Friday, October 26, 2007

Who Will Be... the Superest?

The Superest is a continually running game of My Team, Your Team. The rules are simple:
Player 1 draws a character with a power. Player 2 then draws a character whose power cancels the power of that previous character. Repeat.

Here's numero uno:

Thursday, October 25, 2007

John K. Commercials

Howdy, folks! John K. has a bunch of old commercials posted on his blog that he and his studio Spumco created a few years back. Watch them here. They are all mini-quicktime downloads, which is fun because you can step through them to look at specific keyframes. The Old Navy ones in particular are real gems. I remember them being on TV, as well as the old Nike spot. He notes that his main goal was to make commercials you wouldn't want to fast forward through.

When you watch them, note a number of things. The timing (music, animation, sound effects, pacing) is nearly perfect. The animation is extremely fun to watch (a lot of great drawings went into these). The character design is amazing. And lastly, but probably most importantly, look at the variety of color schemes! The backgrounds aren't entirely naturalistic, and in some of them, even the sky changes color from shot to shot.

Creativity Goldmine!

This is a HUGE list of creativity motivators I found on Digg:

--> 110+ Resources for Creative Minds (by Skellie)

Sites include a couple of of my usual favorites (Drawn!, BoingBoing), and then 100 more! I'm gonna add this link to the side bar so it doesn't sink into the archives. Come here if you're in the need of any kind of inspiration, and you'll be sure to find something.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

DESIGN SQUAD at Maker Faire | Drawing Sound | PBS

Paul Rand Tribute Video

Paul Rand was a graphic designer -- according to Wikipedia, he designed many iconic corporate logos.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Poor Man's Color Theory

As the cover of the book The Art of Color, by Johannes Itten, suggests, colors can be pretty tricky to manage. Once you get beyond the basic lessons of the color wheel, you still have to juggle how colors relate to one another, and context is everything. Color theory is all about physics, psychology, and perception, so it's no wonder things get complicated fast! This is why I personally think color is easier to manage, and appreciate, when you limit yourself to a handful of hues. Even one!

Now, I recognize a limited palette isn't for everyone. But I do think it's a great way of isolating color and thinking about it. I'm also a big advocate of learning from found color schemes. Don't be afraid to appropriate a color scheme for your own art. Vintage packaging is a great source for color because of the limited printing technologies designers had to work with. This scheme is based on the two complimentary colors red and green, as it was a 2-color print job.

Background artists are also masters of color. Oftentimes, they need to work in a fairly limited palette so as not to combat with the characters' colors in the foreground. Bill Wray has some amazing background art from Samurai Jack on his blog. Below is an analogous color scheme of plums, purples, and pinks. Note that there is plenty of room for accents in a limited palette.

If your colors are limited and related, they end up being easier to sort out. And I tend to think they're more pleasant on the eyes. Once you start cluttering up your image with too much color, it can start to look like a coloring book. Colors begin to claim territory on the page, and they become isolated from one another. Color should be about harmony, unless you are purposely trying to create an unsettling image. Here are a handful of artists I like who are using a limited palette extremely well.

Nick Cross

Aaron Renier

Jordan Crane

Onsmith Jeremi

Once you get a handle on juggling one or two colors, adding a third or fourth becomes a lot easier. I should also note that when I say color, I really mean a family of hues...not a single swatch. There will be more to come on true color theory, but I thought this would be a good starter discussion. Color theory becomes essential when you want to know why one color scheme works better than another, or how to fix something when it doesn't work. If you're feeling a bit rusty (or curious!), I just happened upon a pretty good online color theory resource at

--> Color Theory Tutorial (a rich man's guide)

But it can get abstract, quickly. In a future post, I hope we can break down what we think are the most important lessons of color theory. Until then, happy coloring!

