Free grunge textures ahoy

I have a bit of a problem when it comes to taking photographs of interesting textures. That problem is that I do it a lot. And I accumulate heaps of them.

The plan is that one day they’ll come in super handy for a graphic design, photoshop or 3D imaging project. Sometimes, this actually happens. More often than not, I don’t end up using the images for anything.

So, I’ve made an Instagram account to shove all of these images into, so the internet can have at them and use them for whatever they please.

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The account is texcollex, and the images are totes free. Go nuts. If you really want to, let me know what you use them for. Or not. I don’t mind.

Heroes and Champions

I haven't given up on the Heroes of Science series, and I'm working on adding some new faces to the collection. Here's a nameless preview of the entire cast so far -- Click on the image for bigger, but not much bigger.

This is all part of a spreadsheet I've been using to visualise how the final poster-sized image will work out. So far I've completed two columns and almost one entire row! Please bear in mind that these little people take about 2 hours each to create.

On a similar note, here's an awesome piece of art along the same vein as Heroes of Science. This one's entitled "Champions of Reason", and is by graphic designer and comic artist Saejin Oh:

"Champions of Reason", by Saejin Oh.

You can view the full-sized image over at Art of Jin, and you can even download a humungous PSD version of the image, should you wish to non-profitly print one and hang it on your wall.

Prehistoric obsession

This is something I worked on a while ago, but it seemed appropriate with Jurassic Park: 3D being released this week. This is a mockup of a poster for a fourth Jurassic Park movie, which I created while I was entertaining the idea of writing a JP fan film (the idea hasn't completely dissipated, by the by). The byline is "Las Cinco Muertes", or "The Five Deaths", which was the eerily appropriate local name for the chain of islands that John Hammond bought up in the novels by Michael Crichton.

It's one of those projects that I started, then couldn't stop until it was perfect. This happens, occasionally. Sometimes I don't get much sleep.

The logo and poster are entirely made in Photoshop. The credit text is the only thing I skipped out on: It's "borrowed" from the poster for the first Jurassic Park.

Enjoy! And if you're Steven Spielberg, Universal or Amblin Entertainment, don't be offended, it's just an image. If I've stolen your idea, then damn -- I'm better at this than I thought I was.

Colonpipe: Evolution

In case you've ever wondered, here's the history of colonpipe.com, in convenient image format. This should answer a bunch of questions you didn't know you wanted to ask, including: - Has Russ ever had good design abilities? (Hint: no) - Has the website ever contained good, quality content? (Hint: no) - How many php-based randomising scripts can one actually use to create the illusion of a dynamic, interesting website? (Hint: all of them)

Many of the images below are from archive.org's Wayback Machine, which seems intent on preserving every embarrassing thing the internet has ever done.

Hit the jump to explore the history of a website that probably shouldn't be recorded --

Dark Spark: 2001.

website_april01

I'm afraid this is all that's left of my original website, from circa 2000-ish. I recall it had some kind of funky background behind it, and a banner/side menu combination that somehow fit together. It looks like archive.org didn't care to archive those images or files.

I believe the quote from Mark Twain, top right, obscured by white text on white thanks to the absent background images, was "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt".

Back then, my website was called "Datazoid's Reality", and was hosted on webspace provided by my dial-up internet provider. This was a big deal in 2000, though.

For some reason, I felt that my website needed an all-genre-encompassing science fiction introductory passage, it appears.

Design wise, I have noticed: - I haven't yet learned the value of CSS, particularly for taking the damned underlines away from links once in a while. - I've actually used "valign="middle"" on the little red triangle bullets to center them. Not bad. - I remember making the little "Made with Macintosh" .gif, and thinking that it looked cool all desaturated like that. - The little gold balls that bullet-point the articles are actually rendered images, I made them in some dodgy 3D program. This was a big deal in 2000.

Other things: - I had a Global Freeway e-mail address. Global Freeway was a "free" internet provider that served you with a little application that would pop banner ads up on your screen. They never claimed to provide service for Macintosh computers, but I was pretty delighted to get my installation CD in the mail and discover that just inputting the login details was enough to give a Mac user internet access. Really bad, unreliable internet access, at that. But internet access. And without the ads, to boot. - "See y'all around"? When did I move to Texas? - I believe Josh sent me the scan of the ant farm keyring. - Guestbooks. I remember those. Good lord. The dark ages. - The block of grey crap that looks like an un-loaded image in the top left corner is actually a bunch of letters that spell out "D A T A Z O I D" and would dangle beneath your mouse pointer, in a way that couldn't possibly annoy anyone, ever. Thanks to the cleansing power of the modern internet, they now do nothing. (Either that, or archive.org doesn't archive extremely questionable Javascripts.)

