Posted In:Design | Page 2 of 6 | Greyscalegorilla
Keep your reference images and project notes in your sight at all times with PureRef. No more tabbing between windows and programs.
Once in a while, a productivity tool comes along and changes the way I work. Now to be clear, I think of a good coffee cup as a productivity tool, so that should give a bit of insight into my obsession with honing in my toolset. When a tool can drastically improve your work or your life, I feel compelled to tell people about it. So this is me yelling from the rooftop about my latest obsession, PureRef.
PureRef is a straightforward utility app for Windows, Mac, and Linux with a very simple premise. Keep your reference images in view at all times. The app places your references in a window that stay on top of all your active programs and tools.
All day I bounce back and forth between my DCC (digital content creation) apps to random reference bookmarks or folders on my machine. Sometimes even dragging images into the Cinema 4D picture viewer just to keep them in sight.
With PureRef, you can create a new canvas and drag as many images onto its infinite canvas as you’d like. The best part is that you can tell PureRef to stay on top of all your open applications and windows. While you’re working, you can dial in your look while having all your reference imagery sitting right next to your preview render (IPR).
The ability to save canvases means you can start keeping multiple PureRef projects to suit your current needs. It’s a huge time saver. I also love how you can quickly zoom, resize, and re-arrange your images anytime you’d like, saving the changes for the next time you need instant inspiration.
This tool improved the look of my work on first use. I was able to take 20 minutes assembling reference imagery, and during my look-dev process, I was able to hit the look I was after in minutes. You can even add notes to yourself within the PureRef canvas.
Having reference imagery sitting an inch away from your IPR is something I will no longer be able to live without. You will see a lot of it in the future in my tutorials. So do yourself a favor, find an excellent sturdy coffee cup and go download PureRef right now.
About PureRef and Download
PureRef allows you to drag-and-drop files from your machine, or directly from browsers. You can also edit photos in your canvas to meet your needs, including rotation, scale, crop, opacity, and more. You can also customize the canvas and keyboard shortcuts to speed things up.
- Windows 7+
- Mac OS X 10.9+
- Linux Ubuntu 14.04+
- Supported Image Formats
- BMP, DDS, GIF, ICNS, ICO, JPEG, JP2, MNG, PBM, PGM, PNG, PNM, PPM, PSD, TIFF, WEBP, XBM, XPM, TGA(TrueVision 2.0)
PureRef is a name your own price download, and you can get it here. It’s well worth throwing them a few dollars if you can.
Rick Lundskow aka @lundskow
We’d like to welcome Daily Render Guest Artist Rick Lundskow @lundskow to our ongoing series of awesomeness.
What is your name, position, and where do you currently work?
How did you get into Cinema 4D?
I’m almost positive I saw a motion graphics video on vimeo back in 2010/2011. It was so impactful that I wanted to learn how to create art like it. I immediately downloaded the trial version and started watching Greyscalegorilla tutorials. After the trial expired I used the demo version. The demo wouldn’t let you save or render out projects, which was a slight bummer because some of the pieces were sweet. However, I could recreate them if I really wanted them.
Once I moved to Michigan to work at Cornerstone, I budgeted for Cinema 4d Studio. That’s when the real fun began.
When did you start your daily render practice?
I tried to start daily renders but they took too much time or I ran out of ideas too quickly. I got in my head too much… Each piece had to be amazing, but often times they were not great by any stretch of the imagination.
At Half Rez this past year I had a chance to talk to Beeple, the master of daily renders. He really encouraged me that it wasn’t as big of a deal as I was making it out to be. I just needed to make something happen. I don’t know what it was, but it clicked in my brain and I started the next day, September 15th.
What is the hardest part about doing a daily render?
Time would probably be the most difficult part of a daily render for me. Some nights I don’t get home until 10pm-12am and I haven’t even started on my project. The worst is when I get home late and I don’t even have a concept. On those nights, I wanted to give up. And there were many of those nights. However I’m sure other people have had that same exact excuse but have continued anyway. So I told myself that I couldn’t have any excuses for missing a day.
