Sketchday Day 5 by dan turner

Sorry for the late start! I'm focusing on placement, perspective, and trying to get a more sketchy line and see how that feels.

What did you sketch today?

Sketchday Day 4 by dan turner

Keeping it relatively simple, to focus on seeing the lines of a 3D object, a bit of texturing. Trying a complex, shiny shape yesterday was a step too far at this point.

What did you draw today?

Sketchday Day 3 by dan turner

You've all been uploading such fantastic sketches. Is doing one a day helping? What do you go about doing to get the sketch? Is there anything you've learned that you want to share?

I started on sketching a shiny sink faucet today but totally turfed the curves, perspective, and how to show dark and shine. Funny how when you start to follow a line and then think, "there's no way this can exist in 3D space."

Sketchday Day 2 by dan turner

Experimental results: confirmed that perspective is hard, and that one has to plan ahead for showing highlights on shiny surfaces both dark and light.

What did you sketch today?

Sketchday Day 1 by dan turner

As inspiration and lowering the bar, here's my first (and not good) sketch, on the theme of "things you can find in the kitchen". It's definitely a warm-up for: perspective, the idea that shading exists, and in general getting the eye back into practice of seeing what's there.

What did you sketch today?

Welcome SketchDay Preppers! by dan turner

Hi and thanks for joining us! Starting Monday the 17th of July, 2017, I'll be posting a sketch a day on a theme for two weeks (at the main blog level, not in this post). I hope you'll join in by posting yours in the comments below.

Basic rules, which you of course are free to ignore:

1. Pick a theme. In the past I've done kaiju and tools.

2. EVERY DAY. Leverage that obsessiveness. We want to build habits.

3. Don't spend too much time! Of course every design exercise says that, but really. We want to lower the trepidation, barrier, anxiety for those of us who feel we can't draw. Let's build the habit that it's not a huge commitment.

Thanks and I'll see you Monday!

Lookback: My Review of Deus Ex and a World that is Conspiracy by dan turner

The following is something I wrote for the late, great Feed.com. Unfortunately, it's only archived sporadically on the Wayback Machine (get on that, Brewster, thanks). But it's probably not totally obviated, sad to say.

THE BAROQUE PLOTS and fetishistic icons of conspiracy theory -- the grassy knoll, unmarked helicopters, Roswell -- have, over the past few years, been moved from samizdat, passed between the trembling hands of true believers, into the common pop-cultural vocabulary. Oliver Stone followed the money in JFK; the WB populates Roswell with its regular cast of coifed and limpid-eyed teens; and, most recently, Deus Ex, a role-playing/action game from Ion Storm, mixes up a potent pop Molotov cocktail by linking together nearly every known paranoid fantasy, worldly or otherwise.

The vaguely cyberpunkish setting for the game is the near future, when a separationist movement has grown from its Pacific Northwest roots (the real-life land of both Microsoft and white separatists) to a national force, taking advantage of technological, ecological, and political breakdowns that have fractured the federal government. Since what's left of the government as we know it has its hands full managing a plague of mysterious origin, most civil control has been ceded to the United Nations and UNATCO, its antiterrorism unit. That’s where you get involved: in Deus Ex, you are a nanotech-augmented agent of UNATCO who discovers, in true paranoiac fashion, that All Is Not As It Seems. You spend the rest of the game navigating lies wrapped in half-truths wrapped in secrets. For example, in your first mission, the leader of a terrorist cell berates you for your political naïveté -- "Haven't you ever heard of the Trilateral Commission? Didn't you know the UN was built on land donated by the Rockefellers?" Later, the head of FEMA -- the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is, as all real-world cryptologists know, empowered to suspend the Constitution for such feeble excuses as tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes -- emerges as one of your arch enemies. Majestic 12, black helicopters, the Templars, Echelon, televangelism, the Illuminati, and Area 51 all turn up along the way, as well. (Thankfully missing are the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.) In the game, as in life, conspiracies are a fractal belief system: Examine one closely and you'll only find more jagged edges, more places for other, more fantastic theories to latch on.

It's telling, though, that Deus Ex guts one of the legendarily major players in the worldwide game of shadowy manipulation: the U.S. government. The game posits a world in which the federal establishment is not just shattered, but reduced to a tool of the real players: the conspiracies and covert governments. It's an alarmingly familiar echo of the attitudes so effectively fomented by post-Reagan pols and pundits, who tag government as inherently impotent (except when shackling industries with regulation) and clownishly inefficient.

Which is perhaps what makes Deus Ex such a compelling narrative: It marks the beginning of a new mythology. With the old order of monolithic geopolitical powers gone since the Soviet Union's implosion and the American political war against Big Government, we may be seeing the beginning of a new pop conspiracy cycle, one in which the feds don't even rate as evil conspirators.

First Protopie Test by dan turner

Protopie is a new (another!) prototyping tool for building and testing interactions and animations. Here's what I threw together in about 15 minutes. The value in building interactive prototypes to test? Made it the more obvious that I had had the Username and Password fields in the wrong place initially!

Outside by dan turner

Came back from voting to find this outside the window.

Came back from voting to find this outside the window.

(Note to all, again: I have no relatives at Stanford, nor do I excuse or condone crimes committed there recently by students. Please support your local rape crisis clinic and/or Planned Parenthood.)

Goodbye Darwyn by dan turner

Image: DC Comics

Image: DC Comics

According to a post by his family, Darwyn Cooke has just died, at age 53, after a short fight with cancer. His work was clean, hopeful, moving, and perfectly balanced between framing action and highlighting character. From his work on the Parker graphic crime novels, to his own "New Frontier" Justice League, dark and light still came out feeling, well, somewhere we could live in style.

In recent months, DC offered alternative covers to its regular comics from Cooke; these covers brought into high relief the cheer that the age Cooke so loved – of Jet Age and Googie design, of short ties, porkpie hats, and cateye glasses – even as we live with "gritty, realistic" in superhero comics today. For example, one of Cooke's covers showed Superman and Batman not in a "v" death struggle, but relaxing and smiling after they'd defused a bomb together.

To his credit, Cooke did not paper over the problems and inequalities of the times he represented, making text rather than subtext the struggles of women and non-white populations. It was in some ways a patch job, but one in the right direction.

According to his family, donations in his memory can be made to the Canadian Cancer Society and the Hero Initiative.

Prototyping in Comet (now that it's out of beta...) by dan turner

I was lucky enough to be in on the alpha and beta of Adobe Experience Design CC (the design and prototyping app formerly known as Comet, which... just seems cooler).

This is a quick prototype, done within an hour or so, of an idea I've been working on. So far I haven't found a good, non-code-based tool with which I can show the key interaction of moving and pairing list items, and I'm discovering limitations of Adobe XD (which I hope will be removed as they further develop the application) – but the act of making and prototyping gave me some insights into how the interactions could work better for the user, and some feature ideas that popped up in the process. So, cheers to prototyping! (Click image to go to interactive prototype.)