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Semantic Web (or Web 3.0)

Just when you thought you had figured out Web 2.0, it appears that the folks in Silicon Valley are currently trying to dream up Web 3.0, otherwise known as the semantic Web. I was just reading this article on, and here's what they have to say:
There is no easy consensus about how to define what is meant by Web 3.0, but it is generally seen as a reference to the semantic Web. While it is not that much more precise a phrase, the semantic Web refers to technology to make using the Internet better by understanding the meaning of what people are doing, not just the way pages link to each other.

Confused yet? I think part of it has to do with merging artificial intelligence with the Internet. They reference an earlier article from 2006 (here). Good stuff to keep in mind, I guess. Anyone know anything about this?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cleveland vs. Indians

My former illustration professor, DB Dowd, has a couple thought provoking posts (1, 2) on his blog, Graphic Tales, concerning the mascot of the Cleveland Indians. In the wake of Cleveland's domination in the lead-up to the World Series, he calls into question the portrayal of Native American sterotypes in the graphic arts.

I sometimes wonder about the persistance of these images and their acceptance in popular culture. Those of us practicing in the visual arts are to some degree at the front line of the issue, when we design characters that represent ethnic groups. Here's an excerpt from one of DB's posts:
Given the degree to which American Indians have been reduced in number and marginalized in the era following their near extermination, it’s hardly a surprise that majoritarian impulses, even when astonishingly crude, go largely unchallenged except in the rarefied precincts of universities. (See Dartmouth College and more recently the University of Illinois.) Hence, the mortifying figure of Chief Wahoo remains in use on the shores of Lake Erie, which nowadays is not exactly Gitche Gumee.

This is surely not a new topic of discussion in the sports world (the Braves have gotten a lot of heat in the past for their chants), but when you're rooting for the Sox tonight, it's something else to think about.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Web 2.0 Address Book

How many ways can someone reach you these days? Forget landlines, cellphones, email, and IM. How many social-networking sites have you joined? It seems like every couple months somebody wants us to join another one...first Friendster, then MySpace, now Facebook and LinkedIn. Twitter is a fairly fledgling service where you basically leave a message saying what you're doing at that moment of the day. They just keep coming!

I was just reading a post on Wired's Compiler blog discussing the Web 2.0 Summit that gets under way next week. A topic stirring interest is about a yet to be invented product called the "Web 2.0 Address Book," which is being referred to as a location-aware contact list. The idea is to have email, IM, phone, and social-networking sites working as one. Chris Messina offers a possible scenerio:
Rather than calling somebody or sending an e-mail or a Twitter or an IM, you just open up your contact list and click on their name. Wherever they are, your communication reaches them via the most convenient and appropriate means. So, they're walking on the beach, their iPhone rings. If they're in a meeting, they get a text message. If they're at their desk, they get an e-mail. If they're in Asia, they're probably asleep, so they get a voicemail.

Wouldn't that be cool, if not a heck of a lot simpler? Compiler goes on to say:

...your "presence" doesn't just exist on Facebook or Google. Rather, it lives in that layer of information which can be assembled from the pieces stored on every service you're a part of. Obviously, microformats would play a key part in such a scenario. Standards like hCard and hCalendar can be used to track where you are and what you're up to. OpenID can verify your identity, making your location data accessible to you and your group of friends. Instantly, anyone who wanted to get in touch with you could just look you up in their contact list and see where you are, what you're doing, what you'll be doing this afternoon and the best way to get in touch with you right now.

For more on this discussion, check out the original post by Messina, spurred by Google's acquisition of Jaiku (a service similar to Twitter). Sounds like all these things will be coming together soon. So I wouldn't fret about joining all these social networks to communicate with one another. What do people think about friends and family literally knowing where you are and what you're doing?


I've been sneezing like crazy today (must be some sort of allergy season)...and I was using Puffs tissues. I've had this on my mind for a while...but now I have some place to rant about it. I absolutely love the characters they use to advertise Puffs! They remind of of those classic Christmas claymation movies. ('Twas the Night Before Christmas") Check out:

Friday, October 12, 2007

Casual Games and Education

I firmly believe that young kids definitely can have a more meaningful experience on the computer when they play with their parents. In this regard, I am failing. Every morning my son wakes up about 1/2 hour before I'm ready to open my eyes, gets on the computer, and starts surfing from game site to game site. So far, he seems to have been keeping it clean (aside from the one, really disturbing game where you have to help a robot with his love life), and he's found some great stuff.