What have you learned by making something every day?
Probably the most significant thing I’ve learned is lighting and reflections. Lighting can make or break your render, so I experimented with different techniques until I found something that works for me. Since I don’t have a fancy render (which might change very soon), I wanted to learn the most with the tools that I had on hand.
As far a basic life skills go, I learned that I can put too much pressure on the creativity. I want the design to be better than the day before it, or create a compelling piece that will sell to millions of people. The former is stressful and the latter hasn’t happened yet. Daily renders are more like experiments. No pressure on the outcome. You try an idea that doesn’t work, but you fix those mistakes the next day and publish your findings. It’s important for me to realize that when I fail, I just found another way of not doing something.
What Hardware and Software do you use to make your work?
I do most of my work on a 2012 MacBook Pro. Nothing too fancy about it but it gets the job done. If I stay late at work, or have some free time over lunch, I’ll create piece on my Mac Pro with 12GB of ram. Then render it out using Team Render across 3-4 of the other machines in the office.
Aside from using Cinema, I use Illustrator a lot to create splines. The shape builder inside Illustrator is incredibly powerful for making custom shapes for lathes, sweeps, and extrudes. I recently purchased ZBrush core. While Cinema’s sculpting tools are great, there were a few features about ZBrush that made it easier to sculpt heads.
What is your day to day like at work?
My work schedule changes on a daily basis. I tend to have a theme to each week day though. Mondays are meeting days. A nice easy transition into the work week. Tuesdays are typically my big project day. I can get the most done without a ton of distractions. Wednesdays are a big filming day. We do video announcements in our Sunday services and we record & edit them mid-week. Thursdays are the busiest days because we’re trying to finish the work week strong. So I’ll finish projects that I didn’t quite complete the other work days. Coffee is a requirement for Thursdays. The great thing about my job is that I don’t work Fridays. Actually, I don’t think I’ve had a job in the past 10 years that required me to work Fridays. It’s pretty amazing.
Anything advice to anyone out there just getting started?
Great art isn’t about having the best resources, it’s about using what you have. There’s something special about taking what little resources you do have to create something beautiful. It gives you an appreciation for the things around you. When you hit a roadblock, figure a way around it. Don’t let circumstances hold you back from accomplishing what you want to do.
Also, don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. Start with a 5 minute idea and work from there. Most of my projects come from a small element I see in my day to day world. Find something that inspires you and run with that idea.
Where can people learn more about you?
I’m currently rebuilding my website from scratch, so currently I don’t have more info available.
Half Rez 5 was a blast and we couldn’t do it without the help of lots of talented people. This year LooseKeys created a new set of animations for us and knocked it out of the park!
We at Greyscalegorilla know the people over at LooseKeys well since we shared an office space with them for years. Now’s your chance to get to know them as well! We sent them some questions so you can get a taste for who they are and the work they do!
What is Loosekeys and how long have you been around?
Brad Chmielewski – LooseKeys is a design and animation studio in Chicago. We’ve been around for about 5 years now. A lot of the work we do involves character animation and storytelling.
What did you learn while making these animations?
Jake Williams – What was great about making the Half Rez animations was feeling like a newbie again with a new creative tool. While Cinema 4D was daunting at first, the amount of community resources available was integral and helping us learn on the fly. As we got more comfortable with the software, we were able to apply our style and animation principles with a totally new tool.
Ethan Barnowsky – This would be an appropriate place to thank Nick, Chris, and EJ because I spent a LOT of time in their tutorials learning techniques and tips for this project. It’s easy to take that resource for granted, but I would be miserable without their help! So, thanks!
How did you guys decide the content of each video?
BC – With most projects, we sit down and brainstorm concepts as a team. From there we’ll typically go and explore some concepts or at least pull some references for what the videos could be.
