Thursday, December 28, 2006

digital-analogue sketching

A few years back, many people were skeptic about digital sketching. I've been always encouraging digital sketching, in one of my lectures my students did some research on the effectiveness of several sketching methods, well, actually a comparison between hand drawing vs. digital sketching using 5 or 6 different software programs: form-z, alias studio, alias sketchbook, rhinos and 3D viz.

Digital modeling is not the same as sketching... that would be more like building small mock-up foam or cardboard models. 2D Sketching can be done in many software programs... including photoshop, paint or any other drawing software, however only a few CAD programs include a freehand sketching module. The advantage of studio tools is that you can migrate from 2D crayon marker sketching to modeling directly on the same program. That's why studio tools was the winner on that particular research study.

We've come a long way since the first CAD programs... and the advantage of modeling WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) instead of the boring coordinates command lines in old cad programs. But I admit that the old drawing techniques are still quite useful... digitizing a "napkin" sketch and then turn it into a full rendered presentation sketch in minutes is something that I encourage from my students. But it also works the other way, I just love when they use the wireframe renders and colour them using traditional markers... the accuracy of the digital model, plus a good markers technique can make a sketch look amazing.

So, here are some tutorials I've found about sketching ont the product design forums: Mikael Lugnegard from Umea gives very good tips on how to hybrid-sketch, this screen captured movie of a chair sketch using sketchbook pro and other illustrations by Waikit Chung (thanks for the updated URLs), and this jpg sketch tutorial by Renzsu for wacom tablet users. Cool!

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Problem Mall Syndrome PMS

I have all kinds of allergies... and I mean ALL kinds. Once I had one of those tests on my arm where they pinch you (like acupuncture) with different allergenics. My whole arm turned purple! it was impossible to see which ones reacted and which didn't... the doctor said that he had never seen something like that. The problem is not that I am allergic to everything, the problem is that I have a very strong reaction to many things.

Sandra can't use some brands of perfume or body cream, because I react very badly to their smell. Some of my friends can testify that I can't be in a car with air conditioning for too long before I lose my voice or start sneezing. In Monterrey I carried around a bottle of cough syrup all day, like it was a coffee mug because most buildings and classrooms have air conditioning. I've learned to live with my allergies... in fact, I haven't been sick in more than 1 1/2 years... until this week! and what a bad timing for Christmas!

Sandra's office's party was last tuesday, so she came back early from work and we decided to go to the mall and look for some christmas presents. We (I) don't like going to Saint Luke's Mall, precisely because I get very sensitive to their air conditioning. It's one of those places where it's not only too high (after a while you can feel your legs getting cold) but also because it's quite air-tight. As soon as I entered, I could smell that the air has been recycled for a while. The odour of brand new merchandise got stuck in my nose. The smell of carpet's dust was everywhere, not to mention some stores that have a strong formaldehyde fumes smell from all the new plastic products and furniture on sale.

I hate Sick Buildings! I get very sick with air conditioning, not only because of the lack of humidity, but the fact that most building don't bother to clean up the air conditioning filters regularly, despite the risk of people developing legionaire's disease, asthma, sick building syndrome or even cancer. Not everyone develops strong symptoms like me. Some have just red eyes, or runny noses... Sick building syndrome is something serious. It's not a story from Gremlins 2. Bad ventilation causes pathogens, viruses, fungus and fumes to stick around, you breathe them every time. Some people develop strong reactions (like me) some don't.

Sick buildings are caused by poor architectural design regarding ventilation and poor choice of hypoallergenic construction materials. Those plastic, foam or composite panels used for "false" ceilings are perfect nests for humidity to develop fungus and other aerial bacteria. Whenever you go into an office or building and see those ceiling panels with humidity stains... it may be a sick building.

So, for me, this is it. I'm never going to st. Lukes ever again! I hate having PMS!

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Season's greetings

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Banskies & Buttpaint

I was shocked with the controversy regarding an art teacher who was fired from a public school, because he also does some "free lance" paintings... using his derrière (and other body parts) as a stamp. I must say, that I don't find those paintings obscene, actually, they are not bad at all. I think there is even worse irreverent, obscene or creepier art (just look at Britney Spears giving birth). Suspending a teacher for provocative (or not) art, is another case for the Spanish inquisition! Well, they say that a picture or a painting (in this case a movie) says more than words:

I've always said that aesthetics is not about beauty, it can be about beauty, but some times it is about other messages: dead, war, sex, awareness, propaganda, rebellion, and all possible things that the artist wants to communicate. And those messages are not always about beauty and order, in fact, we often see more art that is about anarchy, rebellion and ugliness. Of course the media focuses on beauty, kitsch and perfection, just see how many shallow makeover shows are there.

