Some random ideas I had for illustrating some of the elements in the periodic table that I felt grouped together nicely into certain themes. I’ve always really liked chemistry and admire the periodic table for its organization and rules. But I really only understand it on a basic level, and like many projects I’ve worked on (including almost an entire year of my painting studies in college) I like to make illustrations and diagrams based on my interpretation of the parts that makes sense, or seem to be connected, typically in very unscientific ways. Just for fun.
I was very pleased to work on this little side project that a Google employee requested design assistance on. He had in the past create a few Google fan/Google employee exclusive projects like t-shirts, and had the great idea to put Google into a card game that he and his fellow Google/Game enthusiasts could play during their lunch break.
We used the base of a game called Palastgefluster, a German card game that is apparently not as obscure as it sounds (even though I don’t think even my nerdiest of board game geeks I know have ever heard of it). But, my client knew it well and thought the structure would work really well to make a Google parody of it.
I’ll walk you through it and how we adapted it for Google, which by the way I should mention, this game is not sponsored by, condoned by, or paid for by Google, but they did give us our blessing on the proof which ensures that all the logos and colors were up to their specifications.
Anyway, the cards we were working off of were in a medieval/knight/castle style with lots of textures and shading. I figured that wasn’t quite right for Google, so cleaned up the background, and stuck to the bright solid colors that Google uses in its logo. We had to add an additional color to the palette, so chose an equally bright and vibrant purple, and have a neutral gray as well.
Our plan with the Google version was to pair Apps with actions (seen above, the actions are a little cryptic in their native German – but each character you see actually represents a specific action you can take on your turn). In order to know which action each card represents, you can either piece together the illustration at the top of the card, or follow a cheat sheet that you keep beside you at all times. It’s easier when the actions are described as verbs instead of character names (also being in English is helpful, for those of us who are a little rusty on our German).
The game designer/redesigner, Richard, paired up the actions with corresponding Google Apps that seemed appropriate for what action they represented. Maps = Show, YouTube = Discard/Draw, Android = Return to Hand, Gmail = Trade, Chrome = Swap, Search = well, Search, obviously, and Labs = No action. I thought it was quite clever.
So each player is associated with a color (above is the green set of the cards). There are 5 players with 7 sets of action cards, yellow, red, green, blue, purple, and 2 sets of neutral grey. Each player gets a set of score keeping cards and the above mentioned reference cards that explain exactly what each action means. You place your reference card on top of the score card and slide it down as you earn points.
The action cards are meant to be held uni-directionally, unlike playing cards where you can flip them any which way. But, each corner is marked with a few helpful codes to make it easier to play when fanned out in your hand. 1st, we have a shape associated with each color for anyone with color blindness issues (these shapes are also present on the score cards, top left). 2nd, we have a symbol associated with that action, which is repeated on the reference cards for an easy key as well.
Ok, then we also have SRE cards (stands for Site Reliability Engineering which apparently is responsible for keeping the Apps afloat on google.com. In game terms, these are the cards that when put into play disable certain functions, making the corresponding action card in your hand unplayable. The backs of those cards is a patch that Google Engineers get when they’ve gone through the SRE program – a little insider info.
You can see on the SRE cards that we named them based on where there are major Google hubs around the globe, so I popped in little google map images (hard to believe these images are already outdated since Google updated their maps graphics since we finalized this project!). The Mission control map is centered over Houston, which was my own funny idea about where “Mission Control” is (not really Google related, but who could disagree).
The only cards left are the rules, which honestly sound a little daunting, but once you play a round or two, it becomes very clear how to play. The game is relatively quick; a great lunch-time option. Minimum of 3 players is needed to play, and typically you play best of 3 rounds to determine a winner. I won’t go into the rules of how to play exactly, but you’re welcome to come and play with me some time if you’re that curious.
Anyway, I had a lot of fun working on this and am really happy with how it turned out. Looking forward to playing my first round!
I have another concert poster, this time for a Faculty group doing a recital. I had very little art direction on this project, taking my own inspiration from the director telling me it was going to be a concert of both jazz and classical standards, so I pulled up some sources of 1960’s concert poster artwork (I’m blaming Mad Men for my own interest in such retro design samples). After sending the first proof, the main changes were just to adjust which instruments I had chosen to represent in the background images.