JW – We knew that we wanted to have a flow to the spots; that together they would tell a sort of story with the characters. We brainstormed a good number of ideas to get us started and then boiled it down to the 3-4 that we realistically thought we could accomplish before the show. The dance party, cheers, and drunky spots were the original 3 spots and the drone guy was added when we realized we could squeeze in one more.
Normally Loosekeys has a 2D workflow. What made you guys decide to try some 3D for these?
BC – Since HalfRez is an event centered around 3D animation we felt that we needed to make something that all the 3D animators in the room would enjoy while still staying true to our style. We could have easily done something in 2D but then we really wouldn’t have pushed ourselves to do something that challenged us.
JW – Echoing what Brad already mentioned, we wanted to push ourselves with this project. Really there was no better time to finally try to get our bearings in a 3D software package than this very project.
EB – I asked myself that question a lot while I banged my head against the keyboard trying to learn more 3D but in the end I’m super happy I had this as an opportunity to learn and create something new in C4D. I’m really thankful. Turns out it’s super fun.
Any inspirations feed into the animations?
BC – I know one thing that came up early on was the “Dumb Ways To Die” video.
JW – We looked at a ton of reference centered around TV idents and bumpers. There’s such a great timing and pacing in the stories that are told in quick 10-15 second spots that we wanted to capture. One of my favorite early references were these Adult Swim Idents from Art&Graft.
EB – We also looked at the Half Rez logo and branding and previous years bumpers and wanted to play off of those elements a bit. Love cubes and bubbles.
How was the crowd reactions to the animations both online and at Half Rez?
BC – From what I could tell it seemed that most people really enjoyed them. It’s sometimes hard to tell since I personally know so many people in the community, you never know if they are just being nice. What I think worked for us was that we took our character animation skills and storytelling ability and applied them to 3D. The 3D was very simple and I’m sure many people out there would have no trouble recreating these spots. What’s sometimes troublesome about 3D animation is that the possibilities are endless. What we do well at LooseKeys is to take something that’s complicated and make it simple. I felt like the reaction was great, we did something a bit different for us at LooseKeys and although they were cubes, it was a bit outside the box.
JW – The live crowd seemed to enjoy the spots although I wish I had made the “dance party” spot a bit longer to see if people would have jumped out of their seats! From friends and acquaintances alike I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback and it’s incredibly humbling to get this sort of response from guys and gals whose opinion and work I respect so much.
Loosekeys and Greyscalegorilla used to share office space. How’s your new place and what has changed?
BC – We do miss the Greyscalegorilla guys. Having more energy in the office is always nice to keep your creative juices flowing. For us it was time to make a move in order to feel more like the studio we wanted to be. You don’t need your own space in order to be a studio. Still there is something about having your own space that feels comfortable and helps set the tone for your workday. Having your own studio makes you want to invite clients over and show off with parties. We have now been in the space for a year and there is plenty of room for us to grow and try new things.
EB – It’s quieter without the ping pong, pinball and excited chatter which is occasionally good but mainly I miss those aspects! It took a long time to adjust to the lack of lunchtime ping pong noises coming from the other room. Like Brad said, it’s nice to have a space to call our own where we can have parties and create without getting in anybody else’s way.
Best way to follow your work as a fan? Best way to contact you as a client?
BC – I try to keep all of our social media channels updated with what we are working on. Twitter is a great place to start if you want a catch all for everything we are doing.
And for any clients who are looking to get in touch, I would be the best person to talk to about new business email@example.com
You guys are the most prolific podcasters I know. How many podcasts are the members of Loosekeys involved in these days?