What The Hell Is This: 2002.

website_2001

This one didn't last long. Unfortunately, the colour scheme must have stuck in my head, because it'll come back to bite me later on in this article.

Same website as above, ultimately, but with a spectacularly bland colour scheme and very little graphic elements. Maybe it was ahead of its time. (Maybe it wasn't.)

Dot Com Boom: 2003.

datazoid_splash_feb11

In 2003, I splurged on a domain name (or two). At this particular time, I was using data-zoid.com, after I was thwarted from "datazoid.com" by a legitimate business in California.

All good websites in the early noughties required a splash screen -- something we wouldn't dare think about anymore. This particular one, which I believe has had its html slightly cocked up as the giant "Z" should fill the white (blue?) space to the right of the various logos, resulting in a much shorter window, graced the entrance to the dot com.

The departments on the left were largely other people to whom I farmed out some webspace, in this case it was Mike, Chris, Derek and the old Rafters forum. Clicking the giant "Z" logo brought you to...

feb11_2002

..the website proper. I believe that I either had a very badly calibrated monitor, or zero understanding of contrast. Possibly both. Some of the images have disappeared from this, resulting in the little end caps from the menu titles turning into white boxes. Oops.

Turquoise and gold was probably not the wisest of all colour choices.

Not sure why I included the standard HTML-include date and time at the top. Looks kinda cool, though, I suppose. Also, pageview counter. Who uses those anymore? Who cares about those anymore?

datazoid2003

At some point in 2003, I changed the colours. In hindsight, it was for the best. In hindsight, it's still horrible, with a capital "HORR".

What we're looking at here, is the result of a man who just purchased Photoshop. The gradients, bevel-and-embosses, drop shadows and strokes on the title banner alone should be enough to make me take this image, snap it into quarters and flush it. Repeatedly.

Regardless, it's history, and I can't erase it from archive.org. It's essentially the same design as above, having gained a left column of information, no splash screen because the sub-site buttons are now below the banner, and a colour scheme that I cannot recall the inspiration for but suspect perhaps it started with "Tel" and ended in "stra".

It kind of grows on you.

The Prior Art-O-Matic still exists, by the by.

Now We're Getting Somewhere: 2003.

dec2003

Finally, towards the end of 2003, I made something work. Contrast adjusted! Colours palatable! Overly complex use of tables to create a html layout, achieved!

This is probably my favourite "look" for colonpipe.com. At some point, I changed the link colours from green to blue, but all in all, it's workable. I've actually re-used the little graphics for "post" and "comment" from this layout (albeit enlarged to 200%).

The colonpipe graphic in the logo was designed by fraxyl, and has been used pretty extensively since this design.

This appears to be the point in time when I began my obsession with 88x31 web buttons, thus explaining the army of them in the right-hand column.

This was also when I began experimenting with using a php-based random generator. The quote in the top bar was generated from a file of some 1,800 short quotes I'd collected from specific people on internet forums. Primarily Chris. The one displayed here is most definitely one of his.

"The Random News" used a half-dozen randomisers to generate parts of each paragraph, creating a similarly-constructed but esoterically madlibbed news article each time the page was refreshed.

Also, 99% of my updates back then related to searchstrings and the site's statistics. I was either destined to bore the sweet bejeezus out of every single one of my visitors, or I'd accidentally stumbled upon creating the most meta website in existence.

It's Got Nothing To Do With Your Bumhole: 2010.

colonpipe_2011

Prior to this design, there was another Wordpress-based appearance. Unfortunately, I've lost all record of it. It was white, and that's about where my memory of it chooses to erase itself. I can only imagine it was horrible, and the less we speak about it, the better. Even archive.org didn't care to record much about it, and doesn't have the CSS sheet saved. Oh, well.

This is the first colonpipe design since I actually started to take some pride in my work as a designer, and I believe it shows. The title graphic (still in use today, in some capacity) was properly rendered, and I put considerable effort into making the typography both appropriate and pretty sexy-looking. (Well, sexy for Arial Rounded, anyway. You can only expect so much.)

Content-wise, I'd boiled the entire site down to be a "best of" compilation of what had come before. This is about the point at which I realised that what had come before was largely filler, and that there was very little of colonpipe.com of which I was actually proud, and a stonkingly massive amount of it of which I was both embarrassed and terrified, to the point that I found myself retreating to a corner with the longest broom I could find, poking ineffectually at it when it drew near.

The Red Curtains: 2012.

redcurtains

Not a new design in itself, this one was just a swap-out of the background graphic. I decided -- for some reason -- to replace the stars and galaxy with a red curtain. Perhaps it lent an austere air of comedy club, suggesting wit of the calibre of Jerry Seinfeld or Larry the Cable Guy. Or perhaps it didn't. Either way, it was not to last long.

