actually tried it yet).

Well, I was wrong. It’s brilliant. I’m hoping to produce a series of images using it, and maybe even some animations. I’ve also installed Electric Sheep as my screensaver (multiplatform).

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My David Lanham portrait

My David Lanham portrait

(View on Flickr)

Dave is a designer at the Iconfactory and responsible for the ultimate Twitter icon, Ollie the Twitterrific bird, but he broke his foot while playing soccer over the Fourth of July. That means that the poor guy is relegated to staying off his feet at home. Rather than wallow in self-pity, he decided to use the opportunity to keep himself from going completely Rear Window and offer up his design skills to the Internet public.

FaceTime + $50 = Awesome Personalized Avatar – mashable.com

(See also: Wired, Cnet, TUAW, Gizmodo, and plenty of others.)

Sitting for a portrait over FaceTime was a really strange experience, but David is very friendly and made it a lot of fun. He did two sketches in about ten minutes, as well as taking some screeshots for reference and he later produces the final product in Illustrator. I’m thrilled with the result! (Trivia: Apparently I am the first portrait to have received a pattern background.)

David said he had been overwhelmed with requests as a result of the extensive coverage in the geek press, and was now booked up until December and after then he will decide whether to carry on with more, or not.

You can see many more portraits in his Flickr set, follow @dlanham on Twitter and absolutely check out his website. (He has loads of great wallpapers and icons!)

Post edited 2010.08.16: I received my portrait in the post today, with a bonus sticker. I’ve added a photograph to the gallery at the top of the post. It’s a lovely quality print. I think it looks great. :)

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Toe Fluff

Steve Rack is an artist. He designed a character called Toe Fluff, which he thought would be great toy. In fact, he liked Toe Fluff so much that he decided to base an exhibition on it. To shake things up he asked his friends to customize Toe Fluff as part of the show. Well, since Steve’s ‘call for submissions’, things kind of snowballed! The project is now open to all artists. All you have to do is download the template and get creative!

The July 15th deadline for entries is fast approaching, but there’s still time to create something fun. I’ve just entered one myself:

Toe Fluff bogey monster by Foomandoonian

To the left is the template everyone has to work from. It’s really worth looking through the other entries on the Toe Fluff website as there is some amazing work. You could also follow @SteveRack on Twitter.

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