BC – Thanks! I love the medium. At the moment I have 4 podcasts that I release new episodes for pretty regularly. There are a few that come on and off and some others that have ended but there are 4 that I focus my time and energy on. Shatter The Vain, a podcast with over 120 episodes about the mobile game Vainglory. This podcast is released every Monday. Released every Tuesday is Toon Talk Weekly, a podcast where Jake Williams and I talk about a new cartoon each and every week. Then there is Chicago Beer Pass with 160 episodes. Chicago Beer Pass is a weekly podcast about beer events in the Chicagoland area and Illinois. And then my video podcast is Hop Cast. This podcast isn’t recorded as often and doesn’t have a real schedule anymore but it is the longest running podcast. Ken Hunnemeder and I have been talking about beer for eight years and recorded over 285 episodes of this show.
I love the idea of podcasting, you’re able to take something you’re passionate about and share that love with the world. Each show I do has a different fan base but it doesn’t matter if one person is listening or thousands. Just the idea that someone cares about something as much as you do is enough. Podcasting is a form of storytelling and using the medium to help perfect that skill set is very important for me and the business.
JW – Special shoutout to Chris for being on Toon Talk Weekly Episode 86 to talk about his love for ReBoot!
Who are some artists / websites you admire?
JW – I’d be lying if I didn’t say I check Dribbble and Vimeo daily to see what talented folks are working on. I love simple, clean, and clever character design and animation and there is a ton of great work out there. A few favorites:
Ice Cream Hater
EB – All of those artists Jake mentioned are amazing. I also tend to lean towards bold, simple, sometimes crude illustration styles and love artists like:
Everyone in the Late Night Work Club
Follow the LooseKeys guys on twitter
If you did not spend the last 30 years on a uncharted island, you probably heard about this thing called Star Wars. A couple days ago the 7th episode came out and introduced to us BB-8, a new spherical droid. Right after being introduced in the trailer, quickly became a fan’s favorite and the fastest selling Star Wars toy.
I became a little scared that BB-8 was just an attempt to replace R2-D2 or to sell merchandising, but in the end his place in the movie was totally justified and it did gain my affection. I stumbled upon this free model of BB-8 online, that is pretty accurate and seemed like it would look great in motion.
The first step was to build the floor. It is a simple plane with a tiling sand texture on it. A noise is used to have some details and displacement gives the relief. An FFD deformer is then applied to slightly curve the plane and hide the hard edges. Finally, Signal is used to offset the texture over time, creating the illusion of movement.
Then, three layers of mountains are built using the default Landscape object. Two of them are repeating so they can loop while moving, and a third, distant one is static. By offseting the two first layers a parallax effect gives a lot of depth, and makes the furtest-back mountain look distant rather than static. Each mountain is being moved at the same speed as the scrolling floor with Signal.
The Parallax effect is reinforced with foreground objects, as well as a repeating fence between BB-8 and the landscapes, all being moved at constant speed with Signal. Here’s how it looks from a different angle:
Next, BB-8 needs to be animated. For that, 4 Signal tags are needed. One drives the body rotation using constant motion, one drives the up-and-down motion with random noise, one drives the head position and the last one the head’s rotation, both with random noise as drivers.
It’s now time to put all the elements together, and make sure everything loops correctly and stays in frame. To make the motion seem more dynamic, two more Signal noises are added to the camera’s position and rotation.
Then, the scene was lit using a directional light and an ambiant light, as well as ambiant occlusion. It was rendered in the Cinema 4D Physical renderer with both Depth of Field and Motion blur. Finally, color correction and lighting effects were added in After Effects.
I did a few couple of high quality stills, and added some grain in Photoshop:
And that’s it! All it took was a couple of Signal tags and built in effects to make this little guy come to life.
Motion artist and teacher, Colin Evoy Sebestyen has done something I have never seen before. He has posted his entire demo reel (shown above) as an open source project for anyone to download, play with, and learn from. Everything you see in his reel and in this post is available in a huge download of scene files, vector objects, and videos. So cool! I have learned a ton by opening up others’ scene files, and Colin gives us a ton of great ones to play with.
