HP + Daft Punk interface tests

Here are some test images I did for a job a while back. The mighty Psyop hired me to create some interface mock-ups for the new (at the time) HP touch computer for use in a television ad featuring Daft Punk onstage. The idea was to create some abstract shapes and color which would be put to motion as Daft Punk manipulated the shapes to trigger music during a performance.

Even though the idea was super cool, it was unfortunately one of those projects that didn’t see the light of day. I was involved early in the pitch stage and the project was either abandoned, or a different concept was picked which is quite common in the turbulent land of advertising. Either way, it was fun to work on and I wanted to post these mock-ups to show the early stages of conceptual when dealing with a television ad.

As I said these were test images for the interface, just raw ideas I threw to Psyop in the early stages. They were great to work with.

How to make an 8-bit avatar … in 2 tweets

8-bit avatars seem to be all the rage on Twitter these days, which is cool by me considering the bulk of my childhood was spent playing the Commodore 64 and first generation Nintendo. After watching a 5-minute video on how to create your own avatar in Photoshop (which is great, nice old school results) I decided to cut the process way down and post a #2tweettutorial on Twitter. Silly, I know, but it was late and I was messing around on the computer while watching Thundercats on TV.

Need a starting point? Here, download my tiny 8-bit Photoshop file.

Break the rules, experiment, make it your own. But more importantly, have fun.

Orb vs. Cube: Free vector download

A few weeks ago I was playing around with this vector graphic I made of an orb inside a hollowed cube, trying to make a geometric poster or use it as an element in a larger piece. I tried a few ideas then tossed it on the sidelines to chase another concept. This was originally going to be a part of the Year Zero design but I couldn’t quite make it fit. However, I liked design of the element and wanted to do something else with it.

This is the first time I’ve done anything like this, but I want to make the little vector graphic available for you to use. I put together the above design using the cube to show what can be done with effects and stuff in Photoshop, and here are a few of the unsuccessful concepts I was playing with in Illustrator in an attempt to make the element look good.

So, I’m interested to see what you can do. This isn’t a contest or anything, just a fun experiment if you are looking for a reason to make things. Simply download my vector file (EPS) right here and start playing with it in any form you please. Change the colors, add effects, pattern it, bust it apart, whatever you might have fun doing. The sky’s the limit.

Once you are done, feel free to post your creation in the Signalnoise Flickr pool. I’d love to see what you come up with. Have fun!

Signalnoise Broadcast 37: Illustrator demo

If you were unable to tune in for Signalnoise Broadcast 37, here is the recorded version. This week was lots of fun as I did a live Illustrator demo showing how I create some of my shiny text effects, specifically making type golden. I had no shortage of screw-ups and technical errors this time around (if you tuned in, you know what I’m talking about), and what you see here is the re-shoot I did the day after. Please pardon the 2 videos this week, Ustream decided to disconnect on me.

All errors aside, I dove into Illustrator and showed how to create a golden version of The Sword logo, one of my favorite metal bands. I walk you through the process step-by-step and talk about all the little things along the way. After the demo, we had a QA period where I answered some questions about process, industry and other things. Lots of fun.

Thanks for your patience this week, everyone. I’ll see you next week at the same time, Thursday at 3pm EST.

Signalnoise Broadcast 36: Dagger Woods PSD

For those who missed out on tuning in live to Signalnoise Broadcast 36, here is the recorded version. I did another Photoshop file breakdown this time, focusing on my Dagger Woods poster which led into a little Photoshop effects demo. As usual, we all had a great time as I showed lots of process and technique. After which we led into a general QA period, where I even got to kick my first chat spammer out of the room. I’m bringing a shotgun next time, you jerk.

Those who stuck around after the broadcast got a special sneak preview of my Hobo With a Shotgun poster. It pays to hang out backstage after the show. :) I’ll be back next week with Signalnoise Broadcast 37, Thursday at 3pm EST. See you then!

Green Lantern poster: Process

Last week I released my version of the Green Lantern movie poster (seen above), which I worked on in the studio over the course of 2 days from sketch to final. It was a lot of fun to create something based on my childhood hero, so I took care in keeping as much material as I could in order to show how I went about creating the design. So now, it’s time to look at the Green Lantern poster process.