Pixelpipe: 2013.

current

There's every probablity that you're looking at this design right now. However, if it's in the future, maybe you're not. Or maybe you are. Or...who knows. At any rate, this is the design of the site at time of writing. You can see the graphics for "post" and "comments" borrowed from the earlier design. You can see the bars of social media share buttons that I loathe, but tolerate for their expected necessity. You can also see a tagline that I'm actually pretty happy with. (At least it doesn't use the word "bumhole", which has to make it better, right?)

Thanks for sticking around.

Art Deco business card designs

Here's a couple of Art Deco inspired business card designs I was messing about with. I've blanked out my contact details not because I don't trust you, but because I don't trust that other guy. Boo, him. Hit the jumpy linky doodad for another colour scheme, if you like things like that. If you don't, that's fine too.

Vivid colours ahoy!

Slightly less vivid colours ahoy. But, still cool.

 

Energy drinks collection, a sample

I have some energy drinks. Currently, most of them reside in cardboard boxes in my garage, and I'm seriously hoping none of them have gained the evolutionary skills required to eat through their aluminium cans, because I'll one day be opening up boxes of metallicised molasses with guarana undertones and that does not sound like fun. Here are a few happy snaps of various shelves full of drinks from the last several years:

Ooh, Nokia phone camera quality.
Ooh, Nokia phone camera quality.

Left to right, we have:

  • Battery (tasted alright, but just a knock-off of Red Bull)
  • Hype (elderberry flavoured drink, red in colour, didn't taste entirely like ass)
  • Jugular (tasted very much like Satan's anus, with overtones of death, feces and herbs)
  • Red Eye Power (Red Bull clone)
  • Speed (Lime, Raspberry and Cola, if memory serves. All pretty average)
  • BLOX (either a repackaging or a knock-off of Blue Ox, which tasted largely like disappointment. And ass)
  • Scooby Doo and friends -- not energy drinks, but cool packaging regardless. I'm afraid I don't recall the flavour of Scooby or Shaggy's drinks, but Catwoman was raspberry and Batman is clearly cola (with apple juice)
  • The bottle of home-brand methylated spirits in the lower left is unrelated to the energy drinks

Hit the jump, there be heaps more.

Nokia Nokia Nokia.
Nokia Nokia Nokia.

Continuing the collection, we have:

  • Irn Bru, at Dan's insistance
  • Columbian Cola, which unfortunately does not seem to have any suspicious ingredients
  • Hartz Energy from Tasmania, which I purchased for the obvious reason that it's BLUE
OH HEY slightly better quality
OH HEY slightly better quality

There's a Hemp trend on this shelf. Hemp, the original, is in the yellow and green cans on top. The black ones are Hemp Black Label, and the bottles are Hemp Gold. I don't recall actually getting around to trying these ones, and I imagine if they're still sealed in my garage that they probably taste like acrid crud by now. Perhaps they mellow with age. (Also, perhaps they don't.)

Yellow V, lemon flavour, was a temporary addition to the V lineup that I actually rather liked. Mother, on the other hand, has always had a reputation for tasting largely like shite, even though the new formulation seems to just be another Red Bull/Monster Energy clone in a gigantic can. At least it doesn't taste like the old formula.

Yep, still clearer. Nice flash, too.
Yep, still clearer. Nice flash, too.

Moving right along:

  • Pimp Juice, inspired by the Nelly song (angels and ministers of grace defend us) with its semi-cool packaging
  • Bennu Extra has some supremely elegant can design, which I like, but suffers from the unfortunate failing of tasting like degreaser
  • Hiro Vitality, a curious sports-energy health drink containing all sorts of strange things that have no business being in a beverage, plus guarana and a whopping 7 calories
Mmm, cans.
Mmm, cans.

Aaaaand there's more:

  • Buzz Me, a curious honey-based organic energy drink. If there's any drink that I'll bet money has gone horribly wrong in my garage, it'll be these. I suspect they're turning to mead as we speak
  • Ed Hardy Energy Drink. Jesus Christ, he's everywhere
  • Synergy -- not 100% sure, but I believe this one's sugar free
  • Pink: an energy drink targeted at the lay-dees, also sugar free because bitches don't need no sugar
  • Citron: Liquid Energy. Ten points to this one for it's metal-band-inspired packaging and extensive flavour range: Raspberry Splash, Tropical Azul, Original and Pineapple Passion
  • Spring Valley Smart Energy, with its spectacularly dubious option of Blood Orange and Chilli. It tasted largely how you'd expect. Like blood orange and inexplicable burning, with all the joy of vitamin B and guarana peeking out from below, mocking you and ensuring every belch thereafter will remind you of your sins
oh look, he's a nerd
oh look, he's a nerd

But wait, there's more!

