It’s been a while since I posted, but I’m most definitely still alive. Between relocation to a new city and other transitions, many things have been going on in the work and personal front.
Nevertheless, here’s a little something that was started in January this year, and only just finished. So continues my affinity for cityscapes, in two different versions (SG & NYC), with the usual mix of traditional pencils + digital photography and Photoshop. I’m really not too sure about that brick wall in the SG version, hardly anything is brick in Singapore. Glass seems to encapsulate the spirit of the city better as well.
Thought it might be fun to have a before and after, so…. original pencil sketch as below too. Hope you guys like it & I should be back to writing and more soon enough.
Those who know me well enough will know that I absolutely adore fashion illustration. And while I love the concepts presented in the new Adobe CS5 Suite, I really hate the “push-a-button, get a picture” mentality (or how they kept stressing that “you don’t need to know code to do ABC”)…. I’m old school that way. There is nothing better than paints, canvas and a size 000 brush. For some reason the colours don’t appear too vibrant here. :/
But anyway, so here it is…a blend of good ole traditional brush and paint + digital + the very pretty HP Mini 210 Vivienne Tam Edition as I was asked to visualize how to pair this pretty netbook with any style… :) I’m thinking of cool summer nights, just chilling in the breeze…(but with internet access + the netbook so i can read my feeds, etc. HAHA). Would love to hear what you think!
More little tidbits from some great conversation in the past weeks….
The Apple folk just have a way of making normal features seem heaven sent. While people are pumping R&D into increasing megapixels, shiny new hardware designs (wow! 10 colours to choose from), Apple have managed to make a 2+ mega pixel camera phone (that still seems a tad bit laggy if you ask me) into the TOP camera phone on Flickr. Also, they made picking colours seem so yesterday (like the first generation candy coloured imacs). I can only imagine the gap between the ubiquitous iPhone and it’s other competitors from Nokia and Blackberry will widen, given that Flickr is coming to the App store.
Clear market leader!
Top camera phone is not interesting on it’s own, given that in most cities, within a 3 m radius on the train, one can probably spot at least one Iphone user. Given that most of them will probably be on data plans, this naturally leads to a lot more submissions from the hardware in question.
What is more interesting is that …on Flickr, the iPhone has been comparing pretty decently against the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi. Now that, is a flipping DSLR from Canon, ten megapixel and all sorts of other great features thrown in….but the graph below shows the slowly dipping popularity of the Canon Xti. Compared against the rising love from netizens holding an iPhone, Apple isn’t doing too shabbily at all. The iphone is also the only cameraphone in the Most Popular Cameras mix.
*I wish the horizontal axis from the Flickr graph had some dates thrown in, so we could correlate that sharp spike with the release of the Iphone 3Gs, hypothetically or otherwise.
All this has some connotations for the camera market. Given that Flickr is (in my impression at least), a great community of artists and photographers who range from amateur, semi professional to professional, I do wonder how product lines will evolve in future. What will happen to the cameras that are in between (neither the powerful DSLRs for the serious photographers, nor quite as handy and functional as a camera phone)?
On another note, I have my thoughts about the interesting correlation between handset monopolies (aka sole iphone telco providers around the world) and bad customer service. But I will save them for another day.
Inspired by the shades on the pretty Dorothy Perkins dress that I did not get.
Style and technique wise, I will not stop trying until I can get to even half the level of the jedi master of fashion illustration – Mr Jason Brooks, whom I have nothing but the utmost respect for. Awesome stuff from him, I really love the “new” (ok not so recent) but his newest move towards the metallic 3D rendered look. Very fluid. Very nice.
In my previous post, I talked about how social tools on the web ought to be intuitive, because the adoption process would probably be largely self-driven.
“It just Works”
I hadn’t really noticed how intuitive the installation of programs on the Mac platform have been, nor truly appreciated it, until I recently had to deal with the Windows platform on a new netbook. Then it was back to the days of reading through the instruction manual, all sections of it. Not so much by choice, but more of fear. Fear that something would not work, should I miss a step.
Upgrading my Mac OS platform was not even that much of a hassle. Pop the disc in, and everything pretty much ran by itself. I had so many windows popping up on my (pardon the pun) Windows platform, it wasn’t even funny.