The more I watch him explore, the more I appreciate the problem solving and critical thinking skills that are employed in playing these games. These games are challenging, fun and highly addictive. As we continue to develop new games for clients, we should try to think about what we like about casual games and try to apply those thoughts to our creations.

Here's the game that inspired this posting:
Tom and Jerry's Trap-o-matic
A fun game that actually isn't terribly challenging to build, but works well. It requires some understanding of spatial relations to play.

Additional Sites:
MSN Games
Yahoo! Games
PopCap Games

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Has anyone seen this commercial yet? It's an incredible technical feat, and simply beautiful to watch—blobs of Play-Doh that multiply into rabbits as they happily hop all over New York City. Watch the clip and then head on over to the Sony website, where they have it in hi-res and behind the scenes footage of how they pulled it off. The Sony website also has a pretty innovative interface. This should get your juices flowing! A victory for stop-motion in a world of CG animation.

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Things are Heating Up in SimCity

I just read that the newest version of the city building classic SimCity will feature a global warming variable. In SimCity Societies, if you don't carefully manage your green house gases, your societies will collapse. Yet another game for change? Maybe they should have real city planners and government officials take it for a spin.

"The game does not force players to power their cities any specific way, but allows them to make choices, each of which come with advantages and disadvantages. Similar to real-life, the least expensive and most readily-available buildings in SimCity Societies are also the biggest producers of carbon dioxide, an invisible gas that contributes to global warming. Should players choose to build cities dependent on these types of sources for power to conserve their in-game money, their carbon ratings will rise and, at reaching critical levels, the game will issue alerts about the threat of the various natural disasters like droughts, heat waves and others that may strike their cities."

Wonderland (via Boing Boing)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

All Beatles Albums in an hour

Via Boing Boing:

"Steve McLaughlin took all the UK Beatles LPs and compressed them into a single, 1-hour MP3 by increasing their tempo by 800 percent. The resulting file is a little hard to listen to, but it's an impressive accomplishment, nevertheless. I'm up to "Hard Day's Night," and it's starting to cause hallucinations."

Here's the link to WFMU's Beware of the Blog where you can download the mp3. Freaky, huh?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Creating brain space

Or a reading space. A writing space. A cooking place. A you-name-it place.
A few days ago I stepped outside of my body to make note of the way I was working at home. And quite frankly, I was shocked. Ok, that's dramatizing it. I was sitting on the futon in my living room, indian style (despite being scoulded by my doctor as a toddler that it's bad for your knees...) and to ice the cake I was hunched over a pad of paper. I'm not talking leaning over a bug to check it out 'hunched', I mean HUNCHED. If it wasn't me I was looking at I might have assumed this person had a spinal problem.
Do you do this when you're persuing the hobbies you do at home?
I leaned back, trying to correct my usually proper posture. Anyone here who's sat on my futon though probaly doesn't remember it for it's astounding doctor approved comfort. It makes due, especially since my parents lent it to me for a hardy handshake (or a huge thankyou). Though- it's no substitution for a qualified workspace.
I pulled my futon closer twoards my food network/video gaming station and the rest was pie.

There was just enough room to fit the unused desk, that had turned into a paper scrap holder from my bedroom, behind the futon.
I was surprised at how easy it was to make space. For a sheer moment I felt all of those hours I'd spent with home decoratings shows on in the background had finally paid off. I was smiling. It felt like a commercial in my head.
I'd like to share how it is we are each creating in our homes, since we already know how everyone works in the studio. My hope is that maybe we can learn from each other (if that's what you'd like) or even if you're satisfied with you current methods, perhaps folks like myself could take note from your satisfaction. I've been having a slight lack of motivation recently (hence the need to shift things into a different gear)- and just wanted to throw it out there incase some other birdies ever feel/felt/future tense of feel, the same way.
So my wonder is how does everyone else find they get their work done best at home?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Line Quality

