Friday, 28 May, 2010 21:45


Two releases in short order.  My oh my, what's the world coming to? This is another desktop made with Pixelmator, a second experiment using large texture images as a basis to create some nifty aged effects. Like the previous release, I'm also providing a direct link to the 1024x1024 image for those browsing here on iPads so you can see how it works as a background for the mobile device.

The image to the right is just a sample of the complete desktop; it reproduces poorly when shrunk to thumbnail size.



Saturday 22 May, 2010 17:18

It's been a long, long time since the site's seen an update, but an urge hit me to experiment with the OS X graphics application Pixelmator, and well, here's the result. I do not yet know if this heralds a genuine return of my dabblings in graphics. We'll see. Regardless, feel free to give it a whirl. Sadly, the desktop reproduces horribly at thumbnail size. On the upshot, the desktop, sans Apple logo, also makes a rather nice iPad background, and I've added it as an option for download. Rather than the usual .dmg file, I have instead linked to the image itself for those of you browsing on iPads.  This means, naturally, the iPad link will also act as a crude preview for those interested in the full resolution for regular computers.

The desktop uses different blending modes to mix layers of concrete and paper images into a pleasing whole.  Lighting effects are achieved through the simple expedient of setting a black layer to a color dodge blending mode, and applying a white brush to get the lighting effects.


Hoh Rain Forest

Monday 3 April, 2006 18:56

On Washington state's Olympic Peninsula can be found the magnificent Hoh Rain Forest in the Olympic National Park.  It is one of the few temperate rain forests on the planet, and experiences an annual rainfall of 12 to 14 feet of rain.  This past weekend I had the good fortune to visit it for the second time, unfortunately for just a short while as there is some fantastic hiking to be made in the area which I would love to be able to try out.

I did have my camera with me though, and while I didn't get very many shots, I did manage to snap this one—on a whim no less, it was a simple strech, point, click, on a fallen tree.  As luck would have it, it was the best photo I took. 

I've a strange fascination with mosses, and the Hoh forest is certainly the place to indulge any interest in the plants.  Trees are quite literally dripping with moss and fern from every exposed surface, giving them quite a shaggy appearance. The effect this has is to make you feel as if you've somehow found yourself in Tolkien's Mirkwood forest; it makes the place feel ancient.  The Olympic rain forests are some of the oldest, most diverse biological environments on the planet, and wandering through them will instantly give you a deep appreciation for why we need to protect such amazing places for future generations.  If you ever get the chance to visit, do so. You will not regret it.

I've a longer entry concerning the trip over on the blog, if you're interested in the subject


Site Updates

Friday 31 March, 2006 23:23


You may notice a more streamlined appearance to the site as of this evening. The layout's the same, but the design elements have been simplified further than ever before.

Why?  Well, I've been keeping a blog off and on (rather more off than on, admittedly), for a while, and had been meaning to integrate it into the site a bit more closely.  One thing lead to another, graphics tweaked here and there, and I ended up deciding to unify them completely and so propagated the changes back to this end of the site.

Don't go expecting me to become some a-list blogger or anything crazy like that.  I update it about as often as this site gets updated: rarely

At any rate, hope you enjoy the new tweaks to the appearance.  That's Seattle's Space Needle up there in silhouette, just in case you wondered.




Monday 20 March, 2006 22:16

OK, so it's been forever since I updated the site.  Sue me.  In my defense, I've picked up a new addiction.  For the first time in my life, I've actually been looking forward to the winter months, something decidedly odd for a Southern transplant to the Northwest.  While my years here in Seattle have taught me not to dread winter, I can't say that I've ever looked forward to 4-5 months of unremitting gray and rainy weather.  I love rain more than most people—I wouldn't be here otherwise—but there are limits.  So I'm more than a little happy to have been turned on to snowboarding; it allows me to look forward to winter as something to enjoy, rather than endure.  This is, to say the least, a novel concept for me.

At any rate, my weekends spent out on the slopes haven't left much time for playing around in Photoshop.  This particular desktop was finished long ago and I've been using it on my own computer for some time, but couldn't summon the interest in getting the downloads together.  Weirdly enough, it's the original version of the Web desktop released back in August.  I like this one much better and have no idea why I released the other version.  Meh.  What's life without a few mysteries, I suppose?  And no, the name does not reference some unfortunate adolescent run-in with bullies; I was merely amused by it.

Astute observers may notice the addition of another resolution.  The site's desktops have always been a reflection of my own monitors over the years, and having recently purchased a 23" Cinema Display, you'll now see future desktops offered at this larger size as well as the smaller versions.  It's likely the 1024x768 and 1280x1024 versions will at some point be dropped as altering desktops between aspect ratios is officially a pain in the ass. 


Jedi Academy

Tuesday 27 September, 2005 21:45

You know, I certainly don't consider myself a gamer, but there are a few I've tried and had a lot of fun playing, such as Halo, or the various Myst incarnations.  Another one I've found to be good for hours of entertainment is Lucas Arts' Jedi Academy. How could I resist?  It's about the closest you can get to wielding a real lightsaber.

Unfortunately, most games seems to be released with the most pitiful icons to be found for OS X.  I can't explain it, but game makers seem loath to invest in a decent icon, which forces me to step in, and I'd much rather be lazy and not have to do it.  Case in point is Jedi Academy.  The native icon is a flat 128x128 boring square.  It doesn't even have a trace of a drop shadow, and squats in your dock like some overweight behemoth crowding up against its neighbors.  Not willing to have such an ugly monstrosity in my dock, I had to tweak it to fit in a bit better.  So here you go; a few minutes work in Photoshop, and here's an icon that doesn't stand out like a sore thumb.

