Thursday, 16 June, 2005 18:15
Orange is not normally a color you'd see used as the basis for a desktop here at the website, mainly due to my entirely irrational dislike of the color. But when I recently ran across a high-resolution photograph of an African sunset, I was immediately struck by how nice the orange filling the sky appeared--as I said, my dislike of the color is irrational. The photograph was stunning, but I do not have permission to use it, nor would I post it if I did, as the site has always been my own graphical ramblings. On the other hand, what grabbed my attention was the color of the sky, and colors have not (yet) been copyrighted. So off to Photoshop I went, armed with the ever-useful color picker tool. And this is the result. The squares are merely there to provide a bit of abstract visual interest, and echo an earlier release from long ago.
Sunday, 10 April, 2005 22:19
It's often the case that as I'm tweaking this and that around the site, whatever I'm working on at the moment will inspire other work—typically a new desktop. Rarely however, is the resulting desktop so blatantly…derivative. Oh well. I don't see you posting desktops to this site, so I'll just ignore the comments from the peanut gallery about my lack of inspiration.
As you may note, the recently added 'Words' thumbnails used to denote entries that aren't in the site's usual arena of graphics are the genesis of this desktop. And while I may have little regard for pointless fanboy Apple-logoed desktops (Trust me, everyone already knows you're using a Mac), figuring out what else to slap in the middle of the picture was an endeavor for which I patently did not have the energy. Besides, metallic/glass Apple logos are always fun to throw together. I will still admit to that.
The desktop was pretty much just an excuse to play around with a few particularly pleasing shades of blue. Maybe I'll try a green version too. Or Magenta. Taupe? How 'bout puce? Or chartreuse…I've always like the way it rolls off the tongue…
Monday 13 December, 2004 15:06
It's amazing what you can accomplish visual effects-wise in Photoshop with nothing more than a couple of gradients, a drop shadow, and the judicious use of cut-and-paste.
In the five-plus years I've kept this site up and running, I've gone through many redesigns of the site and its layout—this is number eight, if I'm counting correctly—and have used each new iteration's design as a chance to cull those desktops with which I've grown dissatisfied. I do keep the originals stored away however, and occasionally have had the need to dig through them. Most make me cringe, which is to be expected. Tastes change, you learn more tricks to Photoshop, gain a few skills here and there, and before you know it, previous works seems hopelessly juvenile and incompetent. This is normal and anyone who tells you otherwise hasn't had some artistically connected hobby for long enough time.
Occasionally though, I stumble over something in the data vaults no longer offered at the site and think, Hmm. This latest desktop is one of those occasions. It's actually one of the oldest, the original dating back to 31 December 1999, the very month the site found its focus on graphics. It's incredibly simple, just two gradients, one green and one blue-gray, with Photoshop's marquee tool providing the means to mix and match the layers. By separating each box into its own layer, you can achieve some interesting optical illusions by applying a basic drop shadow to give the impression of depth. The lower right design is a new addition. It's there mainly to provide a little visual balance on the newer wide-aspect ratio of Apple's 17 and 20 inch LCDs.
Like many of the desktops released over the years, its original inspiration was mid-century design. And like many of those, it is only loosely inspired by said design. The colors though, as usual, are authentic, or near enough as can be expected after half a century and a transfer to a digital medium. Long ago I stumbled across scans someone had posted online of two paint chip color charts from the mid-50s, and have been using them ever since as a handy color picking tool for any project with a mid-century theme.
Sunday 31 October, 2004 23:12
You may have noticed that desktops here have been tending over the past couple of years to ones favoring the abstract. Blatant Apple partisanship doesn't appeal to me to the extent it once did; mostly due, I think, to the fact that there are only so many iterations of the corporate logo you can create without running into a serious issue of repetition. And besides, I loathe wearing corporate logos (Riddle me this: Why in the world do we gladly pay to advertise for companies—with our very bodies? Passing strange, to my eyes, and we don't even question it anymore), so why spend my effort creating advertising for free?
On the other hand, sometimes an idea comes along and not much else will fit it but slapping an Apple symbol smack dab into the middle of it. Case in point, this latest desktop. I was itching to throw together a simple one featuring a wood grain motif, a desktop that was a variation on the 'Radio Age' desktop released long ago. It was the wood-grain pattern that appealed to me the most from that one, but a desktop of only faux-mahogany seemed too boring. So once again the famous Apple symbol rides to the rescue, enlivening an otherwise unremarkable desktop. And even in my jaded anti-corporate mood, I gotta admit their logo is pretty classy. Rendered once again in a retro metal hue, it fits right in.