  • Samedi, a subcontinental contribution with cool packaging
  • Solo Strong: The Thirst Crusher with some guarana added to it
  • High Roller Energy, with its horrid can design
  • Bad Girl Power Drink, released some time after its brother, Bad Boy Power Drink. Aimed at the female contingent, I presume it's sugar-free, and is probably pink in colour
  • Mother, the original. Excuse me, whilst I lose the will to live
  • Elixa, with some astoundingly good can art
  • Angel, a low-carb, no-sugar disaster in a fairly cool can
  • Demon, made by the same folks as Angel, in three different flavours
  • Rock, a Red Bull clone that has since appeared in voluminous quantities in The Reject Shop

Y'know what the sad part is? There're still more of them. Many, many more. Stand by, there'll be a sequel.

Tiny trains: HO scale Sydney railway station

I, uh, don't have a model railroad. But that didn't stop me from undertaking a weekend project to make a tiny railway station. I've made them in 3D before, but the real world is another story. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The various bits are cut from thick card, the kind that photographic prints are delivered with, to keep them from bending in the post.

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Hit the "Read More" linky-dinky to, uh, read more. There're a heap more pictures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere's the superstructure of the building. The corners are reinforced with extra card to give them the illusion of columns of brickwork, to match the brick columns along each side. It was sheer luck that the card was the right thickness to look like added brickwork.

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I cheated with the exterior. The brick pattern is "texture mapped" by creating a brick pattern in Photoshop to the correct scale (HO, in this case, which is around 88:1). The folds are all scored so the thick photo paper bends nicely.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAll "textured". The pale blue wheelchair ramp box is popped out on a piece of card to give it depth. I built some fake shadows and staining into the texture map to give it some age and interest around the brick columns, doorways and windows. The network map and station signage is all to scale.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe platform is not exactly long enough to be true to scale, but as I don't have a model railroad to put it in, that's kind of a moot point. The surface of the platform was a fluke -- it's very fine grit wet-and-dry sandpaper which was used to sand some items that had been painted in black paint. The glossy black paint had worn into the paper, making darker, shiny patches. It looks exactly like a gravel-on-tar surface that's been in the hot sun, allowing the shiny black tar to seep through the gravel. If I was to ever make platforms for a model railroad, I'd deliberately use this approach.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA"Aerial" view, showing how remarkably decent the accidental platform surface turned out. The yellow lines are just strips of yellow paper cut very fine. The platform trim is white fine-grit sandpaper (no tricks, straight out of the packet) to give the illusion of texture, and the markings along the platform edge are made to scale in Photoshop and printed on photo paper. If I was to do this seriously, I'd have used matte photo paper for the things that really shouldn't be shiny.

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Daylight! The station is sitting on the roof of my car. The porch is made from matchsticks for support and some more of the same card I built the structure from. It's not beautiful, but it gets the job done. The lights are bits of bent wire with tiny blocks of card on the ends, painted silver. They don't light up, obviously.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMore detail from the platform edge. A lesson learned from this is that it'd probably be best, if I made another, to "inlay" the paper layers, rather than just gluing them on top of each other. It'd reduce the buckling and generally look better. The "2" in the yellow block is a car marker, to indicate to the train driver where to stop the train, and a bit of a joke on my part, as it's only scaled to be a two-car platform. (Ordinarily, a station of this kind would have room for at least six cars, more likely eight.)

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I guess this would be the view from the "other" platform, but -- of course -- there isn't one.

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As an added bonus, here's a tiny tiny tiny version of the old manual timetable displays that appeared on the station platforms. The real ones have a dozen or so rotating blocks with station names, this one only has four. Usually it's Strathfield marked in red, as it's a big interchange for several lines. As a joke no one will get, I've marked it as "Redmyre", which was the original name of Strathfield's station. As another joke no one will get, I've named my station "Bresnahan".

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Here it is, with a coin. It's very small.

Back in the '90s: Kaleidoscope Schemes

This article is hideously backdated to reflect the time that it's content, the gallery below, was created. Sorry for the confusion. If you're curious, I'm writing this on June 9, 2013. This is about the oldest part of me that lives on the internet. Back in the late '90s, there was an interface enhancement for Macintosh computers called Kaleidoscope. It was essentially a version of the "themes" concept that Apple kind of introduced into their operating systems, but really didn't. You could download any number of new interface themes (or "schemes", as the creators called them) for your operating system. Some of them were pretty cool. I made a few of them. In hindsight, they don't seem to have strayed too far from the general appearance of the Mac OS (version 9, at the time). They looked like this:

All of these are still, inexplicably, available at the Kaleidoscope Scheme Archive. You can access my stuff directly here, though. If you're really excited by the potential of this awesome piece of 1990's tech, be sure to check out the "scheme spotlight" area, wherein the best of the best are framed and hung on the metaphorical wall.