So much for the power of intuition and usability. Here is a link to some light reading about good usability by peterpixel, which has been sitting in my “To Read” folder for far too long! It is web design centric, but I believe the guidelines are useful information for anyone who wants to have a presence on the social web, be it on a webpage, blog or any other platform. Most of what he says is pretty generalizable to other purposes that you might have, and presented in a very digestible form.
Accessibility: Make it easy for us/and them
I’ve noticed that signing up for various social media services on the web has gotten that much easier, and shorter.
At the same time, there is still that issue of having to sign up for an account anywhere before one can proceed, and how much of an annoyance this is. This is so ingrained in us, that I felt really skeptical when Posterous listed their first step as “skipping the signup and account creation.” I felt truly weird, having no account, clicking on the login button and feeling relieved when they had an option to sign up for an account there. So, obviously I didn’t take advantage of the no sign-up needed, possibly because I didn’t exactly trust/believe it. Humans and their habits!
Forrester research tells usthat required registration lowers online conversion rates. Their research was based on online shopping sites, so I do wonder about how translatable this would be to other social media platforms. Might be interesting to find out! The effects are probably different, depending on the carrots that are dangling at the other end.
Once again, community comes into play. It is probably much easier, and you will probably have more motivation to sign up for something that your peers are already on, because the crowd can’t be that far wrong…. right?
Sometimes, when you look at work that people have created, words that people have written, this sense of a soul becomes apparent. You probably can’t quite put your finger on it; some may even miss the presence of it altogether, having not been trained to look out for it, or to feel it.
The experts make it look so easy, and the rest of us are mislead into thinking it is so. But, there is often years of experience in that one stroke of the brush on canvas, that one lift of a hand as a dance move, the crafting of a sentence. How I wish I could achieve that level of expertise.
We need more pieces with soul around us. Our fast food generation seems to have abandoned some of this old school flavour, old school techniques for single click, I-don’t-have-to-do-anything, instant, automatic (and unfortunately homogeneous) results.
I am excited about Lively. It has been a long time since something kept me awake at night voluntarily (so work counts not), and kept me glued to my seat until I had a backache. When Galen first told me about it in the Straits Times, the article made it sound like it was something I’d like to try out, eventually. The buzz on Plurk, however, pushed the curiosity level up to the “Try it NOW” threshold.
Google’s done a pretty good job so far, for a beta version!
Navigation wise, Lively does not detract much from most traditional 3D games. Movement was fairly intuitive. I think Second Life had a good thing going when they put newbies on the beginner’s help island first though, before graduating them to the Real World outside. There would be “help” around from volunteers to clue you in.
I started out on the Singapore Island, and to be marooned on an island without any form of official help means you take more time to figure things out. Look for the Summerisque avatar, if you’d like to add me!
Here are my 5 Cs for Lively! Chat, Clothing, Communication, Community, Connecting, Construction….
I had some issues with the way the chat bubbles were displayed because I kept my working space open and I could not really see all the conversations that were going on. I did not figure I could close it until sometime later. Given that chat and communication is going to be an integral part of Lively, I think it could be done better! I don’t mind a traditional rolling text at the bottom layout, really.
Typical of most females, when you’re on a beach in shoes and a really ugly skirt, the first thing is to get dressed for the occasion. I went shopping in the free (but limited) Lively Catologue. Here’s where Second Life wins hands down though – users have more ability to create.
I must say Lively lowers the learning curve and indirectly barriers of entry for its ease of use, so hopefully that will entice more users to stay!
If you squint hard enough at the picture above, you can Where’s WallyUniquefrequency, for some bizarre reason standing on the deck chair.
Dinosaurs appeared out of nowhere suddenly. Easter eggs from the Island room default shell? Interesting. (Learn the Lingo: Rooms are created starting with Shells).
Communicating: Aye, I hear ya
Right, it wasn’t till later I realized the sound had been muted on the computer. Was pleasantly surprised to find decent ambient audio work on the various rooms, although my avatar had a horribly annoying laugh. (Try it – when you type “haha” or “lol”, your character actually automatically does the motions). There are a whole lot of other actions – kicking, body slamming, hugging and so on…
Lively can only work when there are communities. I dropped in on a couple of guys doing up their Coffee Break room. The room was abuzz with activity and everyone was working together, some people slacking on the sofas, milling around – not entirely atypical of any real life situation.
Connecting with the rest of Web 2.0
You can configure TV sets to play YouTube videos! Linking up with already popular platforms never hurts.
You can, also hyperlink all objects to the WWW.’