20 September 2004 22.18
Kicking off the revamped web site is a re-issued desktop. It's become something of a tradition here to periodically revisit Apple's Manifesto. They may be a giant faceless corporation, but I do have to give them props for having a manifesto. How many giant companies do?
This time around, I've borrowed the white-text-on-blue-gradient we're seeing so much of in OS X. You will also see—not surprisingly—the influence of the recent re-designing of the site. That too is something of a tradition for the first desktop released after a re–vamp, though I've long since stopped recreating the interface as a desktop. It always felt a bit too unseemly. And besides, it always made for a boring picture. :-)
26 March 2004 21.02
Oh come on. You knew it was gonna happen. Given the popularity of the Ultimate Marble desktop, and the possibilities of animated desktops in OS X, you just knew this was the next step after the animated Burn '04 desktop. The effect is rather nice, if I do say so myself. I'm particularly pleased with the shadow—the variations caused by the continents follow them around the rotation.
I'd always thought that there should have been more than one version of the Marble desktop. I'd made what I thought was the best compromise of continental positions to allow the majority to at least be seen. But Africa and Asia got short shrift, not to mention Australia. That won't be a problem any longer. :-)
Oh yeah, before I forget: this wouldn't have been possible without the aid of this site: Fourmilab Switzerland. The Earth and Moon viewer was indispensable.
If you're curious, here's the story behind the desktop.
My server's gonna get hammered on this one.
Sunday, 21 March, 2004 11.26
Finally, something new! Er, make that new-ish. It's blue. It
has swirly-thingies. But it's not an intentional nod to the stock
OS X desktop. It just sort of happened that way.
Oh well, we can't all be wildly creative all the time. I like blue, what can I say? It's been a while since a purely abstract desktop was released. What the heck, enjoy it.
Sunday 14 March, 2004 12.51
There is a reason you keep seeing all these rehashed desktops, believe
it or not. I was lucky enough recently to purchase a 20" Cinema
Display, so naturally I've been resizing some of my favorites to fit
the new monitor. And that means pretty much rebuilding them from
scratch. I figure while I'm at it, I might as well update them,
and build the various resolutions.
The old version of this desktop never really appealed to me. It just seemed too busy and distracting, though all that blue was rather nice. Oddly enough, the solution was to add more to the picture by scaling it down enough that the entire equalizer gets seen. More empty space is the result, and it seems enough to give the eyes a bit of a break from all the elements.
Hope you enjoy it. Once again it's not the most original desktop, but hey, it's free. ;-)
Thursday 4 March, 2004 20.55
So I'm scanning through my weblogs, and I see this unusual spike in traffic for Wednesday. Odd, I think, and track it back to the source. Turns out ResExcellence posted a user-contributed desktop snapshot featuring that old favorite: Burn, and people have been swinging by here because of it.
When Apple released iTunes 4, I'd promptly updated the Play desktop to match the new interface (updated version available lower on this page), and figured I'd update the Burn desktop as well. I suppose it's no surprise, but I was lazy, and never got around to it.
Well, that fortuitous link reminded me what I'd meant to do months ago, so here it is; the ever-popular Burn desktop updated for iTunes 4. And this time it's available in multiple sizes. A 1680x1050 animated desktop is also available.
I will eventually get around to making some all new desktops instead of simply rehashing old ones. I promise!
Day & Night
Sunday 29 February, 2004 22.46
After rather a long delay, I've finally gotten around to rebuilding the always popular Day and Night desktops. You may recognize the photos themselves, they are taken from Nasa's Visible Earth project. These two, composites designed to show just the Earth itself, no cloud cover, are among the most stunning. They are unaltered by me except for resizing, and a mild sharpening to bring the details back out after the resizing process.
The Nasa site is well worth perusing, as there are many stunning images of the Earth, in both flat and globe projections. Despite its flaws, Nasa has easily paid for itself many times over, not least by way of the satellite technology its existence has fostered over the decades. That images like these are provided free to the public—all images produced by Nasa are public domain, as far as I know—is just an added bonus.
Contrary to popular belief, true spin-off technologies have been rare from the space program (at least single item spin-offs. The gestalt effect is something else entirely), but all too often the lives saved by satellite technology, not to mention money and crops saved from improved weather forecasting, are completely overlooked.
Just a thought. Enjoy the desktops.