It's in .icns format, so you can simply crack open the game package if you wish and replace the original, or copy-and-paste if that's more your speed.



Monday 12 September, 2005 18:55

By popular request, here's a desktop version of the Podcast icon.  It's actually the original artwork I created for the icon, which was merely sized down.  Using a large canvas makes icon creation go much easier than a small one, and has the added benefit of being able to pull double duty if necessary.

At long last, Apple looks like it's getting rid of the ubiquitous brushed metal interface, and the desktop reflects the move, borrowing the new shades of gray from iTune's interface.  It's funny how a single shift can change your perceptions.  Brushed metal never bothered me one way or the other (though I know it engendered strong responses in many people), but already it seems -- and this would no doubt please Apple -- that the brushed metal interface feels outdated, even clunky.    I strongly suspect we will be seeing the other brushed metal applications adopting this new look as it appears to be consistent with the new unified toolbar applications like Mail and System Preferences -- only darker.  Maybe OS X will finally begin gaining some consistency within its GUI -- something it has lacked now for several years.



Saturday 27 August, 2005 11:03

Web Desktop





A new abstract desktop I've finally gotten aroud to finishing up, this is the one promised back in July that came out of the Widgets desktop.  It was originally the background image for that release, but proved too visually busy to keep.  On its own it works much better.

This is actually just another in a series of experiments using Photoshop to transform visually mundane elements into something more interesting. The swirls all started as a white circle layer on a blue background.  Using Photoshop's new transform function allowed them to be warped in all manner of directions, producing the effect you see here.  It's a neat result, though the process isn't exactly exciting.

Lower resolution sizes aren't available for this reason, mainly because the image just doesn't suit itself to resizing very well.



Thursday 7 July, 2005 23:14

And what self-respecting Mac-user would be caught without the the appropriate icon to badge their 'Podcast' directory inside their iTunes music folder?

OK, so it may be completely, utterly, useless.  But the purples sure are pretty, aren't they?






Sunday, 3 July, 2005 15:26

Here's a desktop thrown together simply for the fun of it.  How useful Dashboard is going to be in the long run is open to debate.  It has a great 'wow' factor, but like many people, I don't find myself using it very often aside from checking the weather forecast.  Widgets are fun to use, but the majority of them seem to end up repeating functionality better suited to a web browser like Safari or FireFox.

The icons are fun though, and here I've taken several of the Apple supplied widgets and recreated them somewhat larger than life.  Other than a few minor tweaks to make the images work at a larger size, they're pretty much the way you'd see them in your Dashboard.  About the only novel thing you'll find in this desktop is the background itself, a custom-built riff on the stock Aqua desktop.  Believe it or not, those swirl shapes started off as nothing more than identical white circles, which were then blurred and put through the wringer of Photoshop's new "Warp" function of the transformation command.  A few layer tweaks later, and voila!  Instant abstract swirls.  Kinda nifty, actually.  I liked the blue so much, I've pulled it from the picture—replacing it with a sedate brushed metal that suits the widget display better—and am going to play with it a bit more before releasing it as a stand alone desktop of its own.  It'll show up some time over the next few days.


Macromedia '05

Sunday, 26 June, 2005 12:49

Building the CS2 replacement icons finally motivated me to revamp the site's Macromedia MX icons, something I've been meaning to do for the past year.

Each release of OS X has seen a refinement of the Aqua interface, and the subsequent approach to icon design.  One result of this has been a movement away from the ubiquitous globe icons with their strong specular highlights -- thank goodness.  I've never made my dislike of them a secret.  The globes are still present, but the visual effects are more stylized, with subtler highlights, and are often compared to a more plastic look as opposed to glass.  The end result is icons that have a somewhat flatter appearance and are moderately easier to identify, which is as it should be.  Cool visual effects are great, but when it comes down to it, you need to be able to identify icons at a glance, not be forced to look through the effects to the icon beneath them.

At any rate, the new Macromedia icons are a bit closer to the orginals in execution, though suitably aquafied.  The old ones are still available in the Icons section of the Graphics Factory.


Photoshop CS2

Saturday, 18 June, 2005 12:10

Anyone involved with graphics work has probably noticed that Adobe has gone and released yet another update to their graphics suite.  And of course we all know what that means:  I once again wade in and try to bring their icons more into line with what is expected of icons under OS X.

I'm not sure where Adobe's trying to go with the feather as an icon for Photoshop -- I associate feathers with writing, not drawing -- but hey, you work with what you have.  The previous versions (still available here and here), took the icon images from the application's splash screen, and these are no exception.  Unfortunately, Adobe keeps reducing the complexity of the splash screen, which makes it more and more difficult to extract any imagery of usefulness for icon creation.  With CS2, it's down to a white box with a feather in the corner -- not a lot to work with as you may imagine.

On the other hand, it certainly does simplify the choices, and this time I've actually followed the Aqua interface guidelines for application specific documents much more closely than ever before -- even going so far as to use the template provided by Apple.  The only rule I've broken is the size of the icon on the document -- mainly because though I see where Apple's going in regards to consistency of appearance, their specification of an icon no larger than 56 pixels square placed onto the document just doesn't lend itself well to identifying icons at smaller sizes.  So I've broken that rule, but the benefit is that these are instantly identifiable as Photoshop documents even in column view, and I'll go ahead and count that as a success.

Eighteen icons make up the set, and as before, instructions on how to replace the icons are included in the disk image.  If you'd like to see the other Adobe applications' icons given a similar treatment, feel free to drop me a line using the email address down below, and I'll look into it.




Acceptable Usage    FAQs    Site Trivia