I see a lot of linking potential here. Wouldn’t it be cool to link up with magazines, books, stores, etc (not that different from like Second Life though!)
I decided that exploring was not going to be enough for me, so I got down and dirty creating my own room.
Have always dreamt of owning a beautiful place were friends could hang out, chill and just socialize, so the rooftop pad was a natural choice!
Lively residents need drinks! We have no food items.
…more to come when the place is spruced up.
Cloning and Construction
There are some algorithums that need to be figured out here. I kept losing my furniture to the sky (some of them are still floating around, somewhere!). I also thought it would be cool to have a plant on the wall, but only because you can place items on any surface. This resulted in a lot of difficulty in moving my items around.
We also need a duplicate/clone object function! Like perhaps clicking on an object and hitting ‘alt’ drag to clone it!
You know something has got potential when the invasion of smut comes along. Jim Collins says that businesses can learn a lot from the non profit sector. I think there’s a lot to learn from the porn industry too. Look at these guys! They’re loosely structured for major flexibility, appear on almost any popular platform you can think of (both traditional and digital mediums), and they do it fast.
And they work around the limitations of the catalouge too because I sure did NOT see any posters like that in the shop. They probably embedded Youtube videos, or their own pictures on a plasma. Smart. I haven’t gotten round to visiting these rooms though, maybe when I’ve done up my own place. Ah the beauty of virtual reality, where you can factor out the safety factor in ethnographic studies!
After all that’s said and done, I will ignore the fact that Google have not (yet) released a Lively version for the Mac. Lively, however, is well worth hijacking someone else’s PC for.
3D Meshes load much faster than Second Life. (However, apparently, loading was pretty slow on other machines).
Easier learning curve compared to Second Life, and thus will hopefully catch on in this part of the world so I don’t have to wake up at unearthly hours to mingle with the residents.
Great place for community building.
Stickiness factor: It gets addictive, but will only work if friends join in the fun!
Brand name: It’s from GOOGLE. I expect only better things when the beta version is improved.
Cons Could be better
Start noobs on a “help” island/ run them through a quick compulsory start up introduction, because none of us are going to read instructions when there’s a game to get to.
Content Creation – yes, some of us (outside Google) can do 3D modelling and texturing, and yes, the catalogue is not looking too good at the moment.
Flexibility of avatars pales in comparison to Second Life, where literally, you could extend or shorten your limbs.
Clone function for (free) objects: Too annoying to have to go back and ‘buy’ more items from the Catalouge. It’s free anyway, right? So I should be able to duplicate as many as I want.
Where is my food??? Drinks?? I can’t offer any of my guests anything at the moment!!
Better Chat logging functions
Would be cool if I could upload my own ambient music/songs to my room.
Second life has its own timezone – a Day/night function would rock! (If only because I could have cool lights on my Bachelorette pad. A universal timezone also makes it easier to meet people from various parts of the globe.
I will end this off with something I’ve shared before on social networks. Depending on how Google builds on this, there might be one more platform to add to this very entertaining video.
What I remember was walking into a pimped up, purple lit plane. It certainly didn’t do anything ‘practical’ like shorten the flight time, or make the seats more comfortable. It did one thing very important though, it delivered over and beyond what I’ve come to expect from airlines- long, boring flights during which I would have to force myself to sleep to while the time away. Virgin America (VA) made sure the basic necessities weremet – comfy seats, cordial stewardesses and cups of fizzy drinks. What I think they did right was that VA gave me something to talk about to and with my friends.
It was love at first sight.
After I got through the initial excitement about the blinged up plane interior (and it was really just simple change of light hue), VA proceeded to retain my interest by showing me this in flight safety video:
A really awesome alternative to stuffy air stewardesses doing live demonstrations that nobody watches, or boring videos that look like they were filmed in the 1980s (in most cases, they probably WERE). Swanky stuff!
Haven’t really seen anything fresh recently in terms of motion graphics, the same old swanky swirling bursts of 3d wonderland gets old after a while. Have always been a great fan of hybrid technologies and I keep wondering if the main character was drawn, or modelled. A lot of work went into this deceptively simple piece and I am loving the visual feast. Regardless of how warped it gets after a while. Nobody does quirky like the Japanese! <3s to them.
Here is BenTerret, a graphic designer in London. Albeit a rather long read, but angry enough to radiate some feelings of passion ; rational enough, that you might just start pondering over various issues after reading it.