So it has been 1 month longer than I originally planned for this blog post, mainly due to my time being taken up by projects to the point where I had no time to prepare, plan and write this one up. It’s been so long in fact, that I have found yoghurt and muesli as a breakfast food in my life. Yikes.
The last couple of months have been good but steady for me and SPS. I have mainly been working on the SpeedScenes project (large pixel art racing circuit mat for kids). This was one hell of a project, but more on that a little later. I have mixed in a couple of other small tasks here and there but otherwise it’s been full steam on that project. I still have high hopes for StylePixelStudios and am really, REALLY looking forward to the exciting year ahead!
On the away-from-work front, Not much has changed. I am absolutely delighted with my monitor and all my other peripherals, I just wish I had a bigger, more organised desk.
So yesterday I completed the first run of the SpeedScenes mat, play mat for kids featuring racing circuits. The mat is designed to be kid friendly and appeal to kids, but at the same time appeal to adults as well by adding in all this small detail and ensuring the circuit layout is very much like how it is in real life. Unfortunately I cannot show you anything yet, but I hope I will be able to at some point, hopefully in my next update.
The mat has been done up in MSPaint. Why not PhotoShop? Why not GRaphics Gale? Simply because MSPaint is a resource light, easy to use product that fit my needs. Layers might have been good in some applications, but the resource heavy PhotoShop, especially if working on such large pieces, would have lead to much greater issues. Using MSPaint in the later stages of the project was even slowing my system down!
The mat is planned to be sold very soon, so I’m quite excited!
Part of the deliverables for the SpeedScenes project was the development and design of a logo. As the ownder of SpeedScenes is using the logo himself now, I will present to you all now what it looks like:
SpeedScenes logo on black.
SpeedScenes logo on white.
The logo represents a company that plans to generate a number of racing-themed products starting with the playmats from earlier. The logo is deliberately non-specific in terms of products sold, but rather is designed to demonstrate an obvious motor racing theme, all the while appealing broadly to both children and adults. The use of bold shapes, typeface (self designed) and colours serves to promote the company to the target audience – mainly men and boys. The contrast of the bright colours versus the dark, almost black, grey in the car and lettering serves to provide a sense of excitement and dynamism to the logo, which again help promote the company to the target audience, but also reinforces the product line of motorsport related products.
The logo is fairly simple in that it does not employ any gradient effects, ‘trick’ negative space or complex shapes. The logo is simple and effective in what it is set out to do.
Early conceptual developmental work
Detail design work
All in all, the client was quite happy and mentioned that there was already a large positive response to the logo, so I am quite happy!
As for the project as a whole, the mat design will be reviewed and corrections will be made if required, however from here on in it is looking likely the product will be sold, or at least esxposed, to thousands upon thousands of people soon! The dream of a designer!
The 2Mar Rotobotics project is a project aimed at those with mobility issues. The aim of he project is to allow the use of a specially designed robotic arm that can be used by those in wheelchairs or those who require additional mobility support in order to be able to perform tasks that you and I may find simple too easy to even think about. I am have been taken on as an Industrial Designer, designing the outer casing of the arm to make the arm look appealing to customers and health groups alike.
The arm is currently undergoing extensive internal redesigned at the moment, so I have not been working on it too much at this stage of the year.
2Mar’s founder, Marita Cheng, was able to take an early prototype of the robot arm, named Jeva, to the popular Consumer Electronics Show in Los Angeles in January, with my designed casing on it. The recepction to the arm was quite good from all accounts, which is just a fantastic thing to be a part of! The arm is also making the rounds with local health groups, and even got a spot on local TV!
I expect this project to ramp up in the 2nd half of the year, if not before that, as the prototype is completed.
AUSTRALIAN INTERNATIONAL MOTORSPORT CIRCUIT
This project is currently my crown jewel in my oddly named self-project crown. This project is the full conception, design and development of a permanent motorsport circuit servicing Australia, and located in Melbourne, Australia. The main aim for the project was the develop a circuit to replace the temporary Albert Park circuit that plays host to a Formula 1 round.
The reasons for this idea have been detailed in previous posts, but there are some obvious issues with hosting the race at Albert Park. The cars are not as loud this year, but they have the potential to become louder, especially if promoters have their way, but I digress!
At the time of my last post, I was basically up to here with regard to the circuit design:
Now, I have progress a little bit, and am up to here:
Basic circuit plan featuring run off areas
Pretty advanced, eh?
Since last time, I decided to modify the upper-right section of the circuit first up as I was not satisfied with it. Gone is the slow left-right-left leading on to the straight, and now we have a slow corner followed by a quick kink to the right and a flowing left corner. One other major change is that this corner now leads on to the Start/Finish straight, which was previously planned to be located after the long sweeping left hander in the middle of the circuit.