Hey gang! This is the first post of what I hope becomes a series of discussions related to picture-making and animation. So here goes! Today, John K. has some thoughts on the importance of line quality in animation. Here's the link to his post where he asks the question "Is Good Line Important?" Definitely worth checking out, as he chronicles his opinion of how line has taken a back seat in some animation. A lot of what he talks about is clean-up, which is the animation process where the inker comes in to clean up the the rough pencil sketches of the animator. The trick here is the preserve the energy of the gestural quality of you sketch. I typically go through a similar process when I take a sketch to it's inked stage in my illustrations (see below). I'd be curious to hear about everyone else's general methodologies for getting from sketch to final...both in the digital and traditional realms.

Now, most of the FableVision crew brings a different philosophy on line to the table. I personally find line the most interesting part of making a picture—it's where I get my kicks as an artist. Our differences in how we use line define our styles as artists.

So I'm gonna single a couple people out. First, I'll start with Pete. Of all of us, he probably takes the loosest approach to line—wavy and varying as it skips around the page. Pete's line has a ton of energy to it. It breathes evidence of the brush stroke that created it. It's not continuous—broken in can see where Pete picks up his pen as he scoots along. It retains the properties of a sketch.

Allie also uses a fairly loose line, but prefers a single-width line, best created with a pen or a pencil. Her line-weight is uniform, and has the confidence of a doodle. One consequence of uniform line-weight is that it flattens the drawing. The line reads as pure line, which an artist can use to their advantage.

Keith's line, especially when he works in pencil, fades in and out. He employs both contrast and thickness. When he works in Flash, Keith uses a varied line weight to achieve the subtleties in contrast he gets from the pressure variation of a pencil line. And this variation is used for emphasis—the effect is that the drawing has realistic 3-dimensionality.

None of these samples use line in conjunction with color, which is an entirely different balancing act. But I thought it would be best to isolate line in its raw form at first. What are people's thoughts on the importance of line?

"The Kentucky Cycle," or "Marli's Second Home"

The Kentucky Cycle opens this weekend, and in addition to me getting a little more sleep, this means I get to share what I've devoted my nights and weekends to these past two months. Bostix Advance just sent out a limited deal for half priced tickets ($35 regular, $18 with the Bostix deal), so here's their e-mail if anyone wants to get in on that, for opening weekend! ( (Tickets for other weekends are available from

Part 1 - Thu at 7:30, Sat/Sun at 2pm
Part 2 - Fri/Sat/Sun at 7:30
October 6-November 17

We've had promotional articles from the Globe and from the Phoenix (in which she misquotes the director and calls my actors cannibals), but best of all is the "theatrical trailer" one of my actors made.

I'm assistant stage managing, so I've been able to see this production grow from the beginning. There is something immensely satisfying about working on a show - an instant gratification of sorts. 8 weeks ago these people didn't know one another, and now they're both my friends and a tight knit collection of relatives, neighbors, and sworn enemies.

And here's the summary the media's been using:
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Robert Schenkkan's epic series of nine plays over six hours employs 23 actors to tell the story of seven generations of intersecting Kentucky families over the course of 200 years. Presented in two parts, The Kentucky Cycle is an astonishing feat of theatrical storytelling unlike any other.

Monday, October 1, 2007

McDonald's Video Game

A game for change? Another goodie via Boing Boing:

"Paolo Pedercini is a mad bastard, and the McDonald's game is his sharp, procedural satire of how fast food is a corrupt industry by necessity. The game is set up so that you cannot win without compromising. Try it, you'll see. While you can maintain mild growth without using hormones or genetically modified crops, your bosses will not be satisfied. To really succeed, you have to employ what some might call "unnatural" means, though at Corporate, they call it "McFriendly growth measures".

--> Play McDonalds Game

Root beer Float Cupcakes

I've gotten a bunch of requests, so here's the recipe.
Loren and I found it via Boing Boing.