Giving back to Open

Giving back to Open

I often use public domain and creative commons licensed images and audio in my work. I really like the idea that high quality media is available for free to the public and that you can create something amazing without infringing on copyright. For businesses and professionals to function they can’t give everything away, but it’s nice to share what you can. With that in mind, I’ve recently posted several of the agriculture and GPS illustrations I created for work on Openclipart. I think that it’s time that I gave back to the OCAL community since I’ve definitely used dozens of graphics from other artists. You can see all of my illustrations on my tmjbeary OCAL profile, but here are a couple of my favorites:

How trilateration works to determine GPS position.

How trilateration works to determine GPS position.

Combine harvester with grain platform.

Combine harvester with grain platform.

Do you have any suggestions for illustrations I could create? I’ll also take requests for custom illustrations, with the stipulation that I’ll release it to the public domain on OCAL.

Advertisements

Animated GIFs: Not just for dancing hamsters

Animated GIFs: Not just for dancing hamsters

While working on eLearnings, I realized that animated GIFs are wonderful for demonstrating simple concepts. They can explain a concept more concisely than a still image with a paragraph long caption and they work across all browsers and platforms, unlike flash or even video. I’ve been working on a course about GPS and steering for precision agriculture, and below are some of the animations I’ve created.

Multipath GPS errors occur when the GPS signal bounces off a nearby structure and the receiver can't differentiate which is the "real" signal.

Multipath GPS errors occur when the GPS signal bounces off a nearby structure and the receiver can’t differentiate which is the “real” signal.

I drew the graphics in Inkscape and animated them using the Gimp. It works like a flip book, in that you have to create each individual frame of the animation. In the eLearning courses only one animation would appear per page, so it’s less distracting. So what do you think? Do they help demonstrate the concepts? Hopefully even without a lot of context you understand the gist of it.

How many clicks?

How many clicks?

In healthcare IT “click counts” are a big deal to physicians. They literally cheer if you announce that you’ve updated your interface so there are 20% fewer clicks to complete a workflow. Every time I hear someone talk about number of clicks I can’t help but roll my eyes. Clicks by themselves are a meaningless statistic, and really have nothing to do with usability. A user might click around many extra times if the interface is clumsy and they have no idea how to complete their task.

Anyway, rant aside, all of the talk of “how many clicks” brought to mind the old Tootsie Roll Pop commercial from my childhood. I thought it would make a funny t-shirt for software testers to show Mr. Owl destroying a computer with just 3 clicks. Here’s what I came up with using Inkscape. Maybe I should look into getting it printed, I think it turned out pretty well!

Motion Graphic: My Career Path

I’m working on expanding my portfolio, so I put together this motion graphic as an example of my talents. I created the pictures of “me” and my various work attire using Inkscape. I was really impressed with how much I’ve picked up on editing vector images. The brunt of the work, including animation was done in PowerPoint. I realize that PowerPoint isn’t the ideal tool for creating high quality motion graphics, but it’s the tool I currently know how to use. I hope that it demonstrates that I understand some fundamental aspects of creating animated graphics, and that I have a good eye for layout and design.

It’s a two-for-one win as far as my portfolio goes because it shows an example of a motion graphic I created and it explains about my background and interests. Here it is:

So what do you think? And do you have an recommendations for a more robust software option? I’ve heard of Synfig Studio and Processing as  free, open-source options, but I haven’t had a change to play around either. Or is there really nothing out there that compares to Adobe After Effects?

 

Scientific Research Posters

Scientific Research Posters

As mentioned in previous posts, I used to be a chemistry graduate student. Through my undergraduate education and grad school I designed and presented several posters about my research. I also compiled the recruitment poster for my graduate research group,  redesigning most of the graphics using Inkscape. I had a gradual awakening to the fact that design is what I wanted to do, but if you look at these posters you can tell that it’s been a passion of mine for many years. I think the posters also show the progress and development of my design skills. They aren’t the flashiest things, but if you’ve ever been to a scientific conference you’d know that they’d stand out from the crowd.

I used PowerPoint for layout of the posters, Gimp for photo editing, and Inkscape to create the other graphics. They are listed below in chronological order. The featured image at the top is full size 56″ x 42″, and was presented at the CIBP Conference in August 2010.