In all human kind ages there has always been "conservative" or establishment art, and provocative art. Truth is, that in order to be actually provocative nowadays, you really have to take things to the next level. At least for me, the butt paintings are not provocative enough, or maybe I prefer the subtle irony, like Bansky's for example.

I don't know how to explain this, but maybe, it's because the provocation is in the medium, and there's no other apparent message or meaning, whereas I prefer a strong message where the medium, technique or mastery are not important. To put it in other words: when you read the newspaper (even if it is just to see the cartoons) the fact that it is printed on actual paper or it's on the screen of your computer, palm pilot or cell phone becomes irrelevant if you are used to electronic technologies. Some years ago, we were amazed by all that new technology. It had a WOW effect, but not anymore. Butt painting may have some level of WOW effect now, but we do not read the news papers on our computers or download them with avantgo just because it is "cool" or "wow" to read the news on a tiny small bit of screen.

So, which one is creepier: the giant cockroaches, or Paris Hilton's CD?

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Vote for me

Please, vote for me... so I can win a new digital camera... one that takes better pictures than this. He, he.

Xtra MSN - Game face on competition
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Friday, December 08, 2006

Pixel colours

I just learned about the so called "million dollar pixels"... It is a clever idea, but the price is still too high for me, so I just got a free space on one of those sites. Problem is, that many of my pixel neighbors are XXX sites and a gay dude.

Anyway, I want to send our Special Kiwis logo to a graphic design annuary, but I needed an electronic file using CMYK, and my software doesn't support that. So it was once again Hooper to the rescue (thanks). The thing is, that display colors are not the same as for example when you send them to a printer... or when you take them to a photo lab to get printed pictures. Last time I had to return many of my pictures for reprint, because they screwed up with the brightness. Anyway, Hooper suggested that it would be better to use the pantone code, that way there's no confusion about it.

But what about the colors on a sketch? Well, many years ago, when dinosaurs used to sniff designer crayons (and take a bite off the designer) to get high, not every one of us had the whole collection of markers... only the rich ones had those fancy briefcases with the whole rainbow of colors... we (the poor ones) only had a few colors... and we used them again and again in all our sketches. Now that we all use computers for our renders and sketches, we have the choice of millions of colors (and textures) to paint the objects. Likewise some pseudo graphic designers who use all kind of tools and fancy text just because it is there on the software, we tend to use textures and colors that are not true... just because they are there on the "choose materials library" we try them... and end up with with cool surrealist finishings.

Flight stool by BarberOsgerbyAt least for Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby that was no problem when they made the "legitimate" pantone chair... which is actually called "flight stool" and it's not the "legitimate president chair". It would be great to choose a chair using the exact pantone code to match your decoration, but they are a bit expensive because they are limited edition. Their redesign of an Alvar Aalto chair is quite interesting... but again is not available to the market. That is somehow what I wanted to show to my students in Guadalajara, how to transform the same design into different materials: plastic, wood, metal, resin, etc... because it is going to behave quite differently on each of them. I have to get working on a "pixel chair"...

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Jack Bauer vs. Paquita

We're all familiar with the so called "reality shows" on TV. Despite their name they have nothing to do with reality, they are more into surrealism. Altough communications media is important and they serve moslty just for entertainment, there are other elements hidden or embeded into their messages. Barthes discusses a similar example in "mythologies". Anyway, it is clear that there are many signifying practices arround those shows (as in many other shows)... but what is disturbing, is that we are getting those messages in a sort of "subliminal propaganda". We see those shows just for entertainment and what we get is an overdose of subliminal propaganda... which is somehow sweet and adictive!