Back in 1983 whenever me and the neighborhood kids played Superfriends, I was always Green Lantern because I thought he had the coolest powers. I even went to the extent of making my own little Green Lantern power rings out of paper, not until this one right here:

Outside of thinking his powers were cool and his ring iconic, Lantern has the best logo in the DC Universe aside from the staples of Superman and Batman. All of these aspects of the character led to a bit of disappointment when I saw the official movie poster release for the upcoming film starring Ryan Reynolds, and it’s complete lack of showing Lantern’s ring. I won’t get into a big rant about the industry as I’d be preaching to the choir. Modern film posters aren’t geared around art and design anymore, they revolve around whoever is starring in these things in hopes of drawing fans of the actors, unfortunately not the content.

Just to be clear, I’m not riffing on the quality of the official poster because its beautifully crafted. I just feel the essence and iconic elements of the character was lost under the need to showcase Reynolds. That’s all.

So I took it upon myself to design a poster the way I would want to see it, focusing on Lantern’s iconic power ring, its logo and the classic Green Lantern costume (or at least a portion of it). Let’s get rockin’.

i. Sketching

Like I’ve said many times on my broadcasts I start every project with the sketchbook, I started drawing up come rough ideas of how I might approach the poster. I knew I wanted to focus on the ring, but wanted to do something strong, iconic yet simple. Since the ring is actually really small, I needed a way of making it look interesting and powerful. After doodling up around 10 sketches, I decided the way to go was simply showing Lantern’s fist raised in the air with green light energy shooting out.

I’m sure the redesigned Lantern costume for the movie will look cool onscreen, but you just can’t beat the classic design. Hal Jordan’s white gloves were a must as the green ring contrasts beautifully on white, it just makes sense from a design standpoint. Shown here are a few of the reference images I dug up online, the Superpowers figure from 1984 (which I still own), the cover design for New Frontier #6 created by Darwyn Cooke and an Alex Ross painting because I love those green lights.

In the case of the fist design, I really wanted to capture what Darwyn did on New Frontier. His hands are typically 2-color yet have a lot of substance and structure. Once I had all of these references gathered along with my sketches, I had a good concept and direction going but I knew the biggest problem I would hit: where was this gloved fist going to come from?

ii. Reference photos

After looking around some stock photo sites for hands and fists, I knew I was never going to find a good looking hand at the proper angle. Everything I found had something wrong with it, plus there was the issue of getting a ring on there. I decided I’d do it myself and take some photos using my own hand to get exactly the angle I needed. I even had my own Green Lantern ring on hand thanks to my pals at Strange Adventures.

My photo set-up was hilarious. I grabbed my Canon Powershot, my Rock Band mic stand and a dollar store flashlight pointed at the ring to match the lighting I wanted in the final poster. It worked great and I snapped a number of shots in a few different poses in case a new concept or idea came to light. It didn’t, the fist was still the winner.

iii. Digital sketch

This next step is what I call the digital sketch. After working on a number of posters over the years I found myself naturally gravitating to this middle step between the sketchbook and building the final design, where I build a pre-viz rough version of how the composition might be. I use pre-made elements that work as well as elements I’ll be using later in the final.

In this digital sketch for the Lantern poster, I used one of the hand photos I took in the previous step, a bunch of lighting effects I had on hand and some cosmic imagery from NASA’s website. My concern wasn’t making the glove or anything look convincing, moreso to have a quick study to ensure I was still on the right creative path. My initial idea was to use more blues in the background to make the green energy stand out, but it made the palette look bleached out. I wanted bold green everywhere. I even went as far as to make a quick vector base for the glove.

This step took a few hours to nail down, but it was hugely helpful before I moved on to creating the final poster build. Now that my planning was complete, it was time to start building my elements.

iv. Pencils and vectors

I’ll be the first to admit, I kind of painted myself into a corner with this part. My goal was to make the fist look physical with weight and definition, but I didn’t want it to look like a photograph OR an illustration. Yeah, easy task huh? I had to build and rip apart the hand design 3 times over before I got the process down and could achieve the effect I wanted. Even tried one version where I digitally painted the entire thing, it looked awful. I had to go analog, man.

I printed off a copy of the fist photograph and grabbed my handy tracing paper. I taped everything down on my sketch table and drew the basic outline of how I wanted to fist to look, taking into account the glove, highlights and shadows. I tried to do this step in Illustrator but it was far too much guesswork, I needed to pull it away from the computer and do this step by hand to have complete control.

I then scanned the pencils, brought the drawing into Illustrator and mapped out all the elements in vector while experimenting with every gradient in there. The drawing was HUGELY helpful, something I’ll be taking into account with future posters. It was a great mix of realism and illustration and even looked like Hal’s hand.