ISU REU research

Full size 56″ x 42″, presented at ACS conference in April 2008

Cornell College Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society

Full size 56″ x 42″, presented at ACS conference in April 2008

Blackwell Group - UW Madison - Recruiting

Full size 56″ x 45″, presented at recruiting poster session in Spring 2011

Evolution of a Design

Evolution of a Design

It’s usually best to force yourself to come up with more than one version of an idea. Each iteration is more refined until in the end you have a better overall design. Sure, you might make missteps, but overall you’ll make progress. When I first started the Stahl group website, this was the graphic on the home page.

Original graphic from the Stahl Group website.

Original graphic from the Stahl Group website.

I wanted to try and make something with a bit more flair, while still keeping the original meaning. The graphic shows a catalytic cycle and how each focus of their research feeds into it. As we discussed the design more we wanted to show that some aspects feed into the group’s catalysis research (reaction mechanisms, synthetic methods, electrocatalysis) and others are products of the research (renewable energy, green chemistry). For those non-chemists out there, in a catalytic cycle the reactants typically enter on the lower-right, and products exit the cycle on the upper-left. Prof. Stahl also wanted to incorporate oxygen (O2) as the group’s catalysis research focuses on using oxygen as the oxidant. Below shows how my design evolved over time.

Design C was the last one I created and I felt it was the best overall. In the end, Prof. Stahl preferred the design from A, with slight modifications–the final result being design D.

There were actually more versions than this, but I wanted to show you the big steps in the design evolution, not every subtle change. This whole process reminded me that in the end the designer has to go with what the client wants, not necessary the version that the designer prefers.

Gamer wedding design

I’ve been absent from posting for a while as I prepared for my wedding (which just occurred on 2/16). I’m happy to share some of the designs I created as part of my wedding planning. My husband Paul and I share a video game hobby, so that was the theme of our reception. The first step was the invitations.

Invitations

Beary-White Wedding Invitations

We choose 13 games that were most memorable for us as a couple and included them on the front side of the invitations with descriptions of what they signified for us. Our wedding colors were purple and green, hence the color scheme of the invites. All characters are the copyright/trademark/property of their respective studios and game companies. See the full-size front side and back side of the invitations.

Gamer Vows

We wrote our own ceremony and my older brother, Wes, officiated for us. For the most part it was a standard ceremony, but in keeping with our theme we wanted to add a gamer vow. We did it similar to a traditional marriage vow, where the officiant reads it piecewise and the couple repeats it. Paul and I came up with the general themes and I wrote the final version. Here it is in its entirety:

I promise to be your faithful co-op partner for life, in low level and high, whether noob or l33t, regardless of lag, downed servers, or loss of internet. I promise to celebrate your achievements as if they were my own and to openly share my loot with you. I swear to stand by you when your K/D spread is negative and to always help you achieve 100% map completion. I will not grow angry when your character is higher level than mine, because I know in time we will reach the level cap together. I will wait with you for the midnight release of the next summer blockbuster, no matter how long the line, and I promise to always pre-order a second copy of PC games so we can play the online co-op. I swear to never forsake you from my party, nor to quit in rage. From this day forward, my game library is yours, and together we’ll share one hard drive, on this game system, and on every system to come.

Reception Presentation

Our venue provided a digital projector for us to use free of charge, so I decided to create a PowerPoint presentation that gave some more background on us (the bride and groom) and explained the video game references in the invitations. I took out a few of the slides that mentioned personal details about us, but wanted to post the slides I made about each game. They include the same description from the invitation and then an explanation and cartoon image that I drew using autoshapes (except for the Terran and Protoss symbols which I found on elrondsmith‘s Deviant Art page).

Reviewing my work, my favorite part is the documentary-style intro for each game and then the animations I made to accompany my autoshape art. Using PowerPoint 2010 I converted it to a video which you can watch below.

Other Reception Details

For our table centerpieces we bought video game action figures and statues. My other brother, Morgan, created an amazing Halo set piece for us. Paul and I like to team up on a warthog in online multiplayer and usually rack up a pretty good score for our team in Big Team Slayer. The set piece has a warthog with spartan groom driving (complete with tux jacket) and spartan bride on the turret (with white lace skirt). He also added a just married sign and little tin cans hanging off the rear bumper. It was an amazing piece of art (he also made a Halo ring to hang above the ground scene, and there was EL wire included to make it all glow) and I can’t wait to get our photos back from our wedding photographer.

Speaking of photos, I’ll do a follow-up post with images of the centerpiece, set piece, and possibly a video of us saying our gamer vows once we get all of those things. The photos will take 4-8 weeks, so don’t get overly excited yet. Thanks to everyone who made the trip up to Wisconsin to see us! We had a wonderful time and are lucky to have you all in our lives!