If you’re in the De Anza/Cupertino area in a few weeks, I encourage you to check out the concert for yourself!
I have had the pleasure of making now 3 invites for my friend’s annual get-together called “Woo Camp.” It’s a casual get-together that he hosts at his family’s cattle ranch down in the central coast(ish) area of California. First year we did a printed piece that I created around the theme of National Parks. The following year, we went with a web based invite, and I played off the recently released film True Grit for that one. I built it using a web design software called Hype, btw, if anyone is curious <shameless plug for my friend’s software>.
This year, he suggested a pop-up and my mind went racing. First off, I hadn’t made a pop-up card since elementary school, and as you can imagine, most google searches for “pop-up” came back with mixed results – mostly for browser pop-up (ad) blockers. But it sure got me thinking about the possibilities. I played with the mechanics and then thought about how I wanted the overall piece to look. I didn’t choose a specific theme, per se, but did work with a limited palette and stylized my illustrations a bit to look mildly retro. I also used the font “Tribeca” (pretty sure it was a free font I had downloaded at one point), and I got a few comments on it looking like the Jurassic Park font, which pleased me just as well.
I am overall quite happy with the end result, but wish I had taken just a little more time to send out a “beta” to see how the recipient might try to open the package. I ended up gluing the piece to the hand made envelope, and it is not uncommon for people to rip open envelopes to get at contents, so I won’t be surprised to hear of people bemoaning their choice to hack the envelope off when they went to open it. As well, I included a set of pop-up pieces on the back of a fold-out map piece, and regret that decision because it inhibited the opening of the map completely, making that portion of the presentation a bit cumbersome. On a positive note, I am very pleased with how I came up with the “lounging” guy. He’s reading a book and leaning against a rock, and when you open the card, his legs go from outstretched to folded by way of a a groove in the bottom of the page. Because he was set at an angle, I also had to use string to make the folding action work, as a piece of paper was not able to fold neatly into the proper orientation. I am curious how many other pop-up card makers utilize string for the trickier mechanics.
One of the most important things to note about this project was that it was the reason I became the proud owner of a new die cutting machine. Mind you, when I started the project and came up with the concept to have 3 panels with all these separate pieces moving every which way, I had decided that I would cut all the pieces out by hand/exacto knife. When I went to show my prototype off to the client, another friend of mine mentioned her friend had a fancy laser cutter and that maybe she could get me in touch with her to try it out and possibly help with the project. Intrigued, I took her up on the offer and came to find out the machine was not some over-the-top expensive piece of equipment like a laser cutter, but in fact, a die cutting machine, a la “Midwestern Scrapbooking Housewife” as she explained to us. It’s extraordinary. I had so much fun, and was so relieved to not be hand cutting the 660 some odd pieces for this project (there were 30 invites total), and would recommend the same machine to anyone interested in something like it. The possibilities are endless (if you like working with paper)!
Here’s a shot of my workstation while assembling these. Complete with pint of ice cream and iPad running a barrage of Ted Talks, mind you. Monotonous gluing and stitching requires such incentives to keep you going. I think I need to work on getting minions if I decide to do this again.
My brother recently got married, but in a small ceremony in Upstate New York, so most of our California family was not able to attend. So saying, my aunt wanted to host a special dinner for the family to celebrate the happy occasion, and I offered to make the invitations. I was also happy to make their wedding webpage (just a quick splash page).
Their colors were blue and brown, and although I know they aren’t interested in things that are too decadent, I thought a nice formal invite would do well for the get together. Besides, it gives me a chance to play.
I had these lovely brown envelopes that had some bronze pearlescent qualities, and used some cream colored card stock for the cards, with a blue paper insert. I also got this sweet paper punch that was perfect for the “you are invited” part on the front of the card. For the floral pattern I scanned a special scrap booking paper that had a design I liked and traced the pattern in Illustrator and filled it in with a nice dark brown color instead of the black it came in (many thanks to my friend Heather for the scrap book paper scan technique she taught me).
I have been really into the new trend of badges, banners and ribbons, so wanted to incorporate it somehow. Therefore, I had the return and address labels wrap around the envelopes. I included a little piece of the floral pattern on those elements to tie it all together.
I also included a vellum map with parking instructions for the restaurant, and a sepia toned image from the wedding day itself.
Definitely enjoyed doing a little print work, as I’ve been spending a lot of time on web graphics lately.