The reason for the change was that I needed to implement a pit lane, and in that location it was basically impossible without ruining the character of the circuit in that area. The straight became too long, the long sweeping left hander was altered, and it all made no sense. The relocation of the pit lane to the top straight made much more sense, as it also separated the circuit evenly across the lap. Previously, with the S/F straight on the straight in the middle, the circuit was basically turny, the straights and hairpins, then the lap ended. Now, the lap is a bit of straights, turns, then straights, then the lap ends. Much better!
So, relocating the pitlane caused some changes to the circuit. However, I then needed to implement proper run off areas (yellow bits). The run off areas were approximated by taking real world data off GoogleEarth and videos of laps undertaken at modern circuits that comply with the most recent FIA Circuit design rules, and plotting the entry speed with the straight line run off distance. Once that was done, I conducted a basic lap simulation using a program called OptimumLap to assess the entry speeds of all the corners, and sized the run off areas based on that. This proved a little tricky with regard to the circuit design, as the run of areas would have the potential to close off parts of the circuit due to their size alone, leaving no access room. A little tweaking of the circuit occurred, particularly at the main S/F straight, and in and around the twisty section.
As followers of the project might be aware, the project was designed to be development on an actual viable piece of land. The location chosen was a place just north-west of the current Calder Park raceway, near a town called Digger’s Rest, south of Sunbury. Here is the circuit map above integrated, to scale, with GoogleMaps:
In this image, North is up.
As you can see, the circuit is close to a railway (thin grey diagonal line) and a freeway (yellowish lines on the right), so there is plenty of access by rail (which is electrified at this point) and road.
The elevation profile for the circuit is not what I would called exciting as the area in and around it is fairly flat. The below shows the elevation of the circuit along its length:
The highest elevation according to GoogleEarth data is 174m, while the lowest point is at 161m. The good thing though is that the highest point is roughly towards the start of the twisty section, while the lowest part is almost towards the end, giving a gradual downhill run through the twisty corners!
The next steps for the circuit are actually away from the bitumen itself and into the grounds. I will be conducting design of the main grandstand and pit bulding, leading on to the design of a railway station and the overall circuit plan to give a location to everything and show circuit access. After this, then the design will go right away from the circuit and into the branding, with the design and development of a logo and promotional material.
There was a suggestion that I should submit a formal proposal for the circuit to the Victorian Government, which would be incredibly exciting to do, even if it gets rejected! I may even get a meeting with someone, which would be pretty neat!
The other thing I would like to develop before I get to far into it is to develop the circuit using a racing simulator game circuit creation tool, such as Bob’s Track Builder. This was I will get to drive my won circuit, now wouldn’t that be something!
All in all, exciting!
CLOSED COCKPIT FORMULA CAR DESIGN
This project is the full design of a closed cockpit formula-style race car. This project doesn’t necessarily have a need, nor a want, but is rather a practice project for me in using SolidWorks and the design process.
The project has not gone too far off the ground since last time, but I always keep it in the back of my mind. I am always sketching out very rough ideas, and keeping in my mind the type of powerplant I should use, and how much detail I should design the internals. I think it is very important to consider how the internals are packaged into the car, as this will lead to more believable exterior dimensions and a more believable car. The car is still going to be a maximum of 2m wide, as I simply adore the wide tyred, wide tracked cars of the 80’s to early 90’s. I think the proportions of these cars, such as the Ligier JS37 pictured below:
Apart form the big projects above, I have conducted some smaller projects.
The first one was born from thinking about this: If all Formula 1 cars that qualified in the Top 10 in 2013 started their laps at the same time and the same place, how far away would the Top 10 be?
So I went ahead and graphically demonstrated it (please click to expand and get full resolution, it’s totally worth it!)
The cars and circuit are all to scale, so it gives a good approximation of where all the cars would be at the end of the lap.
All the cars are to scale and are proportioned based off approximated data from images of the cars, however, the proportions are correct per their real life counterparts. I have even done all the 2014 cars!
Now if only someone would contact me to make a game using this art style…hmmmm.
I am hoping to develop a line of qualifying positions images for each race, together with driver helmets (as seen in the 2013 cars), and compile them all together at the end of the year.
Away from this project, I one day came across a beautifully designed (albeit a little inaccurate information wise) weather forecast website called forecast.io. What struck me in particular was the simple but striking weather icons. I think it’s because of the ever so slight rotation and animation, but I think they look really great and effective. This has motivated me to do my own, but incorporate a bit of colour and perhaps no movement. Not a ground-breaking project, just something to do in a spare hour or two.
The future looks good for StylePixelStudios! Apart from the SpeedScenes work potentially taking off, the 2Mar work picking up again and a potential proposal submission for a motor racing facility, I have been contacted a few times in the last month for some potential projects – some are small, while some have the potential to be quite big. I am looking forward to working on all of them!
I would absolutely love to hear from, get feedback, or even talk about projects! I now have a work email at email@example.com (and it works too!). I will be organising my business cards soon, before Easter, and will be developing my initial website in April/May. Look out for it!
I also have an online portfolio currently based in Behance. Check it out at https://www.behance.net/stylepixelstudios.
Thanks for reading, a pleasure to share this all with everyone!