Cloud Project: First Lighting & Electronic Test

Maybe I’ve mentioned this already …not sure, but I’ve been working on a method to make my clouds available for purchase. While it may have been enough to simply have them hang from the ceiling I got this wild idea to have them illuminate too. Like storm clouds. Pulsing randomly from within. Well, I’ll spare you an outline of all the steps leading to this moment. Jus’ trust it’s involved. As in making a lot of inquiries, material testing, and refining constructions methods. Okay, so, maybe here’s just one mention.

The above shows test samples from exploring how various sprays might add a sheen to the clouds plus offer some form of protection.

So fast-forward to the present where a conversation with a co-worker, Lukasz (aka “Wu”), lead to a lighting solution. One involving a micro-processor, quarter-size board, two 5mm LED lights, 4.5v power source, on/off switch, and a custom script allowing the lights to pulse randomly.

The above is a very, very early proof where Wu tested the LED limitations, power sources, and the processor ability to deliver the “lightening script.” Well, it wasn’t long after this that Wu had a prototype on a board, featuring now three LED’s, a switch, and three AAA batteries…

…and the processor nestled between hot glued components. We understand the hot glue and electronical tape is “…totally ghetto” as Wu put it. However this version is already out-of -date in contrast to what’s next. Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. So the above shows the prototype before I wrapped the wires. Once that was complete I placed the entire assembly within an existing cloud…

…by essentially cutting it open and carefully inserting the components. It’s kinda hard to see but the black shape, within the cotton of the right, is the on/off switch. So once everything settled into place, and opening closed, the surface was sprayed…

…thereby completing the new look. -From a prototyping standpoint that is. The real test though, before activating the lights, was whether the cloud, being much heavier now, would hang safely. Would the hook hold? Would the string hold? Luckily the answer to all these were “yes.” As you can see here.

-Now it was time to test the lighting hardware! And the only way to communicate how well that went would be to watch this 1-minute video.

That aside, we have a number of improvements to make before these are available for purchase. Specifically…

  • New string material to accomodate the weight of the electronics
  • Switching from 3 AAA batteries to a single 9V
  • Introducing a new, lighter-weight material for the “core” of the clouds
  • Explore methods to easing battery changing
  • Remove the on/off switch in favor of proximity sensor -which will allow users to wave their hands near the cloud to turn one on/off.
  • Improve lightening script by introducing ramping
  • Test alternate cotton colors (e.g. “pink”)

This list amounts to only a few items left to tackle. Regardless, the process has been a complete blast and I’m really looking forward to the next prototype. So stay tuned.

“30 Day Drawing Challenge”

I recently participated in a “30 Day Drawing Challenge” that was very enjoyable. However, I noticed there weren’t many deviations available from the one I followed. So, naturally, that meant it was time to create one. Which actually got reeeeally involved for a bit. But anyhow…*clearing throat*…here’s where the efforts landed.

Understandably, the above image is low-res so print-friendly options include:

» Download this “30 Day Drawing Challenge” (hi-res .jpg / 1MB)
» Visit the HTML version.


“Lucky Leap” in 2-hours

Finally got a change to test drive “iBooks Author” with the hopes of learning how to expedite a (digital) graphic novel. Lots learned. But equally as interesting was the content used to proof the process. Within 2-hours fellow artist Alysha Lach and I created 19 scenes to work with. My role was to generate quick Sharpie sketches while her role was shading plus adjustments to any crazy lines. So, here’s the results. -Oh, and keep in mind the storyline wasn’t planned whatsoever. Seriously. Since the goal was to simply populate “iBooks Author” for testing the illustrations were…well, kinda figured out on a page-by-page basis. Now dig the drama.

(iPad’s “iBooks” view)

(The rough scenes created without the black background)


Camille’s pulled treatment / style test

…this approach didn’t work due to the level of detail in the character, the cropping fx, and labeling solution. Although it sounded great during development, right. And jus’ maybe, like the previous post, this format within the time allotted (w/o reference) might have been an issue. Who knows.

“…I know, you can draw me (in the morning) warming my hands with my iPad.”

A style test (‘n evidence I listen to every comment made during a meeting) involving mild texturing, colored lighting, backgrounds with clipping, and selective blurring. But since the process took me nearly twice as long as straight-forward coloring we ditched the approach.

Graphic Recording + 2012 SXSW

Looks like I’ll be doing the graphic recording for the 2012 SXSW Interactive Conference. Slight catch. Their goal is to do it on an iPad 3 using SketchBook Pro by Autodesk. So, yeah. Challenge.

To prepare I’ve been practicing everyday on my iPad (1st gen.) while also trying to narrow-down which stylus performs best. There’s also a number of technical requirements to consider (e.g. res, delivery, formats). But most importantly it’s all about speed. And at the moment I’m 5-6 times faster with a Sharpie. So training includes listening to random conversations in the office, or bits of NPR, and scribing like crazy. The following is from a recent internal meeting…

…and it took 12-minutes to generate. That’s way, way too long. And here’s another from a phone conversation where I scribed low-fidelity to act as instructions for a higher fidelity rendering later…

…which took nearly 15-minutes. That’s 3 times longer than it should take. Granted, I used various features within the app for both (layers, multiple pens, and an eraser effect to generate a gradient feel). But still. I gotta learn to dance faster. Lastly, I have a glove I’m about to test to see if I can minimize the number of false touches from my palm touching the screen. And now that…is gonna make things even more interesting. Stay tuned (and maybe wish me luck too).

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