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Back into the realm of PowerPoint game shows we go, with a mock-up of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? in its classic, Tarrant-led incarnation. This is something I’ve attempted several times over several years, but this is definitely the best yet. Some extra sparkle is provided by renders of my now rather old 3D model of the 2001 set. I would ideally have gone for the original 1998 set, but my model of that is inferior and, frankly, the motivation to redo it isn’t there.

Hopefully it’s not too hard to see how it works from the video, but in any case: the options appear by clicking anywhere. The quizmaster then clicks on the letter at the bottom of the screen corresponding to the contestant’s final answer. Clicking on said letter a second time reveals the correct answer. Lifelines function for every question; it’s just a case of remembering to input the information beforehand. I have yet to find a way of carrying over the usage of lifelines; it might not even be possible, so as it is the contestant has all three available for every question.

Question setups for each correct answer are ready-made, and can be copied and pasted in any order to create a full stack.

It’s quite a convoluted animation setup, as anyone who’s worked with PowerPoint beyond spinning and bouncing text can probably imagine, but it works rather well and isn’t overly hard to edit. It’s implementing the sound effects which is likely to be the phone a friend moment.

Brrr! Or not so brrr to be accurate, as it’s relatively mild here, the thick fog not really creating much of a marshmallow world or winter wonderland. There’s certainly not much of a chill placed in my heart; indeed, there’s something special about these days as we count down to the main event. A cosiness sets in at some indeterminate point. Possibly when all the shopping is done.

As the time to put together a Christmas card drew ever closer, I kept telling myself that, this time, I was going to try something more traditional; slower. A nice landscape drawing, maybe, or an intricate voxel model. Well, that turned out didn’t it? It’s always the way. There must be an angel, quite a mischievous one, playing tricks on me, but far from being a thorn in my side, they guided me to something different. I enjoyed it, and I guess that’s all that matters.

A peaceful, safe and happy holiday season to you all. Fill the bowl, roll out the barrel, and sweet dreams of your perfect winter wonderland.

Working on another Pixel Dailies prompt, “computer icons”, again with a 32×32 pixel restriction, I ended up going back to the days of Windows 95 and its incredibly familiar (at least for those of a certain age) teal desktop.

What if contemporaneous TV shows were available to stream? One-off streams had already been done by this point, but can’t you just imagine the quality of an on-demand catch-up service in 1995, and on a dial-up connection? As nightmarish as it would inevitably have been, some would doubtless be waxing nostalgic about it today! But let’s suspend our disbelief and imagine that technology allowed it at a passable standard…

I had a bit of a think of what shows I remember from that time; I was only three years old when Windows 95 was released, so, besides a couple of personal favourites, I’ve gone with shows that I remember my parents watching. Brookside and Coronation Street narrowly missed out. The icons don’t look too out of place, so I’m counting this as a win.

It’s decidedly less spiky than my last typographical effort, but not completely without a point – well, one hopes.

This was another speedy task, with only a couple of hours to make an alphabet. Don’t let my enthusiasm fool you; it remains a fun and invigorating challenge. With those time constraints in mind, I tried to stay simple and decided to create letters on a 3×3 grid, connecting pieces together. I set myself one rule: that each character should be diverse enough to accommodate at least one of each piece – a straight, a slant and a curve.

The result is a hybrid face of both smooth and rigid forms, and hopefully that’s enough to carry it. The systematic nature meant that the project lent itself to the iterative process, with pieces being substituted in and out and creating recognisable variants. Then, it was just a case of choosing my favourite. But I could have sat switching parts for much longer than I did. As fun as that would be, having the time limit makes everything more immediate, quite literally.

As my favourite school calculator used to say, it’s hip2b₂.

Back to lettering. The old faithful.

It’s somewhat traditional at this stage for me to moan about not having done much lately, but this seems to have been a particularly long dry spell, with nothing really working out for what felt like months. I feel weird when not creating anything – it’s unnerving. Last week, though, something fun and game show-y came along, which was nice – but that’s another post for another time. Tick tock.

Getting rather desperate, I turned back to my rope letters from 2019 and decided to try and convert them to barbed wire. It turned out to be reassuringly simple, just requiring adjustments to the spline rotation and the addition of the “barbs”.

Though I started in 3D, I found myself moving to 2D aswell. A very quick attempt at making a barbed wire brush in Illustrator yielded these developments. It seems to have become more scraggy than I originally intended; almost like thread, or lightning on the black background. But still, fun to explore and yes, something has emerged at long last.

And that’s a suitably inviting message on which to end.

Remember The Sims? I’m talking about the original 2000 release with its isometric view, not the current game, whatever number in the series they are up to, because I haven’t played it and, by default, that means it isn’t as good. Do you remember when you’d blow all of your Simoleons constructing an obnoxiously large house for your Sims, furnish it and feel happy… then zoom out and realise it was a glorified stack of crates? I feel like that’s what happened here. I wasn’t going for something quite so brutal, but I think chickening out on the roof is the main reason for that, here. Still, the colours are appealing should you want your holiday home pained with strawberry ice cream. Choice words there for someone drinking strawberry milkshake.

