Building A Scene

As part of an English assignment, I had the chance to create an art project (translation: goof around with Lego) as an alternative to a conventional essay. As much as I enjoy writing, building was definitely a more palatable option than yet another essay.
The topic: Charles Dickens' Our Mutual Friend. The assignment had to be relevant to the current point in the novel and demonstrate both an understanding of the work and a sense of craftsmanship.
Challenge accepted.
I chose to build a vignette based on a scene in which Bradley Headstone, the schoolmaster, confronts Lizzie Hexam in a graveyard. For those of you who have not read Our Mutual Friend, I may not be able to convince you to take on the impressive 800-page novel, but rest easy; most of this post will be about the visual design of the vignette.
And if you have read it (and in particular if you're a stickler for details), I'm well aware that the churchyard in the novel is paved, not overgrown. This is what's called "artistic license." Because in my book, all cemeteries should be overgrown. They're more awesome that way.
But enough talk--how about some pictures?

There we go, first picture out of the way. As you can likely tell, the vignette is built on a standard green 16x16 baseplate, but I went to great lengths to make sure the overbearing green color didn't show through. In fact, basically the entire ground is coated in at least two plates' thickness of dirt and foliage.


If any of you are serious nerds, you might look at the center gravestone and say "hey, you didn't build that!" And you'd be right. That one was taken from the Halloween Accessory Set (850487) because I needed a lot of gravestones and I wasn't going to turn down a perfectly good design. But I did have to change it to get it to mount properly, so it's not totally cheating.

Basically every single one of the headstones is mounted at a really strange angle to give it a lopsided, neglected feel. In fact, all of them are hinged on two separate axes to grant the angles I wanted. The problem is, this means they don't attach directly to the baseplate, and hinges take up space, so I hid them on the backs of the stones, where they remain unseen from the intended viewing angle. The most difficult one was the cross, which is exposed rather than leaning against the tree. If you look closely in the previous picture you'll see how I had to attach it to the bright green sprig, which sticks into the larger undergrowth pieces.

This project was a great opportunity to experiment with vignette style and more natural, organic and unorthodox structures, which are things I don't normally work with. All the fun was in the details, like the mushrooms, the bat hanging from the tree and the extreme quantities of plant and vine pieces. The best part is that without the minifigures it has no firm connection to Our Mutual Friend, and yet I was still able to justify this as homework. Everyone wins!

Challenge: build yourself a self-contained scene (vignette). Packing as much detail as possible into a small space can really help hone your building skills, and it's a lot of fun.
Happy Building!

Infinite Stormtrooper March






Having recently learned how to use Adobe Flash (which is changing to Adobe Animate this year, so I'm already outdated), I created a relatively simple frame-based animation of a Stormtrooper walking endlessly down a lonely corridor, clearly on his way to somewhere. 

Why?
Because I could, of course. Why else?

Now I'd love to make the Imperial March play endlessly behind him, but unfortunately the GIF file format does not support sound, so you'll have to handle that part yourself. Just click on this to open the song in YouTube in another tab. You won't be sorry.

Just don't wait for him to get to wherever he's going, because you'll be waiting, um... forever. However, you might find yourself watching for a very long time anyway.

Happy Building!


Redesigning the Logo

I sat staring at my logo, the same one that was on our robotics t-shirts way back in the ancient past of 2012, and thought to myself "Yeah, it needs an upgrade." Not that there was anything inherently wrong with it, but being my improvement-obsessed self, I was tired of looking at the same design for four years.

Actually, the old design has plenty of things going for it--it's simple, clean, and I am very fond of its shape. I almost talked myself out of changing it, but I then realized why just have one? I could make as many as I wanted, and rotate them all through. Seeing this as a golden opportunity to flex the Photoshop and Illustrator muscles I've gained in the past year, I set out make something awesome.

I ran into my first problem in about thirty seconds: I couldn't find the high-resolution version of the original, and Illustrator couldn't make a decent image trace out of the smaller one. Therefore, I spent the afternoon manually tracing over it with the Pen and Ellipse tools. Note to Self: the Pen tool is simultaneously your best friend and worst nightmare.

Once I finished the vectorized version of the logo shape, it was smooth sailing. For my first new version, I used a metal texture and beveled the edges for a three-dimensional look, with an outer glow for added effect. I found that the color of the glow really changed the personality of the logo, as you can see below, so I ended up saving at least a half-dozen differently colored iterations.
Side-by-side of two glow colors. I'm still not sure which I like better, but
the purpose was to show how the color alters the attitude of the graphic.

So where are the rest? Well, I can tell you that wasn't all I came up with, nor am I finished. The reality is that I only really need one at a time, so I have added a little feature box in the upper right corner of the page (yep, you found it), where I will change the logo at undetermined time intervals (I know, how very specific of me). In the meantime, you can read all my other posts! (just kidding.)
But seriously, go ahead and read them. You might stumble on something you like!

As always, feedback and input are appreciated as I explore the realms of digital graphics, and I look forward to making many more logos in the future. If you've never tried Adobe software, you might want to look into it. I've had fun, and you can, too. So good luck and Happy Building!