There must be a very large taxonomy of all diferent kinds of ideology propaganda: political, racist, classist, etc. I've always disliked TV shows or movies with a strong political agenda, or those which are offensive to specific groups, in order to make them look like "the bad guys" or "the poor defenseless ones that need to be saved from evil", etc... labeling a group of people, or a country, or a religion, or anyone, just to suit a specific political ideology is not necessary for having a good entertaining story from my point of view. It has nothing to do with reality... in fact, it is a manipulation of meanings. I prefer "el Santo contra las momias de Guanajuato" rather than Jack Bauer against the "Islamic communist neonazi mexican terrorist drugdealers". Nobody would expect a real life military strike against those poor mummies, but then again, nobody expects the spanish inquisition.

Propaganda is a very powerful tool. Manipulation is a cultural-political-social weapon. And we are almost defenseless against such brain wash. Once an idea is embedded into the people, they will act according to that brain-wash-ideology programation as if it is normal behavoir. Well, maybe it is "normal", remember that culture is a construct. So, we act according to the things we learn: what we learn at home, at school, and what we learn from the media.

Inside the box of cereals we buy, there's a "kid's newsletter". A couple of months ago I saw this in one of their newsletters:

Cicero, the Roman statesman and philosopher wrote some 2000 years ago: The six mistakes of man

  • The delusion that personal gain is made by crushing others
  • The tendency to worry about things that cannot be changed
  • Insising that something is impossible because we cannot accomplish it
  • Refusing to set aside trivial preferences
  • Neglecting development and refinement of the mind, and not acquiring the habit of reading and studying
  • Attemping to compel others to live and believe as we do.
Well... we haven't changed or learned much in all this time.

After the US invasion of Iraq, I saw a news headline like: The first sign of civilization brought into Iraq by the american soldiers, was when they shared their thanksgiving meal with the Iraqi people. OK. Then there's "iraqi idol" (iraq star) and "extreme makeover home edition" for bombarded houses... Is there really the need to have a pop singing idol? I wonder if one of the judges is as critic as Simon. Mexico is not that far away in terms of surrealism... I don't know if I prefer Paquita la del Barrio or Yuridia. Which one is your favourite pop-star super-hero? Don't even get me started on how amateurish are reality shows in NZ... that could fill a whole blog about it! One thing is to make the show look like real life and other is shooting with an amateur videocamera! So, once again we are devaluating the meaning of words, by imposing new (manipulated) signifying meanings.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Spaghetti and Watties

Urban development is chaotic everywhere, however some cities manage to do thing right, while others take desperate meassures just to get motorists faster to the next bottle neck congestion. That's the case in Guadalajara and Auckland. However, congestion is even worse here in Auckland because... well, just like Springfield, there's only one bridge out of town, and there's only one motorway. No matter where you are going, everyone, everyone has to cross the spaghetti. It's like a black hole, sucking all vehicles... and there's simply no way to avoid it.

Guadalajara used to have a similar problem because of the rail road... there were only few crossings. Now imagine that instead of having all the new crossings, there was just one big, spagghetti crossing, let's say at "la minerva". Forget "los cubos" "abastos" or any of the other crossing bridges... there's only ONE, big, big one. Of course it's not going to be enough! and besides... why take all the cars into one single point only to redistribute all of them again into all other directions?

Well, they say that some American urban planners were consulted many years ago, and they decided that it was easier and more economical to build only one spaggheti and bring everyone to the same spot, than building several bridges (like Guadalajara)... You see that even at this stage, there are not enough bridges, and each one costs a fortune. So, the democratic idea of having one single crossing bridge for all the city was in deed more economical and has less impact on the built surroundings. But it's just plain stupid!

Now the problem is how to get all those cars into the motorway. There used to be normal merging lanes, but there's not enough lenght to accelerate and merge into the motorway. People has to wait a long time to find a large void. So, they came with the idea of stopping all vehicles a few meters back, and they installed race-track light signals... where green is just for the first vehicle on each lane: on your marks, readyyyyy.... Go! Then, 20 seconds later, the next two cars may race their way into the motorway.

Sweet! Now the transit authority is encouraging motorists to race against other cars, like those "dragster" races... Vroooom, vroooom! Very James Dean!!! I am glad we have a V6 and a Turbo... We'll beat any crappy toyota corolla! I have to get me an Alpha Romeo!

I just wonder, where do polititians get their ideas from? Is there some kind of mad cow disease eating out the brains of people in government? I don't know, maybe it is like that plutonium poisoning.

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