Colin also sent Greyscalegorilla this exclusive video (posted below) of him going through some of the project files to show you how they were put together and some of the thought that went behind making them. Thanks so much to Colin for putting this out for the community. Colin mentioned that you can thank him by following him on twitter, or liking his Facebook page.
Colin’s Video Walkthrough
Animated GIF Examples
Just as a painting you may own does you no good sitting in your basement unseen, your source files don’t do much backed up on a hard drive. – Colin
Computers are jerks and love to fill in the gaps linearly because they are lazy sacks of wires. A great animator/motion designer spends most of their days fighting computers to make sure they don’t mess this up.
In this presentation about designing with animation, Pasquale D’Silva goes through some great examples of how animation can be used to help design software interfaces. It’s a great talk about how animation can help make software easier to use. He also wrote this article that includes some great visual examples of these animation concepts in action. The best part… These concepts are great for ALL motion design. Not just software.
Also See… Guide To Keyframes In After Effects
Designer, main title director, and Cinema 4D artist, Aaron Becker presented at the latest Chicago C4D Meetup. We recorded his presentation and it’s now up for viewing. In the presentation, he talks about concept development and creative process for feature film title design and shows some of his recent work for TV and film.
I worked with Aaron at Digital Kitchen back in 2008-2009. He was a great guy to work with; always ready with an honest critique and an incredible sense of design and purpose. Now I’m lucky enough to still work near him at Bomkamp where the GSG offices are located. What a guy. Hope you love the talk.
You’ve probably seen our new design for Greyscalegorilla by now, but I wanted to show you some of the ideas and thoughts we put in to it. We thought a lot about how people use the site, and how to best make GSG more usable, beautiful, simple, and discoverable.
The main goal for this design was to make the site more discoverable. With 222 tutorials over five years, it was getting hard to find everything. There were dozens of relevant tutorials and posts that could help, but they were buried in a blog structure. Blogs are great for seeing what’s new on the site, but not for finding and discovering some of its hidden gems. We concentrated a lot of our effort on the new tutorial page that allows you to filter and find what you’re looking for on one dynamic page, without pagination or a ton of scrolling.
The blog has grown over the last few years. Greyscalegorilla is now a real company with five employees. It’s not just me anymore. This heavily fueled the updated look. I wanted a site that we all could be proud of and that represented the entire company. Mostly, it was the logo and branding. I’m admittedly not the best designer, so until now the site brand guide consisted of “Use Gotham or Helvetica for everything!” and “Maybe we should try adding orange?” I wanted something more sophisticated, recognizable, and fun to represent the site.
I looked around for help and ended up hiring Jeremiah and Danny to brand the site and help establish a look that would represent the entire company and give Greyscalegorilla the brand it deserves. My main rule was, “I want a logo that I would be proud to wear on a t-shirt,” and they definitely delivered with their beautiful, new custom logo and mark (pictured above).
We Want To Help
Overall, I hope the site is more useful for you. I want the site to get out of your way when you’re reading or learning, and then offer help when you need it. We still have a few more things planned for this new look, but I sure am glad to get this out and see people use it. Thanks so much to everyone who helped including Dave who worked hard to get this new design up and working.
Mig asked me to render some fuzzy type for a Threadless page he was working on. Of course, I said yes. I rendered out the type in Cinema 4D using the Hair module. Then, he colored it and made it work with the design. It was hard to keep the Threadless logo readable and still fuzzy looking. But, I think it turned out pretty well. Mostly because of the great design work of from Mig.
Here are some renders and a few screen shots from the project.
You may have noticed the new design here on Greyscalegorilla. I have been planning to update this site for over a year and I’m glad to say it’s finally here.
Up till now, Greyscalegorilla has been pretty much hacked together. My smart friend Trevor helped me code the first design back in 2008 and the site, up until yesterday, has been a combination of hacks and workarounds from that original design. It made for a site that was hard to update, slow to load, and inconsistent from page to page. Most of the problems came from me hacking away at the CSS and template little by little until it became a giant mess. It may have looked OK on the surface, but the code behind it was gnarly.