The ring was the easy part. Having a plastic ring onhand was a big help, but it was just a matter of matching the perspective and hitting the right combination of selective gradients.

v. Bringing it all together

Things got a bit tricky here. Despite the gradient work, the vectors still looked really flat and I wanted something more substantial to give strength to the fist. I managed to achieve this by blending a couple of photographic overlays with the vectors. As you can see by the image above, I used a green tint and a greyscale version of my fist and set them to Overlay in Photoshop. This gave the otherwise flat vectors a more physical look, like there was a human hand in there somewhere. It’s totally an illusion but it created the effect I wanted.

I couldn’t get the proper fabric folds in Illustrator that I needed, this was a glove afterall, so I searched around Thinkstock and got some nice images of folded linen and satin which worked perfect for getting those wrinkles. I changed the images to either green or greyscale, and laid them over the vectors using blending modes Multiply and Soft Light. They worked great, kind of a fluke.

After the fist was built, it was just a matter of adding the green light energy, a few background elements and some selective shading. I’m not going to get too deep into how these were created because there are a bazillion tutorials online showing cool light effects, but mine were created using a combination of my vector shard elements and a few photographs I had onhand of flares and lights. Most of these lights were switched to greyscale, then I overlayed some green on top to keep things more dynamic. It involved a lot of experimentation.

And finally, I added the final content from the Green Lantern oath as well as the 2011 logo, eluding to the release of the upcoming film. Done!

The process behind this poster was extremely different then what I’m used to, but it was an excellent journey to nail down the effect I wanted. Having to create that hand from scratch was a strange one, but I’m happy to say it’s ME wearing that Green Lantern ring. Yeah! I hope you had a good time gaining a bit of insight behind this poster because I had a great time creating it. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to don my mask on and bounce off the rings of Saturn.

Signalnoise Broadcast 32: Tron Legacy poster breakdown

If you missed out on tuning in to Signalnoise Broadcast 32 yesterday afternoon, here is the recorded version. Since installing Ustream Producer, I have the ability to broadcast my desktop to show some workflow which is something I didn’t know I could do (idiot, I know). So I decided to jump in head first and show some Photoshop process stuff, and gave the audience an inside look at my Tron Legacy poster, seen above. We went through the whole thing, layer by layer and I discussed all of the effects, tricks and processes I used along the way. No secrets here, it’s an open door to the making of this poster.

Next week I’ll be in Vancouver so the timeslot might shift a bit, but I’ll keep you posted via my Twitter as to what is happening. In the meantime, enjoy the Tron Legacy PSD breakdown!

Recent concept drawings

• The intial concept drawing for my Signalnoise 2012 shirt.

• I'd like to have Eddie chewing on some Signalnoise type, somehow.

• Heavy metal skull, designed to the tune of Guns n' Roses 'Appetite for Destruction'.

• I drew this guy while watching Black Dynamite with some friends.

• Scare Bear likes to listen to Gorgoroth.

• This one is pretty self-explanatory.

I’ve been asked quite a few times how I feel about sketching as part of the creative process. It doesn’t matter what I’m working on and what the final medium might be, I always start with roughing up ideas in my sketchbook before going near the computer. For me, it helps clear my head without the worry of “multitasking” and forces me to focus on one thing and one idea.

Here are a bunch of drawings I created over the past couple of weeks, which some of you might have caught on my Twitter. Naturally, I’m always thinking about new fun t-shirt ideas I can throw into the mix, so most of these were designed and geared toward how they might look on a shirt and what peoples’ reactions might be if they saw someone wearing it. I constantly get compliments on my Black Metal Busters shirt whenever I wear it, so a few of these are exploring the idea of taking characters from my youth (1980s) and melding them with metal. The idea just makes me laugh when people recognize the characters.

Will all of these make it to t-shirts? Well, probably not as I’m sure there are some kind of copyrights involved especially with Maiden’s Eddie, since I didn’t change his design at all. But maybe I can get Bruce and the boys onboard. Who knows?

Signalnoise Broadcast 21: Starting your t-shirt line

That being said, I’d like to throw a small plug for tomorrow’s Signalnoise Broadcast. Its been requested that I go over the specifics about how I started my t-shirt line, what services are involved and what supplies I use. So tomorrow I will be performing a little demo of how I pack my shirts, what I use, and how I make my wares accessible online. I want to do this in hopes that other people who want to start their own brand can grab some advice they need to get the ball rolling. It’s sure to be a fun time, 2pm EST, hope to see you there.