This was a MagicaVoxel triumph for me, though, on a previously unmatched scale. Ever since I started exploring this software, a few years ago now, I’ve been looking at amazing creations online which appeared far larger than the 126x126x126 object limit. This perplexed me. Well, it turns out there’s a world editor where you can link objects together and position them pretty much however you desire, and apparently you can use as many as your computer can withstand. It’s a block editor that doesn’t make you want to scream and tear your hair out (although admittedly I was rather left to my own devices, as the only meaningful tutorial I could find on it was speaking French). But I got there in the end. This goes some way to explain the boxy nature of the piece, as it’s really made up of the same blocks: block with door and window, block with just window, balcony, etc.

After some time raising my eyebrow in befuddlement, I’ve unlocked something in MagicaVoxel with this exercise. I wonder how many others used it and gave up before they even knew of the world editor, as it’s quite well hidden. But it’s easy once you know how. I do still find myself wrestling with the camera quite a lot, but maybe at this stage it’s just me; it’s an intriguing twist on pixel art exploration and does what it does very well. Have a go if you like.

I’m taking a trip back to 2018 for this post which, yes, you guessed it, seems like a lifetime ago now. These geometric grid pieces were given the working title Summer Nights and attempted to abstract a warm vibe with vivid and electric colours. I believe the ultimate goal was to make letters out of them, but unfortunately they were not finished before they were abandoned.

However, revisiting these in 2021 created the germ of the ideas that have appeared in recent weeks, so they are now pertinent.

Indeed the new pieces were made on the same files as the 2018 work, hence the similar colours and style. Some do stick out rather, though; even more once I dragged them kicking and screaming into Photoshop for some filtering fun.

Perhaps it says something that, after all of this experimentation, I ended up going back to the very first idea and really found it to be the most enjoyable process. Maybe I will try and put some letters together after all, although saying I might do something on here seems to be the kiss of death for my productivity! Fingers crossed for an exception to the rule.

So there we are: what’s old is new again. if you don’t like it now, put it away but don’t bin it. You might need it in three years.

I thought the logical progression from my previous post was to release some other shapes into the fray. Triangles are fun, but circles too? And semi-circles? Kid in a candy store, here. My intentions were of a similar natural, springlike bent and sure enough, I came up with some designs which rather fit the theme.

The usual Photoshop breaking and making followed.

Then I started playing with the circular and mostly symmetrical nature of these, cutting a quarter of each piece, flipping it and rotating around the centre. Quite possibly, this is some of the gaudiest work I have ever created; I tend to design patterns in black and white or a limited selection of colours. That’s just how I was taught. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with leaving the comfort zone and going all out.

At first I was thinking seamless floor tiles, but the ‘boldness’ of these brought to mind the interesting wallpaper choices of the mid-to-late twentieth century, coming out of the war and injecting some much needed colour into life. When my parents moved into their house back in 1976, apparently every room was done up in contrasting colours and patterns – bright purples, yellows, greens. They soon got rid of all that!

Imagine your boudoir done up with these bad boys:

I don’t think I’ll be snapped up by Changing Rooms anytime soon; Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen, you’re safe for now. But don’t let my sneering give the impression I didn’t have fun. This was an absolute blast!

Yes, it’s that time of the year again, which means it’s that time to post a card again. Originally I was going to try something completely different, but I thought I should really continue the trend of pixel and voxel for this year’s Christmas card, so here we have a star created in Magicavoxel. In fact, only a quarter of the star is physically present; the rest is merely a reflection in an isometric view. Interesting, huh?

2020: what is there to say?

Thank you to all of the key workers who have looked after us this year, and everyone who has just done the right thing. You are stars.

It does seem harder than ever to get into the festivities this year, but I hope everyone has as happy and as peaceful a Christmas as possible. Let’s hope things are different next time around.

Merry Christmas.

In a previous lettering post, I mused on the idea of taking sharp, industrial forms and giving them a Gothic influence. That’s how this succeeding project began, but, as you can probably tell, I ended up in quite a different place. Maybe I’ll revisit that someday.

This time, I ended up with circuit boards after discovering a ready-made model of one in C4D. They are fascinating to look at, with their intricate tracks within a city of components – even now, there’s a futuristic feel about them. Perhaps a touch of retro-futuristic too, as I remember marvelling at the board from our original ZX Spectrum as it sat broken in a container for years.

I ripped the bump map texture from the 3D model and started cutting it up into letters; not much to see there originally, so I started cutting my own letters. using the board as a guide. That’s how the header came about. The Photoshop threshold effect gave it a nice printed edge, which I thought an interesting juxtaposition. Furthermore, it pushed me back into my favoured position of monochrome goodness:

Though, I did pull myself away momentarily to try and give the impression of a letter-shaped tracking.

Eventually though I returned to the threshold effect, but using green! I worried that black and white tracks to this extent might become migraine fuel for you (and me). The letters are also inverted to help with contrast.

I suppose the next step (or likely the first step for any logical human being) would be to actually create a circuit board layout with the corresponding letter imprinted on it, rather than overlapping textures in the shape of the letter. It’s worth a shot. It’s always worth a shot. But I do think what we have here is a nice novelty. With my time so much less than before, I’m quite happy for anything to jump out in an evening, like this has.

As for why I chose the name Computer over Circuit, Circuitry or something more relevant – eh. At least I got a few more unique letters out of my choice.