The new design was made for a few reasons (faster load time, cleaner look), but the main one is so that you can find tutorials and other posts easier. GSG has years of posts now and most of the older content gets buried so quickly. I wanted to give new visitors to the site an easier way to find what they were looking for and even discover things they weren’t. The search and category view has been streamlined so you can see more per page and the archive view has been added so you can find older posts easier. This design will, of course, evolve over time as we continue to streamline the site for you guys and find problems. But, I’m really glad the core of it is up and ready for viewing. Thanks a ton to Josh for designing and coding the site and especially for staying up late during this weekend to make sure it’s all up and running. High Five!
Finally, since this is a new layout with too many posts to test it on, you may find a few things out of place somewhere. If you see something funny, please drop a note in the comments below. It would be a big help. Thanks as always for being an ongoing part of the Greyscalegorilla community. Keep learning and having fun!
I’m honored to be a guest editor over at Coudal Partners for the month of November. Look for random design links and other fun stuff in their Fresh Signals feed from me and the rest of the team at Coudal.
So, What Is Coudal?
Coudal is an imposibly tough place to describe, but I’ll give it a try anyway. Coudal is a creative company based in Chicago that makes useful, well designed products and fun short films. They host and curate the always entertaining Layer Tennis, and the founder Jim gives great talks on how the company continues to make a living for designers by doing fun, creative projects and trying random ideas. They also created a non-crappy ad network that allows smart guys like John Gruber, Merlin Mann, Dan Benjamin, and dozens of other artists to do continue what they love doing without worrying about stuffing their site with ugly ads.
Trying Ideas for Fun And Profit
Coudal has always been my ideal example of a group of designers having fun, exploring different things they love to do, and making a living doing it. Their ad network even allows other artists to do the same. It’s exactly the kind of thing that I have tried to structure my career around and to talk to young designers about. Through Coudal, I saw that It was possible to make a living by trying all the random, disparate things I love to do. They seem to take their silly ideas and actually try them instead of just talking about them. Some ideas succeed, and some fail spectacularly. But, that really isn’t the point. To have the opportunity to try something else fun the next day is what they were all about. I love that about Coudal and am happy to be a small part of it.
James White of Signal Noise writes about learning from tutorials vs learning on your own:
If you only do tutorials without exploring things on your own, then you learn only 1 thing: how to read. They’re a wonderful place to start, but it’s up to you after that. You should figure out how to do that thing you want to make instead of waiting for the tutorial to emerge. What does Fabio do before he writes his great tutorials? He figures it out.
His post cuts to the heart of the difference between learning from watching and learning by doing. To be clear, I learned a TON from watching tutorials. They are a super fun and practical way to learn. If it weren’t for people like Brian Maffitt, Tim Clapham making great video tutorials for After Effects and Cinema 4D, I never would have gotten into this stuff. It’s one of the reasons I make tutorials today. To try and give back and help the next kid like me that is looking for good quality tutorials online.
Like James, However, I have always learned the most when trying to figure out how to do it on my own. Seeing something cool and trying to figure it out on my own is always WAY more fun, rewarding, and educational than following someone else’s directions.
Like most great things, moderation is key. Watch all the tutorial you wan’t, but for every hour of learning from tuts, spend four hours playing and experimenting with those concepts. Try this. After watching a tutorial, instead of just following it verbatim, try to see how you can use that technique in a different way. Maybe combine two tutorials together or try to use it with a logo or your name instead of just primitives. Experiment, combine, test, and break. Anyone can follow a recipe perfectly. But, be sure to combine all of what you learn and make something that doesn’t have step by step directions. That’s where the real learning happens.
1. Fabio from Abduzeedo.
2. Beer, Coffee, High Fives, Rage Against The Machine, etc.